Embracing DarknessImagine an equal-armed crosssee it in the blank page to your left, stark black on a white background, like the ink on this page. Try it. See this icon of two intersecting poles.
This is the simplest way to illustrate a principle that has confused humankind for ages. Through this icon we can understand the relationship of good and evil to the essences of light and dark.
Each of the poles in this simple cross represents a pair of misunderstood opposites. Just so we all see the diagram the same way, let's label it. We'll call the vertical pole good/evil, with good on top. The horizontal pair is light/dark, with light on the left. While these two pairs work together in a way we'll explore here, they are not the same.
The vertical pair represents our success or failure as human beings and immortal souls. We're all truly meant to accomplish good, and to become better individualsto become, in essence, more like the Source that created us. This is the true purpose of most of the world's positive religions, including Wicca, where we perceive that the Source has both male and female aspects. We will explore later the concept of striving toward spiritual mastery, and introduce ways to access the energies of the Gods and Goddesses while we're still alive. For now, keep in mind that there is an ultimate reason for rising toward the good half of the pole on the vertical pair.
The horizontal pair determines the path we walk while advancing through a particular stage of our development. Not all of us are meant to surround ourselves with light and avoid the shadows. The ancients understood the concept of the nocturnal path well, which is why they identified and named more than just the light aspects of Divinity. As we'll get to in the next chapter, the various names given to Gods and Goddesses do not imply that there are thousands of such beings all struggling for power. Rather, they are each manifestations of a particular aspect, dark or light, of the primal energy from which we all came. We name these energies to better establish a link to the Source while we're still here. Some of us identify better with the dark ones among these deities.
Success or failure, and the path we walk to get therekeep these aspects of the cross icon in mind. Through an understanding of the symbol you'll master an occult truth. Don't take my word for it, however. See now how this truth applies to you.
The Four Soul-TypesIf you focus for a moment on the white space surrounding our simple diagram, you'll see that it makes up four quadrants. It is in one of these four that a soul's particular lifetime can be mapped. Remember plotting geometric points on a graph in high school? There you would mark a point by noting its X and Y coordinates, or how far away from center, up or down, and left or right it was. In much the same way, we can identify a soul-type by how good or evil, dark or light it may be. The closer to the center one is in either axis, the more neutral he or she is with respect to that axis's pair of energies.
In other words, we come to see that there are four categories of individuals possible, and that people in each type can possess varying degrees of the category's essence. Starting in the upper left corner of the cross's white space and moving counterclockwise, the four soul-types are: good-light, evil-light, evil-dark, and good-dark. Some of us are more good or evil than others, some more drawn to darkness or light, but we still fall somewhere within one of the four soul-types. We'll touch briefly on the first three, then focus more intensely on the last onethe one whose energies we'll be working with in this book.
Good-light is the soul-type that most people are really referring to when they mention or think of the concept of good. People in this category include many (but not all) Wiccans and so-called New Agers. But one doesn't need to walk a spiritual path to be in this category. Anyone who is moral, loves brightness, and spreads joy honestly is good-light. These are also often the people who feel uplifted, for instance, by major-key music and inspirational fiction or feel-good tales. As an extreme example, some of the world's religion founders, such as Christ and Buddha, were of this soul-type. Whether the followers of such masters and the infrastructures of their and other organized religions live up to the good-light label, however, is open for debate. Speaking of living up to a path, were someone to fail at being good-light there is a decent chance they'd end up evil-light.
An overlooked type, evil-light is the sinister companion to good-light and the trickiest of the four groups to identify. Those of this soul-type seem at a glance to be moral individuals. Evil-light people may gather around them all the trappings of asceticism and harmony, or just what the masses perceive as being bright and positive. But behind the facade, the evil-light have given up trying to be better individuals. Consider a corrupt televangelist (feel free to do some digging into your memories or your library's newspaper archives if you feel this is only a stereotype). Evil-light televangelists would surround themselves with light themes and choir song, yet bilk their followers of millions, claiming that the gathered cash is going toward something other than a new Mercedes or Tudor mansion. Other evil-light can include righteous activists who let the end justify the means (for example, pro-lifers who bomb abortion clinics). Evil-light can even encompass corrupt executives who give to charity (as a good tax write-off) and frequent merry parties and even church, but who cheat in their business and personal dealings without regard for others.
