Part 2: Dark Night of the Soul
St. John of the Cross, a Christian mystic, wrote of this experience as “(it)…puts the sensory spiritual appetites to sleep, deadens them, and deprives them of the ability to find pleasure in anything. It binds the imagination, and impedes it from doing any good discursive work. It makes the memory cease, the intellect become dark and unable to understand anything, and hence it causes the will to become arid and constrained, and all the faculties empty and useless. And over this hangs a dense and burdensome cloud, which afflicts the soul, and keeps it withdrawn from God”.
When entering the ‘Dark Night’ one is overcome by the sense of spiritual dryness and depression. The idea, expressed in some quarters, that all such experiences are to be avoided in favour of a peaceful life, shows up the superficiality of so much of contemporary living. The Dark Night is a way of bringing the soul to stillness, so that a deep psychic transformation may take place. In the Western Esoteric Tradition, this experience is reflected in the Tarot card ‘The Moon’ and is the ‘hump’ in an individual’s spiritual development where any early benefits of meditation, pathworking or disciplines appear to cease, and there is an urge to abandon such practices and return to ‘everyday’ life. This kind of ‘hump’ which must be passed through can be discerned in different areas of experience, and is often experienced by students on degree courses and anybody who is undergoing a new learning process which involves marked life changes as well. In this respect, it is important to remember Ramsey Dukes’ observation in Thundersqueak, that much of our future magical work is laid down during periods of depression or the “Dark Night.”
— Kalkinath & Vishvanath