What could be more ancient, in the world’s Oral Tradition, than good versus evil, deity versus demon – and, once the famous Holy books arrived, God versus Lucifer, the ultimate Fallen Angel?
Is our fascination with life’s Dark Angels equally ancient? Has the pull towards the dark and dangerous been a part of the human psyche since proto-humanity slithered onto dry land?
Attraction, as a biological imperative, is certainly extremely ancient. Dark and Light. They arrived before us. They make up our world.
Mills and Boon abound in it. ‘Wuthering Heights’ both exalts and exemplifies it with haunting and poetic, and raw, beauty. I refer here to the dark side of attraction.
I have spent much time this past week thinking, and writing, about the effects of abuse upon the behaviour – and the kind of emotional bombs it can leave in its wake, ready to go off at any trigger moment.
Today, I want to shift this on a little by examining another of abuse’s side-effects: The types of people the damaged are, all too often, pulled towards and attracted by.
I will start by stating something many may disagree with: Dark energy is both glamorous and seductive. An apparently wounded soul can bring out our need to nurture, to save. Dominant individuals are capable of stirring the submissive side many of us hide, or are not even aware of.
But it is more than that. Those imbued with inner darkness can be incredibly charismatic. They can seem larger than life, more passionate, more vibrant. They, like Cathy and Heathcliff, seem to live outside the fabric of society and, symbolised so well in Emily Bronte’s novel, to run wild and, to some extent, free upon the moors and crags and liminal places of the world and the mind. Their company can seem like a drug.
Rebels, often without a cause (other than themselves), these people can look as if they are putting two fingers up at the laws which govern society. Like Jack Merridew, in ‘Lord of the Flies’, their strongly vibrating inner attitude is, ‘Bollocks to the rules!’
We thrill to the enactment of this strange energy on the screen. We find villains sexier than heroes. Kindness often seems rather dull. Cruelty enlivens. We chase after passion rather than security. We are, in a word, englamoured by darkness – and convince ourselves that light is shining through the cracks.
I can say, and see, now that the vast majority of people I befriended as a child and adolescent contained at least a smidgen of this black and fascinating aura, blending breath-taking nastiness with dollops of honeyed sweetness so cleverly that I never knew where I stood. I felt as if I stood in a deep purple/black flowering of a life force far more powerful than any I had felt before.
These people were, almost without exception, broken vessels, the glassy edges glittering and dripping with the shed blood of their acolytes. Their egocentric natures, however, could appear like the most refreshing honesty and spontaneity. Their anger, volcanic and uncontrollable, appeared romantic and blasting in its reach. Other people, like the Lintons in Bronte’s book, seemed pale and timid and uninteresting in comparison. ‘Nice’ was sneered at as boring. Selflessness was seen as weakness. Generosity as manipulation.
Having read thus far, you may well assume that I am writing about early boyfriends. I am not: My journey with male/female relationships did not start until I was nineteen.
I am writing about my experience of the Catherine Earnshaws of this world. They could rouse the deepest pity and love and protectiveness in my heart: When, metaphorically, they sobbed outside the casement window, and their little white hands could be seen trying to gain entry, I saw only the hurt and needy child – and not the damage (to themselves, to others) which had caused them to linger outside in the first place.
Like Emily Bronte, I was drawn to their wildly romantic and crazy behaviour, their ability to mesh souls (or claim they could) with those who followed in their treacherous footsteps. Confusing gigantic ego with vast personality, I was enraptured.
Their dark light (for there is such a thing) illuminated my world with the macabre and mesmerising beauty and horror of a Salvador Dali painting. Dark Angels they may have been but, to me, they were angels nonetheless. They had the Lucifer strain – and he was a Bearer of Light, his name also meaning Morning Star.
Flawed geniuses. Broken chalices. Damaged souls. Few things in life are more fascinating to the abused. We see in their cracks and blood and wounds an echo of our own. Our empathy and compassion, stirred to its depths, reaches out in desperate ecstasy to make contact, to make that all-important healing difference to these suffering souls. We thrill to their every halting confidence. We excuse their every bout of cruelty. We are in love with their darkness.
We seek them here. We seek them there. And, of course, they seek us too. It is the dread symbiosis of pain and fear and need.
Like Lucifer, these people have chosen to fall – and are leading a rebellion against the Creator, against the Light. But, they have their place. They come into our lives for a purpose. They are our moments of dark temptation, of soul honing and spiritual growth. They often teach us who we really are beneath the artifice.
Their darkness is the necessary other side of light’s essential polarity. Through the sieve of their inner fractures, we can catch deep truths.