Pagan Studies

Presenting the eight Festivals within an archetypal framework and connecting that framework to personal development and inner transformation.

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Resting in the Dark

We humans have a deep, innate fear of the dark. We tend to feel more comfortable in the bright light of day that transparently reveals that which is around us, allowing us to assess and respond to people, situations, and things. There is something about the dark which adds the element of the ominous or disturbing. A screen door banging open repeatedly in daylight is a bother, needing to be closed tight lest the bugs get into the house. A screen door banging open repeatedly in the dead of night can leave us with our hearts banging out the same rhythm in our throats, tentatively tiptoeing towards it and taking deep, relieved breaths once it is safely closed and locked.

As adults we may have developed techniques for masking this fear. Children often exhibit it far closer to the surface. Parents can find themselves responding to anxious questions by checking under the bed or in the closet, making sure it is 'all clear' - of monsters and other manner of things that go 'bump in the night'. We place stones and crystals, or tuck teddy bears on the pillow or switch on the nightlight. All to alleviate the possibility of night terrors. Which never happen in the glow of the sun.

We like to see. We like to know. We like to have surety. That which is dark and that which is unknown leaves us feeling unsettled, uncertain and, often, afraid.

Certain ancient cultures account for dark times in their calendars. These intercalate days stood outside of the regular flow and structure of the calendar and tended to be approached with caution. The Mayan Haab calendar (one of 3 used to track time) consisted of 18 months of 20 days each plus one month of 5 days. This short month was called Wayeb after the Mayan God of Michief. It was a time when the portal between the worlds dissolved and was considered to be an unlucky time. The original Roman calendar, dating from around 750 BCE, consisted of 10 months (6 of 30 days and 4 of 31 days) beginning in March. Adding up to 304 days, the remaining 61 days which fell during the Winter months were unaccounted for and unnamed. They were the dark days before the planting cycle began once again.

With the festival of Samhain, we celebrate the dark and what it has to offer. We set aside the fears and open ourselves to connecting with ancestors and those beings of the Otherworld. We honour those we loved when they walked the earth, though they are now in a realm beyond our own familiar environs. With the tradition of Halloween trick-or-treating, we embrace the gifts contained in the Shadow. We take on the sheath of our deepest fear or our greatest hope and play at walking in that robe, at least for a time. Ghoul or zombie. Pirate or witch. One little kid I know dressed one year as a failed science experiment and another year as a tree! How fantastic is that!

But, once the costumes are packed away and the candy devoured, where are we left? How do we proceed through the rest of the dark days? The birth of the Sun is still a ways down the track of time. What can we learn from sitting in this time of dark as the next several weeks unfold?

There is a beautiful Tibetan word, 'bardo', which means 'transitional state'. It refers to any time which exists in the space or transition between two other known states. It is the gap or the portal. It is the moment between the inhale and the exhale. It is the moment of transition between life and death. It connects to both and yet is neither. I see it as this time of resting in the darkest cycle of the year before the Light returns once more.

This is the time of full potential. What is held in the dark is the possibility of the light. It is not movement nor is it actualization. It is all that that comes before we take the first step. It is the exploration of intention that lends purpose to the step when it comes.

It is a challenge in our culture to avoid stampeding into the time of Light immediately after Samhain. We already have the displays and the decorations and the festive trees all around us. But, commercialism aside, this may be yet another way in which we avoid the dark.

If instead, we allow ourselves to experience the bardo and sink fully into that gap of stillness, listening for the quietest message within that whispers to us in the dark, our movement into the Light will have a very different focus and energy. It allows us to start to touch the answer to that wonderful question: When all has been stripped away and I am left with the barest remnants, who am I? And who do I choose to become?

Though there may be the impulse to activity, take this time to seize whatever moments you may have over the next few weeks to rest in stillness. Sit in the dark and explore how that makes you feel. Become aware of the 'I am' that holds the pause between past and future. Transmute anything that may still linger of fear in you into anticipation.

Before we create, we dream. And dreaming happens so exquisitely in the dark.



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Tiffany Lazic (BAA, RIHR, RP) is a Registered Psychotherapist and founder of The Hive and Grove Centre for Holistic Wellness. She has developed numerous courses in the psychological application of intuitive tools and is author of The Great Work: Self-Knowledge and Healing Through the Wheel of the Year (Llewellyn, May 2015). "Be both of the Earth and of the Stars."


  • kimberlie turnage
    kimberlie turnage Friday, 14 November 2014

    I stopped being afraid of the dark when I was eight.My grandmother used to tell my brother&I"If you curse,the boogerman will get you&If y'all don't stop fighting,the boogerman will get you",ect.When I came into the living room I would run from the hall to the outher side of the room and flip the light switch on real fast!Until one I,realized there was no"boogerman",Mamo was the "boogerman".She just told me that to get me to stop doing things SHE didn't want me to do!!The next time she told me that I was like"nice try Mamo".When I had my son I didn't try fear tactics to control his behavior.She also tried guilt and "you can't enter the kingdom if heaven if you lie or fight with your brother or curse,ect.But the jig was up,that didn't fool me either.So eventually she gave up.You should be wary of your surroundings at night when your out&about late because in the naborhood I live in their are real-world "boogermen" to watch out for and I always do a protection spell or to for that,but it's no fun to live your life in fear.I'm not afraid of anything myself,but I AM am alittle overprotective when it comes to my son&mytwo kitties.Just alittle!

  • kimberlie turnage
    kimberlie turnage Friday, 14 November 2014

    I love Samhsain and I love this time of year.I love all changes of seasons but am Autumn Fall&Winter Soltace are my favorite.Blessed Be to all.

  • Tiffany Lazic
    Tiffany Lazic Sunday, 16 November 2014

    Hi, Kimberlie ~ Yes, we have come a long way from the 'guilt and fear' tactics of generations gone by. They were operating from the information they had at the time and how they were raised and taught. But you are right - best to teach from a place of awareness and empowerment. As you say, there are people and places we need to be aware of - not all places are safe. When I think about resting in the dark, I think of finding the safe place within. There may be people and places 'out there' that require caution, but within ourselves, there is love, respect, support and encouragement. We beat ourselves up inside our own heads so much. Resting in the dark allows us to root out that negative self-talk and get to the core of who we are, in truth :-)

  • kimberlie turnage
    kimberlie turnage Monday, 17 November 2014

    Yes,I totally agree.Blessed Be.

  • Tinuviel
    Tinuviel Tuesday, 17 March 2015

    Yes, what I need to learn is how to accept dark side as place that I can't control, but explore, and allow it to teach me. That's hard, cause I'm quite a control freak. Dark is spontaneous, full of surprises, and as you said, full of stillness, although is moving all the time, but outside of our influence. Nice article, Tiffany..:)

  • Tiffany Lazic
    Tiffany Lazic Monday, 30 March 2015

    Hi, Tinuviel ~ It can be a challenge, as you say :) But I do believe that it is through embracing both our light and our dark that helps us to move into love and acceptance. Not just for ourselves but for others as well. I find with myself, when I find that urge to control kick in, I have to ask myself "What are you afraid of?" And meet that scared place with compassion and reassurance :)

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