Dear Beloved Findhorn New Story Community,
May this find you safe, healthy, and centred in this time of transition from darkness into the promise held within the return of the light.
I am writing to you now as an American, reflecting on what it has been like to be in America in these tumultuous times, especially 2020. I am sure that those of you who are not in America, maybe most of you, have been looking on with various degrees of curiosity, confusion, fear, dread, horror, anticipation, and maybe even hope. And hopefully you’ve been praying for us.
Carl Jung once said, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” That’s what I see happening here. We are in a process of bringing to consciousness the darkness of our own national soul. This hasn’t happened all at once or for everyone. Some of us saw it early on. Some only began to see it as the virus forced people to face a reality that was not congruent with the lies they were being told or the alternate reality that they had come to believe. Many came to see it in the nine minutes of George Floyd’s dying. Some remain within a bubble of denial. But our work continues to be making the darkness conscious. And “there is no coming to consciousness without pain.” (Carl Jung)
Perhaps in the end we will see that the gift of the Trump Presidency has been to bring our American shadow out into the open, to make it visible by amplifying it into such outrageousness that we cannot turn away from our feelings of shock, shame, and disgust. Moreover, he has served as a potent magnet drawing to him the iron filings of hate, cruelty, and anger that have been lying dormant under the surface awaiting their moment of expression. He is not, of course, the original cause of our collective shadow. He is a symptom, the result of long-hidden forces that have been simmering underground for decades, centuries really as America was founded out of a white supremacist, colonising mind set.
Greed, ostentation, winner-takes-all, lust for power, money as the only measure of success—none of these are new. We—America—have been doing dastardly and heinous things for years-wholesale genocide of native peoples, enslaving kidnapped Africans to work our plantations, toppling elected governments and installing and supporting right-wing coups elsewhere, initiating unnecessary wars, and incarcerating our own people, especially those of colour. The list goes on. America is not the good guy, at least not the good guy we think of ourselves as.
For me it has been heartbreaking and painful to bear witness to the eruption of America’s shadow into visibility out of the nooks and crannies of hidden darkness. Over the past four years we have watched the grift, the character assassinations, the cronyism, the criminality get bigger and bigger, more exaggerated, more flamboyant, more far-fetched, all the way to reinstating firing squads for executing criminals. Really?!? The shock value of each successive egregious act has been mind-numbing, body-depressing, soul despairing and spiritually shattering. Too much time has been spent in paralysing helplessness as we citizens have felt powerless to change what was happening as it was happening.
Part of what we have to make conscious is our delusion of ourselves as the greatest, the best at everything, the world winner. Trump fed on this longed-for fantasy that America was once great and that he could somehow get it back to that time. It took some of us awhile to translate that what he was really coding was the longing on some peoples’ parts to Make America White Again. As the forces of evolution take us into an ever-browning population, the unconscious fear of losing one’s dominant identity is understandable. And manipulatable. In our case, he was able to use this fear to ignite and fan the flames of deep-seated racial resentment. The good news is that the acts of violence towards people of colour became so blatant and appalling, that millions of people could finally see them and rise up spontaneously in mass protest.
In essence, we have been going through a Dark Night of America’s Soul, a time of deep confusion and chaos where we have had to face our own collective shadow. We have had to dig deep to name the fears that lie hidden under the deceits and denials that we use to cover them up as well as to confront the meanness, cruelty, greed, hate, and racism that arise from them. These fears and their outward compensations are not just “out there” in groups outside of us like the Proud Boys, but inside each of us.
The whole point of the Dark Night of the Soul is that if you can move out of denial and face your shadow with courage, you become strengthened and you are no longer naïve or subjugated to its power. Integrating the shadow is to come into a new kind of wholeness. It’s an essential stage in the process of growing up where a person or a nation undergoes a difficult initiation into a deeper perception of its place in the world. We need to not be seduced by illusion, as we’ve seen so many heroes struggle with in the Lord of the Rings, Narnia or Star Wars. We need to cultivate and stand up for our truest values of empathy, trust, compassion and courage.
It took a global pandemic to fully expose our shadow and the true nature of our current leadership. Through the lens of each country’s response to the virus, we’ve been able to see our own character and the hidden beliefs of our people, as well as the capacities and limitations of our leaders. Our response in America has been intimately intertwined with the personality and world views of our President and his administration, as well as the wide range of leadership styles coming from our Governors. Through the contrast, we have seen ourselves in relationship to the whole world as well as to our myriad parts reflected in our various states.
Our incoming President campaigned on a platform of restoring the soul of America, declaring that character matters, that empathy and equity were on the ballot. Something in our collective deep psyche sighed in relief and went to the polls in every way we could. Sanity prevailed. Character prevailed. Truth and clarity prevailed. Unifying and working together prevailed over dividing us as a nation and isolating us as a world power. Or so it seemed for a day.
Because we’re not out of the woods yet. Though the election itself has now, finally, been ratified by all states and our Electoral College, our nation itself is still in deep conflict. Just last week, over half of the Republican Representatives stood for overturning a legitimate election in favour of the man who lost, thereby consciously participating in what was essentially an attempted coup against the United States. This hitherto unimaginable act was horrifying to those of us who cherish democracy, forcing us to become even more conscious of the magnitude of our national schism and hence the danger we are in.
It will take time to heal these cultural wounds. There is no initiation I’ve ever heard of or been through myself that hasn’t taken time to recover from. In the Vision Quests I used to guide, we went out into the desert to fast for four days to seek a vision and to return. But the reincorporation of all that was learned in the darkness of liminal space is slow to manifest. We have to heal from the exhaustion of the ordeal. And what may come next for a new life takes time to grow and mature.
