Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Hope in the Holy Darkness

I read Waking Up To The Dark (2015) for the third time recently. It’s fascinating, but also the most gentle, calming and comforting experience. A remembrance of the holy dark and the never-ending embrace of the Black Madonna—Mother Earth.


I think I have come to agree with Clark Strand—that there are no human solutions to the problems we face as a species, to climate change and all the other tangled mistakes we’ve made. We have simply gone too far, and thus can’t avoid the destruction that is already here. Kali will inevitably have her way. Strand writes:


In Hinduism the term Kali Yuga referred to the last of four “world stages,” a period of strife, discord, and destruction that was the necessary precursor if the cycle was to start again. Kali was the dark mistress, the “Black Madonna” of that final world stage, but it was important to remember that she had no malice or evil intent. Only those who saw death as the end would fear her. Only those who had lost touch with the ancestral rhythms of birth and rebirth would fly from her embrace. She was the Mother of the Universe, the Queen of Heaven who manifested in different forms as needed in order to defeat arrogance. Her role, then as now, was to restore balance by bringing the powerful to their knees. (115)


This is difficult knowledge, confronting and uncertain, and I don’t want to downplay it. It scares me, what we will be up against. And yet there is no malice or evil intent, only a rebalancing, a restoration of how things need to be. 


Strand’s argument is that the thing that has most changed human consciousness, to our detriment, is artificial light. It also led to the loss of our ancient sleeping pattern, which included a period of relaxed wakefulness midway though the night, which Strand calls the Hour of God (still existing in some religious traditions). This has caused us to become disconnected from the darkness, from nature, and from our own souls. Thus the antidote to the poison of too much light is the Dark Revolt: turning off the lights (living off-grid, if possible), and yielding up our bodyminds to the night.


Darkness is the one remaining revolutionary act. Changing the political order does not matter. Economies are all more or less alike. Governments and cultures rise and fall. The person who chooses to turn off the lights and lie awake in darkness embraces the truth of a life before and beyond all these. The only way back to the path we once traveled on as a species is through the darkness of deep time. (53)


I don’t believe we can force a change in consciousness, because consciousness does not belong exclusively to humans; it cannot be changed by acts of will, or by rational thought. But we can create the circumstances in which change can occur, and if we don’t choose to turn out the lights now, voluntarily, the earth will do it for us, eventually. 


Illustration by Will Lytle

Ultimately, all we have to understand is that we need only surrender to earth, to darkness, and to life~death~rebirth. Not an easy task, at all. Still, this gives me a strange kind of hope—hope that is rooted in the reality of ecology, biology, geology, soul, and the realm of the ancestors, and this is extraordinarily comforting.


There is no loneliness once we realize that the whole world and everything in it is mothers and fathers as deep as the dirt beneath our feet. The whole planet is nothing but mothers and fathers—of every possible species—who have passed before us into the dark. And we ourselves are no one but those mothers and fathers come back into the light.


Everything that is born will someday die, and all that has died will come to life again. That is the rhythm of the universe. Call it birth, death, and resurrection. Or call it the workings of a planetary ecology in which nothing can be added or taken away. It amounts to the same truth in the end. Light follows darkness, and darkness follows light. (34–35)


Life as we know it is going to end, as will our own individual lives, but Life itself will not end. Even with all the harm humans are doing, I no longer believe that the earth is a passive victim. I know she has agency, and will act when she is ready. A great upheaval is already occurring, an apocalyptic age—and yet, this may be the unveiling of what once was, the revelation of what may yet be. 


Endings lead to beginnings. How is this not cause for hopefulness? Whatever happens, we are never alone, always enfolded in the embrace of earth, our Mother.


In the same way that everyone without exception has been born from a mother, everyone returns to the Mother as well. She is our origin, our destination, and our present place of rest. We cannot take one step apart from her body before or after death, not even while we are alive. She is the Mother of all things: the living body of the world. (102)


I was lucky to find this book second-hand two years ago, when it was out of print and difficult to source, but I noticed a new paperback is being published in September, which looks beautiful. Read it, and find comfort.


And happy solstice!

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

To Go Down Deep: A Poem

to go 

down deep 

you must 

turn away 

from the 

light and

go blindly 

seeing with 

the eyes of 

the heart 

following 

the voice 

that calls 

silently and

the inward 

song that 

sings your 

being from 

earth back 

to earth


April 2016

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

An Update from the Rainy Days … Weeks … Months …

The Story of Illness


Oh, to find the energy!

To be able to embody it.

To be able to do the work I feel called to do.

To manifest my visions.

To be fed by them, and to feed in turn,

in an endless cycle of exchange, 

of gifting.


The energy will return, in time.

I trust myself to what will be.

To the story of illness I am living.


(2021–2022)


*


I was hoping to have posted something more here by now, but with the project that unexpectedly fell through (for the time being), and being unable to photograph a major knitting creation (due to the disorder of doing some redecorating), and not being able to work in my studio (due to said disorder), plus experiencing the malaise of yet another intensely wet and gloomy (and mouldy!) not-quite summer, combined with the cost to my energy of doing physiotherapy exercises every morning … well, you get the idea. 


I am also trying to read too many books (feminist literature is so enlivening!), despite my mind slipping over the meanings of words and struggling to comprehend what, at other times, I would absorb more easily.


But there are glimmerings, seeds being planted, ideas sparked. Images want to be manifested.


Soon, soon, I say. Your time will come.


I love the feeling of creativity beginning to burgeon, even if just hesitantly.


I’ve been thinking back over the past ten years, and all of the learning and growing I have done; and how the past five years have almost broken me, but how much further I have come despite the madness of the world and the pain of uncertainty. (I think I can be proud of who I am becoming.)


I cannot do my creative work right now. That’s just how it is. It’s frustrating, but it’s also okay.


I’ve missed summer—some warmth and sunshine before winter would be welcome—but I am sinking down into autumn, and all is well. 


This is the story of illness. My story. 


I hope there will be more to tell soon.


Summer blues, March 2022