However, a couple of weeks later, I had another dream. I was walking down a street, when two of my guides appeared on either side of me, lifted me off my feet and deposited me right beside a massive wheelie bin that was absolutely brimming with every kind of foul, rotting rubbish. Heaving with maggots and swarming with flies, the stench of it was unbearable. Deciding that, clearly, my guides wished to make a point here, I resisted the impulse to run away as fast as I could. Instead I listened, and was informed that what I needed to do was observe the heaving mass of rubbish very closely, to mentally embrace instead of reject it, and then it would turn into ‘a nice young man selling ice-cream!’ What? A nice young man selling ice-cream? Well, you don’t question things in dreams, do you… So, I did exactly as instructed, fixing my eyes on some particularly mobile and ugly looking maggots, and telling myself that every movement I observed was, in fact, simply part of a process in which some matter was re-shaping itself into something very nice. And sure enough, within a short time, the young man appeared, complete with straw hat, striped apron and one of those old-fashioned ice-cream trolley-cum-bicycle things, and sold me a delicious ice-cream.
Accepting both dark and light
In the months that followed I thought about this dream a lot, and even did some dreamwork on it with my doctor. I came to realise that this second dream conveyed a message I very much needed – and still need – to understand (clearly, my guides thought I wouldn’t get it without the rather graphic imagery!): instead of choosing the light and rejecting the dark, as we humans are so often inclined to do – we can accept and embrace without fear or favour all the contrasts life presents to us, both light and dark, and – using all the God-given faculties and opportunities available to us, and especially the faculty of love – we have the power to forge both ends of the spectrum into something even greater, something we might call Light with a capital L.
This, of course, is the path taught by the alchemists of old, the path on which base metals are turned into gold; the path on which, as human beings in bodies of matter, we can become alchemical crucibles in which the forces of chaos and disharmony, meeting the unquenchable fire of our love, are transformed into order and harmony. And it is by following this path that we as humans may re-enter the current of evolution, which now requires our active co-operation, rather than just our acquiescence.
The alchemical pathway
It seems appropriate to be reflecting on all this as the feast of Michaelmas approaches. Celebrated on 29th September, this festival falls close to the Autumn Equinox, when day and night are equal in length, and swiftly followed by the lengthening nights of winter. In times when people were more in touch with nature and the spiritual worlds, folk would no doubt have been keenly aware of the idea that darkness was – temporarily at least – seeming to conquer the light, and for that reason would have sought to preserve as much light and warmth as possible in their minds and lives, against the dark and cold of winter. It would also have been important to them, or at least to the initiates among them, to cultivate awareness of higher beings who were ever at their side to help and support them in their human quest to walk the alchemical pathway. In the Western spiritual tradition, these higher beings are today known as archangels, particularly the Archangel Michael who is seen, above all, as the being who defends and protects the pure in heart from the forces of fear and darkness. In other times or places, you might have felt this infallibly protecting power as some other being – a god or goddess perhaps – but the important thing would always have been what you felt, not what you believed, or thought.
In your heart’s eye, then, place yourself beside this towering winged being whose protection is invincible. Feel how that protection remains with you, sheltering you, holding you – lifting you – up throughout whatever appearances of darkness may come your way, giving your spinal column – your serpent-fire column – a new strength that increases daily as you learn to trust and remain true to it, and thus forge a path of light through all that seems dark.
In practical terms then, what do we – as aspiring alchemists – do when faced with darkness, pain, suffering and sorrow? Reject them? Deny them? Ignore them? Run away from them? No. Give in to them, then? No, not that, either. Just walk right in, through the doorway they provide, to the veritable treasure chamber of gifts those very painful things themselves will give you. How? By just putting one foot in front of the other – doing what comes next to the best of your ability, in the absolute faith that you are not lost, that you are still on a path, and that your footsteps are still guided. By shining all the love and wisdom you can muster into the situation you are in. And by asking, inwardly, for the help of those beings who have walked this path before you, and for the help of the angels. Such prayers are answered instantly, and in unexpected ways.
For a deeper understanding of this, we urge you to immerse yourself in Jehanne Mehta’s beautiful poems, which are alive with the power of Michael.
And so, dear friends, we hope you can see and feel more clearly now the role of darkness on the path of light. We leave you for now with this blessing:
May the wisdom of Michael be yours
May his strength and courage be yours as you walk your path
And may his love be a lamp for your feet, now and always.
With our love,
Ann, Geoff and the Cygnus team