The Shortest Day, The Darkest Night

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
~ T. S. Eliot

Last week, we marked the winter solstice. The shortest day of the year. That is also to say, the longest night. Which means we were immersed in darkness for the longest period of time in the year.

I attended a shamanic drumming circle a  few weeks ago in which we explored The Dark and the concept of Darkness. Most of us think of darkness as this negatively charged, depressing, or angry place or feeling - something to be afraid of. But we were encouraged to leave our judgments at the door in order to learn openly about the dark and the darkness.

We started off by discussing the concept of Yin Yang, which, in Taoist philosophy, relates to opposites and balance. For our purposes, dark and light. The visual representation of Yin Yang is the circle of light and dark with a dot in each side. So there is dark and there is light, but within each is a speck of the other. Basically, the concept is that opposites are interdependent, and only exist in relation to each other, so both are present in everything.

So without darkness, we wouldn't know light.

This resonated with me.

I have spent so much time fighting my darkness, associating it with depression and anger and all the things that go bump in the night, but there I was being told this may not be so. That I might have to throw everything I thought out the door. That I had to stop thinking all those horrible thoughts I had about the darkness, and give in to the idea that I could be completely wrong about it all. And if you know me, admitting I'm wrong isn't exactly a piece of cake.

But I tried it anyways. We did an exercise to explore what darkness meant, and when I came out of it, I had this huge realization:

The universe is dark.
Light came afterwards.

There I was, sitting on this deep well of understanding and I didn't even know it. And just then, something inside of me let go and surrendered to this knowledge. I began thinking about what I had just learned and how it could be applied to me and my life. And these thoughts started creeping into me:

Darkness isn't bad or angry or depressing or miserable. Just like the universe, the darkness just is. And it is only against this darkness that the light can be seen. So the universe is made of this all-pervading darkness and the stars are just microscopic reflections of light against it.

And it was this thought that began leading me towards accepting me as I am.

If I equate the darkness inside of me with the darkness of the universe, that means the universe is inside me. And my darkness may be necessary so that I can see the light in others (and myself).
And in terms of the Yin Yang, that means there is always a light inside of me, keeping me balanced.
And all of that sounds like something I can live with.

Since the solstice, the light in our days has lasted a little longer, and will continue to tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. And as we travel in this circle of Yin and Yang, remember that wherever there is darkness, there is always a speck of light.

And I will dance with the idea that maybe my darkness is my light.

What does darkness mean to you? 

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