the "dark side" in religions


eclectic Wiccan
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Novelty OH USA
What do you think about the "dark side" and how it is dealt with in your and other spiritual paths? By "dark side" I mean things like death, decay, the messy and sometimes painful parts of existence that are there whether we want to acknowledge them or not.

Does your spiritual philosophy embrace the "dark side" as necessary? Does it see it as something to fight against or as something that is an inherent part of the whole?

Does your spiritual philosophy or practice celebrate "dark" elements as well as "light"? Or does it encourage you to ignore one side in favour of the other?

Is the "dark side" a punishment or something else? Is it glorified or pointed out in order to instill fear and guilt in followers, to scare them into "doing right"? Or is it seen as something that needs to be healed -- a mistake or illness that keeps us from perfection?
I'm very fluid with this. Whatever is most helpful for me at the moment, that is how I will view things. So sometimes it's helpful to see that there is something wrong in need of healing, and this I do. And sometimes it's helpful to see this moment as perfect, and I'll do that too. Sometimes it's helpful to see every human as entirely responsible for her actions, and I'll do that, and sometimes it's important to see that all comes from God, and we cannot beat ourselves up for not being great tzaddikim all of the time, and maybe being resha'im, wicked people, once in a while. So whatever paradigm is most useful, I go with it. It's like I have a toolbox of ways to view evil. "Looks like I need a three quarter "there's no such thing as evil" for this hole right here." or "tikkun olam hammer needed to fix up this roof." So whatever works, I use it. I think all of our conceptualizations of evil are just that, conceptualizations of a phenomenon.

I think all of our conceptualizations of evil are just that, conceptualizations of a phenomenon.
yes there is no switch on a camera so you can turn the dark on, or hole to shake the light out. Darkness (evil if you will) is the lack of Light (wisdom and understanding).

I think we choose to percieve evil or not. As what is evil at one time is good at another...or what is evil on one continent or religion is good in another. All matters of perspective.

Especially when it comes to that evil/bad boss that fired you or laid you off, only to now have moved on to bigger and better....seems it wasn't so bad after all.

What I perceive to be a 'dark side' is just an area where I have not chose to shine my 'light' yet.

hello there - what an interesting question/thought process/debate. In my personal opinion, this is my view of the above:

  • i dont believe there can be light without dark and vice versa
  • i also believe that dark is anything and everything we believe it to be
  • what we believe, is what will happen to us after this earth lifetime we have chosen
  • i use Jung's "shadow" as a point of reference often in my life and my work - those things we have buried and hidden - and they are not necessarily all bad. We put beautiful, wonderful things into our shadow too. So is the shadow evil/bad/ negative - no, i dont believe it is!
  • i think heaven is a place on earth, as is hell. We are responsible for our own realities and thus create our circumstances and environments ourselves. We will be the creators of our own good and evil (if thats the way we see it.)
  • i do agree that others have impact on our realities, but it is our unconscious reaction (knee-jerk, learned behaviour) or conscious response ("responsibility") that determines how we view the situation
  • i think that religion (in the loosest sense of the term) puts the fear of god in people - it causes guilt, fear and anxiety. I do NOt believe that this is how it was meant to be.....
  • society (religion, politics, etc) label things good and bad..... do we just absorb that belief, or do we create our own, appropriate beliefs? Do we take on, without thinking and processing, our parents/teachers/ministers etc beliefs, withour reviewing them for appropriateness to our lives, now. What may have been important then (say as a child), may not be ok now (as an adult). Fear is the absence of love; indifference the opposite of love - in my humble view.
  • spirituality ( again use of the word in its broadest sense) should be positive, enhancing love, joy, consciousness, health, peace etc and not focusing on negative and evil (so to speak) things.
  • i do think, however, that our minds and thoughts create monsters within our beings - and can result in illness and dis-ease - which would need healing. I refer to this on all levels - mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. our beings get eaten away through cancers, for eg - which have very specific emotional/metaphysical causes. Holding onto the dark "stuff" like anger, hatred, bitterness, resentment etc will cause "bad" things to happen within our beings.
hope this adds another dimension to your thoughts.....

take care
You don't believe there can be dark without light or light without dark? I believe on the other hand there can be two but they dont have to be 'with' each other they are seperate things... You can have light without dark... Say for a simple example your shadow... this is darkness in a way to speak... when the sun(light) shines upon it... the darkness fades and dissapears. This is how I look upon light and dark! :D
hmmmm yes, i agree with you - i didnt necessarily mean that they had to exist simultaneously. So yes, there can be dark..... and there can be light. However, i believe that they are equal opposites and complimentary - creating the whole.:)
I know that as I began down the path of enlightenment there were many dark elements I was required to deal with. Each one, when dealt with properly, led further down the path I was traveling. I began to wonder if darkness wasn't more or less "misunderstanding" or perhaps 'error'. What used to be dark is now light. It could be that the dark is inside me and I have to bring light to the darkness and the understanding that goes with it.
Hi all.

Life is a grindstone - we are the corn! In the end all things become the flour [flower] of eternity!

Adversity takes us deeper into the mysteries and gives us depth in our hearts.

Then again sometimes life just sucks and there is no reasoning to it. Not all things are caused for us, thus some things just occur and we just so happen to be underneath the helicopter as it falls out of the sky.

Personally and as a druid, I think there are no sides to pure spirit, there is no dark and light… but there are evil people who follow a dark path and create the dark side. I don’t think spirit itself has the qualities of dark or light – these things are part of gross manifestation and the holistic world.

