I am, and always have been, sensitive to atmosphere, be it in houses, open air spaces or people. I was able to sense dark energy from the earliest age and suspect that the inability to breathe (asthma) may have come, in part, from that recognition.
What I have noticed – repeatedly – starting with myself, but also seen in others, is the discrepancy between an avowed life of light and a kind of slurry of clotted darkness within. It is weird, disturbing, sad in its way.
Fine words and loud spiritual intent do not cut into the ice of a frozen heart or a life trammelled up in the spider’s web of addiction. An intellectual understanding of the mysteries, untouched by heart and soul, leaves the individual one-dimensional and, in some odd way, inauthentic.
But the reason behind all the above, the need driving the human vehicle if you like, is all too human and, in itself, not a sign of evil. To put it bluntly, we often reach for some form of spirituality (be it an organised religion or a spiritual path) when at our loneliest, most vulnerable, most fucked-up. Our homes and our habits reflect our hearts and minds. Sometimes – actually, I suspect ‘often’ is nearer the mark! – we are unable to see the wide chasm between our avowed life’s intent and the reality of the darkness we rootle around in, pigs in self-created slurry.
When I started work on the Western Mystery Tradition, back in the early nineties, and trained with Paddy Slade for a while, my life was a complete mess. I was drinking and smoking very heavily; I was in destructive relationships with two men (both of whom espoused some form of darkness); my home was a complete disaster area (reflecting my outer self almost frighteningly accurately); I was often in trouble at work – and I took stupid, dangerous risks all too regularly. I spent most of my time around people whose energies were, in the main, negative, unpleasant and manipulative.
Somehow, I allowed myself the comforting delusion that the spiritual quest I had undertaken had nothing to do with my actual life! A common mistake-pool into which so many of us fall! The rituals were separate in my mind – and I did not need to seriously face my flaws between them. Oh, I made a half-hearted attempt at a course, and did make some progress, but my levels of denial were enormous – and I had not, at that point, understood a central tenet of any personal work, be it spiritual or not: It is not, cannot be, divorced from ‘real’ life; it is your life!
It is not a game. Some of the artefacts associated with a magical path – Tarot Cards, for example – are very seductive and make us feel important and mystical, but they are not toys to be used to impress friends or to have sex with those of the opposite (or one’s own) gender. In similar vein, the various religious books out there – the Bible being an excellent example – are not there to make others wrong or, as so often happens, emotionally beat up those who profess a different faith.
It is not a power trip either. Many of us make this particular mistake when we start upon the path of personal exploration. We go through a phase of thinking that we are better, more enlightened, than those who do not walk the track with us – and we do not always look clearly enough at the facets of our own life in order to see how fallacious such a view truly is!
We also usually go through the phase of thinking that a house crammed with the props of ritual (and they are props; we can perform a ritual with nothing!) – Walls ablaze with spiritual art, tables groaning with statues of Egyptian gods, angels and crystals everywhere – is evidence that we are truly magical, of a higher order than the next bugger!
I have been there. I have been that person. Once upon a long time ago, my home was so crammed with incense from Star Child – and other so-called essential gewgaws and baubles of the ‘trade’ – that to come in through the front door was to invite an immediate asthma/panic attack from the sheer density of fumes, and a comfortable seat was impossible due to the plethora of bought-to-impress icons!
My home was dark, my mood darker. I performed rituals when drunk. Fortunately for me – for I have an addictive personality – I have never got into smoking weed/dope; if I had, I am quite certain I would have used said stimulants to enhance (as I would have viewed it back then) my Inner journeys. Not realising, of course, the sheer irony of such a thought.
It took me an awfully long time to see the glaring inconsistency at work in my life. I was not creating; I was destroying. I was not working with the landscape; I was working against it. My relationships – with one or two notable exceptions – were not life-affirming; they were soul-destroying and toxic. The ‘tricks of the trade’, in themselves meaningless, were nothing but props in the destructive drama of my life.
It took me an awfully long time to see that the tar I was dripping into my own lungs was matched, and even exceeded, by the poison I had allowed into my life as a whole: That I had fallen, hard, for the dark glamour which is the flip side of most spiritual paths.
Was it necessary? A needful honing of my stubborn spirit? Yes. I can be sanctimonious – and, without the brutality of that knocking-down process, could easily have fallen into the self-satisfied warm bath of ‘Holier Than Thou’-ism!
Going back to the thoughts which prompted this post: My alertness when it comes to atmosphere and dark energy has not always saved me from an icy plunge into the Lake of Poison. Why? Because I am adept at kidding myself! I am a past master at pretending darkness is, actually, just tortured light – and that my job is to heal.
I am now in the position of needing to trust my instinct on such matters, however. This can be neatly encapsulated in my reaction to Friend requests on Facebook. One or two have made me shudder for no obvious reason; I have just felt a disharmony, a weirdness, emanating from the person concerned.
I’ll give you one specific, though unnamed, example: A bloke asked to be my friend. We had no friends in common that I could see, so I ignored his request – until yesterday, that is, when, suddenly, there was a mutual friend (but not someone I actually know in ‘real’ life!). I fought through my bad vibes, accusing myself of prejudice and fear, and befriended this individual.
Big mistake! Darkness flowed. He wanted me to join a very dodgy (in my opinion) group he’d set up. I knew immediately it was not for me, that it encapsulated exactly the kind of dark glamour to which I was so attracted in the late eighties and early nineties. I unfriended him instantly.
He may well be a very nice person face-to-face. I am not saying that our interests damn us or anything like that; just that, knowing I am vulnerable to darkly glamorous types, I do not wish to expose myself to this level of life’s games again.
I have moved to, and created, a light house – and I do not want darkness (my own or anyone else’s) poisoning it. Atmosphere is very important to me – and I want mine to reflect a very different energy from that with which I cloaked myself twenty-plus years ago.
Now, don’t get me wrong: Darkness is half of life; it has its place – of course it does! – and I cannot avoid it. But I make a clear distinction between working consciously with life’s polarities and deliberately allowing my life to be permeated by negative energy and dark vibrations.
The latter is no longer welcome anywhere near me!