I’ve always been scared easily. My jumpy nature has been with me throughout my life, and images from scary movies I watched as a kid are still seared into my psyche, always at the ready when I’m home alone or out in the woods.
The summer after high school, I went camping with some friends, and when it got dark, I was incessant in my requests for someone to go to the bathroom with me, go to the car with me...to essentially never leave me remotely vulnerable once it was nighttime.
Exasperated by my neediness, a friend of mine finally said, “Megan. There is nothing to be afraid of. Everything around you is the same as it was during the day, you just can’t see it now.”
His words made total sense in my frenetic mind. I realized that what I was afraid of wasn’t the dark itself, it was the inability to see my surroundings like I could when it was light out.
The lack of light in and of itself wasn’t scary - it was the not knowing that came with it. Not knowing for certain that there wasn’t a serial killer waiting outside the bathroom door for me. Not knowing for certain that there wasn’t a cougar in my tent waiting to attack.
I replay his quote in my mind every time I go camping or walk in the dark and start to feel afraid. I picture the place around me in the daytime and it brings me a little bit of peace.
My fear of the unknown persists, but as I grow, so does my appreciation for darkness and the dark half of the year.
The Autumnal Equinox is the official start of the Fall season in the Northern Hemisphere, and it’s one of two times per year when there’s an equal amount of light and dark in one day. After the Equinox, our days will become darker and darker until the Winter Solstice.
The good/bad dichotomy a lot of us use when we talk about light and dark is unhelpful and inaccurate. Neither is good or bad, they’re both simply necessary in order for us to have a balanced and functional life on this planet.
Without darkness every day, we wouldn’t be able to sleep, thousands of nocturnal creatures would die, and our plants wouldn’t have time to regenerate and grow.
Even though we know this rationally, the dark can still be a scary thing. Being in darkness can feel like being lost, vulnerable, or unable to protect ourselves.
I wonder how scary the dark would be if we tapped into other ways of seeing and knowing. Maybe the darkness is scary because we’re straining with our eyes and our intellect to find our way when those things simply can’t serve us like they do when it’s light out.
When we’re on the precipice of change, things feel very unclear, like we’re in an environment shrouded in darkness and shadows. Try as we might, we can’t make sense of exactly what’s next, which makes it hard to prepare and feel in control.
For a long time, when I was in this place, I would amplify the strategies that I thought were most effective in the light, like spreadsheets, pros and cons lists, and talking to “experts” about what I should do. I thought all I needed was more information, but information is useless when it’s so dark you can’t read it.
What I needed was a different set of tools.
Darkness is growing in a literal sense as it takes up more time in our days, and it’s also here for many of us metaphorically; for better or worse, it’s a time of not knowing - not knowing what to do for work, how to navigate relationship changes, or whether our species is going to survive climate change. This is a different time, and a different part of ourselves has to step in to guide us now.
Something deeper and older is needed in order to navigate this dark season full of the unknown.
Old habits like worrying, looking for expertise outside of ourselves, and clinging to concrete data aren’t going to be enough. We need tools that help us tap into our internal wisdom, which is a quieter guide, like the soft, subtle light of the Moon.
Without planning for it, I’ve covered some of these tools in this inquiry series already:
- Water-element strategies like journaling, meditation, prayer, and open-ended inquiry (post 1)
- Choosing not to tolerate behaviors, environments, or speech that don’t fit for us (post 2)
- Embracing the unknown and releasing what’s ready to go (post 3)
If we can still our worried minds long enough to sit in the dark, murky depths, I know that we can emerge with clarity and a stronger sense of internal wisdom. The darkness will challenge us to step into ourselves, finally and fully.
If we let it, the darkness will initiate us into the next phase of being.
In small, earth-connected communities like the indigenous tribes our ancestors all came from, you likely would have been embedded in a culture that, in some form or another, initiated you into adulthood.
Instead, you’re probably from a mass-produced culture like I am, and our initiations were sorrowful things like getting our period in gym class or having the childlike sensitivity bullied out of us by jocks. This is a tragedy, and I can’t go back in time and fix it for you, but I’m here now to invite you to conduct your own initiation and step into the next phase of your life.
To be initiated is to become an adult in the fullest sense. An initiated person is someone who has reckoned with their Shadow and been transformed. There are varying levels of initiation, and we can go through many different kinds throughout our lives.
This dark period can be that for you. It can be a time of initiation into deeper self-awareness, a stronger sense of intuition, and greater connection to your spiritual self. In time, these internal transformations will be expressed outwardly in powerful, unexpected ways. It may not be until the Winter Solstice, the Spring Equinox, or even in the next year, but I have no doubt that your life will change if you can learn to work with what’s in the darkness inside of you.
In many of the indigenous cultures we came from, initiations were done in a sacred container created and held by a guide and mentor. They were conducted in community, not in isolation or at random.
I don’t know what your path through this dark time will look like, but I want to encourage you to seriously consider finding a mentor to be with you on the journey.
Each of us so greatly needs guides throughout our lives; not people who give us answers or tell us what to do, but people who evoke the genius within us - mentors who can see it, name it, and challenge us to honor its wisdom in our lives.
Without a guide holding sacred space for us, it’s too easy to equivocate and look for harsh lighting that will drown out the darkness and make us feel safer.
I aim to be this person in my work as a coach, and if this inquiry series has resonated with you, I invite you to scroll down and reach out.
If that doesn’t fit for you but you know you’d like to find a partner, please do so, even if you feel like it’s not feasible because of time, money, or anything else. Find a therapist, mentor, coach, psychic, or healer to work with - it just has to be someone who completely honors the spirit within you.
If you already have someone like this in your life, I’m so glad. Consider amping up darkness-ready tools like free-writing, Tarot card reading, dreamwork, yoga nidra, or anything that gets you deeper into your body and intuition.
The final inquiry in this series is one designed to trick your mind out of its habit of finding quick and easy answers. See how your body responds when you read it. Let it live in you, make notes, ask for a dream about it, or do whatever feels like exploration to you.
Today’s inquiry is this:
Will I allow myself to be transformed by this dark time of unknown?
Our planet is in crisis, and there’s really no more time to waste in lives that aren’t the fullest expression of who we are.
I hope you’ll honor yourself and this threshold we’re crossing by letting the darkness initiate you deeper into your own true knowing.
If mentorship is something you seek and your intuition is nudging you to move forward, I’d love to chat more on a clearness call. This is a free, 30-45 minute chance for us to learn more about one another and talk about how I might be able to support you.