In yesterday’s DM, we established that depths of earth or ground or sky or ocean or soul, are invariably dark. Dark and mysterious. And so it is that there is an apophatic side to Divinity (meaning a side without light) as well as a cataphatic or light-filled side.
We saw how the Black Madonna invites us into the dark and therefore into our depths–what mystics call the “inside” of things, the essence of things. This is where divinity lies. And the true self. Eckhart calls God’s darkness a “superessential darkness, a mystery behind mystery, a mystery within mystery that no light has penetrated.” Andrew Harvey proposes the apophatic divinity is “hidden from all our senses in a light so dazzling it registers on them as darkness.”
While we often meditate on the beauty and wonder and awe of creation, the light-filled side, it is also important to recognize the dark side, the ground of being and ground of the divine.
Many mystics speak to this reality. In the sixth century, the Syrian monk Dennis the Areopagite called God “superessential darkness” and a “darkness beyond light.”
Meister Eckhart repeats this language, telling us that “the final end is the mystery of the darkness of the eternal Godhead.” Not only does this understanding of Divinity honor the dark and honor our unknowing, it also welcomes and makes room for the unspeakable and ineffable which is bigger than words. It makes room for silence and nothingness therefore. “The Godhead has no name and will never be given a name—a truly hidden God.” (Eckhart)
We might ask: Are the mysterious Dark Energy and Dark Matter that scientists teach make up 97% of the universe also images of the Dark Divinity? Does the “double dark” theory plus Divinity as superessential darkness offer humankind a new kind of Trinity in our time?
Images of ground and darkness celebrate the divine as the Great Mystery. Mystery is very shy around words and namings. Mystery does not want to be named. It wishes to remain hidden. The uniqueness of the Divine, the immensity of the Divine, renders it a great mystery that may well be beyond all naming and without any name.
Mystery invites silence. Maybe this is why Eckhart says, “nothing in all creation is so like God as silence.” Silence takes us more deeply into the ground of God “where our ground and God’s ground are the same.”
Eckhart puts it this way:
The mystery of the darkness of the eternal Godhead is unknown and never was known and never will be known. God dwells therein, unknown to the Godself.
David Bentley Hart encourages us to “reflect upon the mystery that manifests itself not as a thing among other things, but as the silent event of being itself.” Being itself (as distinct from beings) is a “silent event.”
Our distance from nature and ground and depths can interfere with this silence. The result is noise and cacophony and no mystery and little ground or grounding.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, p. 233
See also Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God, pp. 126f
Banner Image: “A Dark Landscape” Drawing by Herbert Crowley (1873–1937) on Wikimedia Commons
Have you experienced the Divine as “superessential darkness”? What follows from that?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God
Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God
Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.
“This book is timely, important and admirably brief; it is also open ended—there are always more names to come, and none can exhaust God’s nature.” -Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of Science Set Free and The Presence of the Past