Evil-dark, the true opposite of good-light, is the category that most people simplistically label as evil. Remember, the four categories can manifest in people in varying degrees. In the realm of the occult, evil-dark individuals can be the often harmless devil worshippers who value material goods and fun over their souls and the welfare of others, or can be the more sadistic individuals who perform black magic and human sacrifice. In the everyday world, common criminals often fit this category, although they can just as easily be evil-light.
Remember, the two evil soul-types are ones of failure. Whether a fallen one was good-light or good-dark before his or her sour turn determines, usually, whether he or she will become evil-light or evil-dark.
Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the nature of soul-types and mistake good-dark ones as being "bad." This is not surprising, considering that evil-dark people like devil worshippers get the most public attention, being ever vigilant for opportunities to spread their sinister propaganda. Conversely, the good-dark who succeed at the ultimate goal of adepthood or spiritual mastery do not attract as much attention, being mostly silent about their accomplishments.
Aho are these good-dark? What makes someone a potential nightkind or Nocturnal Witch?
Allow me to violate traditional writing style here. Although I listed the four soul-types and explained three of them, we're going to pause for a moment before revealing the driving forces behind the good-dark. You'll see why as you read on.
Why We're HereNo one likes to be labeled. By no means am I introducing the concept of the four soul-types to pigeonhole people into stereotypes they have to follow. In fact, I resisted giving too many examples of the types of people who fall into the soul-type groups to prevent too much stereotyping. I'd rather each reader look around and identify the energies at work in the world, rather than immediately assume all is as it seems at a glance.
I'm relaying the information regarding soul-types as a gentle reminder that the dark and light energies represented in our cross icon are powerful, and that it's best to work with the energies present in your life. After all:
You chose to be the way you are.
You chose, before ever entering this world, what essences and correspondences, dark or light, to surround yourself with. And this is likely not the first time you made such a choice.
We're speaking of reincarnation, of course, and the active role we take in planning each of our returns.
The belief in reincarnation is so widespread among the world's religions, Wicca included, that people who don't believe in it are in the minority. And one of the biggest groups not to officially accept reincarnationChristiansseems to contain more than a few who embrace the concept. As for how many Christians feel this way . . . well, that's beyond the scope of this work.
Most of you reading this are Witches, or would like to be, after all!
And maybe more than a few of you are nocturnal, like I am, but we'll return to that thread soon.
Why do so many people believe in reincarnation? Not because they're told to do so. How many people in this era believe in or stick to concepts simply because they're told "that's the way it is" by someone or some organization? The numbers are dwindling. We're more than ever in an age of free thought, which is why Witchcraft and other paths that let their practitioners take responsibility for their actions are becoming more accepted.
The real reason most people believe in reincarnation is simple: Reincarnation is the only concept that makes sense once you open yourself to the worlds of mysticism and free thought.
Remember, the point of all religion is to help us reunite with the Creator. This is taken an extra step in mystical paths like Wicca, which embrace magick (often spelled, as you may know, with a final "k" to differentiate it from stage magic). Magick is a tool, an applied science based on occult principles that we'll be exploring in great depth. The most important aspect of magick worth pointing out here, however, is that we can use it to help us perfect ourselves and become more attuned with Divine energies. Since, ultimately, we imperfect souls must strive to achieve adepthood, or spiritual mastery, magick can be seen as a way to reach this goal faster. But whether we use magick or not, we can't expect to become perfect over the course of even a record-setting 120-year lifespan.
Mastery takes lifetimes.
