Art thou in the darkness? Mind it not, for if thou dost it will feed thee more, but stand still and act not, and wait in patience till light arises out of darkness and leads thee. James Nayler
During this time of continuing pandemic, escalating social chaos, and increased suffering throughout the world, I find these words of the 17th century Quaker, James Nayler, resonating within my heart. I see his message of wisdom mirrored in this image that appeared to me in a dream:
I see our beautiful Earth from outer space and watch as a darkness that appears like death covers our whole planet. I feel the deep grief and anguish of the world soul, but as I continue to witness this darkness I begin to see a golden ball of energy in the center of the Earth. It starts to expand, growing larger and larger, until it breaks through the surface of the Earth. From this golden energy a Being of Light slowly emerges. Now I see this Being of Light reaching across the planet as the golden energy fills the darkness.
This vision was very affirming to me, pointing to a divine presence that is working even in the darkest conditions of our world. A transpersonal dream image like this reveals the archetypal energies emerging from the depths of the collective unconscious. As our personal and collective darkness deepens, these archetypal energies are breaking forth into consciousness with increasing power as the human psyche experiences intensifying pressure. It is important that we share these messages of sacred wisdom in whatever form they come to us – visions, dreams, artistic creations, inspirations and intuitions – at this critical turning point for the future of of our beloved Earth.
I find one of these powerful messages of wisdom in the book Dark Night, Early Dawn that Christopher Bache, a researcher in transpersonal states of consciousness, wrote in the year 2000. It appears that the devastating future that he foresaw if humanity did not make fundamental changes in our social priorities was truly prophetic. At the threshold to the 21st century he perceived that we were probably entering a historical period of profound suffering with conditions rapidly deteriorating on many fronts, increasing panic as normal structures of life are torn away, and huge numbers of people in desperate circumstances with millions dying, while our technology intensifies the pain by showing us the depth of our planetary suffering.
Yet Bache also saw the possibility for hope through his understanding of our present suffering as a “dark night of the soul” that has the potential for fundamental transformation. In the Christian tradition the dark night of the soul refers to the painful trials of doubt and despair that are necessary in order to purify the soul and prepare it for the experience of illumination. In its deepest form, the spiritual dark night leads to the profound transformation of ego-death. Bache extends the traditional concept of the dark night from the individual to collective humanity: “At this time we are encountering the possibility of species ego-death (that) may take the form of the collective collapse of the experience of living in separation.” If this fundamental shift in human consciousness does occur, humanity will see the luminous light dawning at the end of the long road of our collective journey through the soul’s dark night. In the spiritual rebirth of the human species that follows, “separation is experienced as a smaller truth operating within the larger truth of interpenetration and common ground… Other persons are spontaneously experienced as partners in a complex dance, and because of this dance we are not just separate beings but vital parts of living patterns. We are the dancing itself.”
Bache cautions us, however, that because the crisis facing humanity is “historically unprecedented,” we cannot predict whether this profound transformation in the collective psyche will take place. As we see today, the intense desire for our lives to return to “normal,” which leads to the denial and distractions that make the pain of our current condition more bearable, may lead to the tragic loss of this critical opportunity for the spiritual rebirth of humanity.
But even in the darkest night when humanity appears to have lost its vision, Bache offers us the hope for a new dawn that is still possible. The severity of the crisis that we are in is creating enormous pressures upon the collective psyche and the conditions in which “our individual choices may have enormous ramifications if they reflect our highest good and seek the greatest good of humanity a a whole. As we approach this fork in our destiny, the scale to the next step in human evolution – indeed the scale to survival itself – may be tipped by a much smaller number of individuals than we had previously suspected.”
This is why the work that each of us does in this dark night is crucial: we are truly one in the deep ground of our being, therefore this expanded view of identity affects the “species-mind” as a whole, aiding the collective transformation of human consciousness. Our task now is to remain conscious and act with intention, as we perceive the dying process that we are undergoing in the light of its potential for powerful transformation. What is “death” to our earthly eyes is actually the passageway to the Great Mystery that transforms earthly life to its heavenly form, the release of the constricted egoic mind to the expansive Sacred Mind, the transfiguration of the small, separate self into whole, unitive Self.
Spiritual masters point us toward this crucial next stage of humanity’s evolutionary development as they show us the spiritual potential that is possible for the human race. In the Christian tradition we may look to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the model not only for the spiritual journey of the individual, but also for the entire human species. At this critical time in human history we need to understand how the message of Christ is meant for the entire world; not as a narrow, sectarian “belief in Jesus” that separates Christians from non-Christians, but Christ as a template for the “death of the species-ego” that is the way to the new life of resurrection for the human race that recognizes its essential unity in the divine Ground.
