Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Allowing the Dark

Surrender I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you which shall be the darkness of God.
— T.S. Elliot

We here in the Northern Hemisphere are in the deepest darkness of the year, with the arrival of yesterday’s New Moon and then the Winter Solstice less than a week away. At this time of year, when everything can be so rushed and busy, darkness and quiet and calm can be especially precious. During the Halcyon Days, we are taking some time to honor the silence and even the Dark, both within and without.

The mystical pull toward darkness is something that former priest Matthew Fox calls the via negativa, or, the negative way. Mirroring this time of the darkened Moon, the last days before Winter Solstice and even our Tarot card of the week this week, Fox explains that illumination of the soul may often come “at the end of the bottoming out in the darkness experience.” Allowing ourselves to experience the dark is, in itself, a vital manifestation of Mystery within us. In such times, we surrender our control to something very big within us that we cannot even name.

Yet he goes on to point out that so much of our culture shuns this experience by fleeing from darkness, dreading winter and honoring summer, rushing away from depression toward lightness and brightness. “Our culture would try to intervene with quick remedies, whether it’s drugs or palliatives of some kind. A lot of our addictions are efforts to intervene with the darkness that’s happening. But the mystical traditions would all say there’s something deep to be learned by making the journey into darkness.

“Many people today,” he points out, “are channeling their restlessness of spirit into consuming the variety of goodies that our consumer culture promises, making uncountable visits to the shopping malls and watching uncountable television programs.”

Instead, as this dark time of year makes itself noticed, even if some of that may be sorrow,  I encourage you to sit with it and allow it to be present. Listen to the voice that may even sound like despair. As sociologist and author Philip Slater says in his classic Earthwalk, “Despair is the only cure for illusion. Without despair we cannot transfer our allegiance to reality… it is a kind of mourning period for our fantasies. Some people do not survive despair, but no major change within a person can occur without it.”

Do you have some thoughts on how the Dark is important or challenging for you? I welcome your musings, experiences, and ideas. Please share them with us, as we make this journey into the deepest dark of the year. Together, I know we can make this our most authentic, fulfilling winter holiday ever.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • December 17, 2009, 1:44 pm Claire

    This is a very powerful post. Thank you for explaining the challenge is such a simple way.
    If you ever are feeling again like no one is out there listening to you on this blog, know that there is such strength and intensity here that it is likely intimidating to comment. Often I read your posts and am just struck with astonishment and can’t utter anything in response that seems worthy.
    You are very valuable to your readers.
    I will be linking this post to many friends.
    Thank you.

  • December 17, 2009, 4:21 pm Beth

    Oh, bless you for that, Claire. I am never very sure how this all comes across, but it has become a magical process for me, too. I listen very intuitively (most of the time) for what seems to want to be said. I am sure it doesn’t resonate for everyone, all the time! But I hope that that when it does, it brings something of value.

    Blessings of the Dark to all. More tomorrow.
    – Beth

  • December 17, 2009, 4:42 pm Kendra

    Yes! Oh, yes!

  • December 17, 2009, 8:20 pm Star*

    It has taken me years to come to grips with the darkness and despair. I think I have succeeded for now and one of the processes that allows me to contain the ever present despair is to create. This is one of the reasons why this year, working the Artists Way path, has been one of my happiest. If I am creating, I cannot despair. Even when darkness comes to call, I can sit in my studio and create something…anything…a poem, a card, a letter to a friend, a writing, a piece of jewelry, a crocheted item, a problem solved, a drawing, a mandala, a song, a meditation, a prayer……..etc. This is where the magic of will allows me to redirect my thoughts to something creative, productive, empowered, thus allowing me to retain my power and not have it sucked away by despair or darkness. Now I value the dark time of the year, a quieter time, with fewer outside distractions and more opportunities to create for myself. Sometimes, the muse takes over and what I see come through my hands is not my own doing, but a power greater than just me. I love surprises!


  • December 17, 2009, 9:28 pm denise

    Beth, I have entered my dark time a bit early this season. It has taken me a long time, but I no longer fight these times or hate myself for the feelings that rise up and engulf my spirit.

    It’s my dark times that helps me truly see what is important and what is just time consuming, soul-sucking garbage. As long as I hold on by a finger nail, especially when I hit absolute rock bottom and plummet head first into the thick muck, that tiny grip helps me struggle back up and crawl my way back into the light.

    I may pout, scream, cry hysterically, or shut my emotions down and wall myself off from those around me, but once I purge the poison out of my system, I feel cleansed and hopeful.

  • December 18, 2009, 12:14 am athene noctua

    Well, I have been running away from the dark/my shadow self for about, oh 7 years now, but as I get older realize at some point, I will have to deal w/ all the emotions I’ve stuffed down, deep inside w/ food/internet/TV/family/work/etc, and just deal with it. Only I am still scared to let go completely and just “feel the pain” as my mom says, because I fear it will swallow me whole. As your post today, so kindly points out I will have to sooner or it will really will swallow me. Thanks for me reminding that the dark isn’t bad or evil, it just is.