“A new moon teaches gradualness and deliberation and how one gives birth to oneself slowly. Patience with small details makes perfect a large work, like the universe.” ~ Rumi
New moons. The birth of a new lunar cycle. A new beginning. A new space. A fresh start. The potential for something new to arise and manifest. With this in mind, it feels timely to launch and welcome artists and creatives to this new writing space, a place I hope will embody and convey the spirit of inimitable Egon Schiele and his powerful artwork.
My interpretation of Schiele is someone who was deeply aware, sensitive and thoughtful, and fearless in his exploration of the human experience and psyche in its glorious fascinating spectrum. He was bold and daring, profoundly moved by nature and its relation to human existence, and did not shy away from suffering, spirituality and religion, sexuality, fragility and decay, death and impermanence. These are just some of the topics I’d like to explore and share here with you. To face darkness and taboo, as Schiele did, is essential if there is to be the personal reflection, insight, learning and growth required for creativity to take flight. Complacency is the artist’s enemy. Darkness is the gift that enables the artist to source their own unique illuminating brilliance. My intention is for the writing desk to be a place where artists from all areas can be prompted to think and feel deeply, to comment and share, and to feel supported by a vibrant, thriving community.
There is something magical and mystical about the small slither of light in the shape of a crescent when I look up into the vast darkness of a clear nighttime sky. Sometimes, it’s not so much the slither of silvery crescent light that fascinates me but rather the darkness around it: both the obscuration itself, and subsequently, the obscured. I am drawn to both the torrent of my chaotic earthly existence, and also the promise of what is yet to be revealed. It fills me with fear, trepidation and excitement, wonder, awe and hope in equal measure.
I used to be afraid of the dark. I still am if I am honest. I sleep with a nightlight. It started when I was at university, a time of intense rapid exposure to all sorts of worldly stimulation. Waking up in complete darkness rendered me disorientated, isolated and panicked, breathless, sweating and with a sense of dread, like I was buried alive, or dead but still existing in the realms of the living. Like many creative people, I don’t sleep particularly well and am plagued by vivid dreaming and messed up circadian rhythms. My defense mechanism was always to scrabble around frantically for a light switch, for help from anything outside of myself that would shed light on my surroundings.
It never occurred to me back then nor was I brave enough to lie there in the darkness and explore with gentle curiosity the seemingly relentless calamitous thoughts and sensations that were battering my mind and body like a crescendoing storm of ever powerful monstrous waves crashing into my bow. I feared I would drown. It never occurred to me that I could choose to be my own place of safety and, in doing so, face this dark void in order to see what may be revealed to me; to wait for a slither of light; to wonder at what might lie even beyond that.
For there is a space that lies beyond the darkness. An expanding light source. Just like a lunar cycle. It is a space that holds immeasurable potential for creativity, artistry, inventions and solutions. The portal to that place is profoundly simple and yet incredibly challenging: Remaining alert and relaxed with what currently is. Letting it be. Even in the darkness of night. Even in the most gruesome of storms. Even in the terror of the perceived void.
So I wish to share this. If you are entering the new lunar cycle in what feels like complete darkness, fragmented and heartbroken with tumultuous emotions ripping you apart, I want you to know you are not alone. I feel you. Whatever it is that is imploding inside of you, tearing away viciously at your flesh like a rabietic pack of wolves, let it have its expression. Instead of distracting yourself tirelessly, sit with it. Find a safe space within and allow that rage or sadness, fear or madness, anxiety or frustration, envy or desperation, whatever it is that you’ve been carrying around since what feels like forever, allow it all to find a way to flow out of you.
Be bold. Face the darkness that is your abyss. Breathe. Allow it to come at you with all its might. Do it in a way that is right for you. Cry. Sob. Wail. Walk. Run. Swim. Sail. Thrash a ball. Throw paint at a wall. Capture it in a photograph. Draw. Dance. Write a poem. Be open. Act out a scene. Be broken. Feel every dark wave as it crashes into and moves through you. Put it all into artistic work. Do it. Do it alone. Do it with someone you trust. Do it badly. It doesn’t matter. Do whatever the hell you need to do. Just do it.
Inherent in each of these releases exists the quality of spaciousness and brightness, the sense of clarity and limitless mind. In contrast, when we distract ourselves or numb out to the darkness within, the mind becomes tight, stressed, restricted and contracted. We become easily frustrated, impatient and worried. These states of being take us away from the creative spacious element that exists within us. Denying our darkness creates dis-ease and blocks our path to creative expression.
When you are ready, and sometimes you have to take a leap of faith because you may never feel ready, it is time to embrace the darkness and release. It’s time to heal and evolve. And it may be painful. And it may be relentless. And you may wonder if it will ever cease. But the releases are essential. Welcome your releases, your tears and your fears. Treat them with love and respect. Without them, you will never grow or come to know yourself. You will find an inner strength you never knew you had. You will find deeper meaning and purpose in whatever comes next. You will make incredible art.
Contraction always precedes an expansion. So feel reassured and comforted knowing that with each dark, painful release comes the creation of space for the start of something new. A small slither of light in the shape of a crescent. And the promise of something bigger. Something better. Something we cannot see yet. The power, beauty and illumination of a full moon.
And I need to get rid of my nightlight.
Sarah Pema is a writer, meditation practitioner and former art editor.