When we engage in any work of depth, we will inevitably come up against a cultural bias toward the light, the upward, the clear, and the whitened. But the invitation of wholeness requires that we travel the entire spectrum. We cannot sidestep the blackened areas, those dimensions of psyche that are hidden outside ordinary awareness.
We may never want to go into these places—the shadowlands of our core vulnerabilities, dissociated feelings, psychic inconsistencies, unmet narcissism, and habitual self-absorption. Especially if we identify as a spiritual person cultivating the light, conditioned to pathologize so-called “negative” experiences of fear, rage, jealousy, and depression, this tending to the dark can upend the status quo.
We can’t wait around until we feel like doing it or feel consistently safe and certain. Or until we know how to do it ahead of time. These may not be given. To enter the unknown with curiosity and compassion requires that we touch and integrate the energies of deflation. But this dissolution is initiation as it offers vision not available in the clear, reflected, held-together state.
It is as if a fellow traveler is no longer permitted to continue the journey by our side. The crumbling of “my life” and the way it was supposed to turn out. This prior companion can be a person or a member of the inner landscape—a fantasy, vision, or image through which we’d come to see ourselves and others. Somehow, it has finished its time here and is requesting liberation.
But will we love this one enough to allow them safe passage?
In order to go through the initiation and participate fully in the creativity of the death-rebirth cycle, we must slow down, return into the earth and listen to the music, poetry, and guidance found in the depths.
There may always be an urgency to cut into the dissolution and get to the next phase as quickly as possible. But there is wisdom in the dark which is preparing the vessel for the next illumination.
The invitation is to allow the old to wash away and to grieve the death of an old dream. This grief is holy and opens the heart to imagination and revisioning.
Shared with gracious permission from A Healing Space. Photo by Kristina Marleena.
I am a psychotherapist in private practice, working with individuals, groups, couples, and families. My practice integrates developmental, relational, and contemplative perspectives/ approaches to psychospiritual growth and healing.
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