The Dark Night Of The Soul

Fra. Apfelmann


"The Dark Night of the Soul" is the name given to that experience of spiritual desolation that all students of the Occult pass through at one time or another. It is sometimes characterized by feelings that your occult studies or practices are not taken you anywhere, that the initial success that one is sometimes granted after a few months of occult working, has suddenly dried up. There comes a desire to give up on everything, to abandon exercises and meditation, as nothing seems to be working. St. John of the Cross. a Christian mystic, said of this experience, that 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 And over this hangs a dense and burdensome cloud, which afflicts the soul, and keeps it withdrawn from the good."

Though the beginner may view the onset of such an experience with alarm (I know I did), the "Dark Night" is not something bad or destructive. In one sense it may be seen as a trial, a test by which the Gods examine our resolve to continue with occult work, and if you are not completely whole-hearted about your magical studies, it is during this period (at its beginning) that you will give up. The Dark Night of the Soul should be welcomed, once recognized for what it is (I have always received an innate "warning" just before the onset of such a period), as a person might welcome an operation that will secure health and well-being. St. John of the Cross embraced the soul's Dark Night as a Divine Appointment, calling it a period of "sheer grace" and adding;

"O guiding Night,
O Night more lovely than Dawn,
O Night that has united the lover with his beloved
Transforming the Lover in her Beloved."

When entering the Dark Night one is overcome by a sense of spiritual dryness and depression. The notion, in some quarters, that all such experiences should be avoided, for a peaceful existence, shows up the superficiality of so much of contemporary living. The Dark Night is a way of bringing the Soul to stillness, so that deep psychic transformation may take place. All distractions must be set aside, and it is no good attempting to fight or channel the bursts of raw energy that from time to time may course through your being. This inner compulsion to set everything aside results in the outer depression, when nothing seems to excite.

The only thing to do is obey your inner voice and become still, waiting for the inner transformation, (which the "Dark Night" heralds), to take place. You may not be aware for a very long time of the results of that inner change, but when the desire to work comes again and the depression lifts, the Dark Night has (for a moment) passed. No one can help during this time, and in many cases there is hardly anyone to turn for advice. One must disregard the well-meaning advice of family and friends to "snap out of it" this is no ordinary depression, but a deep spiritual experience which only those who have passed through themselves (in other words to a magical retreat) but for many, as the routines of everyday life prohibits this, all you can do is cultivate an inner solitude, a stillness and silence of heart, and wait, (like a chrysalis waits for the inner changes that will result in a butterfly) for the Transformation to work itself out. There are many such "Dark Nights" that the occult seeker must pass through during the mysterious process of mitigation. They are all trials but experience teaches one to cope more efficiently.

With fractalic greetings and laughter
* Fra.: Apfelmann *
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