Think about it. If our highest goal is to reunite with the Source, we have to become more like the Source. I don't mean we have to be omniscient or omnipotent . . . just "omniexperienced." The Source is everything, as evidenced by the countless names that are tied to limitless attributes that have been given to the Gods and Goddesses throughout the ages. We, too, need to tap into everything, to challenge ourselves with whatever the universe offers. And we have to open ourselves to as many of these experiences as possible, while deriving from them every lesson we can. It wouldn't do to try and be a doctor, lawyer, missionary, and mechanic in one life, for instance. You wouldn't be able to get much from any of these professions, as you'd spend most of your time trying to become each. We are meant to fully experience certain aspects of life each time we return.
Each life or incarnation is a set period of training. Before we come here, to earth, our souls decide which lessons and experiences we need to have to advance one more sphere toward the realm of perfection. We'll deal more with the mechanics of the afterlife in chapter 13, where we'll meet the personified essences of dying and rebirthDeath with a capital D, if you will. For now, let's simply work on the assumption that each life is filled with purpose. You'll realize that this assumption is a fact later on, through firsthand experience.
This is a good time to point out that I'll never ask you to take my word for anything I write in this book (or in any other). Nocturnal Witchcraft must be experienced. The concepts and techniques in these pages are real and awaiting your personal interaction with them. I'm ready to let you prove to yourself that what I say is true.
Now, back to your choices in each life. If you're familiar with reincarnation, you may have heard that we choose all aspects of our new life: who our parents will be, what kind of physical body we'll inhabit (including its gender), and the types of major challenges we will encounter. As far as I can tell from my sources, many of which will become clear to you later on, this is indeed how reincarnation works. But none of these choices we make account for how we'll work with the challenges and experiences awaiting us here on earth. Consider how different you may feel from even others you've met who are involved in the occult. Are you drawn to quite the same books, the same practices?
The unique journey that awaits us in each life depends on which current we'll most closely align ourselves with.
The world is full of brightness and shadow, and energies that sympathetically vibrate with these polarities. By working with dark or light currents in each life we are ensuring we can have the most complete range of experiences while on earth. Some may argue that it's important to work with both dark and light in a lifetime. This may be true for some, but those who feel this way are most likely souls who have been here so many times that they're ready to balance out a few dark and light points before achieving adepthood.
I think most of us have a few lifetimes left, however. Don't you feel the same way? And even if we are on our last incarnation, our souls do not lie to us. If you're drawn to this book's mysteries, there's a very good chance you've selected the dark path, for at least this part of your life. For me, the dark path has lasted since I can remember, making it decades long. It has lead to more than a bit of confusion, which I'll share in these pages, but also lead me to a simple understanding:
It's perfectly acceptable to stick with a current for either a lifetime or just part of it.
Again, your soul knows what it's here to accomplish. As long as the night calls you, answer. As long as shadows envelop your positive work, learn to influence these forces to accomplish amazing things.
Just as people change religions, they can change the polarity of their soul-type. Sometimes this is unfortunate, as we hinted at, because it could mean someone is going from one of the good types to the evil side. It's also possible, however, to go from dark to light, or vice versa, and remain good. Not all good-dark will remain sofor instance, they may switch to good-light. But I still suspect it's much easier to change the names of the Gods you pray to than to change what clicks for you on a deep level. God and Goddess names, as we'll see, are only sonic keys that open doorways to Divine energy. Dark and light energies are the hallways containing these doorways.
A Personal Take on a Soul-TypeNow, who are the good-dark?
You likely already know the answer. If it's your soul-type in this life, you could explain it to me using the specifics that apply to you. And if you don't feel it's your soul-type, good-dark's energies (at least the ones I've hinted at so far) would seem different than the ones you feel, and you'd be able to explain the soul-type by way of contrast.
Either way, you know what good-dark means through personal experience. I'll just add some of my ideas to the mix here, also by calling on experience.
Of all my books, this is the one in which I feel I can most deeply connect with the psyche of its readers. While my other books have dealt with specific occult phenomena or practices, this is the first one to deal with my personal path.
Here goes . . . it's sharing time.
