It’s funny, sometimes, how “good” and “evil” get mixed up and thrown together.
A few days ago, we had a thunderstorm here in SA. We have had several over the past week or so, finally ending our long drought, and bringing temperatures down from over a hundred to the much more comfortable mid-90′s. How odd it seems to be saying, thank goodness, for our high today is only going to reach 91 degrees.
One thing, though, that thunderstorm caused the power to blip off, only for a few seconds, but enough to start a bit of a problem with my PC. It took a while for the reset button to work, and even after, the computer would simply shut down, for no discernible reason.
One of those shutdowns occurred late yesterday morning. I had my journal out, and was writing to myself as I worked on a new chapter for my book, or tried to, in spite of some dark little distractions. I was on my igoogle page with its little inspirational widgets and images, when the quote on my Joseph Campbell widget shifted to this one: “One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation.”
It seemed so apt for my personal feelings at that moment, I picked up my pencil and began copying the message into my journal. I got the first sentence out and started on the second. “The blackest….”
Well, that was as far as I got, because all of a sudden, instead of my igoogle page, I was starting at the blackest monitor screen imaginable. The computer had blipped off again.
Once again, too, it took a while for the reset button to work, and by the time I was back on, the widget had changed its message. There was something about the timing of it all that I knew I really wanted to see the rest of that quotation, so I typed a few words of it into the search engine window and a page popped up that contained the quote I was looking for:
. First thing I did, though, I wrote the rest of that lost sentence: “The blackest moment is the moment when the message of transformation is going to come.”
The page I had found the quote on, Northstar Gallery, was part of a photographer’s online gallery. The artist, Dennis W. Felty, had written a mission statement discussing the importance of his work. He wrote of storytelling – in his case through recording images he had seen through the lens of his camera, but in a general sense, it applied to all storytellers. And every storyteller is a myth teller
Finding that article yesterday was, indeed, the high point of the day for me. Most of the rest of it was filled with black moments. In a sense, it was not a day I would wish to repeat.
It was a day, when, at the end, I found myself confronted by my own shadow. I went to bed, finally, but I did not sleep well. When I got up this morning, I had a strong urge to find and reread that artist’s statement about the value of our dark moments. I check out my browser’s history, and returned to that Northstar Gallery page, and reread Felty’s statement.
I read, “Within our being, moment by moment, each of us holds the ability to be both hero and villain. Indeed, it is only when we understand and embrace this reality that we can hope to rise above the competing duality, choosing hero.”
I found myself thinking of Luke Skywalker, in that cave on Dagoba, confronting an image of Darth Vader. In his anger, he wielded his light saber and lopped off the black-masked head, only to find himself looking at his own face. Later, he would learn that Darth Vader, that personification of evil, was his own father, and as the series ended, he faced his father and himself, and was finally able to help his father see that there was, “still good in him.”
I come back to that Jungian concept of “Shadow,” that part of each of us we are generally unwilling to recognize, and so, we tend to see those qualities in the people we conceive of as enemies – the evils that we must fight, the dragons we must slay.
But Joseph Campbell, the source of the original quotation, often spoke about the importance of “embracing the dragon.” When we try to kill it, he explained, we kill a vital part of ourselves. We are all who we are, “warts and all,” and everybody is capable of doing both great harm and great good. It is important, then, for us to explore our own darkness., because it is there , in that very spot, that the source of our light lies.
And, as the artist, Dennis W. Felty, said in the conclusion of his statement, “By following our passion and our bliss and by being willing to enter the ‘underground,’ we find paths that have been there all the while, waiting for each of us. The life we live becomes the life we should be living and one has the opportunity to know the fire of passion and the continuing renewal of the life within.”
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, I began writing in my journals, stories of a hero who was forced to go under water (According to Jung, a symbol for our own unconscious self), where he found an underground cave, and in that cave, a shining red stone with healing powers.
Redstone had entered the darkness and found his own light.
As I re-explore and rewrite those stories (the journals themselves are long gone), I come to realize more and more that I am relating a universal myth, that cropped up, somehow, out of my own journeys into that archetypal collective.
We all tell the same stories. Each of us has a unique way of presenting the truths that lie at the heart of the myth, but the message of the myth remains the same.
Everyone of us is capable of shining a great light.