The dark is not scary, its mystical and may be joyful

The dark is not scary, its mystical and may be joyful December 31, 2022

“Morning meditation. Find beauty in the darkness.” by Tom Fullerton

Intern minister Sabrina Trupia’s recent sermon titled “Joyful is the Dark” has me thinking how I have grown. That entire service at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, New Jersey, where I attend, was focused on darkness. 

The Time for All Ages adaptation from Lemony Snicket’s story “The Dark” vividly brought me back to my childhood. Although I have mentioned my childhood fears in my previous blogs, this is an important topic and needs to be shared again. 

“The Spiteful Dark” by code_martial

I had a terrible time trying to sleep until the last half dozen years, when I pretty much conquered that fear. However, just like Laszlo in the story, my mind played awful tricks on me. And just like Laszlo, something normal I perceived as scary. No, it wasn’t a drawer in my basement but the window curtain in my room. A man’s face appeared in the top fold when it was dark, even after my dad moved it.

Nonetheless, I spent many nights sleeping on my left side to avoid looking in the direction of my window. This really didn’t help much since when I did fall asleep I would astral travel to dangerous locations anyway. I still find that ironic since I am a journalist and going to fires and car accidents is now routine. 

“Fear of the Dark” by stuant63

Oh yes, the basement terrified me at night too. However, I had no reason to fear it. Nothing down there truly spooked me other than people saying it’s scary and such. Now though, my “office” is in the basement. It’s where I spend many nights working on articles or holding Zoom meetings. Yes, that very same place that I, as a child, grabbed what I needed and quickly ran up the stairs.

Yes, I worked on and conquered the fear of the dark. It did somewhat help that when I was a young teen my parents replaced that curtain with vertical blinds. 

What really helped me though is the classes my elders offered at Three Fires Grove, a Druidic online teaching community. Co-founders Rev. Foxxy (Sher) Pullen and her late husband Hermotimus “Herm” really worked on me to break my fear.

From darkness comes light, birth, a new beginning. Both the Jewish and Celtic days begin in the fall of night.. We should not fear this, yet we seem to train ourselves to be afraid. What I mean is that we just assume a child will be afraid of the dark. This assumption makes us do things to inadvertently teach them to take part in believing that fear.  

“Making light of darkness” by Sudhamshu

Think about some of those odd old sayings we tell children before bed. “Night, night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Or to a baby — “[…] When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, And down will come baby, cradle and all.”  Or the biggest one, “[…] If I should die before I wake […].”

Oh, how we instill fear into children instead of communicating with them. My brother did this with my niece not long ago. Instead of telling my niece that he wants her in his view, he said the “Spooky Ookie” would get her. Of course this frightened her and it made him feel terrible. Be honest with young children, they understand. There is no reason to scare a child into behaving..

We constantly instill fear from the beginning. My parents assumed that my brother and I would fear the dark. As early as I could remember there was a night light in our bedrooms. 

However, we need to break this idea that darkness is bad or evil. Our intern Trupia finds darkness like a “calming blanket.” I’m not quite there yet. They also believe that darkness contains “the seeds of awe, wonder, and joy.” Yes, that I can agree on. There is something mystical about darkness. You can’t quite see what’s there and yet it could be the best thing out there. 

In their sermon, Trupia suggested by making our own dark it could help us develop a sense of wonder. They asked us to imagine with them. Hmmm, where have I heard that before, oh yeah that’s right, my elder Foxxy keeps nudging me on that. This is the reason she asked me to play Dungeons and Dragons with her. Yes I am a writer, but using my imagination recently has been a struggle. I am working hard on that and actually impressed her by independently building recent characters’ back stories.

“Monreith Bay Moonscape at 4:30 am” by John Spooner

Imagination is important for spellwork, for visualizations and in anything we do. If we cannot see it unfold in our head it’s harder to help make it happen.

There is beauty in darkness. There is magic there and we can learn from it. So instead of fearing the dark, the unknown explore it. Shine a light on it, if you really need to but embrace it. Without the dark we cannot truly appreciate the light. 

Trupia asked us, “In what way can the dark help you be joyful.”  This is something I haven’t quite answered myself yet. No, I am no longer afraid of the dark but I haven’t quite grasped the joyful part. Yes, now I’m able to sleep as soon as I hit the pillow, even when I am not tired. But joyful, in the darkness, I’m getting there.

See also: Astral Travel – Not Mind Games; No Need to be Afraid of the Dark

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