One of the most profound understandings that I have had in the course of my spiritual awakening is that if we do not have direct experience of something, we are rarely able to understand or be open to that experience or understanding. This is true even if we have an intellectual understanding of something… when we have an intellectual understanding of something there is a part of ourselves that can still rationalize it, can keep it as a sort of fiction or illusion…and as something that will not or could not happen to us.

Quite simply, if we have not experienced something, we have difficulty imagining it or believing it to be real, and we are more likely to negate the experiences of others who have had experiences we have not.

This is true across the board, whether it be white people commenting about racism, rich people commenting on the finances of the poor, or people who lack an in-depth spiritual culture commoditizing and appropriating other cultures and not seeing what the problem is in doing so is.

This is especially true when it comes to the subject of darkness and evil. In spiritual and new-age communities there is a rampant ideology that there is no such thing as evil… and that you simply have to think positive, or put white light into darkness to transmute it. While thinking positively certainly helps certain situations (unless you are doing so to ignore anything “not positive” and sticking your head in the proverbial sand) it is unlikely that any of the people with these ideologies have experienced true darkness and/or evil. Because if they had, they would have to acknowledge the darkness within themselves as well as the darkness in the outer world.

I used to get angry about this… about hearing about people saying that you “just don’t have to believe in curses and they will go away” or that if there was a truly evil presence in a household that they “just have to sage or think positively or imagine white light” for it to go away. This talk, ironically, was and is always done with a sort of victim-blaming mentality. That if someone experienced something dark, or evil, that it was somehow their fault. That if they couldn’t get rid of something they weren’t trying hard enough, weren’t positive enough… were somehow not enough. 

After much reflection over the years I have realized that the types of people who think this way really need to think this way. That way they feel like they have control. They feel safe. There are entire spiritual groups, such as the core shamanic group, that cater to this thinking… telling people that the “middle world” (our world, where we go about our daily existences and have our physical bodies) is unsafe, but if they travel to the “upper” or “lower” worlds nothing will harm them ever.

This began to help me feel compassionate towards these people. They just really didn’t know any better. They wanted to remain on the surface of things, in a state of spiritual immaturity, in order to hold onto illusory understandings of safety and control. If you create your spiritual experiences or if you have them on an intellectual level you can have control over them. If you go beyond this, you have to open your mind, your cosmology, and move away from the spiritual immaturity that has been cultivated by you in order to maintain the illusion that you are safe and in control with all of your spiritual experiences.

There are people who I have met who are static in their spiritual growth because they do not wish to move beyond this spiritual immaturity– people who have taken all of the workshops, read all the books, and have been on a path for decades. Acknowledging that we do not have control over the cosmos, and allowing ourselves to open to the understanding that there are different cosmologies, spirits, and energies beyond our own will allow for us to transcend these illusions and deepen our experiences beyond the surface level.

I lately have been understanding the power of direct experience. Some of us have experienced darkness and evil in our lives, have been victimized, brutalized, or simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of us genetically have a lot of darkness in our lineage. This darkness, the direct experience of darkness being in our lives or encountering evil makes us have the understanding that there is likely darkness and evil in other places and with other people.

As spiritual practitioners, or simply people on a serious spiritual path, we will come across a lot of darkness. This may be our own darkness, or we may be faced with a situation or experience that has us question our own cosmology, our own safety, and brings us into a state of fear.

We may not only be presented with darkness but have the direct experience of evil. This type of energy may be way beyond our understanding level. We may come across situations, energies, beings, or places that emanate this sort of evil that we simply cannot do anything about, nor should we. The realization that there is not only darkness in this world but also evil is often shattering to our belief systems…to the constructs we have created to make us feel safe, to feel in control.

If we have faced that darkness, or evil, if we are on a spiritual path or are a spiritual practitioner we may find ourselves in a position to work with it (or at least some of it). We neglect our own darkness, and we neglect outer darkness. Spirituality has become very new-age “love and light” and has lost its sense of innate balance. Anything dark has become “shadow” and something that needs to be transmuted into light, or cleared. And while we can certainly reconcile our inner trauma, become more whole… we are intended to have darkness within us. There is a beauty in the dark.

By learning about and working with our own darkness we can find the beauty in it. The power. We no longer need to fear it, or fear the larger spiritual community telling us we are “bad” for being dark workers or understanding and appreciating our darkness. We can come to a point of deeply understanding ourselves– dark and light.

The world at large is intended to be in a state of balance. As I progress in my spiritual work I am less concerned with if something is “dark” or “light” but rather if it is in a state of balance. I have learned to be compassionate and non-judgmental of all beings and energies. I do not automatically fear even the darkest, or most “evil” things that I run across and am not antagonistic towards any energy or being that I may encounter. My purpose is to help balance and to put things in their right place. Not to operate from a sense of “oh you are dark and so you should get banished or hurt” but an understanding of that even the darkest beings need compassion and understanding. Especially the darker beings need understanding. And the darkest aspects of myself need love and understanding– not to be “cleared” or “transmuted” or treated like they are a shadow… but to be truly loved and held for their own special beauty and power.

I know that experiencing darkness, or even evil, can be really traumatic. For those of us on the spiritual path it can be an initiation if we let it be. We can understand more about ourselves, more about the world, more about divinity. In experiencing darkness we know that the capability for darkness is present. We can see it, we can sense it, and for some of us, we begin to attract it so we can work with it. We can begin to look at and embrace the darker aspects of ourselves as a source of power. We can move beyond the surface layer constructs and spiritual immaturity and be not only “light workers” or “dark workers” but simply balancers… with the tools and capabilities to look at things with clarity and find out what, and who, in this Universe really needs rebalancing.

Learning how to work with darkness, learning how to work to do “dark work” is beginning to be a lost art. We have become deeply antagonistic and fearful towards anything that is not the brightest shade of white, or anything that is not self-created out of our own cosmologies. I help people who are ready to move on beyond this surface level reality to gather tools and understandings to work with their own darkness, as well as the darkness in the world (if they are called to do so). You can contact me with interest.