Today’s session focussed on grace and the dark night of the soul with its seven shadows. What is grace, Caroline asked? It’s in our nature to want to define everything very clearly so that we can manage the substance and control it — organise our relationship to it and ‘get it’. We avoid doing ‘bad things’ so grace doesn’t leave us or so we don’t incur God’s wrath. And we’re superstitious, so we don’t bring ourselves to talk about it.
God needs to be understood as a mystical force that engages in our life in ways we can’t imagine. It’s the kind of force at play when, for example, you think you just can’t take it anymore and yet somehow you burst through. It’s that unit of grace that influences your decision to stay or go and you look back and say, ‘Thank God for that moment.’ You don’t know where you got the wisdom or courage to stay or go but you did it. That absolute direct command — that’s grace. It’s a force beyond reason. Caroline believes we live in a field of grace. The difference between someone who gets it and someone who doesn’t is that the one who doesn’t get it holds energy as sacred. Grace is sacred — energy isn’t. It’s an entirely different mindset requiring a different interior.
Yesterday, Caroline introduced the dark night of the soul through the experience of the mystic, John of the Cross, who worked with Teresa of Ávila for many years. This morning, she returned us to the exploration of his journey. The origin of the phrase ‘dark night of the soul’ came from this 16th century priest, a Spanish Carmelite, who was kidnapped by Dominicans and put in a cell that used to be a latrine. Teresa of Avila wanted him to reform the Carmelite Order which is why he was captured. From his interior he believed he was called to do something of high integrity — his was a deep calling. When you believe you are doing something good, that develops a suffering consciousness that you then resonate with. This is a major theme in the new age — righteous suffering. ‘They don’t know what a good, innocent person I am.’
John of the Cross suffered isolation, starvation and public lashings for nine months. Most of us could not endure this. We would hit the, ‘It’s not fair, I am innocent — what is this all about’ button. One of the buttons that is the source of all our suffering is this one. You are viewing your life from the perspective that certain things shouldn’t happen to you. If you have a not fair column, you also have a fair column, and this is the lens through which you see your life. Now we have to go to a larger view of creation — there must be some cosmic force in charge of events. ‘I’m a good person, this shouldn’t have happened to me. We’ve bought in to a cosmic idea of God that doesn’t work. We think that God works like our mommies and daddies on a reward-punishment basis.
John of the Cross, as he went through this entire nightmare, discovered that there is a deeper route that happens in which that level of thinking in all of us is going to get shattered. It’s a universal crisis for all of us — that’s the dark night. It can manifest in loss, depression, illness — a passage to a different place in life where everything you’re used to looking for is missing — you lose your appetite for your own life. We can be the most torturous guard of our own journey — we don’t show mercy. When God is running your dark night you can be sure it will end.
In describing the active night, Caroline shared, I’m going to relate it to illness and how it strikes and operates in the body. What John of the Cross noted is that there are two phases: active and passive. In the active phase the five senses break down (ego and reason senses). At this stage you’ll look for reasons why things are happening — you’ll go the reason bank account. The next place you’ll go is, ‘Why is God doing this to me?’ even if you’re an atheist. You’ll look for a cosmic map. You’ll not be able to find an earthly answer that fits a cosmic blueprint and you’ll melt, and that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen. During this phase the ego always wants to be right — to see the self as being blame-free, justified in its actions, full of guilt in an exaggerated way. We do not have the capacity to see anything accurately because we can’t factor in the position of ‘the other’ with accuracy or justice. We never really have truth in our hands in the cosmic sense.
Let’s go to illness. So, what makes us ill, what causes us to break down? I have to take you through the chakras. Even though you’re used to seeing them in a row in the human body, that’s not how I see them. I see them in columns reflecting the eras of consciousness. Below the waist the first, second and third chakras function on tribal consciousness — instinctive versus rational. All illness in my experience begins below the waist. Above the waist are the fourth and fifth chakras — energetic — heart, will, mind, spiritual bank account – representing the individual Piscean era which has a direct bearing on evolution of consciousness. We function on multiple levels of consciousness.
The first chakra active night of the soul is a breakdown of reason. Stored here in vibrational sense is your family’s tradition, loyalty, heritage, culture, traumas, family wonderment and enchantment, religion, superstition. This is the most emotional and irrational. I could send you all over the edge in an instant by insulting your country. You’re energetically connected to your country, to your root. It’s animated and electrified in you and therefore has power over you. The dark night of the soul reveals what has power over you. That’s why it’s so painful because, although you don’t want it to have power over you, it does and you want to pull your soul out of there. Wanting in not enough — it’s beyond your mind’s capacity to heal you. It’s not strong enough — it’s the vessel that’s tortured so it can’t heal you — it’s the thing that needs healing. For example, for the mind forgiveness is an antithesis, an oxymoron. Forgiveness is the realm of the soul. First chakra is the place of immune system disorders of tribal inheritance — skin/structural disorders, madness, family patterns. Your family DNA, your ways of being can lock you into behaviours even if they are not useful.