As a child, I would read tales of Greek mythology and believe that the Gods and Goddesses were real. This more than "freaked out" my Greek Orthodox parents, no doubt, who had to field questions about how Zeus and Aphrodite related to the God they were worshiping every Sunday. While they played along with my interest in mythology for a while, they soon began subtly avoiding conversations about what the ancients believed resided at the top of Mount Olympus. Christian parents can't find it too comforting when their young son is praying to pagan Godsor when he becomes older and does the same thing, for that matter.
Finding Zeus and his pantheon was easy. Although I was born in the United States, all of my family came from Greece. Some were still there when I was a child, and as a result I maintained a link with the country's mysteries through these relatives. Most relevant here was the access I had to richly illustrated books that my dad's mother would bring when she visited. In these pages I met, in vivid tales and colorful artwork, the Gods of old, all before I was old enough to go to the library by myself.
Soon after, I discovered through my own probing of mythologies that other cultures had similar Gods and Goddesses. It began to make sense that the world had been worshiping the same Divine energies for millennia, only using different names for them. The pantheons of Mesopotamia and the region's dark magickal systems particularly interested me. While I could have argued that through a study of the Greek Gods I was connecting to a part of my heritage, I couldn't explain my interest in other Gods and Goddesses, first the Sumerian deities and later even the Egyptian ones.
This deep interest in mythology led me to an early belief in reincarnation, before I even heard the word. I began to feel that if it was only the ancients who believed in these Gods I was "discovering," then it was possible that I might have been among these ancients at one time. I felt that I might have loved the old Gods and Goddesses in other lives.
All this eventually resulted in a courtship with formal Wicca that began in the late 1980s. When I first encountered the religion, it appeared ideal for me. I had already found myself intensely drawn to magick and the occult, and resented the claims of organized religion that such mysticism was evil. In Wicca I found a religion that not only embraced magick, but which also was based on the belief that the Gods and Goddesses were real.
It all seemed almost perfect for me, and I trusted that the things that didn't feel quite right would work themselves out in time. So I began practicing the Craft, giving it my all for a while.
After a few years of involvement, I wrote my first book proposal . . . the subject was the Sumerian Goddess Inanna. The project was one my soon-to-be publisher wanted me to pursue, and I began it. However, as my long-time readers know, this book was never released. Why? Because I never completed it.
Around this time in the early 1990s, I began finding it difficult to balance my dark interests with the brightness inherent in most iterations of modern paganism. In hindsight, I realize that writing that Inanna book might have helped me immenselyI needed to go through my own descent into the Underworld, like this Goddess, and emerge changed (more on such a descent later).
Instead, I turned away and tried to explore where I fit into the religious half of my mystical path. I already knew what I wanted from the magickal halfI wanted to approach adepthood. Yet such a goal is not in itself a religion. Religion is that part of your path that helps you keep in touch with Divinity while you're trying to ultimately reunite with it.
The books I've written are therefore accessible to those of all religions. I knew when writing them that the choice of that part of someone's pathreligionis always very personal, relating more to one's life purpose than to the decisions of, say, his or her parents. I stuck to the simple guideline that my readers should find ways of connecting to the Source for themselves, just like I needed a way to connect with Divinity that didn't seem alien because of my nature.
My nature. What was "wrong" with me? Why could I never connect with the light themes I kept encountering in religion?
How I wish someone had been there to tell me:
When the essence of the shadows and darkness empowers you, yet you don't feel evil, you are good-dark.
I can think of no better definition. Dark allure is not something you grow out of when it's really a part of your "calling" or life purpose. Even after decades, I'm no less drawn to the night energies described in the chapters that follow.
How I also wish that someone pointed out to me that good-dark types can use their nature to better connect to the Source, as well as to the unseen world. The path of night can very much be one of enlightenment. After I realized what my path wasa process I'll discuss in chapter 3I strengthened and reaffirmed my connection with Witchcraft. Once again, the knowledge of and communion with both God and Goddess aspects of Divinity became my religion. The right aspects of Divinity for me, that is.
In this book you'll learn how you can make the Craft work for you if you're good-dark. Of course, you're free to choose whichever religion is right for youWitchcraft is not the only path out there.