I see the darker side of things as necessary. Death and decay, cruelty, they are facts of life. I don't see them as evil that must be fought. Nature is often cruel, that's just how she is. Death is a doorway, a step in the cycle of life, in my humble opinion. It can often be a kindness. It's not black and white, you can't have one without the other. It is a whole thing, life.

What is evil,what is good?

Both energies are relevant to their surroundings, so it can be good to be bad, and bad to be good depending on circumstance.
All things are made up of light and dark, even if but a little bit of one.

The darkside?

Doesnt exist in the sense, as lets say the masculine in nature (also known as 666 in some parts) is the fire that doesnt care wether it heats your home or burns it to the ground, just as the feminine can be nuturing or smother you to death. Good and evil?.....

It all depends apon how we ( you) use it.....
I see the "dark side" as night, the abscence of light, the moon. The sun brings light, the moon is a symbol of dark. The dark hides things from us, the light reveals things. Darkness conceals what I'm seeking and things that can be harmful to others when seen in light. Darkness to me isn't death or decay, it's what we don't want others to see because it's too painful to reveal.
With how i see the 'light' and 'dark' sides in reagrds to Wicca, i believe that the 'dark' side needs to be learnt as much as the 'light'. Not neccissarily practising it, but how do you know where the 'light' and 'dark' starts and ends if you dont know about it...???
It's neccessary to plow the chaff under, to feed the earth so it's fertile for the next crop.

It's neccessary to empty your hands so they can be filled again.

The only evidence of life is growth; growth is always accompanied by discomfort.

That's what people call the "dark side" of life - it's a part of the cycle. A needed part.

BTW, one of the more pertinent things I've ever heard, particularly in regards that "emptying your hands" thing, is this:

The more you resist, the more it persists.

The harder you try to hang on, the more dramatic the Multiverse becomes, in order to get you to loosen your hold.

I use this as a teaching tool for my students - I fill their hands and arms up to overflowing, and then hold out something I know they really want. I don't say a word...just let them realize that their choice is to hang on to what they have, and forgo this other thing, or to let the "stuff" they already have go by the wayside.
BTW, one of the more pertinent things I've ever heard, particularly in regards that "emptying your hands" thing, is this:

The more you resist, the more it persists.

The harder you try to hang on, the more dramatic the Multiverse becomes, in order to get you to loosen your hold.

I think we get saturated pretty early on in life. You can't trade up if you won't let go of something. One of the side effects is boredom. It's like a child with so many toys that they can't possibly appreciate or enjoy any of them. I've put a lot of thought and effort into letting go of junk that I've accumulated that's spoiling my inner ambience. We've got all this inherited programming and what seems like an intricate inner patchwork of hastily drawn conclusions, stereotypes, stuff that we've just accepted at face value without really testing it's veracity. We prop ourselves up emotionally with this stuff, but it becomes a substitute for having a real life and makes it impossible to be in the moment. I'm not "there" yet, but I'm working on it.

I don't divide things into dark and light. Too much of a good thing can be bad, and a little bit of venom can be delightful.

China Cat Sunflower said:
I don't divide things into dark and light. Too much of a good thing can be bad, and a little bit of venom can be delightful.


Well, there *is* darkness, just as there is light.

There's this whole association thing, though - darkness being dangerous or deadly or frightening. And I think that's a species thing, because the darkness is not our realm, but that of nocturnal hunters.

I think that a lot of the way we look at things, even in a religious context, is based in biology. This is one example. Another is the idea of "higher" being better, as in "higher power" or "higher purpose".

Where does *that* come from? I think it has to do with biology, again; this time not species-specific. I think it has to do with some behaviors that we humans have in common with other creatures. For example, if you have a bird like a parrot, you should never have it's perch higher than your head. If you place the bird so it habitually sits higher than your head, it will think it's the dominant one, and it will act out it's feeling of dominance in ways you probably won't appreciate. Similarly, dogs show their subordinate status in a pack by lowering themselves, usually by lowering their heads.

So perhaps this assocation of "higher" with "better" may be nothing more sophisticated than an innate reaction to pack status; aggressiveness, strength, and therefore authority.

We can also see this in studies that have shown that taller people tend to get hired first, and get promotions faster than shorter people.

But, back to darkness and lightness.

I find it odd that the world of night is considered to be spiritually dangerous, and that "darkness" is considered to be spiritually threatening. The world of light is our "public face" world, and the world of community; the world of darkness is our private realm, in which we are alone with ourselves, without the certainty of seeing things clearly.

I think that it's a vital part of spiritual development to spend time without our public personas, and without the easy and clear distinctions (and distractions) of the daylight world.

When you say "darkness" I immediately start to think of the "Dark Mother". Perhaps the idea of the formless void is scary. Or perhaps, because we live in the physical world of "things" the idea of a "thingless" realm doesn't compute very well. I tend to think of darkness and light as co-dependant. I suppose you could say that from darkness comes light, but within the dark mother all form already exists in potential.


I think that the Dark Mother is scarier for men than for women, perhaps because women have a connection there - I think there's a bit of the hungry-maw Dark Mother in every woman.

Thanks so much for that! I haven't even thought of, much less read, that Kipling poem for...well, more years that I'd like to admit to.

It made me smile to read it again.

Well, perhaps the Dark Mother wouldn't be so mean and scary if she got a little lick-lick on a more regular basis.

It's funny how things are set up to make us believe that it's men who want it all the time.

Dang, I wasn't supposed to say that!