by Christopher Penczak, Edited by Tina Whittle
“My draw to the occult is darker than most,” was recently said to me by someone trying to explain their plan to seek magickal vengeance on someone they believed had wronged them. They had sought me out either to confirm their righteousness or perhaps be talked out of it, as they seemed to really need someone to listen and help them process it. I don’t know if they went through with it, but those words stuck with me.
Many years ago the magickal community went through a response to the perceived “love and light” of public Wicca and conjured what my friends and I affectionately referred to as the Dark Scary Motherfuckers. It started with devotion to the Dark Goddess without the light and then progressed to fascinations with Luciferian gnosis; Trad Craft; compelling, controlling, and cursing forms of American Folk Magick; and a healthy dose of Goetia and the Qlippoth. Often the enchantment was with the outer aesthetic rather than the inner meanings, but at first, more seemed pointed towards those inner meanings. Deeper ideas and less known authors and artists grew in popularity.
Like anything else, the balance tipped, and just as the perception of love and light alone distorted the mysteries of Wicca, the new trends turned to Dark Fluff, with transgression and dark replacing love and light as buzzwords without deeper understanding. And like all things, the community will continue to shift with new trends, progressing through patterns of hard polytheism, bio-regionality, and social justice as well as repeated trends and redefinitions of “shadow work.” Each will bring new wisdoms, and after a time, each will become distorted before there is a new pattern.
Darkness and light, NOX and LVX, are eternal hallmarks to the spiritual path and specifically to the Craft, yet we each understand them differently. My vengeful acquaintance saw darkness as giving voice and action to destructive impulses, justified or not. In our conversation, he was unwilling to really look at the root of what the feeling was, why he was feeling it, when and how the pattern started, or if he was really justified in taking magickal action against someone who wouldn’t know why bad things were happening to them and had simply made the decision to end what wasn’t even an established relationship with any commitments.
To me, being willing to dig into that is true darkness, and bringing the darkness to light. Sitting with those who are in crisis, ill, or dying is facing darkness. Being present to yourself when in crisis, ill, or dying likewise is facing darkness. Darkness is also winter, rest, stillness, and silence alone. Darkness is the realization of something hidden or the absence of something that could be necessary.
The aesthetic of darkness is not really darkness. Flexing power to salve personal wounding is a kind of darkness, but more about perpetuating darkness on others as further harm in the world than truly being conscious of it.
Those who embrace darkness as a spiritual value should really contemplate what darkness is for them currently and notice how it has changed over the years, just as our community changes. When and how are we in good relationship with the dark? When in our darkness have we lost sight of Nox, the deep spirit of darkness on a magickal level?