This is a sermon I delivered in December of 2000. As a priestess of the Dark Mother, Ereshkigal, this sermon was an integral part of my path to her embrace.
Embracing the Dark
Are you afraid of the dark? I was as a child. Out of the darkness came angry voices, my mother’s screams and my father’s yells. I cried out into the darkness, and out of the darkness came my parents to comfort me. In the house of my childhood, the bathroom light stayed on all night every night, because of me. I was afraid of the darkness, and that fear haunts me still. Now I fear the dark of the year more keenly than I ever feared the night. This time of year is literally dangerous for me. It was the dark of the year each time I came closest to taking my own life. It is the dark of year where I most keenly miss my mother. It is the dark of the year that I am most aware of the dark of my soul. Are you afraid of the dark?
Today’s topic is embracing the dark. The dark of the soul, the dark of the night, the dark of the year. Embracing the dark as keenly as we embrace the light. The dark is the beginning, the essence of birth, death and the dark beckons when the light becomes unbearable. We need to retreat into the darkness under the glare of unbearable light. The dark protects, obscures and makes the dissimilar similar. It absorbs features that separate, it releases fatigue and it frees the inhibitions. There are things you do in the dark of night that you would never do in the light of day. We light a candle not so much to drive away the darkness, but to give it clear boundaries.
In the dark is our beginnings and endings. It carries sound further. It provides a place to admire reflections, like the moon, a place to see a beam of light and the sphere of illumination from a candle. It is only because of the dark that we appreciate the light. Why curse the darkness when you can be the spark that illuminates. In the light it is harder to shine - but in the darkness, we each can be as candles, illuminating the way.
We need new metaphors for darkness that bring us together and keep us safe. The dark of night is easiest, a time for sleep, for renewal, for sex, for jazz, for stars, for walks in the moonlight, for lightning bugs, for candles, for dancing, for serenades. The dark of the year, winter. Winter is a time for snow flakes, for morning stars, for fire places, for mittens, for hot soups and hot chocolate, for singing by moonlight, for ice skating, for turtlenecks, for admiring the limbs of trees and the absence of flying insects, for warm interiors, for lights in the window, for projects inside.
The darkness of the soul brings us a respite from details, blurs what can not be handled, releases pain and sorrow, and makes manifest our personal limits. It gives us the blues, sad country songs, and beautiful poetry. The dark of the soul gives us cleansing tears, and gives our feelings substance. We can truly feel our love, our loss, our sympathy and our anger. We can taste our bitterness, carry our sadness and sing our despair. We can let it out in the darkness. The darkness of our souls teaches us what really matters. What really touches us deep. It clarifies what is petty and what is not.
16 years ago, I learned what true love is. A very dear friend literally saved my life. I learned that with all the trials and tribulations of the world, that I could not change this world except by living in it. Because I choose to live, I learned how to write poetry from my heart. This past few years have witnessed other darkenings of my soul. The last time I learned how to sing the blues, how to feel them in my bones, and how to put them to music. Other times I have learned to paint, to draw, to weave, to laugh, to love, and to make magic. I have learned how to say no. How to accept love, and how to say thank you. And how to ask for help. Without the darkness of my soul, I wouldn’t know how to appreciate living in the light.
The dark as mother, embracing us while we grew in her womb, encircling us as we sleep, nurturing us with her endless bounty planted firmly within her moist dark earth.