In my own personal dark night journey, I felt lost, deeply confused, not knowing where to go, what to think, or how to get help. Each day would take me into greater loss. Much like the ancient Sumerian goddess, Inanna, in her descent into the underworld, I felt like I was being stripped one by one of all of my identities until I felt like her, a piece of green rotting meat hanging on a hook. Hopeless, helpless, afraid, directionless. What releases Inanna in the end is simply being with the full pain of the grief for what is being lost, not shying away from the feeling, until a light of compassion begins to emerge. This is what got me through personally: just being willing to be with the pain, to acknowledge it and say yes to how much it hurts. Then something moves.
The grief can actually help bring into clarity what is longed for. For instance, the seemingly relentless threats from so many elected officials willing to aid and abet the desires of a would-be dictator have been so shocking and heartbreaking to me that I was able to recognise just how deep my love for democracy is. This has generated an even deeper commitment to preserving, healing and strengthening it.
Through each revelation of the extent of the veins of hatred, bigotry and delusional thinking that run through the bedrock of our collective psyche, I have found myself compelled to examine my own beliefs, my own blindness, my own denial. For whatever we are seeing outside of us is also inside of us. Unearthing the deeper parts of my own shadow, I have had to come to terms with all of the times I didn’t tell the truth, or evaded or hurt someone else. Or didn’t accept my own part in losing or being left and blamed someone else. I find myself wanting to write a letter to every person I ever hurt, knowingly or unconsciously, asking forgiveness. And being willing to see the me that did those things out of fear-fear of not being enough or being too much, fear of getting punished or attacked. Being able to see underneath the outward action to the inner motivation, I slowly find forgiveness for myself, for that me.
Our work, my work, continues to be bringing the shadow to light, for when it is invisible, repressed or denied, we are powerless to do anything about it. And then the question comes, what do we do about it? My stance is that we must first see it-in ourselves, in our country and in our world—and feel the pain and grief of the consequences. When we can find forgiveness for ourselves for acts done out of fear and ignorance, we can then take steps towards reparation. Truth first, then reconciliation.
Those of you watching us from far away have the advantage of seeing the pattern from the outside. But the patterns of our shadow are older than us, the U.S., and are in the veins of the caverns of the unconscious throughout humanity. We must all take on wrestling with our demons to come into a new consciousness. For it is in the deepest recesses of a Dark Night we are purified of our outmoded beliefs and healed of our unresolved issues, and we come forward a new person. And each person makes a decision of who that new being is to be.
It may take decades for America as a country to come to who it newly is. The disruptions of our systems did not begin four years ago. They have been long in the making as it became clearer that the old systems were not working for enough people. We cannot go back to what was. We cannot make America white again. And as we emerge from the depths of this Dark Night of our Collective Soul, we cannot be the same nation we were. New, more equitable structures need to be put in place. We need to find and collaborate with our allies in building a world for everyone, learning from each other. We need to come into right relationship with each other and our planet in order to survive.
We don’t know what the fruit of our labours will look like over the coming months and years. We are in the stages of sowing and nurturing seeds. Permaculture, regenerative agriculture, gender reconciliation, holocracy, holistic economics, inter-spirituality-all are part of the new story being created, the story that will be the guidance for how to live in harmony with life’s evolutionary processes.
There are those who say we won’t make it as a species; we are doomed to extinction through our own actions. I am not one of them. I feel we can co-create “the world our hearts know as possible.” We have to see clearly what is happening and where the story we are in has led us. We need to be willing to feel the depth of the pain that our world is in, to heed the message of the virus that we are truly one world and that we are all in this together. We need to pour all of our energy into living in balance and fostering well-being without being naïve about the enormity of the task or what it will demand of us.
I invite you to be on this journey of transformation with me. Be willing to face your own shadow, feel the pain of your losses and find forgiveness. Be so present in your grief that it gives birth to a renewed commitment to nurture and grow that which is life-affirming, compassionate and caring. We may not see the fulfilment of our dreams in our lifetime, but we can take the steps towards equity, inclusivity, right relationship, and love. We cannot change what we are unwilling to see. However dark the mirror, facing it, bringing consciousness to it, brings it into the light of choice.
I can’t know where we’ll be in the process when you read this. We will undoubtedly still be in the purgatory of the transition. But there are already more and more rays of light getting through the cracks in our broken systems. The conditions conducive to life and well-being and interconnectivity are changing. Americans are coming through this Dark Night of our National Soul, less afraid and more courageous, less naïve and more humble, less confused and more purposeful, less paralysed and more engaged.
“After the Dark night ends, you become a new person. The piercing pain awakens the capacity of your heart. You can see the world with a restored inner vision. The Dark Night of the Soul brings you the possibility to emerge out of the most painful period of your life as a transformed being with a heightened level of consciousness.” (Sylvia Salow)
May you bear witness to this reflection becoming true for us as a nation. We welcome your prayers and visions for our healing journey over the next few months. Please hold us in your hearts.
As I hold you in my heart,
NewStories/Great Transition Stories
This reflection forms part of our ‘Living the New Story at the Turning of the Year’ Blog Series. We are deeply grateful to Lynnaea for sharing her wisdom and insights with our Findhorn New Story Community. Be sure to read our other contributions in the Series generously offered by respected proponents of a new story for humanity at this uncertain and changing time in our evolution.
Featured Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash