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Darkness Visible by Ross Heaven

Darkness Visible by Ross Heaven

Author:Ross Heaven
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Published: 2011-09-11T16:00:00+00:00


Entering the Dark World

Initiation into Darkness

The instruments of darkness tell us truths.

MACBETH I:3

THE EFFECTS OF darkness can be liberating and healing, as we have seen, but what is it that first calls people to this experience?

Why would anyone rationally choose to go without sight for five days and nights or longer, to put themselves willingly through the challenges, confusions, and paradoxes that arise during this amount of time in darkness? What is it that drives people into the dark?

The answer: their need for initiation. Initiation is a word we often hear participants use spontaneously when they express interest in stepping into darkness. It is not a concept we suggest to them, but rather one they relay to us. Kevin speaks for many participants in this respect when he remarks: “I saw Darkness Visible as an initiation, of which I was much in need.”

All initiations into the mysteries of life have traditionally taken place in dark spaces. The Orphic rituals of ancient Greece were enacted in caves. The Egyptians held their rites and rituals of rebirth in dark tombs within pyramids. In Haiti, it is into the dark inner sanctum of the Vodou temple that the priest-to-be is led while blindfolded.

One rare account of initiation into the classical mysteries—in this case, the Egyptian mysteries of Isis—is given in The Golden Ass, a Latin “novel” written by Apuleius in the second century C.E.

I approached the very gates of death and set one foot on Proserpine’s threshold yet was permitted to return, borne through all the elements. At midnight I saw the sun shining as if it were noon: I entered the presence of the Gods of the underworld and the Gods of the upper world, stood near and worshipped them.1

In the classical mysteries, this light within the earth, found through journeying in darkness, was known as the Sun at Midnight, suggesting life-changing sight in darkness or a means of seeing the true nature of the self.

In modern society we all live in the dark, so to speak, most of the time—the world has become so big and cumbersome, so separate and beyond us. At the same time, its workings seem so subtle and based on secrets, intrigue, diplomatic nuances, power politics, economics, rules, policies, plans, and procedures that we do not know it anymore. Yet we are never initiated into its mysteries; we never learn to understand the energies and forces that lie beneath and drive our world or how we, as human beings, can respond to these. It is answers that we seek, along with some insights into how we should live.

Our need to know is no different today than it ever was. Anthropologists betray their own fascination with the processes of initiation when they record (as most books of anthropology inevitably do) the exotic practices of peoples across the globe who have carried out tribal initiations for thousands of years. Archaeologists have discovered ritual objects used in such ceremonies dating back 400,000 years. In the first part of the last



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