Posted by: dylanemrys | January 17, 2008

Dark Night of the Soul

Have you had a time in your life when for several weeks or months everything fell down around you? Life was hell, nothing worked, perhaps everything you knew and trusted fell away?

Stan Grof calls it Spiritual Emergency. It is also referred to as Psychological Death. And in the Goddess tradition, “The Question.”

The Dark Night of the Soul was a treatise written in the 16th Century by a Carmelite priest and poet about his journey towards union with God. I didn’t know this until I looked it up for this blog post. Learning is a good thing!

Many traditions and faiths refer to this period, which can last up to several years. The idea is that eventually one would gain understandings, often spiritually, and find more connection, choices and vibrancy in life. Sort of like the phoenix rising from the ashes.

However, when one is in the middle of it, it can be difficult to recognize. It is a time of pain, loneliness, personal crisis, confusion, bewilderment, distrust, hopelessness and depth.

Recently events in my life culminated in a year fraught with tragedy following four years of struggle. From March through Nov/Dec of 2007 my family was in crisis, and I was in crisis internally. What I knew and trusted – both human and spiritual – I was now questioning. I felt I didn’t know anything and there was nothing I could lean on for comfort. I let go of almost everything I loved or that gave me peace, because there was nothing I believed in anymore.

What I knew to be true about Love, God, Life, Healing and Consciousness was called into question…I wondered if any of it ever mattered at all.

During this time I struggled with resentment towards people who loved me and needed me (with the exception of my daughter, who was the bright light that kept me going, and my clients who gave me a sense of purpose to get through). I struggled with money and having enough and I let my practice dwindle. I allowed myself to hibernate, sulk, sleep and eat whatever I wanted.

Last summer I met a community of people through the internet and allowed myself to become absorbed in that network. For the first time I was in a place where I could be ALL of me, with no “role” or expectations dictating my behavior or thoughts. No one to judge or question.

This community not only offered me new friends, but a new love: a man who so totally accepts and sees me, makes me laugh and is comforting in his ability to be present and unconditionally loving.

Wrapped up in that warm support, I began to re-make myself…to pull myself out of the ashes of the last five years. I reconsidered everything I “knew” before. I discovered my sense of humor, new ideas, new interests. Solid with my new friends, I reviewed old ones. Most of my friends have faded away or moved on. Those that I regret pushing away through neglect I have begun to make contact with again.

I found a job outside of my field that provides me with physical activity, mental stimulation, light-hearted banter and humor and hours that give me the day available for clients when I am ready to market myself again.

And after a few months of giving myself permission to just BE in that dark space, I am finding the sun on my face, a breeze at my back and motivation to emerge.

This blog is part of that re-emergence.

I am not all the way out yet. But I can feel the essence of Self shining in my heart, and trust that it is getting better…that I will find faith and my Truth again.

How about you?

Have you ever felt like you were in a Spiritual Crisis or Psychological Death? Have you had a Dark Night of the Soul? What did you do? If you are through it, what helped you, or hindered that process?



  1. All over the world these past seven years, there has been a subtle, but noticeable movement among all the souls inhabiting this space. They are being separated into two groups – not of good and evil, but of those who desire to fall further into sleep, and those who desire to be further awakened. The sleepers, who build both their sense of security and freedom on physical and material things, are being joined with their kind, while those who are awakening and are finding their security and freedom within themselves, are joining and connecting with their own kind. If a new world is indeed coming, only those who are awake will see it, while those who sleep will continue to sleep, quite possibly forever if their beliefs have hardened into prison walls through which the truth cannot enter. But even then there will be hope – for the awakened will find a way, by their love, to enter into any dreamer’s sleep to tickle and tease them away from their slumber.

    Dylan is one such soul, awakening. And what she has written here, will penetrate the Dark Night of the Soul that so many are experiencing and don’t recognize it for what it is. As for me? My dark night of the soul lasted precisely forty years – ending on 4/4/04, when I turned 44. Every minute of darkness was worth the cost, as each moment of darkness, and under tremendous pressure, has finally turned every one of those moments into a diamond.

