Meeting Yourself in the Dark
by Michelle Katz
It’s late winter or early spring around 9pm, the sun had set, the moon was dark, and I head to the trail, no dog, no headlamp, no other person. I remember, that at this time, stories of mountain lions in the area were prevalent and in my consciousness. I was 25 or so, and I was holding some big questions about my life. My impaired vision was frustrating, my eyes adjusted slightly in time, but I was still acutely aware of not being a nocturnal creature. I walked with the intention to meet the darkness openly and with courage, and I held the intention like a shield protecting me from what I feared out there.
My heart would race, every shrub, tree, and trail post looked like a man with a weapon or a potential vicious animal ready to defend it’s territory and I was surely intruding on their space. I remember walking fast, hoping to get it over with. I remember fearing the figures that looked more like men than those that looked like animal. I felt that every step I took was uncertain.
This was my first night walk. Being with my fear in this way was incredibly potent. I had an opportunity to connect to it, to say to myself, “I will take precautions but still go out there, alone and in the dark.” I found courage and power on this edge. I felt into how my mind created images and stories while my body had a very different experience. I noticed where I could find lightness while in this place, the stars or the sounds of birds changing my fears to expansion. The light helping me feel less lost in the darkness.
Many years later, during the darkest time of life, I found myself stepping into the darkness even deeper on a series of night walks. This time with the intention of calling in my ancestors, meeting shadows and the gifts, and to find the wound in me and the land. Still I found it amazing what my mind could make of the landscape in shadow. I found light in the moon among the moving clouds, and lightning strikes in the far distance. On a trail I traveled daily, I would find myself lost and inadvertently loud. The trail in the darkness seemed to be different and the contrast of the silence and my footsteps was stark. What I thought I knew so well, was lost, as I tripped in holes and hit branches. I aimed to find the tree I visited frequently for comfort in this dark time of my life, but old comforts could not be found, so I resorting to sitting wherever I sat.
I asked the big questions and rested in the discomfort of them, having profound dialogues with ancestors and earth, without knowing any answers. Expect that I knew, everything I thought important and true, was not relevant anymore. And on these walks, I would mysteriously begin to bleed. I had cut my index finger (the one that speaks most about direction), a scape on my navel opened up (something deep inside me wanting to come out) and my cycle started (a symbol for a new life from the dark and deep cut of my body). And each were painful, and wild, and left me feeling incredible vulnerable and utterly present.
After these walks, I shared my stories with others and stood in deep declaration of myself. The words burst out of me with such confidence: “I went into the darkness and realized my mind is not in charge of anything, my core is bleeding, light shines around and behind darkness, and people can fear, wonder or judge me, but I will walk on making my sounds!”
Every time I step deeply to meet the darkness, I reemerge feeling a sense of Self I had not previously known. It is one of the most powerful ceremonies I know. Come Step Into the Darkness with Oaks Counsel on April 21st, to experience how you meet this part of you.