Editor’s Note: One of the problems of the civilized world is our obsession with “knowing,” to the point that we cannot stand not knowing. Yet, we know so little about the mysterious ways in which nature works. Ironically, the only way that we can understand the mystery is first by accepting that we do not know. In this post, Rebecca Wildbear invites you to take the step and let nature and your imagination guide you.

“Nature is not more complicated than you think, it is more complicated than you CAN think.” ~Frank Edwin Egler

In the Fertile Darkness:

Steep in the Mystery of Your Deep Imagination

By Rebecca Wildbear/Substack

I follow a river to the sea this morning. Beyond where the waves usually crash on rocky cliffs, I walk into a magic kingdom that emerges in low tide. This rock village, usually hidden underwater, is now glimmering in the sun. The water and windswept shape of the black rocks, warm tide pools, and communities of snails huddled together enchant me—a pod of pelicans floats nearby.

A cave beckons, and I sit down inside and look out at the waves. Most of the time, this cave is under the sea. What would it be like to breathe underwater? To be in this cave and feel the waves approaching, filling, and then receding, waiting for darkness to give way to vision.

Just as changing tides illuminate other worlds, darkness can help us see. The dark is a manifestation of Mystery. Unseen powers live in the dark beyond our understanding. Our willingness to widen our perspective can invite revelation.

Mystery knows better than we do who we are and how we are meant to serve. Our journey is an attempt to listen and understand. The Mystery holds a grander vision and wants to show us. Slow down. Turn your sensory, emotional, and imaginal body inward. Hibernate like a bear in winter. Notice what arises in your heart and mind and what images are at the edge. Be present with whatever comes. Drop the storyline and feel the underlying energy. Be curious. Whatever you notice or experience, consider what guidance it may be delivering.

Tuning In

The dark of the night can be scary. Yet the fertile darkness of stepping into the unknown is terrifying. I still remember my first three-day solo fast in a Utah canyon more than twenty years ago. I could not sleep. Sitting on the rock perch that had invited me high in the canyon, I wondered what I feared. I had been outside at night often, but this time I was fasting alone in a sacred ceremony. I had told the Mystery, the universal consciousness that animates the cosmos and everything in it, that I am willing to let go of my life – my home, my profession, my identity, my relationships – if that is what is asked. But what if I see something I don’t want to see? Something that overwhelms me or instantly alters my life.

As I remember my love of darkness and my longing to listen to what the Mystery unveils, I turn my gaze upward and watch stars flicker in the moonless night. I let go and tune in to my deep imagination.

Our deep imagination comes through our dreams when we sleep. Yet it also exists in the waking world. Eligio Stephen Gallegos calls the deep imagination “a dimension with its own integrity.” The deepest layers of our imagination bubble up and have their own intelligence. We can turn toward these unbidden images at the edge of our consciousness.

We honor our dreams and imagination by being receptive. We do not analyze or interpret what comes. Instead, we seek to live and be guided by these mysteries that come up through the Earth into our psyche. Our deep imagination often surprises us. It comes up with things our minds never could. Do not stress over how deeply you are or are not immersed at first. Swimming in imaginal shallow water is better than having no imagination at all. At least you are in the river, available for deeper currents. To come and carry you away.

The dominant culture trivializes imagination and encourages people to avoid the unknown. Yet darkness is part of the seasons and cycles of life. It helps us grow and strengthens our visionary capacity. What if we dared to step into the dark, ask important questions, and swim in our deep imagination? We could acknowledge what’s deeply not working and seek anew what is meaningful and alive. Perhaps we could find a way to end the life-devouring machine of the dominant culture and create communities that cherish our planet home.

Loving the World

The Earth is creative and life-giving but fragile. As we remember forests that are under assault worldwide and those beings dying in oceans – 90 percent of large fish, 50 percent of coral reefs, and 40 percent of plankton – we can listen for what the Earth needs. We can pray for visions to help us respond to clear-cut forests, plowed prairies, drained wetlands, and the harms of human-only land use.

Our souls are linked to the heart of the world. We can descend into the collective dark night of our planet. And open to the tremendous sorrow of our failure to protect oceans, forests, and rivers. Visions can arise that nourish and cultivate the mythic sinew of humans and the Earth.

Healthy cultures source their actions from the depths. My soul images – the cave pool and underworld river that live under the tree – guide me to invite others into the dark to let go of who they thought they were and deeply listen. To connect with greater forces and unseen worlds, infusing us with fierce creativity that allows the Earth to dream through us.

The dominant culture is unraveling – and needs to. We are already amid the transition. May it alter, dismember, and initiate us. May it help us oppose and let go of the aspects of culture harming life. May the imaginal waters that spring forth from the depths release visionary potential. As we pray and listen, may the seeds of our collective imagining help us reimagine ourselves and our world.


Radical Dreaming, invites readers to listen to their bodies, nature, and dreams while unveiling power imbalances and other causes of ecocide. It’s written by Rebecca Wildbear, author of Wild Yoga: A Practice of Initiation, Veneration, & Advocacy for the Earth and Soul guide at Animas Valley Institute.

Photo by Koen meyssen on Unsplash