Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: A Healing Journey

By Daniel Cox | Instagram

“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses-” Friedrich Nietzsche.

A close up of a tree

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I remember the night I called death. 

Constant bullying at school for being gay drove me to use my newly found witchcraft to end it all. I created a spell, drank a macabre potion and asked that all of the illnesses that some other poor kid had were given to me instead. I asked that I either didn’t wake up in the morning, or, that if I woke up, then life would change forever.

That night a thousand different grotesque faces entered my soul. 

I woke up in the morning with a sore throat and a stiff neck. I was fifteen and had just started out as a practising Wiccan. 

Approximately eighteen hours later I was in resuscitation, and my heart had stopped beating twice. I was in a coma for two weeks with meningococcal meningitis. Severe blood poisoning led to the potential for amputation if things didn’t improve.

A priest was called one night, and my parents were asked to say their goodbyes.

Powerful forces stepped in.

I sat on my bed, crossed legged, despite the pain, as puss oozed out of my legs, and spoke to my body. I went inside my body and spoke to my blood, telling it to clean, I spoke to my legs and my arms telling them to heal and get strong again. I spoke to my head and asked the bone crushing headaches to leave my body. I asked that my body healed.

Several weeks later, with skin grafts and sea kelp bandages on my legs and elbow, I was wheeled out of hospital fully intact…but I wasn’t alone.

Sufi spiritualist Vilayat Inayat Khan once said, “There can be no rebirth without a dark night of the soul, a total annihilation of all that you believed in and thought that you were.”

This death is crucial for all rebirthing stories – Rebirth is a sacred initiation into something profound and deep. 

My rebirth led to a new path for me, and the journey commenced.

My Second Rebirth

Almost two decades later, the wounds in my soul had festered. Despair and mental health issues were in full affect. Therapy didn’t work, and countless medications, antidepressants, antipsychotics failed to address the deep pain. 

I returned to Wicca because it spoke to me more than any other spiritual path, but it didn’t give me what I needed. I craved connection, I longed for depth, I cried out for that sacred kind of love and turned my attention elsewhere, to reiki, crystal healing, angels. I still read tarot cards, ever since I left hospital all those years ago. I had crystals and saw spirits, so where was my place? An acquaintance and friend had disappeared for a few years to learn shamanism in Peru; she said I should have a session with her, so I did. 

As I walked into her office, I spoke to the dark, oily shroud that was inside me, that waited quietly for me to slip up, to make the final decision to end my life. It had been my “go to” comforting thought since my teens, that I could end my life any time I chose to. I smelled the smoke of palo santo, the scent of Aqua de Florida. She had stones on a cloth, strange shaped chumpi stones and a highly polished extraction crystal laid there, enchanting me with curiosity and apprehension. I opened my heart to her. It broke in two in her arms and she held me sacredly as years of trauma and pain gushed out. She peered deep into my heart and soul and was shocked at what she saw. 

Death. She stared Death in the face, inside me, sitting and protecting me was death itself. She tells her students about this story even today, how a man held death within him and yet still lived. Those powerful forces protected him and held him so strongly that he could withstand death itself. 

Death was removed that evening, in ceremony and rather painfully. In place of this gaping hole where my deathly friend once sat was placed a cave bear of ancient wisdom and strength.

Bands of earth, wind, fire, water and light were woven around me to hold me safely and in sacredness, so I no longer needed my suit of armour. Light from the sun was guided into my chakras, illuminating the darkness. 

After the appointment, I walked – no – I skipped out of there to find my friends and then-boyfriend at the coffee shop where they were waiting for me. They looked strangely at me before realising who I was. I had transformed so much that I even looked different.

Continued Transformation

For twenty-eight days I had to perform my homework, a movement that my soul was called to do. Has anyone seen the Netflix series, The OA? In it, a group of people who come back from the dead, bring with them a gift of a body movement that they were called to perform. This movement created miracles. For me, performing these physical yet energetic movements created the correct flow of energy needed to transform the world within me and outside of me.

After decades of darkness, I was finally able to not only see the light but be the light. I’m not going to say that I didn’t have any issues after that. Healing journeys don’t really ever end; these are ongoing, lifelong paths toward wholeness. Slowly the wounded layers of the onion are peeled off, layer by layer. And just like peeling onions, it almost certainly makes your eyes water.

So, what transformed about me after that?

I decided there and then that becoming a healer was exactly what I wanted to do. The healers path was my calling; so I said yes.

My path is ever changing and adapting, and the story continues…

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About the Author

Though he is trained as a P’aqo, a shaman of the Inca tradition, Daniel is more of an animist, with a focus on traditional European witchcraft. Through life-changing events in childhood and near-death experiences, he sees life through a different lens. He is a soon-to-be author, artist of the sacred, bone reader, seer and channel. Daniel lives with his husband Tom and their son Kai.

www.thebeardedshaman.co.uk

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