From Iron To Steel - The Darkness Story

We all know that a good Japanese sword is made of the strongest steel. But that steel begins as iron ore. The iron ore is then melted, and formed into a block, where the swordsmith begins the process of heating, hammering -- then folding the steel only to start the process over again. The result is a nihonto, still to this day the best sword that the world can produce. You can literally see the grains in the blade, much like wood grain on a piece of polished silver teak.

The forging of a sword is a metaphor I have used for the strengthening of my psyche for as long as I remember. When I was a child, I used to watch a video of Japanese swordsmiths still at work in a traditional forge with my Uncle Craig. My first real tattoo on my ribs is that of a samurai, brandishing his katana.

So how did I go about turning the brittle iron of my mind into sharp and durable steel? Well every way I knew how. Plant medicine, sweat lodge, cold exposure, open relationship… and finally the darkness retreat. A week in the heat of silence and darkness, alone with my bully of a mind. Now two weeks removed from the darkness I realize that despite over 20 years of work ‘forging my sword’ I was still fragile as a piece of iron.

Fear still rusted my blade, tempting me to shatter into shards of anger, or break into hopeless depression. Anxiety still dulled my senses, and my attachment to the approval of powerful men and the thrill of beautiful women kept the sword of my potential sheathed.

Have I emerged from the darkness as a ‘Hattori Hanzo”, a perfectly forged sword? No, sadly not. But things are irrevocably different now. I’m aware of my former fragility in a way that I never have been. Instead of my steel simply faltering, leaving me to pick up the pieces, I can track the moment it is strained or under pressure.

Enough metaphor. I can sniff out the first inkling of my jealousy. I hear the quiet whisper of unspoken truth. I can love without requiring the perception of reciprocity. I can recognize attachment at the moment I am hooked, and I can alchemize betrayal into gratitude more quickly.

That’s a victory. I owe it to the darkness. But I am a far cry from the sword of my destiny. I am happier, yes. I am less fragile FOR SURE. But the higher I hold my lamp of awareness, the more of my own shadow I am able to see.

The darkness retreat will be a story that will unfold over many podcasts, and I even have the internal recordings and an infrared interview that I could turn into a documentary. But it begins today. Erick Godsey guides me through the story of the most profound hero’s journey of my life. Complete with head-splitting accidents, strange food encounters, wild visions, and the moment that the darkness broke me… after it put me back together.

I hope you all get some real value from my story. The darkness isn’t for everyone, but if you feel called, this is where I went.

I love you all more than ever, because I love my life more than ever, and I love humans more than ever too. Thank you all for joining me on my journey, as for the honor to be a part of yours.

–Aubrey

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