Dark night of the soul – A grounding of selfhood into the powers of being or a surrender of self to the powers of being?

Dark night of the soul –

A grounding of selfhood into the powers of being

or a surrender of self to the powers of being?


As I dive more into women’s spirituality, dancing with darkness and the void becomes so much more potently on the spectrum, on the radar of spirituality.

As I dive into Kali, the energy of time herself, the heart of darkness seemed so much more the deep seat of unconditional love than the voice of death.

But what of physical emotional and mental pain, of anguish, depression and real life suffering, hunger, disease, poverty and abuse? Who would love darkness if she doesn’t care.


Suffering and the dark night of the soul

‘The dark night of the soul’ (which came into usage after a Spanish poet started using the term) is the complete immersion into suffering, pain, anguish that precedes the light.  Classically, Guatama Siddharta, in his emaciated form before the revelations and ‘downloads’ of the Middle Path.  His was the path of the ascetic, renunciation in the form of extreme tapas.  In this case, dancing with death as an action.



‘Paradoxically, the dark night of the soul is often a sign of significant spiritual progress for it is not really the soul (higher Self) but the ego that is in the dark. Some comfort can be obtained by recalling the spiritual dictum that one can only go as high as they have been low, or that Jesus Christ sweat blood in Gethsemane, or that the Buddha reported that he felt as though his bones were being broken and he was being attacked by demons.

“In the pits of spiritual despair and black hopelessness, the necessary Knowingness to be followed is that, spiritually, all fear is illusion. The reason it is safe to let go completely of all that one holds dear, along with the belief that the inner core of the ego is the very source of life itself, is because it is not the source, no matter how intensely the experience may seem.’
-David R. Hawkins, Transcending the Levels of Consciousness


Does the Dark Night of the Soul have a different flavour for women? Is there a feminine Dark Night of the Soul?

Often we long for ‘spiritual’ experiences that raise our vibration or consciousness and we are led to believe that such experiences are, to be touched by light.

“A cursory flick through any major sacred text will quickly show you that the road to spiritual power is littered with trials, exile, infertility, loss, disability, wrestling angels and wandering in the desert” P.101 Burning Woman, Lucy Pearce



So, an invitation. Into darkness is a pull inwards and a detachment from our traditional sense of doing, even perhaps in the sense of ‘doing’ sadhana.  We dig into the deepest recesses of the inner world to break open our self concept.  Trusting disintegration is not very appealing.  Deep surrender requires Bhakti and devotion to allow the exterior to fall away

The work – going dark

So what, if anything is the work here?  To go into the shadows we need darkness.  Space.  To stop.  The great yin-field.  She is the 2020 invitation we have received and if you have the opportunity, the privilege, this is it.  The dark is the whisper of the divine feminine.  In the female body she is the whsipers of the womb, your ally, your inner dark guide.  More than being the voice of ‘intuition’ she is the seat of the self (swadhistana) and from here we find the true soul, the true dark night.  When she is loudest, we commit to listening more and her voice becomes a flow of gold.  As we treat her flow like gold, so the power or the darkness speaks



‘The creation mother is always the Death Mother and vice versa.  Because of this dual nature, or double-tasking, the great work before us is to learn to understand what around and about us and what within us must live, and what must die.  Our work is to apprehend the timing of both; to allow what must die to die: and what must live to live.’

Clarissa Pinkola Estes “Women who run with wolves”

This sounds a lot like work, but in the yin field, maybe the work gets done quietly.  The sorting is often done for us as the forces of nature, of Kali Ma

‘The dark is a place of few words and many images.  Where our worst fears and brightest dreams lie hidden, formless and nameless, waiting to be discovered.  This is the realm we have been warmed of in stories the underworld the dark wood, the black night, the stormy ocean…The places of demons and witches. This is the realm of the unconscious. The domain of the Queen of Darkness, the Goddess.’ p.108 Burning Woman, Lucy Pearce



In darkness there is the primordial seed of creation

The experience of nothingness

The experience of nothingness; is the Awakening quality of women’s liberation and dark nights.  For women, the process of dark night of the soul is better described as a coming to self than a giving up of self, a grounding of selfhood into the powers of being rather than a surrender of self to the powers of being.  Patriarchy, negation and the reduction of woman to nothingness and servitude to others is the ground zero of womanhood.  We are uniquely positioned and our experience is unique.  We negate ourselves as a cultural construct (starving oursleves) and we are negated (politically, socially, emotionally).  Our darkness is not madness.  Our power is not to be burnt away.



“Gradually I began to wonder whether I had a different perspective on theology because I was a woman. When I talked about the spiritual experiences that gave rise to my interest in theology – my connection to nature, the oneness with the universe I had experienced while swimming in the ocean or hiking in the woods – I was told that such experiences were ‘aesthetic.’ ‘poetic,’ emotional,’ or ‘confused and not worthy of theological consideration.

Reader Reaction Diving Deep & Surfacing: Women Writers on Spiritual Quest – Carol P Christ



The big question being do we need to have a dark night of the soul to really illuminate and raise our vibration.  I say, no.

Do we have to do it alone? That’s a big one.


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