Dark Night of the Soul; What Happened to My Guidance?

When we experience a Dark Night of the Soul, we may wonder what’s happened to our ability to get guidance. Trauma and tragedy create intense emotion. When we’re in the grip of processing these emotions, we may temporarily lose our ability to access wisdom directly from source.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop

What is a Dark Night of the Soul?

The term Dark Night of the Soul is based on a poem written by the 16th-century Spanish mystic and poet St. John of the Cross. Later, the term was used by Friedrich Nietzsche and Carl Jung to describe a very potent crisis of the soul.

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

In short, the Dark Night of the Soul is a transformative event of the soul, often initiated through trauma, tragedy, or some other deeply felt and trying event. This event becomes the impetus to feel deeply and question one’s perception of the world. There’s no definite time frame for a dark night event; one may experience it coinciding with the initiating event or not until years or even decades later. This timing depends strongly two things. The first depends on one’s willingness to dive into the event in a vulnerable way. The second depends on the resources and skills one has to assess, refine, and integrate the event details. By nature, a Dark Night of the Soul is charged with many intense feelings, including fear, grief, anger, resentment, shame, and more. Thus, willingness and tools are both vital components in stepping from the event itself into the next phase of processing (steps 2 and 3 below.)

I would classify the steps of a dark night as the following:

  1. The Dark Night of the Soul event.
  2. Acceptance that the event has happened and cannot be changed or sidestepped.
  3. Starting to process the intense emotions associated with the event. (Healing Strategies and Tools)
  4. The Rollercoaster – healing is not “a little better each day” but often highs followed by lows as one processes intense emotions and has profound insights. During this phase, one begins to change how their world view is ordered.
  5. Finding your “New Normal” – a place of relative balance and stability. A new viewpoint of the world has more or less been constructed but it’s still tender in places and at times a little shaky.
  6. Recovery and Integration – a period in which one feels as if they can finally catch their breath and perhaps even help others based on their experience.
  7. Being ready and willing to experience life’s next transformative event.

Based on my experiences – personally, with loved ones, and with clients – the steps from 2 – 4 are the most difficult and thus potential “sticking” points. These steps are often fraught with resistance. Symptoms of this resistance manifest as avoidance or sidestepping, getting stuck in the process itself, or attempting to rush through too quickly.

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ~ Carl Gustav Jung

First, it is important to note that everyone processes a Dark Night event in their own way and in their own timing. No two spiritual crises are the same because no two souls are the same or are on the same journey. Transformation is a deeply personal event. No one can tell you if you’re doing it wrong, just as no one can be sure you’re doing it right. This is one of the reasons that Dark Night events are so frightening. They are, by nature, painful crises that one must go through alone. This does NOT mean that it’s inappropriate to seek the help of others; far from it! We all need those that are able and willing to bear witness to our journey and hold space. When we have others that we trust to accompany us on this difficult, transformative path, they help us to hold open the container in which we are doing our work. Those that can hold us in a space of honesty and non-judgement are powerful gifts to us. While they cannot take away the fear, pain, or the work needed to go through the transformation, they can remind us that we are loved, strong, and that this transformation is a powerful, necessary step in our healing and recovery.

“The dark night of the soul is when you have lost the flavor of life but have not yet gained the fullness of divinity. So it is that we must weather that dark time, the period of transformation when what is familiar has been taken away and the new richness is not yet ours.” ~Ram Dass

Where did my guidance go?!?

A Dark Night event is, when taken to completion, a deep and potent initiation into the spiritual and mystical realms. We go through several initiations through our lifetimes. Some initiations take us into the mystical for the very first time; an introduction gained through a crack in our reality. However, initiations can take place at ANY point in our journey, asking us to release what doesn’t serve us, and then reorder and deepen our connection. A Dark Night event is always an initiation, but an initiation isn’t always as deep as a Dark Night. We can have initiations that are all shapes and sizes, difficult or captivating, and everything in between. Dark Nights are particularly potent initiations from which we emerge raw and new. They are deeply transformative, often in ways that are difficult to qualify and quantify. Dark Nights are not necessarily limited to once in a lifetime, but they are usually few and far between as compared to initiations, of which we may have many.

