The Long Dark Night of the Soul

November 3, 2008


Unconditional Self Acceptance: Illuminating
                      Physical Experience
Illuminating Physical Experience by Foley, Shaffer & Davidsson

Main Pages:

The Long Dark Night of the Soul - Wolf Full

We've all heard of "The Long Dark Night of the Soul," but what is it, really?

Three days ago was Halloween - the Samhain ['sah-win'] of the Celts.  It was known to the Celtic Druids of old as the time of year when the veil between our world and the afterworld was the thinnest.  The Druids did not shy away from the dark.  They were well acquainted with the principle of working through the darkness to get to the light.

At one time, the Irish method of initiating Druids into Arch Druids was to seal them in a cave for three days and three nights without food, water, light, sound or any sensory input other than the cold, hard stone of the cave floor and walls.

Within that period, they had to prove their readiness for Arch Druidship by becoming one with their Higher Selves - evidenced by the fact that they could translocate their physical bodies to the outside of the sealed cave entrance.

Copyright © 2008-2013 Kent Davidsson all written material on, including "The Long Dark Night of the Soul (Metaphysical)."
Note: Please use the above links but do not reproduce or redistribute in any other way.  Thank you!

The Short Dark Night of the Soul

The cave initiation was the Druids' Dark Night of the Soul intensive - a Short Dark Night of the Soul, you might say.  I strongly advice against modern practice, though.  Even with years of expert training, many hopeful initiates went insane and/or died in the process.  I know that sounds unlikely.  Being sealed off in darkness and fasting for three days and nights sounds scary, but hardly fatal.

And you are right.  It was not merely the isolation and utter darkness that killed or drove the initiates mad.  It was the opening up of their subconscious and unleashing of all their inner demons, while simultaneously sealed off in isolation and utter darkness, that had a strong potential to drive them insane.  The way to be able to survive and handle the experience was to connect and become one with their Higher Selves.


     Defining 3 Aspects of Self:
  • Subconscious: Unconscious part of incarnate mind. Includes instincts, reflexes, some emotions, and a lot of suppressed or unrecalled memories and programming.
  • Conscious mind: The aware and thinking part of incarnate mind.
  • Higher Self: Aspect of Self not incarnated. Conscious of oneness with the Universe / God.


Opening up of the Subconscious

And that's what the Dark Night of the Soul is.  It is the opening up of the subconscious, and the emptying out of all that is there.  And that is no small thing.  Our minds are like icebergs.  (See picture in upper right hand corner of page.)  The conscious mind is only the small part sticking up above the surface.  Most of it is below, unknown to us.  Imagine suddenly becoming aware of 20 times more thoughts, feelings and programming than you knew of before - much of it from infantile periods of life and thus quite illogical, crazy, even 'insane.'

When the boundary between the conscious mind and the subconscious vanishes and all that has been suppressed in the subconscious starts flooding our minds within a relatively short timeframe, even the spiritual and emotional super heroes among us will find it utterly challenging to maintain their sanity.  In the case of the Druids, even with years of preparation and training, only a few succeeded.

Long Dark Night of the Soul

And so it is with the Long Dark Night of the Soul as well.  Talk of it may sound darkly mysterious and exciting, even romantic.  But going through it feels nothing of the sort and it is definitely not anything to play with.  When your Higher Self deems you ready to handle and survive the experience, then and only then will your Higher Self create it for you.  I suggest that you do not go looking for it before then.

The purpose of this article is to help you recognize the experience if you are in it or have recently gone through it.  Reading about it beforehand may also help you recognize it if it happens in the future.  My purpose is not to encourage you to seek the experience.  It will happen to you when you are ready.

Breaking Down of Subconscious Barrier

The Long Dark Night of the Soul happens because something has caused the barrier between the conscious and subconscious minds to break down.  The Druids had their method of triggering the event - through fasting, sensory deprivation, isolation, spiritual training, and a focused intention.  The old Egyptians did something similar - but with a sarcophagus instead of a cave.

