On Saturday I sat with some magickal friends and we started talking about being affiliated with the dark verses the light. One of the gals at the table was quite new to magick and asked, “So what does it mean to be ‘light’ or ‘dark’ magickally speaking?” The rest of us just stopped and had a very difficult time coming up with an answer. We’d been working with the ideas for so long that we had no idea how to define them.
Being affiliated with the light or the dark has little to with good or evil. It’s not about morality; it’s about energy and approach. For those who can see energies, the distinction between light and dark energies is often literal. Light energies often appear bright, shiny, and weightless while dark energies will appear shadowy, dense, and heavy.
Everything in the world has its own energy signature. Think of a piano with all of its strings; each string vibrates at a different frequency, creating the different notes – this is like things and their energy signatures with dark energies being low notes and light energies being high notes. Just like everything else, people have their own individual energy signatures and they each vibrate at different “notes.” Just as each note on a piano has certain other notes that harmonize with it or are dissident, so do energy signatures. Those with low/dark energy signatures will usually harmonize with other low/dark energies as light energies usually harmonize with light. This is what it means to have an affinity for dark or light energy; it’s whatever energy signatures harmonize with your own.
So what does it mean to be affiliated with dark energies? First off, dark does not equal negative, though it might seem that way from the outside. For example, if someone affiliated with the light were faced with a fear that person might turn their face to the sun, away from the fear, and overcome it, rather like a swat team facing a gang riot head on. Someone affiliate with the dark might face that fear by running towards it, embracing it, and then coming out the other side, rather like an undercover cop who breaks up a gang by becoming one of them and taking them out from the inside. The swat member will certainly be in a fight and could be injured or killed, but the enemy is clearly defined and the swat member would probably be safe feeling that they were doing the “right thing.” The undercover cop could, potentially, completely destroy the gang without ever resorting to violence, but if he’s caught he could be killed and he could be forced to do immoral things and even risk losing himself to the undercover persona (think Donnie Brasko). One way isn’t objectively any better than the other, but the dark approach is more effective for those affiliated with the dark as the light is more effective for the light.
For me, being affiliated with the dark means that I am at my best in darkness. I feel energized in moonlight, dark forests, cemeteries, and storms. I tend to find very dark music soothing and have been known to smudge my house with Nine Inch Nails. Being at loud parties filled with life and laughter make me feel isolated and drained, so does being out in the sun for very long. I prefer the quiet and the shadows, winter over summer, painful truth to happy ignorance, and I can never leave well enough alone.
In my magick this means that I tend to use different symbols than most. For me, images of skeletons mean distillation from the superfluous down to what is really necessary, death means transition and leaving behind that which is no longer useful, and mirrors mean looking at ugly truths. The “light” in my ritual is the dark light of a black sun that shows you everything you wished you could hide and forget.
It takes a certain masochism to be me, but this is where I’ve found my power. I can look at things that other people won’t and use energies others wouldn’t touch and am stronger for it. I’ve become a more empathetic, kinder, and generally better person through these studies of the dark. Working with the dark is taking pain and vulnerability and turning it into strength. It means looking at anger or fear, seeing the pain and vulnerability that caused it, accepting its causes, and moving on – not becoming hard or resentful, just accepting. Do what you can do to make things better, everything that you can do and to its fullest extent, and stop bewailing what you cannot do. Working with the dark means knowing full well that we bring most of our problems on ourselves, that sometimes bad things happen for no reason, and knowing that all things must die – that is not an evil, it’s just a fact. Not everyone is cut out to be a hag.