by Dunya Dianne McPherson
photography Paul B Goode
The cycle of light and dark means we are turning as Earth—a dervish—faces the sun then the wide cosmos.
The salubrity in light and dark is a matter of degree;
bright light and blinding light, soft dark and blinded dark.
Dusk. Closed eyes. Sleep. Hiding.
Beneath a crust of autumn leaves tiny shoots grow. In shadowed places
are freedom, gestation, peace, recovery, quiet, liberation, respite.
It is frigid winter by the shore. I took walk the other day and, as I approached the ocean roar beyond occluding trees, the phrase ‘Dark Embodiment’ popped into my head. Dark. Such an evocative word. The phase ‘dark embodiment’ rang in me, began to describe itself to me. I felt it flower in my depth, bleeding sweetness. I had been thinking that we live disembodied lives, hours and hours of not moving, forgetting our bodies, our online time bereft of touch or savour, everything and everyone like ghosts flickering on a screen, our life smelling only of our own room or of our own hands as we cradle our phone. I reached the ocean. It roared and now I thought, No, we are not disembodied. We are in our bodies whether we notice or not—we have no choice. We are darkly embodied in the sense that our body, which is always with us, and is us, is hidden in our dark.
We are such visual creatures and, like moths, drawn to light. Dark is less known, a mystery. Often secret. We are a secret to ourself. Secrets are gifts waiting for us to look in, to see, to search. In Sufism, Sirr—Innermost Heart Secret—is our deepest reach, our deepest intimacy. In Sirr, we pivot into nonduality. Our purest humanity lives in our deepest darkness. Some of us love the darkness within. We close our eyes and enter.
Magical Dark Abyss
In the depths of Earth’s oceanic Abyss beyond sunlight’s reach, bizarre creatures roam. Translucent fish with long appendages and gargantuan sharp-toothed mouths, sprays of tiny dinoflagelates, minuscule bioluminescent shrimp. Oceanographers descend in a submarine able to withstand the dense pressure. The world appears dim and bland. Then, as the vessel disturbs the water, creatures flash and explode and stream, spew, throb, blink, making their own light to cloak themselves, or to lure a meal, or to find a mate. Pure magic. Times Square at night.
I wonder about the inside of me. Of us all. In our invisible tissues glow in the dark? We are populated by a vast array and quantity of microbes. (From microbiologist, Ed Yong, in ‘I Contain Multitudes’ there are as many microbes in our gut as stars in the universe and those in our right palm are different than those in our left.) Do they produce their own light to scuttle down our long interior long corridors? They probably don’t need light. Our darkness navigates itself by other means. In the abyss inside our skin, fluids and fascia, nerves and bones know their way by pressure, temperature, texture, timbre
What about life in our mother’s womb? We certainly hear what lies outside our mother as well as the music of her pulling, pumping body. Do we perceive shades of light and dark through the semi-translucence of her muscles, skin, and fascia as if looking through veils? Or maybe we feel light through touch, a capacity which is eclipsed when we exit her deep dark secret realm where we have been transitioning into flesh, and burst into air. Remember that we have been there. As now-discreet beings, our embodied consciousness includes this sojourn in darkness, in comfort, floating in fluid, being moved as she walks and reclines, dances, and stands.
In our Dancemeditation—a time with eyes closed, music playing—we are moved in womblike safety that our innermost cells know as home. This Dark Embodiment is mystery we learn to know, filled with truth, protection, ease, and abundance.
I am delighted that you are with me and appreciate your sharing these writings friends. Thank you!
My work and writing are sponsored by Dervish Society of America, a nonprofit organization helping people realize their human and spiritual potential by honoring their body and its movement ways using evolutionary Sufi Dancemeditation practices. Thank you for your gift. It’s tax-deductible! DONATE TODAY!