Savage Grace sits on my nightstand warding off the 2 am fears about climate change, politics, the economy, religion, species extinction and mass shootings. On the cover of Savage Grace is Kali, the Hindu goddess of life and death, of creation and destruction, wearing around her neck a necklace made of skulls. Kali is infamous for death, sex and violence on the one hand and yet she is tender, passionate for justice, compassionate and burning with an incomprehensible and blissful love on the other.
She invites us to enter this time of deep crisis to grow spiritually and abandon any illusion we might have about our social, economic and political structures. Welcome to Kali, killer of illusion and champion of liberation. Welcome to the dark night of the soul! Welcome to spiritual growth! Imagine a book in whose first paragraph the destructive and chaotic forces of He Who Must Not Be Named, our President, ushers in the dark night of the soul. He is likened to Kali, the destroyer and mirrors the dark side of Kali. Know that the ancient Hindu sages predicted the age in which we are now living, the collapse of industrial civilization and the lack of moral responsibility, justice, and compassion
Welcome to the best book I have ever read, the book that invites you into the dark Night of the Soul. You ask: how can this scary thing be the best book I have ever read? It is because this book supports those of us asking the questions “How are we going to get through this. What can we do. What is the purpose of this?”
The authors, Carolyn Baker and Andrew Harvey, have been through their own dark nights and have confronted their own shadows. Carolyn has been a student of collapse for many years and is the author of 11 books including Dark Gold: The Human Shadow and the Global Crisis. She provides the daily News Digest, clearly not fake news, and is a former psychotherapist and professor of history and psychology. Andrew Harvey is the author of 30 books and the Founder Director of the Institute for Sacred Activism, an international organization focusing on deep spiritual knowledge, courage and passion with wise radical action.
As Kali and Trump are disrupting the planet, you are offered the help of Andrew and Carolyn to ponder the 4 strategies and actions that awake humans must embrace going forward into the Dark Night of the Soul. The tools they provide to navigate the crisis are: 1) Reconnection, 2) Resistance, 3) Resilience and 4) Regeneration, and each chapter has suggested practices to help the reader focus.
In 1) RECONNECTION, they invite us to reconnect with divine self and sacred inner wisdom, each other, and the Earth. Reconnection fosters inner strength and deeper connection with the truth of our divine consciousness and sacredness. Among the suggested practices at the end of the chapter is spending 15-20 minutes in the solitude of nature and taking an inventory of the ways in which you are disconnected from yourself, others, and Earth.
2) RESISTANCE involves learning emotional, spiritual and physical strategies to navigate the dangers and uncertainties of modern life. We must build community, allow ourselves to mourn, carry out acts of civil disobedience, and perhaps focus on art and nature for renewal and transcendence. We must decolonize ourselves from society as an act of resistance.
3) RESILIENCE – To be resilient means to spring back into shape after being deformed amidst dangers and uncertainties. We can create islands of sanity, compassion and defiance amidst a sea of chaos by committing to the inward spiritual journey, loving our animals, savoring humor and having the safe circle of community
4) REGENERATION – The task of regeneration is to create a legacy of love in action by service to the divine, one’s own self, service to family and friends, your community, the world and all living beings.
In this well written and well researched book, there are 148 footnotes of articles including the works of Joanna Macy, Eckhart Tolle, Marion Woodman, Miriam Greenspan, Naomi Klein, Carl Jung, Chris Hedges, Derrick Jensen, Paul Levy, and Michael Meade. Their words provide additional support to all of us struggling with the collapse of industrial society.
You are not alone!
Vermonter Kathleen Byrne is a nurse, B and B owner, and active reader.