It is a Dark Day for

Boston and the marathoners; for all of America. My deepest sympathies are with you all for this terrible tragedy. May the law take its course and the perpetrator/s be brought to justice.

Some of our South Africans are among the injured as they were crossing the finish line. Our president has sent his condolences to your president and expressed our outrage at this.

Night has fallen too soon for too many …

 I’m writing about the dark night of the soul – that deep, dense, dark, desert-dry, dreaded silence where even God does not answer. Our souls lose connection with everything in the world and with God. No one can reach us. It is too deep, even beyond pain. It is a ‘disintegration’; a spiritual or existential crisis par excellence. There is no meaning in life. There is no way out, all doors are closed and bolted. The night is dense indeed.

Many of us have experienced the ‘dark night’ in some way or the other. Deep grief and loss on the death of a loved one, illness, breakdown of a marriage, loss of secure job, betrayal by friend, rejection, coming to a stage in our lives where there seems to be no meaning in it any more. The empty nest syndrome is very real where the mother has no identity other than being the caretaker for her offspring. The list is endless. We do not enter into this willingly.

Those who are severely depressed, experience this on an ongoing basis. If they are in a state of immobilisation and unable to work effectively, they may be fortunate enough to  make use of safe medically prescribed drugs. Others may seek the help of a skilled therapist who can act as a safe ‘container’ for their ‘dark night’. Yet, many others seek a way out of escaping that darkness by means of inter alia drugs, drink, food, or throwing their energies into work, work, work, avoiding relationship with their partners.

    Can we escape this metaphoric darkness? I doubt it. Can we listen to what our soul is saying to us by way of e.g. dreams and pay them the attention they deserve? If we can acknowledge the ‘shadow’ that we each have in the dark recesses of our psyche, meet the dragon and come to terms with it, we may be able to lighten the dark. Is it something that we can apply a band-aid to and be done with it? No. It needs to be suffered through, allowed to incubate, turn blacker if necessary and our fragility and vulnerability is to be honoured.

The deep night ultimately does give way to the dawn – the darkness though, needs to be made conscious.

C.G. Jung says: ‘Right at the beginning you meet the dragon, the chthonic spirit, the devil or, as the alchemists called it, the blackness, the nigredo, and this encounter produces suffering’. Jung saw this deepening stage as necessary for the individuation of the individual, i.e. for coming a wholeness of `Self’.

18 Comments on N – Night : Nigredo

  1. If you are going for most excellent contents like myself, only
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  2. Dearest Susan, your thoughts always provoke an inner peace and allow others to share in that space. You inspire others to write. I offer the following……….

    Darker, Dark
    Oh where is the flight

    In darkness unseen
    My path to the light

    Quiet the mind
    They soul to care

    Knowing God’s word
    Shall take you there

    With love and kindess,


      • Thank you Susan, sorry about the typo. Too hurried in my response, I was just overly inspired…………..

  3. I’ve read about many, many saints over the ages who’ve experienced the ‘dark night of the soul.'( Nigredo) Supposedly, Mother Theresa suffered in this stage for 20 years. And I myself have suffered, and will continue…(not that I’m anywhere close to sainthood, about a gajillion miles away….)

    • Thanks Cathrina for stopping by. St John of the Cross wrote on the Dark Night of the Soul and so many have. Yes I know about Mother Theresa who was very aware of her ongoing depression. Am also a gazillion years away from sainthood!

  4. Hi,
    It is so important to recognize that there is a path called wisdom, and if you seek it, you will be thrown into an unbelievable darkness and everything around you becomes alien. You fall into a hole and you keep falling until…… And then you’re there and you have to come to terms with who you are and face as you say, the dragon.

    The struggle is immense, the pain sometimes unbearable but when you get through it you have found a part of yourself that can never be beaten or defeated. In this valley, I found God and realized that greater is he that is within me than anything or anyone in the world. When you find this awareness you arise and you walk in the light that you have gained because you have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. I like to coin it like it is written in Psalm 23, Though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for God is with me.

    Thank you for a poignant post that is sensitive to what happened in Boston but also points a light at how to overcome.

    Beautiful post, Susan.

    • Thank you Patricia for your acknowledgement of the dark dragon and that it can be walked through. And your quote from Psalm 23 :Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for God is with me says it all.

  5. Your post today is simply amazing. I have been learning to allow the dark recesses their just place in my own life and psyche instead of trying to squash it out of existence. That doesn’t work anyway, because the dark is still there waiting after your distractions come to a conclusion. I love how you worded your statement about just going through it. Doesn’t mean that we have to like it but it is part of not only our existence, but who we are.

  6. What a shock for humankind. Beautifully put. Every one of us experiences some type of pain. I remember reading in the 70’s: Grock with it. Meaning experience the depths of your despair.

  7. Wonderful explanation for the real center of most of us – but most are too afraid to even acknowledge. Timely, well thought out and your comments IRT Boston are delicate and sincere. You have a wonderful, positive touch with words, Susan. Glad to have you as a friend.

    • Thank you Barbara.
      I am glad to have you as a friend and as a friend to a friend, I hope that your friends who were running are recovering. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those caught up in this act of destruction. It is not only those in the immediate vicinity – but family, friends at a distance who also suffer the aftermath …

  8. What you said about the darkness needing to be suffered through, allowed to incubate… I agree with it, but people–myself included–just don’t want that. Nobody likes suffering especially if there’s nobody to help us through it. And even if there were people with us, it doesn’t change the fact that the suffering is still there. (did that make sense?)

    Anyway, thanks for this. I’ve actually been thinking about this topic, too, recently. This is giving me a few more things to think about.

    • Thank you for commenting Ria.

      Yes, your response makes sense – though suffering often does NOT make sense, does it? And as you say, even if there are ‘people with us’ it is still a solitary journey.

      Thank you again.

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