Monday, February 25, 2013

Dark Night of the Soul

There is a term we are all familiar with called the "dark  night of the soul." This is a time period when everything up until this point comes into question. Those things that we hold dear seem to have lost their luster and even the very fabric of our lives come into question.

The last time I had a "dark night of the soul" was about fifteen years ago. I was heavily involved in a local church and my whole life revolved around it. I had begun to connect with Spirit (although at the time I called it the Holy Spirit.. somewhat different name, same voice I hear now). The more I connected the stranger the messages I seemed to receive. Some of the messages were foreign to me. The church I attended had been open at first to the messages but it seemed as time went on I became discontented. When it finally came to a head I left the church, and with that one sweeping action my whole world came crashing down. In my mind my purpose in life revolved around connecting with Spirit and giving the messages I received. I had no idea who I was or why this had happened. I asked God.... why give me messages if I have no one to tell them to?

Fast forward about fifteen years. As I look back to that time in my life, I thought my world was over. All of the things I had believed about God, the Universe, the Devil, and faith were all in question. It took some time to shed that old skin that I had worn for so long and reinvent myself. I immersed myself in books of many different philosophies and belief systems until I formulated my own thoughts and beliefs based on which ones resonated with me.

Yesterday I went to a somewhat local drumming circle facilitated by a woman who led us in a shamanic drumming "journey" to the Snake, her personal power animal and also the Chinese theme for this year. I had always thought the spirit of Snake when I came into contact with him as the force of healing energy, but she had a somewhat different take on its essence which resonated with me. She shared that Snake has to do with the shedding of old skin. A snake will go through a period of shedding its old skin when it has outgrown it. This reminded me of what we term "the dark night of the soul" since many times you will find old snake skins in dark places, such as attics, crawl spaces and the like. Snake goes into a dark place, sheds its skin, and then moves on to his new life, growing new skin as he goes. As I "journeyed" to the Spirit of the Snake I felt the message was that it was time to leave behind all that no longer serves us, and move forward into a new time of growth. The shedding itself may be unpleasant, but that just as birthing a child is painful, that pain is forgotten once the child is born.

We all go through times in our lives when we have to shed our old skin. This is a time when everything we had thought and believed about ourselves and our lives, possibly our belief system, our purpose in life, or our path comes into question. Whenever the person who we think we are suddenly is faced with the question of ... what if everything about me or God or the Universe is not true? What if my purpose in life is not what I thought it was? What if the person with whom I have put a lot of energy into is not who I thought they were? What if my job is not fulfilling me?  There are a multitude of scenarios which can catapult us into a "dark night of the soul" or a shedding of old skin. This is a necessary and vital part of our journey through this lifetime. If we don't shed the old skins that are constricting us, then we will not grow and become that which we are meant to be.

This seems to be a time universally when we are called to shed our old skins that have served us up until now but suddenly seem to be too small for our growing spirits. It is not a time to dread but if we are aware of what is going on it seems to be easier to navigate through. We are questioning the fabric of our lives. We are reinventing ourselves. We are revisiting our beliefs, our jobs and even our relationships and asking questions as to their validity in our lives from here forward. If you think of this time as simply a shedding of old skin, maybe it will be easier to get through. We are becoming that which we are meant to be. We are leaving behind all that which no longer serves us. This can be a frightening experience, but a necessary one.

Don't worry. When the old skin has been left behind you will be free to grow some more. Eventually you may be forced to shed the new skin that you are now growing into. It is all a process.

Think today about what things it may be time to leave behind. Don't look at those things as old or outdated. They were vital and necessary for your evolution into what you are becoming. It is time now to look forward to the new skin you are growing into and look forward to the adventures that await you!!

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