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  • Writer's pictureLelia

Light and Dark: Awakening in Life's Shadows

Updated: 4 days ago


Light flowing forth from the blackness, from Fludd’s Utriusque Cosmi (1617)

I’m trying to reread John O'Donohu's Anam Cara, and can’t stomach the pollyanna sunshine spiritual message. O’Donohue writes, “Light is the secret presence of the divine…The soul awakens and lives in light.”


Surely the divine is in the darkness, too? Surely dark nights of the soul can lead to awakening? Why are we pretending only the good things hold divinity?


In The Fruitful Darkness, Joan Halifax writes,


“The most important secrets seem always to hide in the shadows. ‘The secret of life,’ say the Utes, ‘is in the shadows and not in the open sun; to see anything at all, you must look deeply into the shadow of a living thing.’”

Looking deeply into the shadows is the domain of Scorpio, the 8th house, Mars and Pluto. These are the energies that allow us to face, in Thomas Moore's words, "mysteries that resist our moralism and sentimentality. We are taken down to the earth, where principle gives way to life in all its beauty and horror."


Mars, Pluto and any planets in Scorpio and 8th house ask us not to protect ourselves from life's shadows and mysteries. There's nothing easy or breezy about the darkness, but, as D.H. Lawrence expresses it, in his poem Shadows, these experiences are also held "in the hands of the unknown God," and can bring forth "new, strange flowers."


... And if, in the changing phases of man's life

I fall in sickness and in misery

my wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead

and strength is gone, and my life

is only the leavings of a life:



and still, among it all, snatches of lovely oblivion, and snatches of renewal

odd, wintry flowers upon the withered stem, yet new, strange flowers

such as my life has not brought forth before, new blossoms of me,

then I must know that still

I am in the hands of the unknown God,

he is breaking me down to his own oblivion

to send me forth on a new morning, a new man



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