“I realize that in a whole lifetime spent with seekers of enlightenment, I have never once heard anyone speak in hushed tones about the value of endarkment. The great mystics of the Christian tradition all describe it as part of the journey into God, but it has been a long time since The Cloud of Unknowing was on anyone’s best seller list. Today’s seekers are more interested in getting God to turn the lights on than in allowing God to turn them off. Full solar spirituality strikes again!”—Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark
Two thousand years of Western Christianity has taught our society that light is good and dark is bad. Perhaps this is the reason why race relations are in such a desperate state in our nation today. But is darkness always bad? It’s true that 1 John 1:5 says “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” But Isaiah offers a counter-perspective: “I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.” (Isaiah 45:3)
Darkness doesn’t always have to be bad. Pagan folk have known this for millennia as they observed the phases of the moon and cycles of day and night. Darkness is an important part of nature and the cycle of the Wheel of the Year. Life cannot exist without it. Therefore, darkness is good and serves a Divine purpose in our lives. Darkness is not the place where evil dwells. Instead, it is full of mystery, intuition and the whisperings of the Spirit. During dark times we are held safely in the womb of the Divine, even though it may not feel like it. According to Genesis, darkness is the moment before light is spoken into being. It’s a time of waiting for new life to be born. Darkness can be a disturbing time, but disturbance is not always a bad thing. Often it is the catalyst that helps us to learn and eventually germinate something new in our lives.
These are some of the things my Wiccan sisters and brothers have taught me about the power of the dark. It is quite different from my Christian upbringing where darkness was always talked about in hushed tones and with fear and dread. Thankfully, Barbara Brown Taylor was brave enough to wade through these dark waters of mystery and also lift up Biblical examples where darkness is spoken of in a much more positive light. This is definitely one area where Christians need to so some soul searching and rethinking of our tradition. Hopefully, we’ll listen to our Pagan sisters and brothers who have much to teach us about the positive, transforming power of darkness.
Copyright ©2016 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com