Last week I wrote a bit about dark nights of the soul, a contemplation of my battles with insomnia, and coming to terms with changes I anticipate in my life. I also wrote about home, and what that term means to me. I realize in writing every day, what I am doing is mining my own stories and allowing them to take shape in a purposeful direction.
I began reading Thomas Moore’s Dark Nights of the Soul and I am surprised and delighted by some of the insights. Moore’s biography also intrigues me. His amazon author page describes him this way: “He has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, and a psychotherapist. He also writes fiction and music and often works with his wife, artist and yoga instructor…”
I love his eclectic career and life. He clearly mines the depths of his experiences and others’ stories, both light and dark. The darkness is not something to be avoided, in his view. He describes the transformation that happens in this darkness this way:
Your story is a kind of water, making fluid the brittle events of your life. A story liquefies you, prepares you for more subtle transformations. (p 61 “The Self in Solution”)
I so completely identify with this passage. And it speaks to what I attempt to do in pursuing this daily writing practice, using the process of story to understand my own life, and the path thus far.
William Blake [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
He uses mythology as a key to understand and cultivate our relationship with the darkness, which is a part of all of us. The imagery he uses of Hekate (Hecate) the moon goddess really speaks to my need to delve below the psychological models that seek to bring things to light, to overcome darkness and to make things manageable. There is a role of this, of course. Most of us have bills to pay, people to care for, work to accomplish. When we are pulled totally into the dark, these things become difficult, and we need assistance to accomplish the basics of survival and maintaining our foundation.
But the “Lunar consciousness” of Hekate helps us put things into a context of deeper meaning, beyond our surface concerns. By mining and embracing the “waste” of our dark nights, we actually may open to some deeper truth within us. The more we try to banish our darkness, and live a moralistic life the more this darkness will assert itself in unhealthy ways. Moore writes: “I want to enter the darkness, because that is where the soul is.”
Yes. He describes the magic of this dark place, and the cyclical nature of light and darkness in our lives, the yin and yang. This all speaks to my struggle with discovering the next steps in my life, knowing my soul is calling forth different actions than what worked in the past.
I am in a cycle of change right now. Some parts of it are joyful as I realize realize my concepts of marriage and commitment have evolved. I may return to some types of work that I really enjoyed but left behind over a decade ago. And yet, I may have to let go of some comfortable notions of my middle class life, and embrace the discomfort of growing into new roles. I may leave behind people with whom I enjoy working, so that I can more fully realize my potential outside the confines of a corporate bureaucrazy.
I am mindfully preparing myself and my husband for these types of transitions. And I am often impatient with this soul-mining. I want an action plan, a step-wise process for this, a clear path. But human lives are seldom so orderly and the soul does not operate on command. So I will embrace this period of quiet, with these occasional dark nights and creative dreams to guide me.
Some wisdom from Rumi (The Guest House) can perhaps serve as a reminder:
“The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”