Just make sure that the religious path you choose works with your soul-type, not against it. You'll save yourself much grief by doing so.
Having identified the types of callings that good-dark feel, I'll refrain from giving too many examples of who these people may be. We are an elusive lot!
You'll find good-dark in both mystical and more material roles. The former type we'll explore in this book, the latter you see everyday. Good-dark are more than just those who frequent dark nightclubs and never harm anyonenightkind can take many forms.
Sometimes a good-dark person will feel the need to reflect his or her nature in choice of profession: A detective who works by night, chasing down crime while surrounded by settings that most find morbid, is likely good-dark; as is an artist who feels great joy in sharing his or her dark work with the world. And, possibly the most relevant example:
Good-dark may be someone like you.
Maybe I can spare you some of the searching I went through. In chapter 3, we'll take a brief look at how I found the Gods and Goddesses of Night, and delve into how you may contact them yourself. Let's continue now with a look at how nightkind's nature meshes with the tenets of Witchcraft.
Witchy EthicsWitchcraft can help you keep the "good" in your good-dark path. Despite the slanderous lies said about its pagan roots during the Inquisition, and said about it still by those mentally living in the past, Witchcraft or Wicca is a religion and way of life that is surrounded by only positive energies and ethics.
This book is not intended to be a primer on traditional Wiccawe'll be examining the Craft from the perspective of nightkind. If this is the first book you're reading on Witchcraft, you may want to soon after supplement your reading with some of the new classics of modern paganism, listed here alphabetically by author: The Complete Book of Witchcraft, by Raymond Buckland, Power of the Witch, by Laurie Cabot, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, by Scott Cunningham, and To Ride a Silver Broomstick, by Silver RavenWolf (see Suggested Reading for more information on all of these books).
We'll still go over some of the basics in this book, and all the chapters in part one contribute to this groundwork. Also, although what I'll be revealing in parts two and three is a bit more advanced and different than what you may encounter in other forms of Wicca, it still works perfectly in league with traditional Craft currents and positive ethics. Witchcraft has always been practiced in different ways by those with different interests. This is the primary reason there are so many traditions, ranging from Alexandrian to Celtic to Dianic, and on. Nocturnal Witchcraft can be thought of as the tradition that was always there, just never organized. It's the tradition that naturally suits the spiritual and physical needs of many nightkind.
With that said . . .
. . . what exactly is good, as far as Witches are concerned?
At the heart of the Wiccan way is the basic rede you've likely encountered before:
"An it harm none, do what ye will."
This goes for both magickal endeavors and mundane or purely physical workings. So what happens should you violate this rule? What are the penalties for either casting a spell against someone or swinging a fist at him or her?
Here's where the universal law of karma steps in. Karma is like a cosmic bank account of spiritual credits. Perform good deeds, and you build up positive credits with interest. Do evil against others or yourself, and you make a painful withdrawal of credits . . . with penalties.
Ever hear of the Law of Three? It states that whatever you do or send out will return to you threefold. I'm not sure if this could ever be quantified, but the general idea is that if you do a certain amount of good or evil in the world, even more good or evil will return to you. Personal experience has shown that this is the case, even if I can't vouch for an exactly threefold effect. Doing positive magick for others, for instance, has always resulted in more than just good feelings turning up in my life. And while I've never sent a "demon" after anyone, during the times in my life when I've succumbed to less than positive ways of acting I have felt the consequences.
We're not perfect . . . yet. Witchcraft and a healthy respect for karma can help us get there, however.
Karma's effects do not end with a particular lifetime, either. We sometimes carry either an abundance of blessings or a spiritual burden with us into future lives. More on this in chapter 13, however, when we discuss the afterlife.
Because of karma and our accountability for all our actions, walking one of the two evil paths described earlier always leads to ruinin this life or the next. So, be you dark or light, do try to stay to the top or good side of our cross icon.
