The Dark Lord is Afraid of the Dark

Last week I tweeted the link to my Blog “The Darkness Shall be the Light” and then became anxious. What if people should think that I was a supporter of Sauron, the Dark Lord himself? Surely this would be the kind of slogan that either he or his lord, Morgoth, might use? And so I rapidly typed in the words, “And I don’t mean Sauron!” into my Tweet. But after sending it I began to think. Why should I not mean Sauron? For Sauron would try to twist anything to his own purpose, even light itself. Readers of this Blog will know that I have thought of Morgoth’s hunger for light, a story that Tolkien told in The Silmarillion, on a number of occasions. Tolkien tells how Morgoth destroyed the Trees of Light with the aid of the monstrous spider like creature, Ungoliant, and later how he stole the Silmarils, jewels made by Feanor that captured the light of the Trees, and placed them in his iron crown even though they caused him torment. Thus the relationship between Morgoth and his followers, Sauron foremost among them, is ambiguous and contradictory from the start. And how could it be otherwise? For Morgoth and Sauron desire that which will expose them and leave them vulnerable and will also remind them for ever of the blessed state that they have rejected in favour of their own desire for power over others.

And there is one thing more that struck me as I considered this. Sauron fears the very thing that he uses as a weapon against others. He does not delight in the dark as I might delight in a scene of great beauty like the view from a hill top. He can only use something. He cannot delight in it. For delight is the enjoyment of something or someone for their own sake. I do not seek to own the view that lies before me and even if I did I do not think that it could give me more pleasure than it does. Sauron can never think like this. He is only capable of thinking in terms of usefulness and especially in terms of how he can use something in order to gain more power over others. Long experience has taught him that he can use darkness as an instrument of fear, that by cloaking himself he can suggest to others that his power is greater than it truly is. He seeks to blot out the light of the sun in order to weaken the resolve of those who would resist him and yet he knows that should he fail what awaits him is endless night and he fears that above all. Sauron, the Dark Lord, is afraid of the dark, he is afraid of death.

And this makes him different from the members of the Fellowship of the Ring. They too fear the dark and yet they love the light more and for the sake of the light they will journey down dark roads, facing their own fear and overcoming it. It is because of the dark journeys that they themselves have taken that Gandalf and Aragorn are able to bring Théoden out of his dark places into the light and then onwards into battle with little hope first against Saruman and then the Dark Lord himself. They teach Théoden that beyond all nights there is a dawn and that at the ending of this world of shadows there is the True Dawn.

Near my home there is a woodland with two streams running through it that join at its heart. Last year in the dark months I did not venture into it except in the daylight. This year I have decided to make a daily journey in it to the point where the streams join a spiritual exercise. I want to make my own dark journey through the woods. It is only a journey of a couple of hundred yards but each day I leave the known way of the path that runs past the woods and step into them into sudden and deeper dark. I realise that I am reliant on my memory of familiar points along my way and also the feel of the ground beneath my feet. There is a narrow path through the woods though it is not distinct enough for me to be able to see it, even at my feet. I rely on making out the difference between feel of the trodden down ground of the path and the softer ground that lies to either side of it beneath my boots. At present I am concentrating on the physical experience. How it feels not to be able to see, the moments of anxiety when I miss my way, and the excitement and relief when I meet the joining of the streams or clasp a great beech tree that tells me that I am near the end of my own dark journey. Eventually I would like to develop a form of prayer that will make the experience more consciously my own and help me to open my self to whatever gifts this place and the walk through it at this dark time of the year might be awaiting me. Most of all I seek the dawn that come only through journeying through the dark of the night. Maybe I will meet and overcome the monsters in my own psyche. Maybe I will journey through my own sense of loss and the death of my hopes as Aragorn does.

2 thoughts on “The Dark Lord is Afraid of the Dark

  1. Mm. There’s a place, at the edge of the Smoky Mountains where my relatives have a cabin. It’s far enough from civilization that night is really Night. Turn out the light, and it takes a long time for the eyes to adjust enough to see anything at all, especially under the thick canopy.
    Over a decade ago, we (family, friends and I) discovered the blue-ghost fireflies. We had no clue what they were, we could find no information about them until we found an entomologist who knew.
    They are tiny little beetles, relatives of the bright, flashing kind, but their lights are very dim, blue-white, and steady. They seem to float above the ground like tiny will-o-the-wisps, and only under the trees. We never used to see them because, as it turns out, a flashlight completely drowns out their existence. Only by turning out the light and waiting for one’s eyes to adjust to the darkness, can one see their surreal beauty.
    Since we first saw them, we’ve all taken up the habit of walking out into the dark. We keep to the paths because it’s sinkhole country, but there is something thrilling as well as comforting in slowly making one’s way in almost utter darkness, guided by the feel of the land, and instinct. It’s almost as if part of me finds comfort in being essentially blind.
    You’re the first person I’ve seen speak of such a thing, though. So… this post resonates with me on several levels. One is that, yes, I think Sauron IS afraid of the dark, and Melkor, too… and in a very real sense, it is only light that needn’t be afraid of it.
    Another is that there is a kind of freedom found in letting go of that fear/anxiety of not being able to see, and embracing it. It really is a kind of mediation, even without further effort to make it so.
    I truly wish there was somewhere nearer to me where I could, like you, take a nightly walk like that. Alas, the city is too bright, and the dark parks too dangerous at night.

    • Thank you so much for leaving such a beautiful reflection on my site. I feel very privileged. I wanted some uninterrupted time to reply which is why it has taken me a few days to do so.
      You are right to speak in terms of “letting go” when speaking of the experience of walking in the dark. I did not find the courage to do so last year apart from one fearful stumble into the woods that ended with me hanging onto a great beech tree just a few yards inside them. This year I feel a little safer, also realising that I only have to walk one step at a time and that at the moment that I feel the firm trampled earth beneath my feet at the conclusion of each step I am completely safe, as safe as if I were in my own bed! This calls to mind a traverse of a bog a few years ago when I used the same principle. I would reach out with my stick and feel the ground one pace away until I was sure that it would take my weight and then step or, occasionally, leap onto it. It took me about an hour to cross and I can’t say I ever enjoyed it but it worked. Maybe I might feel safer now having done it once and even enjoy the experience a little.

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