I met Andrea in my first round of Open Your Heart in May 2013. Every time she posted on the forum, I was moved and inspired by the depth and clarity of her writing, and her ability to transpose her inner world into words. When she shared this story with me over email, I immediately asked if she would be willing to share it on my site, as I knew it would provide light and inspiration for those struggling through dark night of the soul, especially when sexuality is effected. As Andrea so beautifully shares, it’s often when we can see our experience reflected through nature and metaphor that we find some solace, hope, and the energy to go on.
I’ve struggled with relationship anxiety, perfectionism, a highly sensitive nature, a declining libido and other changes associated with fluctuating hormones and mid-life, and a recently diagnosed autoimmune disease. When the stress was too much for my body to take emotionally and physically, I found myself in ‘a dark night of the soul.’ My inner work as I find my way back to the light has included reconnecting with my spirituality and sexuality, or as Sheryl puts it: “inner aliveness and zest.”
When Sheryl recently wrote that we can turn toward “the landscape of the wild” to learn its wisdom as a way of seeking answers that cannot be found in our heads, it fully resonated. Nature has always spoken to me, awed and inspired me, and rejuvenated and soothed me.
One morning, I noticed a large brownish-red moth with fuzzy antennae on the wall outside my front door. It grabbed my attention because I’d never seen a moth that big or colorful. The moth sat so still and unmoving that I feared it was dead. This went on for days. I knew it was there for a reason and had something to teach me, so I opened myself up to its inspiration.
The symbolism of the moth resonated with my dark night experience. The moth, a nocturnal animal, conducts its life-sustaining activities in the dark. It trusts that its needs will be met. It was a reminder that I needed to have faith that I had the necessary resources to help me navigate through my dark night. I could trust that my dreams, intuition, awareness, and supports would guide me through the discomfort. The dark was not to be feared, but honored and even celebrated as a natural part of a fully experienced existence.
My moth friend was a female Automeris IO. From what I read, it seemed most logical that she was sitting in stillness emitting powerful pheromones to attract a mate. A few days after her arrival, I noticed a smaller, dull-colored moth hanging out on the wall with her and assumed the pheromones worked and her male partner had arrived.
However, the next morning I noticed that the small moth had a gray colored trail oozing beneath its body. I thought it might’ve gotten smooshed by a predator, but when I looked closer I saw that the trail was actually dozens of eggs. It was spectacular. Two female moths of vastly different colors and sizes: one colorful, magnificent, and large and the other plain and small. Were they there to represent where I felt I was (dull/small) and where I knew I could be (vibrant/large)? They must’ve felt comfortable and safe in each other’s presence, which is why they were both hanging out on the wall together, supporting each other on their female journeys of courtship and motherhood.
I was sharing this experience with my friend, Kim, who commented that the moth pheromones were working in me, too. I felt immediate sadness, hypersensitive to a fear-trigger that my connection to my once powerful sexuality was now muted, or, worse, gone altogether. I told her it felt like my pheromones were broken. It seemed as if the effects of hormones/health/bad habits/relationship anxiety/life stress had destroyed any last vestiges of my once-tangible experience of sensuality, seduction, desire, and pleasure.
Two days after that exchange, I had two very intense sex dreams one night after the other. I couldn’t tell you how many years it had been since I had a sex dream at all, much less one that was so intensely powerful that my body was having an actual physical reaction. (Woo-Hoo!) I was thrilled when I woke up to realize that my sexual energy was not dead after all. Sheryl was right. It was inside me, still there…. waiting. Perhaps Kim was right, too, and the moths were there with their pheromones to inspire that part of me.
I was sad when both of my moths left. However, I was looking forward to the eggs hatching. Seems strange, I know. I mean, who cares about larvae? Yet the larvae represented life, a fresh start, a new and exciting journey…movement. My boyfriend was the first to discover that the eggs had hatched. There we were, watching their teeny, tiny larvae bodies moving and wiggling about. (Nothing quiets relationship anxiety down like a heart-bonding, heart-softening moment. I mean, what other guy would celebrate larvae with me?). When I went to check on the larvae the next morning, many were gone. I noticed that there was a gentle breeze blowing, and I sat and watched the breeze carry several of the larvae away; off to face the adventure of life or perhaps the inevitability of death.
My brush with nature was an amazing experience from start to finish. Birth. Life. Death. It was a reminder that the universe provides what we need if we just sit still and trust that everything necessary for our learning, growth, and healing will be there when we need it… if we remain open. It was a reminder that we have friends and guides along the way to give us messages and gentle nudges, to sit and grieve with us, to celebrate with us, and to remind us that we are vibrant, worthy, and safe. Most of all, what really resonated was that we can still survive, thrive, shine, and sparkle even in the darkest of nights.