Embracing the Dark: Samhain

96% of the universe is dark.  Of that, 73% is dark energy, and 23% is dark matter.  None of it glows; none of it is visible, no matter how big it is.  If our largest planet, Jupiter, were to drift away from its source of reflected light (the sun), it would not be seen.  Which is to say that only 4% of the universe emits light and is visible.

And yet, of all the behavioral curiosities on the earth, most spiritualities and metaphysics cling to that smallest percentage of What Is as their source of truth, while expressing fear of the vast Other that is the dark itself.  All kinds of evil, fear, repugnance and avoidance are attributed to the dark, and upon that fear are based detailed moral systems.  By contrast, the 4% has been enthroned as the source of love, compassion and integrity.  Some have  gone farther to claim that that sourcing of light fully means that the universe is made of love and have even given it various names for God or of various psychological states, while attributing to the dark all sorts of satans, devils and natural calamities.  Have we not all heard, “Love heals,” and “God is love and light,” and other such propositions?  What a hefty weight for a relatively miniscule portion of the vast expanse within which we have our home!

I do not mean to imply that love is not a powerful energy.  Associating it with the sun and the daylight makes good street sense.  We have a natural, physical affinity for light and safety.  Of course, we need it.  In its own way, it works as it ought to.

But the reality is that we have our home in the dark.  Our subconscious is largely dark energy, sometimes roiling up with unexpected thoughts, unexplainable myths, stumbling blocks in our decision making, as well as suddenly erupting with inspirations that emerge in ways we can hardly know.  Most roots of plants seek their nourishment in the dark, where the energy for life is sourced.  Bears hibernate in it; bats sleep upside down in the caves of it; rabbits cuddle in their dark warrens; fetuses prepare for birth in the half light of their mothers’ wombs.  The dark is necessary for sleep, growth and healing for each of us.  As the seasons turn, especially the farther away from the equator we live, we enter the dark of the year, a darkness absolutely necessary for the seasonal cycles of death and rest before the spring abundance.

And yet, we are taught to fear the dark, and to take odds against all that cannot be separated out from the shadows, and to put up ramparts against the dangers.  We do it because, among other things, we care for our families and their wellbeing.  There are wolves and night eagles in silent pursuit.

But even so, one thing has largely been absent in the current metaphysics of our culture:  we do not embrace the dark.  We do not call it home.  We shy away from its presence and fear what is beyond the edges of our flashlights.  96% of our existence is in the dark, and we are largely terrified of embracing it.

How, then, can we fully appreciate this time of year between Samhain (pronounced “sah-wen,” aka Hallowe’en) and Yule, this dark time we can call “Samhain-tide”?  Between now and Winter Solstice, the dark is deepening here in the Northern Hemisphere.  Instead of fleeing it, what might happen if we were to refrain from automatically turning on the lights?  What might happen if we fully embraced the dark as a natural ally?  How would our lives deepen in grace and wisdom if our embrace of it created friendship and devotion to its power, its potential, its potency?

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