    If you are one of the sleepers, you will not comprehend, or even care what Dylan has written here. If you are one among the many, struggling in the dark but awakening, what you read here will feel like it was written directly, and personally, to you. How do I know this? Because, while reading this, I felt that it had been written directly, and personally, to me.

    Of-the-Wind (Jeff Westgate)

  2. Thank you so much, Jeff.

    Your comments and thoughts are heartfelt and sincere and I appreciate the time you took to write them! Much of what you wrote rings true.

    However, I’m not sure I agree that humankind is separating into two groups…I think everyone is on their own journey towards their soul’s evolution, and we’re all One.

    I don’t believe in duality, and think that even if someone has understandings very different from mine, they are still a mirror for me, still “awake” in their own life, however it is manifesting for them.

    We may not be in disagreement, but I hesitate – even with the caveat of “not good or evil, just awake and asleep” – because it is all too easy for those who align themselves with being “awake” to feel “better than” those who you would label “asleep.”

    I’m not much for labels I guess. However, there was a time when I would have wholeheartedly agreed with what you wrote…now I have been humbled, felt asleep, wonder if maybe we’re ALL asleep on some level.

    I wonder about what A Course In Miracles says: that we are in an illusion, or dream, and the Real is that we have never left Spirit…we can’t because we are not separate…we’re simply having a dream. And as such, none of it really matters. We can make choices to have our dream go certain ways, or be a nightmare…but really, it’s a dream.

    I thank you for your thoughts, and feel honor in your compliments of me. I hope you stop by again!


  3. Oh yeah, I’ve had some dark nights where my soul felt shaken. I went through a releasing of everything that I once thought was important.

    Looking back, two things helped me to move through that time. 1). For the first time in my life I begin to feel my feelings as they came up. 2). Frequent physical movement eventually caused me to see things differently and that was the beginning of new light.

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience, Tom.

    I haven’t heard about physical activity helping to see things in a new light…can you elaborate on that at all? Was it simply getting your body moving so you were feeling better that helped, or something more than that?

  5. Hello Dylan,
    It’s lovely to see you blogging again, and it is a wonderful to read how you have come through your struggles. You ask for others to share their experiences, and I have certainly experienced my own Dark Nights of the Soul, more than once.
    Years ago, before I had children, I had a miscarriage, and what I noticed then was that even in the depths of depression – and I was very depressed – somehow I knew that the experience was having a positive effect on me, I knew that I would rather have gone through it than never experienced pregnancy. In the short time I had been pregnant I had felt as if I could somehow feel or sense the baby’s soul – it may have been my imagination, and I didn’t experience that later with 2 pregnancies where the babies survived so who knows. All I do know is it had a profound effect on how I felt and thought about many, many things, and I’d say it led me to become more caring.

    What I have also come to see, with regard to depression is that it is, for me, usually followed by a time of deep change and understanding, so it becomes easier – though not always easy – to sit it out and allow the change to come to me.

    Today I was thinking about this, and about how we can tend to think we should be ‘up’ all the time, yet in nature everything goes in cycles. What come to my mind, as I walked past a wintry leafless trees was that a tree doesn’t sit about thinking ‘I’m such a failure, look at me, all my leaves have fallen off and I can’t even be bothered to make some more.’
    I think we have our seasons too, just perhaps not so clearly defined!

  6. Yvonne!
    Nice to see you here!

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience…I also lost a baby due to miscarriage and that was very profound, not just the loss, but the grieving and growth incurred from it. I feel I am a better parent for sure because of what I learned from that experience.

    I also really like your analogy and laughed as I imagined a tree thinking itself a failure because it’s leaves have fallen off! That is a GREAT way to put it in perspective!

    I guess, my own “Dark Night” has been following the seasons almost literally – things began to change for me around the Winter Solstice, and are getting better as the light returns.

    Golly I love symbolism!

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