Thank you so much to all of you who held space with me last night under the Full Strawberry Moon.
Given the current issues in the world and the deep personal struggles so many of us are grappling with, we weren’t a very cheery bunch.
That’s a big part of what I want to talk about in this post, but first I want to thank you for your presence in this space, for being part of this community where we can be authentic and honest as we face these challenges.
If you’re just joining us, I’m including the replay below, and I welcome you to join me to meditate with the video.
The invitation in our meditation is to go inside and embrace our own inner darkness.
From personal experience and from working with hundreds of women around the world, I believe that so much of our healing work depends on embracing, integrating, and balancing the darkness and light within us.
As women we naturally cycle through darkness and light — through the dark new moon, the bright full moon, and all the phases in between. We cycle through two monthly phases that are deeper, more internal, more withdrawn, and through two phases when our energy and emotions are outward-focused and buoyant. Darkness and light are integrated into wholeness within us through the wisdom of the menstrual cycle.
We’re not in a culture that celebrates or validates pause, reflection, anger, hurt, tears. These normal, even important, human emotions are not considered positive because they’re not cheerful and bright. I’ve believed for years that it’s only in accepting and integrating the “darkness” — in removing its stigma of negativity — that we can be whole.
I love how the menstrual cycle can become our guide to navigating these fluctuating energies within us. I love how the practice of charting your cycle with the moon empowers you to bring acceptance to the dark parts of your cycle — the phases when your inner moon is hidden, the fallow periods of autumn and winter.
But since last night, I’ve been reflecting more on the language I used throughout the live cast: specifically “light” and “dark.”
I believe that what I’m calling the “light” and “dark” emotions/energies are BOTH positive and important. That they are NOT binaries of good and bad. That it’s only culture and conditioning that teaches us to distrust and fear the darkness, but that they’re a crucial part of who we are and must be embraced and integrated into ourselves if we are to be whole — as individuals and as a society.
On the live cast I even made the connection between the ways that our individual distrust of our own inner darkness spills into the collective as a fear of dark skin — a toxic fear that’s manifesting all around us in the racism, brutality, and murder that have become front and centre in the world in these last two weeks.
But on the live cast one young black woman made a really important point that I think I failed to adequately engage with and validate — in my thinking beforehand and in my response to her on the live cast.
She said: “Referring to some sort of internal negativity as ‘darkness’ is common and it’s disturbing to me. While the white is referenced as pure and peaceful. There are so many references that are used in relation to darkness being negative. We can all start by not using them.”
I responded briefly on the live cast, saying that I really appreciated her sharing, but that I also feel it’s crucial that we take the negativity out of darkness and wholeheartedly walk forth and embrace it — because that internal “negativity” isn’t negative; it’s just as valuable, worthy, beautiful, and needed.
We perceive darkness as negative through our lack of experience, capacity, and acceptance of it — but by turning away from the darkness, I felt, we perpetuate the fear.
When we turn toward it, we find there's so much peace in darkness. In darkness we have night. The moon. The stars. Rest and restoration. In our own cycles we have renewal, pause, bleeding. We have time out. And through the study of the feminine and our menstrual cycles and the goddess energies, we recognize that the darkness has just as much value as the light.
But since then I have reflected more.
And I'm really starting to see the problem with the word darkness as related to negative emotions, as opposed to the concept of darkness as the absence of light — like night and day, the dark moon and the light moon — which is the way I have been using it.
The reality is that we constantly equate darkness with troubling emotions and negative experiences, and so from that view I agree that it's problematic to use the word in its plain sense.
As a concept I still value it, but I now need to consider how to better communicate this idea of wholeness and integration.
I’m really grateful to her for bringing her concern forward and broadening my perspective. I see now that it’s important to recognize that we’re not there yet as a collective (or, many of us, as individuals) — by which I mean, we’re not in a place where “dark” or “darkness” can be a value-neutral term.
I also think it’s important to acknowledge that as a woman of colour who is not black, I have never felt that my life was in danger because of the colour of my skin.
I do carry a legacy of racism within my family and culture, and it took me a long, long time to stop hating the colour of my skin. My sense of self-worth and self-confidence, my feeling of being beautiful and worthy, were wrapped up for years in the darkness or lightness of my skin.
That in itself is very painful, but I want to be clear that it’s nothing like the horrific reality of the colour of your skin determining how safe you are in the world.
I have reclaimed what the word darkness means for me. But that’s my personal experience. What this woman shared was really valid, and it was coming from a place of deep pain and injustice.
For me, my dark skin was about self-worth and beauty. For her, it’s about staying alive.
I am sorry for not being fully sensitive to this reality last night.
And so, with all of this, I offer you the Full Strawberry Moon meditation. I welcome your thoughts.
A lot of us are doing deep inner work right now. We’re being called into the depths, into the hidden places within. There’s so much to be sat with, looked at, embraced, healed.
That’s the opportunity here in the time that we find ourselves in.