Embracing Darkness

Jun 01, 2022

Darkness as a symbol has been persistently feared due to particular language, social stigmas, certain philosophies, and negative beliefs. Our ancestors, however, recognized the dark cycles of the year as a necessary and valuable part of the rhythms of nature. Although they had no choice but to align with the darkness, they instinctively knew to rest, replenish, reflect, and renew, just as mother earth herself was doing. In these modern times with warm, cozy houses, electricity, street lights, televisions, phones and computers, it’s easy to deny the darkness. Hence darkness has become unfamiliar, which makes us uncomfortable. We fear what might be lurking in the shadows. 


An unfortunate consequence of this negative representation of darkness, is the alignment of death with darkness. So we shroud death and fear it and turn the other way. We hope, like darkness, that if we shine enough light on it, death will cease to occur. The truth is that darkness is a natural and integral part of the circle of life and honoring it can be the first step in coming to peace with the end of life. 


Repairing one’s relationship with darkness comes in multiple forms. Just as our natural surroundings have both light and dark attributes, so do we. When we can embrace both together, sitting in absence of light to go within ourselves, we have an incredible opportunity for self-awareness, growth, healing, and life transformation. 


What does darkness represent?

Death is not the only thing hidden in the darkness. Symbolically speaking, darkness can represent nighttime, sleep time, shadows, nightmares, fear, magic, mystery, death, the unconscious, and all things invisible to the naked eye. In nature, we find the most redeeming symbols of darkness where dark times act as an essential part of life. At dusk, daytime dies to the night. Every month the moon’s cycle fades into complete darkness only to resurrect with the light of a new crescent moon. And without fail, all four cycles of the seasons end with the darkness of winter in order to begin over again. By observing the sky, wild animals, and plants we are able to experience how these cycles of light and dark work together and naturally foster balance, transformation and renewal. 


Why should we embrace the darkness?

Just like nature, we are designed to continually move and change through natural cycles. Going inward to experience darkness –literally or metaphorically – is a necessary part of rest, renewal, self-awareness and personal transformation. 


Darkness is an opportunity to relax, review, rethink, relinquish and replenish. In that space we are able to rest, receive, sleep and restore energy we exerted in the previous cycle. We are also able to turn our thoughts inward to reflect, review, and release that which no longer serves us. It could be a habit, thought, belief, relationship, house, job, town or anything else we choose. Once we intentionally decide to let go and be receptive to the darkness, it’s like cleaning house. We feel lighter and refreshed. 


As with all things in life, balance is the key to good health. To be whole we must embrace the dark and light aspects of ourselves. By exploring our inner darkness we are able to revitalized in preparation for our next outward phase. 


How does one embrace the darkness?

While it may feel scary at first, be comforted by the knowledge that darkness is like a womb – a safe and sacred place of nurturing, protection and growth. All light comes from the dark. Without darkness we could not see the stars.


A few practices for embracing the dark:

  • Spend time journaling. Write down all the things you are afraid of in one column, and next to each fear write where that fear comes from.  The goal is to get comfortable with your anxiety. Make it your friend. 
  • The next time you spend time alone in darkness, pick one point of fear and develop a plan for empowering yourself. How can embracing that fear make you stronger?  
  • Proactively sit alone in the dark for 15 minutes with no music, TV, phone, or other distractions. Just sit within the darkness and feel into your body. What wishes to be heard within you? If you feel anxious track your thoughts and the feelings in your body and journal about it afterwards.


By merely being in the presence of the absence of light, we can come into better balance with nature and ourselves. We are meant to be connected to the rhythms of nature and attuned to her cycles, which encourages us to continually renew. This means that we ought to allow the darkness to come forward rather than pushing it away. Embrace it as a beautiful part of yourself, and it will help you recognize your inner value.