Superstitions have more power over you than your faith in God. As silly and funny as they are this IS what it’s like to have faith. That animation — that subtle thing snaps. We would be traumatised if challenged. Fate and faith are quite extraordinary. This chakra has to do with epidemics. It commands our reverence and our power. Power play — pride — is the first shadow of this chakra — it’s the one that destroys the tribe. Unfinished business with the tribe will cause you to put all your energy there.
Caroline noted that the root of many illnesses have chemical or neurological depression as opposed to spiritual or mystical depression and that the latter should not be medicated — you don’t drug the dark night. ADD, ADHD — kid types of disorders — are a result of such a high content of electromagnetic dynamics going on in the groundedness of what it means to be a human being and the absence of rootedness in the way we bring souls in — absence of ritual of what a soul requires. In taking a human being out of those rituals of passage the timing is askew.
Caroline asked participants to consider this question, ‘How many of you have spent time looking at what’s dysfunctional on the outside?’ When John of the Cross looked at the outside, he found himself in the same situation as Jesus. He was already modelling his life after the template of Jesus when looked through the lens of a human being with a profound soul who came onto earth when Aries was ending and Pisces was beginning. He set in motion a different capacity to perceive a pattern of consciousness that had not been perceived before. His role was the healer. His particular sphere was the healing consciousness — he was going to animate a sphere that had never before been activated. He had to go through every reasonable excuse a human being uses for revenge in order to open the forgiveness circuit. ‘I’m going to show you how to stop torturing yourself and one another’ — first chakra. ‘I’m going to go through all the shadows that activate and give you permission to draw the sword and kill another.’ To do that you have to have such a command over your ego that your sense of reason and pride becomes your demon.
John of the Cross realised that he was praying for the wrong thing — that his bitterness and anger be honoured — but he wasn’t praying for a healing. He discovered that it’s about love not bitterness. ‘I have to find a way to love my way out of this. I need to love greater than I have ever loved before. To find a way to love what was consuming me with hate. I need to find a way to transcend my bitterness.’ It became about rigorous prayer — the capacity to turn the other cheek. The realisation that ‘this has to happen to be able to see so clearly in life’ is an acknowledgement of the playing out of dynamics that have to happen.
So the thinking then becomes, ‘I have to see this through the lens that ‘this has to happen so that I can understand.’ It’s about our capacity to slip into mystical reasoning, to see choice in every moment, to see clearly all the levels of consciousness simultaneously: the jewels, the shadow and the setting. You are never devoid of your pride or fear of humiliation. Every setting has the possibility of humiliating you — it’s a first chakra perception. In actual fact, nothing is set up to humiliate you, but you could perceive it that way. It reveals where you are in your perception. You can choose to turn that off and then see what you perceive.
During the active dark night of the soul we look at what puts us in hell. We blame others — we go into the seven shadows — they come and visit at various time in our lives. In the passive night, we actually look to ourselves. We look at our pride and why it is so active. This is the root of why we lose power. The source of illness is the passive night, not the active. In the active we report on all our events, but this will never heal us because the root is in the passive, not the active.
The first chakra is about pride — tribal issues — how much of your suffering comes from pride/humiliation? Injured pride is a dangerous thing. It triggers a poison in you and that poison needs feeding, that needs constant self-righteousness. You have to reinforce your story and it gets twisted every time you tell it. The first chakra is about exaggeration — distortion to serve your pride. It’s a huge shadow — we have an archive of them. This is mission control — you’re looking at the ‘website’ for your crisis — the shadow side. Caroline then posed another question, ‘Why do you need to hang on to your anger? Answer from the shadow side, she advised.
Pride is an irrational position someone takes. Family pride equals family poison. How do you get out of it? First you have to identify it. Getting through humiliation leads to humbleness. The grace of the shield of humbleness is the greatest power. You will become more powerful than you ever could have imagined.
In the case of the warrior archetype the soul says, ‘Put down the gloves,’ but the ego will never trust that. The soul says, ‘I will defeat you.’ Always the soul will win, Caroline stresses.
The second chakra takes power and makes it one-on-one. It’s about how you relate to other people, whereas the first chakra is how you relate to groups. The second chakra is about sexuality, power struggles, your creative relationship to another, where you feel threatened by someone. It’s also where you store your financial information (doesn’t matter how much money you have). It’s about power — at some point it ceases to be about money. The power is to control events. At some point, it’s no longer about the need to have stuff, to acquire beyond survival. The object of my survival becomes about control — power. The target is control.
