Darkness... Through conversations either read or spoken in person, I have found that most people fall on either side of the 'barrier', either they wish to only acknowledge themselves as participating in the 'love and light' or they have themselves been through an underworld experience.
I usually sit back and don't offer my own opinions on the subject unless asked, not out of fear per say but rather out of privacy. To reveal ones journey through the dark is very intimate. To me the darkness is necessary. A year ago I was at a point in my life where I was frustrated and desired to move forward spiritually. Only I didn't realise that the only way my desire was going to come to fruition was to understand myself, who I truly am, deep down in the nitty gritty of it all. It would require I journey to the Underworld.
Our shadow is an aspect of ourselves that will only present itself when the time is right, when we are able to deal with whatever lurks deep within us with honour and respect. This though does not indicate that the journey will be easy just because one is ready for it. The dark can be disorientating and frightening but for all of that, it is a part of who we are. I know people who believe that to be happy (or at least present to the world the illusion of perfect happiness) that their life must be filled entirely of the everlasting pureness of love and it's (apparently obvious?) counterpart - the light. Love exists in darkness. It may very well bring on the most intense feelings of love and connectedness that exist, it may not obviously present itself though as it is self love that is sought there.
I am recently coming out of a period of deep and very meaningful shadow work that was undertaken over a period of about year or so. I will say that that time was well spent. No I didn't feel waves of joy emanating out from my fingertips or spend endless hours drawing white light into my body (not that that is a bad thing I just preferred to embrace my underworld experience for what it was). My journey to healing was through confrontation. In order to heal past hurts, those of others but honestly most were self inflicted, I had to stand infront of a metaphorical mirror almost every minute of every day I spent in the shadows. I confronted my true feelings about myself and my feeling about past, current and future relationships with myself. I haven't always been my best friend. In fact if I spoke others the way I once spoke to myself I wouldn't have wanted anything to do with me! I had to teach myself the art of letting it go. That was one of the hardest things I learnt to do and it took the longest. To open up and be vulnerable, even when we are alone can be one of the most terrifying experiences we can go through if we haven't already cultivated a strong sense of self. And that is exactly what one eventually achieves through shadow work. After years of suppression my emotions rose slowly to the surface, one at a time. Once I had handled those first issues others quickly followed. There were many times I cried as to the purpose of having to sift through all of my emotional and psychic detritus but it is on the other side that I see clearly now. Through all of my yearning to expand my spiritual self it would not have been at all possible for me to advance spiritually without shedding what I no longer needed (or wanted) in my life. I could not grow if I continued to put myself last, if I didn't speak or treat myself as a worthy person. My inner dialoge was a dreadful learnt behaviour I was still carrying around since childhood. A sacrifice of myself was required. What is it that they say - no pain, no gain. I intimately understand that for my desire to be fulfilled I could not carry so much excess baggage (ie: shit!) along with me.
In the darkness our biological senses take over, our hearing is sharpened, the sensation of touch is heightened, our sense of smell is potent. To be in the dark we lose our ability to see, our outward/external experience. We then are able to hear our internal voice clearly. Without anyone to reflect back to us we can release our ego. The one thing that holds us back. Once we shed our ego we will no longer need to 'see' when we return as our internal 'vision' will be what guides us.
While my post here is titled Embrace the Darkness I'm in no way suggesting that it's beneficial to immerse yourself entirely for all eternity, in the shadows. Finding our own sense of balance, that is individual in experience can only lead to a well grounded person who knows exactly who they are is a blessing! You can't live your entire life in the light, you will eventually burn, but you can't huddle yourself away, alone in a cave. To achieve true balance is to experience time in both worlds. Walking the veil between life and light and darkness and death is the path of the Witch, one who will also be awaiting their rebirth. And that is the cycle of a life well lived!
- Hekate, my Lantern in the Dark. She who guided me into the depths of the Underworld and whose fire burns for my return to above.