It appears to me that the dream image of the golden ball of light emerging out of the darkness of the Earth may portray this process of death and resurrection for the soul of the world. In exploring this further, I find this message of wisdom in The Sophia Teachings by the Christian esoteric writer Robert Powell:
The mystery teachings tell us that at the center of the Earth there is a golden realm, the kingdom of the Divine Mother. This is the kingdom known in the East as Shambhala, the lost paradise which at the time of the Fall was lost and descended into the center of the Earth as a golden globe…
In this mythic view, the fall of humanity that led to its exile from paradise corresponded to the descent of this paradise – the realm of the divine feminine – into the center of the Earth. It is now lost to us who live on the surface of the material world, disconnected from the heart of the world soul. Without this sacred feminine presence the soul of humanity lives in darkness and our earthly world suffers destruction and death. But the vision reveals the possibility that the light of the divine feminine will grow in the depths of the Earth until it breaks through to the Earth’s surface. This corresponds to the archetypal feminine energies of the unconscious that are growing in strength today in the depths of the collective unconscious and beginning to break through into human consciousness. This is a mythic image of the return of the divine feminine – known in Christian tradition as Holy Sophia – after her long exile through human history. The appearance of a divine being whose light fills the darkness of this world corresponds to the description of Christ, whose “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5) The emergence of the Being of Light from the golden ball of energy reveals the essential interdependence and union of the sacred Masculine and Feminine – ChristoSophia.
The hopeful vision of the Being of Light filling the Earth with golden energy seems to me to be a symbolic representation of the Second Coming of Christ as understood by Robert Powell:
The Greek word relating to the Second Coming is parousia, which means presence. Christ is not speaking of an incarnation but of a renewed presence. We can understand Christ’s Second Coming as a guiding, inspiring, and transforming presence within the Earth’s biosphere, that which is known esoterically as the etheric sphere of existence … The implication of Christ’s return in an etheric body is that the Divine Feminine is being activated… Just as two thousand years ago Christ’s mission was the salvation of humanity, now, with the return of Christ in the etheric, he is coming for the redemption of the Earth, and all Earth’s beings. Now is the time for the spiritual transformation of the planet.
It is the dawning light of the presence of Christ in the etheric realm – which is one with the rising up of the golden light of the divine feminine – the Light of ChristoSophia – that those with “eyes to see” are beginning to perceive arising on the far horizon, the light that is beginning to break forth in this dark night of the world soul.
The Second Coming is not a one-time occurrence at a specific time, but is an ongoing process that requires human participation. The full revelation of the Second Coming will appear when humanity undergoes the pivotal shift from the constricted egoic mind to the expansive Sacred Mind that is the essence of Christ-consciousness. As the dream image reveals, according to my interpretation, the critical element for this emergent consciousness is the return of the divine feminine to our world and the feminine presence within the soul of humanity.
The central question for each of us is how are we to aid this process? Reflecting on this, I heard within my heart: Be silent… wait… witness… These words of Wisdom express the receptive feminine presence that is so desperately needed today – the presence that we find in both Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene as representations of Holy Sophia. This feminine presence of silent waiting and witness until the fruits of Wisdom emerge characterizes the role of both Marys. Mother Mary expresses this receptivity in her assent at the Annunciation: patiently waiting for the fruit of Wisdom to be born from her womb, witness to the miracle that unfolded through her as she “pondered these things in her heart.” Mary Magdalene exhibits these same qualities at the ending of Jesus’s earthly life as Mother Mary does at the beginning. Silently waiting at the cross, witness to the agonizing death of Jesus; silently waiting at his tomb and witness to his resurrection. This prayerful presence of silent waiting and witness was the necessary preparation for Mother Mary’s birth of Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s role during the death of Jesus which gave birth to the resurrected Christ.
As Mother Mary held the baby Jesus within her physical body in love until he was born into this earthly world, Mary Magdalene held the soul of Jesus in love after death in this earthly world until his resurrection. In both cases it was the connection of love – held in silent waiting and witness – that was the feminine presence needed to actualize the work of the Divine in the world. In the midst of all the clamor and chaos in our world today, it seems that this is also the feminine presence that is necessary to the emergence of Wisdom.
In their own times of darkness Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene maintained their state of conscious presence as they waited with courage and faith for the unknown future to unfold. They provide a model for us to follow today: not to flee in fear, denying and betraying our deepest truth, but to maintain presence in the midst of the chaos of this time, bearing witness with clear sight and open heart to the tremendous suffering of the world soul, and – even in the face of utter destruction and death – continue to trust in the sacred process of Life that is carrying us forward to an unknown and frightening future that may ultimately be realized as a new dawn for the world soul.
Cynthia Avens October 10, 2020
James Nayler, “Art thou in the darkness?” in Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong by Paulette Meier, 2011.
Christopher Bache, Dark Night, Early Dawn: Steps to a Deep Ecology of Mind (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2000)
Robert Powell, The Sophia Teachings: The Emergence of the Divine Feminine in Our Time (Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne Books, 2001)