Then it rises to the third chakra — it’s not rational. The dark night of the soul is that you want to control ‘the other’ and you won’t let go. It’s all about the fear of being raped, being powerless. What happens as a result is an anger about having been made powerless, it leaves scar tissue and causes ferocious illnesses in the body — arthritis, sciatica, chronic lower back pain, cancer in the lower parts of the body, especially if you were powerless to protect yourself. This is a theme in this area. It’s about protection of the self. It’s about violation — psychic — that’s where the violation is most catastrophic — on the psychic level. The shadow is the capacity of the anger to consume you, which unresolved, can cause you to fantasise about vengeance — getting even — making them suffer because you have been hurt. It’s very difficult to get in touch with our active shadow. We have a desire to return what was done to us — second chakra. Chronic lower back pain is specifically about finances. With sciatica it has to do with responsibility. Lower back pain is about betrayal of financial systems. It’s also about power plays related to a financial authority. You can never fully relax. Your second chakra of the warrior is jammed and your nerves begin to pulsate from that kind of stress. You go into cycles of anger or helplessness, or you draw anger to you — people who are angry come toward you with their shadow and you become the victim. It’s about me taking charge before it takes charge of me — why am I so angry? Never mind all the reasons — the targets — if I just look at myself — what am I so angry about? When it steams up in you, what is it in you — when does it control you? What does it make you do?
One of the reasons people don’t heal is that we can’t own our anger. Migraines stem from bottled up anger — imploding anger. Anger gives a person permission to lie if it becomes toxic enough. Makes you play games with your integrity. Dark passions can make you feel that it’s alright to lie and cheat. Caroline’s major dark passion is anger. In the active dark night we need to review the action — go back to laboratory of creation — the shadow will go for the lowest possible force — your weakness, your vanity, your cavity.
If I know for a fact that love is a higher power, but I knowingly choose rage because it has more drama, then I indulge my rage. We have to ride the wave of the tsunami. We have the choice to pray our way through it. Let the tsunami pass and the wisdom is right behind. You hemmorage your soul for the sake of vanity. It’s just not worth it.
Teresa of Ávila instructed her nuns to have soul companions (not support groups) to support each other’s illumination — to support each other’s stamina. This is not to be confused with talking about their history — no — it’s about reflecting on the present situation and how you are with it in the present.
Caroline then asked participants, ‘Do you tend to see life through a lens of anger or love? Go deeply. How do you perceive and engage and experience life?’ Disappointment, loneliness, heartache, emptiness — these are all anger. Anytime we’re looking for ‘something else’ we’re looking through the lens of anger. To be able to have a mastery over the shadow of pride and be humble — this is a jewel — the genius power of the grace of humbleness.
The next shadow is greed, avarice, coveting. It’s about personal power and self-esteem, dignity, boundaries. In the physical, it manifests as pancreatic, kidney, liver problems, addictions. Caroline reminded us that although the shadows are predominant in certain chakras, they all blend.
There are many forms of greed. We can be greedy for money, attention, success, fame, enlightenment, power, authority, drugs, food. Greed causes you to make choices that will harm, but you don’t care because you want what you want so badly. You can be driven to a point where you compromise your integrity, negotiating your soul to get what you want. Someone other than you will have to pay the price for your greed. Anger, avarice, pride all work together as a team. It’s hard to draw a pure line between the chakras — it’s not like that — they blend.
What are you greedy for? What are your addictions? Do you have to get your own way to the point that it’s a power issue?
One of the elements we fear the most is chaos — sudden rapid change that we feel will pull the rug out from under us. Chaos is caused by the truth. When your intuitive system is finely tuned you can feel it coming into your field. You can feel it entering your life’s pattern. In every dynamic when you introduce any of these lower emotions to slow down the speed at which truth comes into your life, chaos comes — and chaos brings change and change brings chaos.
Addiction is a crisis between your heart and your head when what you think and feel come from two different places. You are an addict — you are two different people. Caroline used an analogy of day and night. Perhaps mind rules the day and heart the night. When the heart takes over there is a break in the two circuits — the heart reviews what the mind has done and says how it feels about it. Why aren’t you one and the same? You’d have to be congruent — fluid — one field. Most people are completely different emotionally and mentally. The will says ‘I need one consistent parent’, and it usually ends up being a substance which is where addiction comes in. You become an addict. You’ll no longer be an addict when you connect the mind and the heart.
When you go into deep suffering, what puts you there? There’s no rhyme or reason to healing — no formula — but it’s also true that you could be pulled out of illness in an instant near the point of death. It’s a matter of the presence and grace of God. She then took us into the castle for some interior work. At the end of the day, there is nothing more powerful than to ask humbly in prayer. There’s something out there larger than us that is a commanding force in our lives. There is a place in you, a switch, that says, ‘I’m no longer going to look for logic or reason.’ It’s a wise thing to live in the consciousness that everything is healing. We want the outside to change to accommodate us, but as Teresa of Ávila would say, you have to start looking for God in the details of life.
When you get up in the morning, Caroline urged, think ‘This day will never come again.’ What will I do? Put your life in that context. We will never be gathered together again like this or be at Findhorn like this. This is what it’s like to raise the bar on consciousness. Why are we gathered in this moment and nobody else? That to her is a prayer — you must be at a pivotal place of grace or healing in your life or you would not be here now. If you really ‘get that’ leave behind that which no longer serves and let a sense of grace take over.
Join us tomorrow for the conclusion of this fascinating journey through the active and passive stages of the dark night of the soul, and its seven shadows, and for the revelation of the seven jewels.
– Mattie Porte –
Photographer: Mark Anderson