Dark Night of the soul

The dark night of the soul. We all have been there. 

In the dark night of our soul, where suffering and despair overlap our ability to feel joy and the mercyless waves of hopelessness close in on us, drowning us an endless ocean. With no land in sight, we feel alone, isolated, lost, and there no hope of rescue. 

Usually we don’t just wander into these situations voluntarily. Usually, we are catapulted into it by some kind of fateful experience, that we seemingly had no control over, or at least that we thought we didn‘t choose. Our soul, however, did.

It might have started with an accident that leaves us permanently damaged, or the death of a loved one. Or maybe our husband decided to leave us for suddenly when we are in our 50’s and we have to, after years of being a home-keeper and mother, support ourselves, re-define ouselves. Or maybe we have fallen ill, not able to live our lives as we were used to anymore. Or maybe it came more slowly, the feeling of frustration in an unhappy relationship or in an unfulfilling job, mounting into a deep depression that, in truth, is more than just a depression. Or an addiction, an eating disorder, a deep seated fear. 

All or any of it can serve to open the trap door that lets us stumble into the darkness of our unconscious mind, where all of the demons and monsters and shadow creatures we never wanted to see, are hiding. They are waiting for us there, patiently. And if you are thinking, no, I don‘t have any demons, well, you most likely are wrong. We would‘t be here otherwise. It is exactly this duality of our mind, the eternal pull between the gods and demons, between the darnkess and the light, that makes us human. It is this exact drama, the divine play, the Lila, that caused us to incarnate in the first place. We are on this earthly plane, this world of duality, where heaven and earth meet, where the forces of nature battle with the forces of the mind, where masculine and feminine energies attract and deter each other in an eternal dance, like magnetism, like electric forces, like nuclear energy. Why else would we be here if not to figure out our own dual forces within us, to find balance in our body and our mind. 

It was always meant to be our mission, to slay those demons. It‘s why we are here. 

And the sooner we are aware of this, the better. 

Yes, we all have skeletons in the basement and dragons in the cave and some of us can live a whole life blissfully unaware of them. But they will always make their presence felt. They will nudge us toward doing things we don‘t actually want to do. They will cause us to fall into the same distructive patterns again and again. They will keep us in abusive relationships, shackle us to our addictions, make us prey to all kinds of fateful events and circumstances we seem to be the victim of. They will make us eat that cream covered cake even though we will shed tears of self-hate afterwards, they will make us drink another bottle of wine, yell at our kids just to be ridden by guilt. Even globally, in our collective consciousness, they will make us wage wars and poison the earth even though we know it will eventually lead to our downfall. They will always create situations that make us re-live our inner fears over and over again –  until we finally do something about it. Until we become the hero of our own story and beginn the journey of the soul. 

And it starts with a dark night.

We knew it since we were children, really. Since birth. When we still were pure, undefiled human beings, authentic and in alignment with our true nature. When we still felt and played and trusted, when we loved and sang and painted pictures of yellow, smiling suns. When we hugged and kissed and danced without fear of judgment. When we openly cried when we were in pain, asked for help if we needed it, when we followed our heart‘s true calling. We knew it because one of the things we loved the most was listening to stories. Ancient stories, fairy tales of magic and of beauty, of dragons and beasts, of love and of terror. We devoured them, asking for our favorite tales over and over again. Especially the gruesome ones, where witches and wolves devoured the innocent and evil magic turned a heart to stone. Why? Because nothing hides a greater truth. Nothing could prepare us better for our life on earth. 

Each and every one of them is the same story – the story of the journey of the soul through it‘s darkest night. A rite of passage. And our lives are nothing else but a series of rites of passage, each one leading to higher states of consciousness. 

But in each one, we first have to free ourselves from the shackles that keep us tied down inside our own suffering. That keep us addicted, weak and unfulfilled. We have to fight the hidden demons that lurk in the dark corners of the mind, if we ever want to be rid of them. 

Because when we do, it is like pulling a plug that has been blocking energy from flowing freely. All of a sudden, we feel the surge of it again. All of a sudden, we are free of a pain we never knew we had because it was our normal state. 

But to pull that plug is hard. And scary. And painful. We don‘t know if we are ever going to make it out alive. We don‘t even know most of the time what to do at all. 

When we are in the middle of a dark night of the soul, all we see is darkness, isolation, fear, pain and despair. 

But exactly this very state of not knowing, of being alone in the dark, vulnerable and unprotected, is the most important moment of the dark night of the soul. It is crucial that we go through it. If we never experience this state of utter despair, it isn’t a true transformation of the soul. 

Like Innana, who had to leave one garment at a time at each of the seven gates to the underworld, to enter completely naked, we too have to become naked. Stripped of all of our masks, of our veils that cover our true, authentic, beautifully open self, we have to go down there as we are, baring our true nature. Naked, like a baby, we are being re-born in this very moment. 

Every dark night of the soul has something to do with lost identities. Who am I? Is the big question we seem to have lost the answer to when we loose our home, our job, our relationship, a loved one. When we loose what has once been an important part of who we are. But this loss simply means that it is time for us to move on. It means that we are not that anymore. Our soul has outgrown the life it had been living. 

Like a caterpillar, or a snake, we are shedding the skin that has become too small for our soul. We are shedding all of the identities we had up until now. And that process of shedding is painful, but necessary because underneath, is a new layer of skin, new identities that are being manifested by our soul, by our true self. It is a moment of pure potentiality, a rite of passage. 

And like all rites of passage, we need to make it alone. 

But life has given us the tools we need to get through it. Magic tools. 

Life has given us a manual. It comes in the form of ancient vedic wisdom, of shamanic spirit guides, of fairy tales and legends. It gives us tools like Yoga, Meditation, Inner journey work and exercises that will help us let go of our old skin. It gives us knowledge that can keep our spirit high and above the drama of our pain. Really, we have everything we need already, to make it through this hour of darkness. 

We‘ve all been through it before, at our birth and our adolescence. What have we learned from that time?

We know that we have to accept our own nature. Who am I? Is the question that comes in all rites of passage – Adolescence, Menopause, birth and death and all of the other portals that let us enter into the dark night of the soul. The most important thing to do now is to be true to ourselves. Honest. Authentic. 

Who am I?

How do we know? 

Ask yourself this: Is what I am doing giving me energy, does it make me feel vital and alive? If not, if it drains me, it is a sign that I am swimming against the tides of the universe, I am not aligned with my true nature. And a battle between my Ego and the universe can never be won. Ever. 

The best way to align with the universe is to align with nature – both, your inner nature and your outer. Ayurveda provides all of the tools for this. 

Follow your heart – find beauty in all of what you see and joy in all of what you do. Yoga will teach us this path. 

And look into the darkness of your soul. Understand your karmic patterns, know your purpose, your calling in the world. Jyotish (Vedic Astrology) helps us with this. 

There is always a thread we can follow to lead us out of the labyrith of our own mind. 








Sandra Hayes

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