When In Darkness

Many times one comes to a place in which life appears dark; the spirits are quiet; there is no illumination; all appears hopeless and lost. One strives to force change but fails. Then one seeks an escape but finds none. Tom Cowan, in his book1 Shamanism: As a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life, refers to this loosely as, “the dark night of the soul.” Yet, this experience of lack isn’t necessarily negative, for I’ve been once told, “Some of the greatest things in nature take place in the dark.”

The idea of the seed is one of the most profound concepts in the Universe. The seed, hidden completely from the light, buried in the darkness, issues forth and gropes for a time. But then it emerges into the light, and then it may face more developmental challenges throughout the expression of its being, as it becomes perhaps a great oak offering shade, shelter, and substance to many.

The fetus, of so many creatures, is conceived and first develops in the dark. When that which is to be born comes forth, it knows few things but to nurse. Then, even in the light, one struggles to perhaps discover one’s own hand and then to crawl. The process of development continues with aimless groping and stumbling, yet look at the wonders that being may bring.

A star is first hidden and formed in dense interstellar clouds and debris fields. The stellar nursery is dark until the core warms and ignites. Until then, the surrounding planetary rubble and all the potential they represent must wait in the dark for the star to clear the way, to provide their much-needed ingredient.

So, it is not, in fact, always a bad thing to be in the dark. At times, that is the seedbed of our being in development.


  1. Shamanism: As a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life by Tom Cowan, Crossing Press Berkley 1996