The Deep Dark Woods -A Photo Essay On Grief

Nature is neither cruel nor kind. It is utterly indifferent to suffering

In the Pagan traditions, there is a right of passage called The Dark Night Of The Soul.  It is a time that we take to confront the dark aspects of our selves, many times propelled by a difficult period in our lives.  I’m not sure if there is one Dark Night Of The Soul or if we go through many.  I can recall 2 times in my life that I’ve gone through these initiations.  In my early 20’s it was what some may call an existential crisis.  In my 30’s it was brought on by a very sudden and drastic change in my life; I lost my home, I lost what felt like a life time of an identity I was very much attached to. And it was dark.  The way I see the Dark night of the Soul is kind of an in between time; where  who you were no longer serves what you are becoming and as humans, big changes are scary.  I lost my father in May. He was a rock in our family, truly what a father should be: a presence of love, support, nurturing. A provider and creator.  He gave me the safety of knowing that I was taken care of as a child.  He taught me values that carried me into adulthood and that helped me make the right choices.  He was also really, really funny.  Since his passing I’ve felt a strong connection to the spiritual aspects of death and life.  He spoke fearlessly about death my entire life. It wasn’t a mystery to be feared but yet another step in this wheel of birth, life, death and rebirth.  I think that because of the Holidays approaching and the fact that his biggest joy was being with his family at Christmas, I’ve been grieving him.  Being in nature, amongst the trees this weekend on our anniversary trip, I could feel him close.  When he was in hospital during the last week of his earthly life,  we wheeled his chair over to the window one afternoon.  He hadn’t been communicating very much yet he looked out at the trees, swaying gently in the May sun and said “seeing the trees lifts my spirit”.  He once told me that he’d never met anyone who loved being in nature as much as me.  I got that from him.  I’m sure if he’d had someone to go fishing and camping and hiking with more often, he would have.  Now I do for him.  These photos represent my mini Dark Night of the Soul. Who I was while he was here and who I will become is to be seen. If you are going through your own Dark   Night of the Soul,  don’t fear it.  Feel it. Grieve it.  Find qualities you need in order to continue forward.  Don’t dwell on what cannot be changed. Have faith in yourself.  Even if you need time to be the Hermit from the Tarot for while, honour that. When you are ready, ask yourself: “do I need strength?. Do I need adventure?. Do I need Passion?.” And take in those qualities, start living them and step into the light.




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