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Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Dark Night of the Soul



Most people get their Dark Knights confused
The Dark night of the Soul is a mystical term which was first coined by St John of the Cross to describe a period of dryness where a person seems disconnected from what these days we call our Higher Self.
The new age, including some magicians, tend to apply this term to a range of emotions from “falling under the weather” to being depressed.   People talk as if a dark night of the soul was common or inevitable and you will sometimes hear them moan “I am going through a dark night of the soul at the moment.”  Next week they will usually be happy and any dark nights have past.
Dark nights are not that common and nor is the person suffering from them depressed.  Depression does happen, but it is more of a side effect rather than the main event.  The great 20th century magician Ernest Butler described it as a period of dryness and this word does seem to fit the best.  It is like you are spiritually in a desert, all alone and nothing appears to work.  There is no higher self-connection as it appears to have left you completely.
It happens normally after a big initiation, or life changing event and there appears to be no rhyme or reason as to why.   This has led many, with a mystical bent, to say that it is because God has turned away from them.   The Higher-Self seems to be wanting them to learn something but is not telling the person what, and it can last for years.  
 Sometimes the victim is unaware of the process.  The dry spiritual process can happen and the person just feels bored by the whole mystical magical scene but carries on because they have no concept of a life without it.  Sometimes they might have a few years off magic because of “life circumstances”. Although this is not something that people normally associate with a Dark night of the soul it means the same thing.
When it is over the person feels like they were before they went into it but it appears to be a gradual process.  The person realises different aspects of their magical or mystical self one spiritual gift at a time.  This is noticeable of a person has a psychic gift.  They go from being able to see things to seeing nothing.  What a Dark night seems to do is to force them to use these skills even if they are not there, and when they return they come back with a huge amount of discipline.  It also causes them to value their spiritual skills.
One person described to be the process the other day.  She said that had to re-acquire all her skills one by one and it was incredibly slow and got her very depressed.   As Butler said, all you can do is plod on and be held up by your spiritual routine.
So is a dark night of the soul avoidable?   The answer is probably not, it really depends on your personality and your ability to change.   I am not so sure that it is God turning its back on the person, but rather that the person needs to make a jump in consciousness.   They have climbed to the top of a mountain and do not know how to fly.  They stand on top of their spiritual experiences and feel alone and like they have been abandoned.    How they learn to make that jump is unique to them.  In some cases it appears to be a “need to let go of the past”, others need to wait to integrate their experiences.  But I also think that it is important to realise that they have not been abandoned. Their Higher Self is just as close as it was before – all they need to do is learn to see it.  
It is not so bad once you are up. It is the dark night of the
soul  afterwards you have to worry about.
One of the reasons that the Golden Dawn loses so many people once they have completed their 5=6 initiation is that they have their lower-self crucified with the expectation that they will have some realisation of the Higher Self.  The crucifixion process is often very dramatic but it is not always answered by the mystical experience of the Higher Self as it has expected.  It is this dark night which causes the person to believe that there is nothing in the Golden Dawn and give up.  But really it is about learning to use the information you have been given to experience your Higher Self correctly.  The expectation is that this will be a bright light with choirs of angels singing all sorts of hymns.  But it is not like that and sometimes a dark night is about giving up that expectation.  The mystical experience appears to be something like a realisation of “Truth” or a reversal of thinking that somehow opens up the Divine in your life.
It is odd because in many ways it is a mystical issue, which can be answered magically.

4 comments:

  1. What a very timely post.

    It is indeed encouraging to see you mention years.

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    1. Succinct and very well explained Nick. :)

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  2. "Depression does happen, but it is more of a side effect rather than the main event. The great 20th century magician Ernest Butler described it as a period of dryness and this word does seem to fit the best. It is like you are spiritually in a desert, all alone and nothing appears to work. There is no higher self-connection as it appears to have left you completely. It happens normally after a big initiation, or life changing event and there appears to be no rhyme or reason as to why. This has led many, with a mystical bent, to say that it is because God has turned away from them. The Higher-Self seems to be wanting them to learn something but is not telling the person what, and it can last for years."

    Yes, yes, and yes! Thanks for putting it so well, and thanks for putting a name to the last 4 and a half years of my life. Wow, it really sucks. The best I can do is make this twilight zone-ish nightmare of journey my number one priority, and do my best to keep moving forward through all of its stages. While, of course, doing everything I can to maintain my emotional and spiritual health, as well as keeping my home, working my jobs, and cultivating my relationships with friends and family. I try to accept the things I cannot change, and change the things I can (not much). People say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but I can say that maybe sometimes what doesn't kill you leaves you crippled and wishing you were dead. I'll admit to feeling that way sometimes, but since I'm still alive I'll just keeping moving through it. Fingers crossed.

    Thanks for letting me vent!

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  3. A well written post Nick. I first studied St John of the Cross about 20 years ago as part of my Babe of the Abyss work. Your article is well thought out and insightful concerning the painful process involved during this deep transformative period. The key to success as you suggest, is that old British attitude, grin up and shoulders back.. just getting on with it, no matter how shit you feel. Cheers.

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