The Dark Night of the Soul

Birth is a corporal journey that begins with the illusion of spiritual abandonment. Leaving home and residing in a physical body immediately creates a lasting traumatic imprint that includes separation anxiety and existential agony. The painful remnants of this primal process are directly related to what many poets and authors have called the Dark Night of the Soul.

The Dark Night of the Soul has become a very popular description of what is occurring, but it’s actually a misnomer since our soul never suffers or actually leaves oneness. Our physical being registers the event as an especially “dark night” however. Mortality severs awareness of our divine nature and creates an agonizing memory that is quite challenging to release. It’s an important milestone to master as we return to our divine nature. The Wizard of Oz is a fairy tale offering an inspired metaphor of this timeless journey.

Separation anxiety and abandonment agony create a trauma template when spiritual oneness is replaced by human awareness. A similar emotional imprint occurs when we separate from our mother at birth. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was an orphan, who dreamt about returning home to uncle Henry and Auntie Em. Separation anxiety can become the driving force behind our instinct to bond with friends, family, and lovers.

Healing occurs through the heartfelt connection and sympathetic resonance. Uniting our physical, emotional, and mental bodies and embracing our pain with supportive behavior and a loving heart helps release our abandonment imprint. Trauma heals when emotional residue is embraced with loving acceptance. Remembering that our soul is always present and never abandons is helpful.

This knowledge is necessary to navigate through the darkest illusions this world has to offer. A divine abandonment illusion occurs whenever a soul takes human form. The Dark Night of the Soul is the process where we physically heal this original existential abandonment agony within ourselves, while our soul and divinity supposedly aren’t around. Embodying love and healing our primary human abandonment illusion during endless trials like Job suffered in biblical times with heartfelt acceptance is quite a feat. Dorothy modeled this same quality throughout her ordeals in The Wizard of Oz. Accomplishing this task during what seems like endless dark nights fulfills one of the main purposes for human existence. Why would the divine create spiritual separation and make us experience it right off the bat? We come to earth to forget our origins, remember our spiritual home and come to the realization we were never abandoned. We are also here learn how to embody love and teach our heart, mind, and body the deepest truths about our true divine nature. I would describe what we are doing as playing a spiritual game of hide-and-seek.

One of the reasons the story of the Wizard of Oz endures so powerfully in our culture is due to the fact the fairy tale aptly describes our soul’s journey on earth. Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we can go home whenever we want by fighting off illusion, deciding to return home, and clicking our ruby slippers.

Most of us have a trusty toolbox of reliable habits, rituals, and solutions that are near and dear to our hearts. When trouble erupts some of our strategies are useful… and many are not. Pain is designed to strip away every habit and mental construct based on illusion.

Darkness blows up our emotional security blankets like the locusts, floods, and plagues that forced the Egyptian Pharaoh to change his mind in the Bible. Pain and suffering humble. A problem of epic proportions always narrows our attention and pries open closed minds. The desire for something new motivates us to reexamine and shed any illusion weighting us down.

When life kicks away our crutches, many collapse and believe that the divine has abandoned them. When our “monkey mind” surrenders and learns to embrace the purpose of pain, the following three suggestions are designed to get us back on track.

  • Surrender control and let go of the outcome.
  • Scour your mind for its pain-filled illusions.
  • Dedicate yourself to truth without sacred cows.
  • Accept solutions based upon your highest good.

 Maintaining a solid spiritual connection to eternal wisdom during problems of biblical proportions, accomplishes our goal of mastering illusion, communicating with our soul, and embracing divinity. It’s a grand occasion worthy of the celebration Dorothy enjoyed in the Emerald City and with her family when she accomplished the same feat by returning to Kansas. Kansas is a lot like heaven, isn’t it?

The courage necessary to fight through all the illusions that this world has to offer is prodigious. The seduction to succumb to the hatred, strife, and agony of feeling abandoned is very tempting at times. Some begin to question whether or not Kansas exists when they feel alone in the darkness. The Dark Night comes as the last form of illusion so that the sunlight of our soul can come shining through to enlighten our life and everyone around us. It’s the crowning achievement after fighting off all the darkness illusion could muster so that we could develop the love in our heart and wisdom necessary to return to our divine home just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

The Dark Night is a right of passage honored by every mystic in every tradition. It is the last hurrah or test of illusion to overcome before the dawn of our new life. Consider yourself honored if it crashes into your life like a wrecking ball. Follow the four suggestions outlined above when things are at their darkest. Resist the temptation to succumb to despair while the agony persists. Don’t forget what’s really occurring, because Kansas is just around the corner.

When storm clouds bring chaos, nothing is working and you do not know what to do, remember to love with your heart and soul like the straw man, access the wisdom within like the tin man, and face your problems with the determination of a courageous lion. When the world crashes down around you, it’s a signal to your mind to give up any illusion of control and surrender to new possibilities and unforeseen solutions, just like Dorothy discovered on her way back home again.

Rugged individualism is not on the yellow brick road to home, Dorothy needed many friends to find Kansas. Steel your will, surrender control, and run to the divine. Embrace your intuition because something important is about to happen during the Dark Night. Access your light and use your soul’s wisdom as a gyroscope for your heart to discover the truth of who you are. It’s the only way to go . . . “my pretties.” Kansas is just a click away when your body, mind, and soul are in alignment. And always remember . . . “There is no place like home.”

Feb 2019 Eric Ehrke LCSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist at Ommani.  He sees clients on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.