“For each of us as women, there is a dark place within where hidden and growing our true spirit rises…
These places of possibility within ourselves are dark because they are ancient and hidden; they have survived and grown strong through darkness. Within these deep places, each one of us holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling. The woman’s place of power within each of us is neither white nor surface; it is dark, it is ancient, and it is deep.” ~ Audre Lorde
It’s 2002 and I’m sitting on a bench outside the Peet’s Coffee Shop ‘Claremont’ in Berkeley. It’s a posh part of this usually thought of as kind of crunchy town. Across the street is the Claremont Hotel, a gorgeous place, while next to it is the Berkeley Tennis Club. I’m in the phase of my life where I’ve been journeying into the dark and ancient realm of feminine waters, a journey that began in earnest after my husband died suddenly in 1995.
I’m sitting on the bench on what seems to be a normal afternoon autumn day. Yet, as I sit, I am being pulled down into dark realms within me. The pull is strong and I’m also reluctant to follow it. I feel frightened by the strength of this pull. I’m journeying in my inner world yet on the surface of this outer world no one can tell. Unless they look closely. If they do, they’ll see a few tears slowly falling down one cheek as the longing and beauty (both soft and frightening) causes my heart to open, my body to soften, and tears to come.
Here I sit surrounded by so much while I feel as if I am bring stripped of just as much. Here I sit in a place and time where few speak of the feminine as I am experiencing Her, experiencing things I have no words for, things that frighten me because I have no context for them and no one to really talk to about them.
Here I’ve been sitting reading Sylvia Brinton Perera’s “Descent to the Goddess”, taking in the journey of woman returning to the Goddess after the rich fecund darkness of feminine power lay hidden in dormancy for thousands of years, looking up, as I read, at this bastion of patriarchal presence — the Berkeley Tennis Club.
My body shivers as I read the words of Adrienne Rich quoted by Perera, “The woman I needed to call my mother was silenced before I was born” and tears fall again.
The separation of light and dark, feminine and masculine, soul and consciousness, have wrecked havoc on our world and in me. My mother’s silencing took place in a long lineage of silencing going far, far back through the lineage of daughter to mother, daughter to mother, and so on.
Sitting on the bench, I am in the early phases of remembering who and what I truly am, which includes the dark, the inner world, the world of soul. That is the journey I am on and it will take another fifteen years to remember more and more until the dark, the inner world, the depth of soul feel almost just as normal to me as the light, the outer, and the intellect.
This is telling.
I learned to reject the dark, to reject the inner, to reject feelings and sensations, to reject intuition and instinct. I learned to reject an entire realm of my true existence.
I learned, as so many of us did when we were young and growing into young people, women and men, that darkness is associated with things we should avoid. Darkness was lumped together with what we believe to be bad. Yet the dark is rich soil where seeds sprout then steadily and sturdily push through to the light. Darkness brings life and light. Darkness nourishes. Darkness is where ancient things have been hidden until it is safe to return again to the world of light. Darkness is incredibly rich and beautiful.
Making peace with and coming to love again the darkness within me has been a decades-old journey as I now enter into 2018. Really, it’s been a life journey. I knew no distinction when I was young…until my rational mind kicked in, learned logic and comparison, and began to separate things into ‘this or that’.
But now, we desperately need to remember as women the fullness and wholeness of who we are that celebrates the fecund, the fertile — the rich, lush and flourishing. We need to relate closely to this fecundity within ourselves and within all of life as we evolve into humans who care for each other, and the Earth and all her children.
I will never forget the pull of the dark within me that day sitting on the bench. The pull was strong, bringing me back into remembrance, guiding me back in. While I feared it, I also longed for it. This seems to be the way of remembering — a powerful longing kept at bay by fear until the longing, the push, the pull grow too strong.
I sit here, now, on my sofa as the day turns to night and light turns to dark on this fourth day of 2018, as winter digs in deeper and we all make our way into what should be a kind of hibernation that our bodies long for here in the northern hemisphere. Sitting on my sofa feeling the pull down into the rich and deep ancient soil of my soul.
For I now know this is soul. That pull so many years ago was my soul calling me back to my true existence, back to where logic is a tool rather than how we create our sense of self. Back to where darkness and light dance. Not back in terms of time, but back in terms of awareness. Stepping back into depth, ancient and dark, from which the light of life is born.