We can experience our Dark Night at any point in our journey. They are always deeply challenging, regardless of the point in our journey at which we experience them. One commonality is the same regardless of the point at which we experience them; if we attempt to use the mystical realms as a way to hurry through, sidestep, distract, or fantasize our way through our dark night process, spirit – or our highest consciousness – will thwart us each and every time.

“The dark night of the soul is a journey into light, a journey from your darkness into the strength and hidden resources of your soul.” ~Caroline Myss

Dark Nights require care, attentiveness, and deep discernment to get through. If we rush through a key learning point; if our fear, grief, or other strong emotions are clouding our perceptions so that a point gets distorted or tainted in some way; or if we are using spirit and the mystical realms to numb our pain and fear, then source will stop us cold. The way that often looks is a “blackout” of the extrasensory perceptions that we use to receive guidance from source.

Sometimes, this will be a complete and total blackout. We suddenly cannot do our normal forms of personal guidance retrieval, whether it’s mediation, channeling, shamanic journeying, astral projection, or any of the many other related forms of accessing the mystical realms. Even if we are going to someone else to facilitate and help us with deeper methods of altered consciousness such as hypnosis or ingestion of hallucinogenic substances, we may still find ourselves thwarted. Those that have extensive experience with altered consciousness may still be able to achieve trance states in which they can access information for others, but will go back into blackout mode when they attempt to receive guidance for the self or others to whom they have strong emotional bonds.

To experience this sudden isolation is, needlessly to say, alarming and frightening. It can cause us to feel like we’ve experienced yet another devastating loss. It’s as though we’ve been suddenly abandoned and left alone to wander without direction or support. From the viewpoint of source, however, it’s an attempt to get us to take things slower, to give time for things to process and move out, to not overwhelm with guidance and answers that one may not be in a space to understand or accept. Just as our physical digestion can become overwhelmed and clogged by “too much too fast,” so to do our emotional, mental, and etheric digestive systems need time to process, absorb, and eliminate before moving on.

“It is not our job to remain whole. We came to lose our leaves like the trees, And be born again, drawing up from the great roots.” ~Robert Bly

What to do when it goes dark…

One of the hardest things to hear when you’re in crises may certainly be “be patient, be still.” Dark nights are so termed for a reason. We must be willing to sit in darkness and the unknown, bring our fears into conscious awareness and semblance of control, and allow ourselves to experience, feel, and process all the painful emotions present. This takes time. When we remain present, time does in fact heal all. As we give ourselves time to process the events we’ve experienced, space begins to open back up. Our extrasensory perceptions need space in order to retrieve guidance and insights from source and all those that assist us in the higher realms. We cannot jump into the mystical in order to escape our human experiences. We are here to evolve the connection between the consciousnesses of our star souls, ancestral lines, and our physical bodies; we cannot evolve if we refuse to be present with any one of these aspects.

Though we may not be able to receive detailed guidance during these dark nights, it’s important that you know you are never alone. Though it may feel as if it’s the most excruciatingly lonely event – and in some ways it is – you must remember that your guardians, guides, and ancestors are always with you. They surround you, enfolding you in love, compassion, and support. If you are open to it, you’ll notice an abundance of signs they bring to you. These synchronicities can be anything from repeating or reoccurring number sequences; animal sightings or visitations; dreams (though dreams can be one of the mechanisms that can become diminished or absent during the dark night); hearing or seeing seemingly random but “perfect” messages. Sometimes these synchronicities have a very particular loving message for us, other times it’s just a gentle tap on our shoulder to remind us that we aren’t alone.

With time, and patience, your ability to retrieve guidance will return. Be gentle with yourself. Trust is important. As difficult as it may be, it is often a key aspect in your transformation. Trust yourself, trust the process as it unfolds, and trust spirit to envelop you. You are divinely supported, always, and though you may arrive a bit tattered and tired, you will reach your destination.

“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind” ~ Caroline Myss

/ A special note to clients seeking sessions, including QHHT. If you’re in the early stages of a traumatic event and feel you’re still processing in a deep way, or if you’re experiencing the type of “blackout” phenomenon discussed above, please send me a message to schedule a consultation prior to booking a session. This gives us a chance to talk about where you are in your journey and determine the most supportive path forward for you. /