To see in the dark

The morning air is crisp and cool and the harvest moon is bright in my window. It’s autumn – the last days of September. And while the media would like to remind me that this is the time to buy new sweaters and swap my home brewed coffee for a pumpkin spice everything, I’m being called to notice that we are entering into the dark season.

This is my favorite season, and the one most difficult for me emotionally.

My favorite because of the cold mornings and crisp leaves underfoot. Because my birthday falls in November, and it’s the start of a new year for me. Because I like to be bundled up in sweatshirts and slippers, and because I finally get the urge to knit again, and start to weave together new and beautiful things.

It’s difficult because it’s dark, literally and figuratively. In the Pacific Northwest, each day closer to the winter equinox is like a long, slow march into the belly of a great cave or tunnel, ever darker, ever colder. My insides mirror this natural, seasonal transition, as my focus starts to move into the depths of my darker emotions, the recesses of my psyche, the belly of my being.

Some people call this seasonal depression.

For me, it comes with a lack of motivation to carry on as planned and a deep, slow burning desire to create something new. What that new thing is will be slow to reveal itself, but it slowly pieces itself together from the hours spent knitting, the steps spend walking in the woods, the extra sips of hot tea. The newness can only be created when the darkness, and all that lives there, is met, and matched, and respected, and moved, and cleared.

In other words, the fall begins a process of dealing with the darker emotions.

For myself and other sensitives I know, the fall can feel like walking off a cliff of happiness and falling into a pit of despair. The transition to this season can feel abrupt and, if we’re not careful, we can end up believing the story our thoughts come up to explain it, things like, “I’m not good enough,” or “Why I can’t I manage like everyone else?” or, even worse, “Maybe they’d be better off without me.”

Fall is the season when nature releases that which has been created and blooming over the past season. She lets it tumble downward, where it piles up and starts the slow processes of decomposing, eventually buried under the snow or drenched in winter rain. It’s a slow, ugly, and even stinky process.

Yes, each spring, new life springs forth from all the processed material.

We forget, in this day and age, that we are part of nature, that we are at the whims of her cycles and her rhythms, and that what happens on the body of the planet – the macrocosm – is a mirror and a blueprint for how our bodies – the microcosm – follow suit.

We are invited during this time to go within. For the sensitive among you, this may feel forceful, as you are acutely aware of this call and often unable to ignore it. So, I invite you, listen.

This season can be full of tribulations as we confront the darkness, the shadow, and whatever is hiding within it, of our psyche. That’s why it’s helpful to have support, so you can have some help seeing in the dark.

In her revolutionary book, Healing Through the Dark Emotions, author Miriam Greenspan says,

The word shaman means “to see in the dark.” There is a shamanism of the dark emotions — a way of maintaining awareness in the midst of the chaos and turbulence of the darker regions of the psyche — that ultimately alters our perception of who and what we are. Painful emotions challenge us to know the sacred in the broken, to develop an enlarged sense of Self beyond the suffering ego, an awareness that comes from being mindful of life’s difficulties, rather than disengaging from them; to arrive at a wider and deeper perspective not limited by our pain but expanded by it.

Join me in The Refuge for Sacred Rebellion this November, where we will work with this book and it’s practices together as a group, building a greater awareness, seeing in the dark, and alchemizing our more difficult emotions to emerge in the spring more deeply planted and rooted than ever before.

Will you join us?

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