Temptation for things that are harmful for us or for others can begin to lead us astray from time to time. Expect temptation, in fact. How else could the universe teach us the lessons we're sent here to learn? For example, if your purpose in this life is to have a fulfilling relationship, perhaps because you betrayed someone in a past life, you would likely now face a temptation for infidelity that's much stronger than the one that led you astray when you lived in another time.
Perhaps it would be three times stronger?
Walking a positive path like the one described in this book can help immensely in your pursuit of adepthood. While this is certainly not the only book that deals with how to attain some mastery over oneself and occult forces, it is the only one that, again, focuses on how to do so in the shadows.
The Most Important EmbraceBefore we move on from this chapter and its theme of how the forces of good and dark can be intertwined, we need to experience one last truth, reveal one last secret:
Like attracts like in the unseen world.
Just as doing good karmically attracts good, working with something representative of an energy attracts or influences that energy. This is the reason that voodoo dolls work, for example. By taking some personal items or body parts (nail clippings, a lock of hair) you can create a representation of someone and then act magickally, for good or evil, on this sympathetic representation.
Some forms of Witchcraft-based magick, such as candleburning or herbalism, are heavily based on sympathetic principles, using multiple associations such as colors or planetary influence to accomplish their tasks. Some of these rituals even take "like attracts like" a step further, being based around days or hours of the day that correspond to particular planetary energies. This is fine for such rites, and very effective.
We won't be concerning ourselves with this type of multi-correspondence magick here, howeverour candles and incenses will all share a common attribute. For more on traditional candleburning and herbalism you'd do well to check out books by Raymond Buckland and Scott Cunningham, respectively. Another major type of sympathetic correspondence in magick is when rites are designed around the four magickal elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Our work with these elements will for the most part be limited to their influence on a magickal circle.
In this book, our primary focus will be on establishing sympathetic links with two other major forces in the universe: darkness and lunar energy.
Nocturnal Witches can use all forms of magick, of course, and I urge you to explore all manner of occult techniques. They will work perfectly in the circles you'll learn to cast here. But to succeed with the advanced techniques in this book you won't need to worry about what day of the week to perform a rite or which assortment of colors to use in a working. You'll only have to follow the phase of the moon (for some rituals), and as for color . . .
. . . black and silver will work for most everything.
Black is the absence of color and draws into itself all colors and energies from the universe, including the power associated with the decreasing and New or Dark Moon. Silver (or white, in a pinch) can also be used for certain nocturnal workings where you wish to call up lunar currents during an increasing or Full Moon.
But following lunar phases is still not required for all the workings in this book; rather, the phase of the moon is just helpful to certain workings. Nocturnal Witches can derive the greatest power from tapping into one primary sympathetic linkthe link that best represents the essence they chose to align themselves with in this life.
We get power from the night, of course.
Everything in this book will work better after the sun has set, regardless of the phase of the moon. You can make these rites work by day, but like any other magickal working, a nocturnal ritual should be surrounded by sympathetic energies to ensure the most potent results. For a Nocturnal Witch this is simply a matter of waiting until night.
The daytime world is, for most people, the time when mundane (but often necessary) tasks are performed. We usually work in these hours, forcing our brains to stick to a type of activity that is not conducive to magick. When the sun is high and the masses are about, we all interact with the physical plane to a greater degree, shutting down access to our subtler senses and powers.
Later we'll see how to awaken these hidden faculties while most others prepare to sleep or after they've drifted off.
Although you won't have to radically change which hours you spend awake, some of you will have to shift them slightly to get maximum benefit from the techniques taught in this book. I say some of you, because chances are a good many of you already try to get some enjoyment from the dark hoursthey likely have voiced their call to you before.
Books on traditional Wicca often urge readers to spend more time in nature. This is fine, when you're planning on working with natural magick or herbalism, for instance.
I have a simpler request to make of you. If you wish to spend more time by sea or forest brook, or appreciating the wind or the cool soil beneath you, be sure to try and do so when the only light around is that of the stars and moon. You'll then be experiencing nocturnal nature, which may be your nature.
And the powers described herein will come.