Emily Lauderback Stewart
A Dark Night of the Soul
TRUST THE DARKNESS NOW
If you are lost. If nothing makes sense anymore. If all your reference points have collapsed.
If the old life is crumbling now. If the mind is foggy, tired, busy. If the organism is exhausted and longs to rest.
Celebrate. Trust. This is a rite of passage, not an error.
You are healing in your own original way.
Contact the ground now. Breathe. In, out. Make room for the visitors: The sorrow, doubt, fear, anger. An ancient emptiness - They just want to be felt. They just want to pass through.
You are a vessel, not a separate self. You are a sky, not the passing weather.
An old life is falling away. A new life is being born.
Others may not understand.
But trust anyway. Celebrate. Contact the ground.
-- Jeff Foster
In late 2011, I was hitting bottom. My psychological and physical state were both severely impaired, and I knew I needed to make significant changes to my life. I elected to give custody of my three girls (ages 12, 9, and 5 at the time) to their dad, which meant completely uprooting their lives, switching schools, etc. I felt I had no other choice. I was not able to function. Maintaining my home and business were also impossibilities for me then. Being self-employed, this also meant no real source of income.
The only choice that seemed viable to me was to leave Seattle and head to the Washington, DC area, where my college roommate and best friend resided. My story was that there I could start over. Switch careers and find employment. That, I felt at the time, would solve everything. I chose to rent out my home in Seattle furnished and found viable tenants through an ad on Craig’s List.
Shortly before departing, I received an astrological reading from the founder of the Shamanic Astrology Mystery School, Daniel Giamario. I was referred to Daniel by Tamara Newmoon.
I had met Tamara in 2004 at a 40th birthday party, where she was providing Tarot Card readings. What I experienced with her resonated, and I maintained a relationship with her, receiving channeled readings a few times each year. These readings and an interest in astrology were new to my life. Sometime close to the birth of my second child in 2002, I began noticing feeling called to receiving this type of esoteric information. Up until this point, I had adopted my family of origin and mainstream culture’s take on astrology and channeled information: it was all something to ridicule and dismiss as it was not rooted in science.
For what a mess I was at the end of 2011, when Tamara offered, “Hey, Emily, I just had a shamanic astrological reading, and I got this hit of you. I want to give you this guy’s information,” I was filled with hope and gratitude. ANYTHING to help me make sense of what was happening. And coming from Tamara, I fully trusted her insights.
Before I departed Seattle, I sent this email to a list of friends and family members:
“If a snake doesn’t move on and shed its skin, it will suffocate.” --Daniel Giamario Just received a very powerful and encouraging shamanic astrological reading yesterday, which confirmed that indeed I am doing what I need to do right now if I’m going to live to fulfill my life’s purpose. I said good-bye to my girls tonight until I don’t know when I will see them next. Without a doubt, an extremely painful and scary time. However, I have also known for months that I have no choice. I have been feeling that I am slowly suffocating for a very long time now. The last few months have provided unquestionable clarity that I cannot sustain what I have been doing anymore.
At the conclusion of the reading with Daniel, he suggested that I may want to contact him again in the Spring. When the clock struck Spring, I was subletting a room in Washington, DC and things seemed even more hopeless than they had when I was in Seattle months earlier. I contacted Daniel to follow up on his suggestion.
His first question was to inquire how I was doing. When I informed him that in many regards things were worse, he said, “Yeh, I was afraid of that. I’m sorry to break it to you, but you are in the Dark Night of the Soul. Have you heard of that?” Of course I hadn’t. He said, “Google it. You’ll find out.”
In the two years that followed, I remained fully immersed in my own Dark Night, and I still do not know if it has completely had its way with me yet. While I was able to find spiritual resources devoted to it, since that had never been my path, they did not provide the insights and help that I needed. Gratefully, I had the opportunity to experience Jeannie Zandi, MA’s work as she traveled through Seattle. She provided the bridge that I needed between psychological and spiritual help.
Dark Night: The Breakdown of the Mythology of Me
By Jeannie Zandi, M.A.
Few issues can be brought to psychotherapy that better straddle the worlds of spiritual teachings and psychology than the dark night of the soul. This experience heralds the breakdown of the mythology of “me” and thus initiates an intense, comprehensive and life-changing spiritual crisis like no other. Given that therapy is the most common place people reach for help in darkness, it is vital that psychotherapists have information about this unique passage in order to treat, refer or offer resources to those who experience this phenomenon. It is critical for our world to see and support the emergence of beings living from tender-hearted nobody-ness, the living of life from a selfless and heart-based ground.
[for full articles http://undividedjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/dark-night-undivided-final-edit-corrected.pdf or http://jeanniezandi.com/dark-night-the-breakdown-of-the-mythology-of-me/]
Thomas Moore’s Dark Nights of the Soul also proved to be an invaluable resource and bridge to allow me to find some perspective as to what I was going through. His Western psychological perspective was all that I knew at that time, so his text provided comfort and affirmation.
Feeling that the deepest and darkest aspect of this chapter of my life has passed and traveling in more spiritually based communities now, I have encountered many people referring to a bad night—literally one difficult night—in their life as a “Dark Night of the Soul.” Despite my limited knowledge and experience, I do question their application of the term. I received affirmation of my reservation through an email I received from Daily Om:
May 20, 2015
Dark Night of the Soul
Surrendering the Ego
by Madisyn Taylor
While we are in a dark night of the soul experience, hold steady knowing the light will appear once again.
Whenever a word is overused, it is most likely being misused, and over time, it begins to lose its meaningfulness. For example, we often refer to a fleeting feeling of depression or a period of confusion, as a dark night of the soul, but neither of these things qualifies as such. A dark night of the soul is a very specific experience that some people encounter on their spiritual journeys. There are people who never encounter a dark night of the soul, but others must endure this as part of the process of breaking through to the dawn of higher consciousness.
The dark night of the soul invites us to fully recognize the confines of our ego’s identity. We may feel as if we are trapped in a prison that affords us no access to light or the outside. We are coming from a place of higher knowing, and we may have spent a lot of time and energy reaching toward the light of higher consciousness. This is why the dark night has such a quality of despair: we are suddenly shut off from what we thought we had realized, and the emotional pain is very real. We may even begin to feel that it was all an illusion and that we are lost forever in this darkness. The more we struggle, the darker things get, until finally we surrender to our not knowing what to do, how to think, where to turn. It is from this place of losing our sense of ourselves, as in control, that the ego begins to crack or soften and the possibility of light entering becomes real.
Some of us will have to endure this process only once in our lives, while others may have to go through it many times. The great revelation of the dark night is the releasing of our old, false identity. We finally give up believing in this false self and thus become capable of owning and embracing the light.