In order to heal others, we must first heal ourselves, which involves agreeing to enter the darkness alone. There we find opportunities for enlightenment in the way of the great mythological heroes, shamans, and religious teachers. There we confront God.

Abstract:  In order to heal others, we must first heal ourselves, which involves agreeing to enter the darkness alone.  There we find opportunities for enlightenment in the way of the great mythological heroes, shamans,  and religious teachers.  There we confront God.

In the “Hero’s Journey,” Joseph Campbell provides a  roadmap of the stages we go through  to carry accomplish missions not just for ourselves but for the greater good:  Separation, Initiation, and Return, all necessary stops on the healing path.  Each includes sub-stages none of which would be possible without first accepting “the call” –a sacrificial dare from the Universe. The hero undertakes this challenging journey with the assurance that God’s, then emerges enlightened.  Two critical stages are Crossing the Threshold and Entering the Belly of the Beast.  

All mythological and religious tales follow the pattern but take on the local characteristics of the culture that created them: Jesus in the wilderness, Buddha venturing into seclusion and solitude, Moses in the dark desert confronting the “burning bush,” Mohammad seeking personal refuge in a cave.  The common thread is darkness and isolation, which we in contemporary life seem to fear.  Bhante Shravasti Dhammika (The Buddhism Guide A to Z)  explains the delicate balance we must strike to use refuge wisely: “A person can choose to be solitary or be forced into it by others or by circumstances. When solitude is unwanted it can result in loneliness, anxiety or fear. When used at the right time and in the right manner it can have an important role in spiritual development. “ 

If we intend to heal others, we must first heal ourselves.  A good starting point is our willingness accept separation and embrace the darkness. In stillness, there is wisdom.  In darkness, there is stillness.  In stillness there is peace.  In peace, there is capacity to heal others. The Dalai Lama teaches, “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” 

If we did not have darkness, how would we recognize the light?  Anne Frank wrote, “Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” 

The duality exists in the Taoist yin/yang symbol, darkness/brightness, which illustrating the interdependence of opposing forces.  Our very breath exercises tis” on the yin (inhale) we receive; on the yang (exhale) we release.  What expands must contract.  These forces become work together, allowing life. 

The yin is the receptive darkness; the yang the active light.  It is the receiver and the giver, the listener and the activist.   That darkness represents the seeking, the questioning, intuition, feminine energy.  The darkness invites us into the void, where all consciousness begins.

Our journey into darkness, deep meditation, represents the mythological cave, the womb, the place of  Divine stillness from which we came.  Campbell speaks of the stunning cave paintings of our early ancestors who recorded events sacred to the people, precursors of stained glass church windows.  LeBoyer birthing methods emulate the soft stillness of the womb by using water (fluididty, receptivity) and darkness to gently usher the new human over the threshold into to the world.  The darkness is comforting,easing the transition into earthly existence.  And so it is when we leave this world. 

Darkness has negative implications that present fear but in religious literature, those situations become initiations.  The story of Jonah in the belly of the whale remains a significant lesson in three great Western religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, underlining the necessity of the  dark isolation we encounter just before we we confront the Divine and bring forth wisdom, healing, and blessings.

Even plants experience the tense relationship between light and dark.  In an elementary school explanation of why plants lean toward the light we can see that both forces work together. Aurins in plant cells lead plants away from light, which accelerates the growth of cells on the darker side.  As a a result the plant naturally tilts toward the side of light. “The concentration of aurins on the dark side may be due to the fact that sunlight slows or kills these aurins when light falls on them. However, as long as one part of the plant gets sunlight, it can make food and the whole plant survives” (www.pitara.com).

The same can be said for us.  When we sit in the darkness of our deep meditation, we invite our shadow side to emerge.  This can be a very frightening experience for those who have not explored the interior regions of our thought and emotions.  But as these thoughts and feelings emerge (or “come to light), we expand our consciousness and raise our vibration.  Thus what feels like a nightmare or threat actually elevates us, drawing in more light.  Shamanic traditions honor the Shadow as a partner in healing.

Consider December 21st, the shortest day of the year, called Yule by pagans.  It is of course the longest night of the year, the only point on the calendar when we experience more darkness than light.  The pagans, seeing this as a sacred time, created Yule rituals and ceremonies to welcome the return of the sun to earth.  It’s the natural cycle of the universe.

We can use rituals to welcome the darkness as many metaphysicians have done throughout the ages: new moon ceremonies to honor and use the power of darkness to usher in the growing light, simple candle lighting, meditation to reach the darkness and call in the light.  We don’t even have to summon the light.  It finds us, naturally.  


Lisa Shaw is an animal communicator, Reiki Master, intuitive counselor,writer, and professor who lives in South Florida.  She conducts an international online Reiki Circle for Animals and provides consultations. serving as a medium between animals and their humans. She specializes in end of life and afterlife issues.  Her web site is www.Reikidogs.com


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Comment by Kathy Custren on April 7, 2017 at 8:20am

Let's go with: Honoring the Darkness on the Healer's Journey - that ties it together. ~ Blessings! 

Comment by Lisa Shaw on April 7, 2017 at 7:32am

I'd be fine with whatever title you think best fits. Thanks!

Comment by Kathy Custren on April 6, 2017 at 9:03pm

Hi, Lisa - thank you very much for your article, which is moving on to the publishers. The title seems a little short; however. Would you be okay with lengthening it just a bit to something like: 
Honoring the Darkness on the Hero's Journey [or the Shaman's Journey] - or

The Many Ways of Honoring the Darkness or

Honoring the Darkness to Heal Effectively


Let me know if you have a preferred alternate title - thanks!

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