Transcending Hope and Despair

A spontaneous Long Dark Night of the Soul can occur through any number of events which cause the Light of the conscious mind to be transcended.  Perhaps the most common triggering event is one in which a person comes to transcend both hope and despair.  (The Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism speak of transcending hope and despair as essential.)

Hope is the strongest defining quality of conscious mind.  The corresponding defining quality of the subconscious is Despair.  Both, of course, can be experienced by the same individual at different times.  What they have in common is that they both take a person out of the here and now.  While despair means you are in anguish over being present in the here and now, hope also means projecting your happiness into the future away from the here and now.

Despair is defined in the dictionary as "the loss of hope."  In reality, despair is a cry for hope.  As long as a person despairs, it means that there exists at least the hope for hope.  A person truly beyond hope would be even beyond despair, transcending both hope and despair.

Death of the Soul

When that occurs, it feels like the death of the soul.  We may go on living physically, but we feel dead.  At the same time, though, this also leads to utter and complete surrender to The Universe / God.  Perhaps The Long Dark Night of the Soul is the only way we can really completely surrender ourselves to the Divine.  I don't know.

Unimaginable Event - Real Case Scenario

To put it another way, occasionally, an event may occur in a person's life that is so unimaginable that not only hope ceases, but even despair seems like a golden rainbow we can scarcely imagine.  I will give an example:

A childhood friend of my family lost his much beloved wife and two young children in a fire when their house burned down.  They were all asleep on the second floor of the building when the fire started.  They were able to get out of their beds in time but could not make it down the stairs, so they went out on the balcony.

The parents decided the best way to proceed was for the father to jump down first and catch the young children as the mother lowered them to him.  However, after the father had jumped off the balcony, the panicked young children ran back into the house.  The mother followed them.  Later, the remains of all three were found curled up together in the ashes, hands tightly clasped.

For the next two years or so, the man was a shadow of himself.  He moved through the world but was not of the world.  There was no hope in him.  There was not even despair.  Only Being, because, what else could he do but to Be?  Gradually, over time, he surrendered to just Being.  I remember looking at him many years later and asking myself, "How can he be so at peace, happy and harmonious?  How is it possible?"

Total Surrender and Pure Beingness

The answer, of course, was that he had passed through The Long Dark Night of the Soul - the death of the soul.  Later, his soul had been reborn into a place of total Surrender and pure Beingness.  There was no hope for anything better or different.  Neither did he feel any despair of wanting to get out of his situation.  He was remaried and had learned to lived fully in The Now, in acceptance and gratitude for what was.  Trust me, I wish there were an easier way to get to such a place than to have to go through The Long Dark Night of the Soul.  And perhaps there is.  I do not know for sure.

Current World Status

As of the writing of this article, the world's financial system is on the brink of collapse.  Food production is facing major challenges.  Wheat is getting scarce, as drought, wheat rust and biofuels make it unattainably expensive to many.  The world production of rice is sufficient but financial speculation and unwise distribution makes it likewise prohibitively expensive to large population groups that depend on it.  The bee population in the U.S. is collapsing, which not only affects the production of honey but also indirectly many other agricultural products that depend on the bees for pollination.

Planetary Dark Night of the Soul

My hopes are for all these things to resolve themselves as mercifully and painlessly as possible for the world population.  At the same time, all this may create opportunities for many individuals to face their own personal Long Dark Night of the Soul.  It is even said by Karen Bishop* that the world itself, as a whole, is now standing on the brink of a world-wide Dark Night of the Soul.  We shall see.  The next 12 months will tell.


– By author of "Illuminating Physical Experience"


* Karen Bishop is the author of the Wings Newsletter.  She is exceptionally attuned to the ongoings of the collective planetary consciousness.  Her writing is usually quite vague, as it needs to generally apply to a lot of people.  But it is the real stuff.



More Philosophical Musings


Please visit our sponsors via ads!



Back to top: The Long Dark Night of the Soul (Metaphysical)


Search Page
Contact Us
Article Index

Please visit our sponsors via ads!

Copyright © 2008-2013 Kent Davidsson & Unconditional Self Acceptance Co. all written material on including "The Long Dark Night of the Soul (Metaphysical)."