Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Fear of the Darkness
I don't know what to say; it is just so unbelievable hot here in the city. We actually reached 103 yesterday, and they say the temperature of the asphalt was 120...and you all know that asphalt IS the city...so, just because the temp says 103, it doesn't necessarily feel 103. It feels so much hotter. To be honest, it was a blessing to be able to spend the day at work in the central air....Bet you never expected to hear me say that, did you?...but that just goes to show you how hot is is...It is so hot that I burnt my hand on the doorknob when I arrived at home last night...(In late afternoon the sun beats down on the front of my house.) The only relief yesterday was when darkness came.
Speaking of darkness, hubby and I were watching a show on the History Channel last night called "Fear of the Darkness". The show was basically about our ancestors and what made them fear the darkness. At first, I didn't pay much attention, I was so drained from the heat, but I lay there listening, and eventually perked up to listen. It wasn't the greatest of shows and was somewhat disappointing in that I thought that at some point they might get into archetypes and our current fears of the darkness, but I guess they just left that for us to piece together. I will say, though, they had some of the most magnificent shots of the Moon and the darkness that I have ever seen.
Among the reasons mentioned in the show to account for fear of darkness in the West was traced to the fear of Satan. It seems that old Satan has been around far longer than Christianity; in fact, thousands of years ago, before Christianity, Satan wasn't thought of as real. He was merely a concept our earliest ancestors used to explain away misfortune, disease, and death. It wasn't until the advent of Christianity that Satan became real. Early Christians held the belief that Satan stalked the darkness, that, in fact, he had been banished to the hours of darkness which were more suited to his needs. And they believed he could shapeshift into any animal he wanted to--crow, wolf. Hence, any encounter with a wild animal at night was viewed as an encounter with Satan. Nighttime was viewed as the devils's unholy kingdom on earth.
Thousands of years ago predators roamed about the night, and it is estimated that anywhere from 6 to 10 percent of early humans were preyed upon by wild animals during the night time hours. It was extremely dark before the advent of lights and crime, also, offered a atmosphere of danger...from the landscape surrounding them, as well as from thieves. The sounds of the night created voices; the wind sounded like a wolf howling. They called it "The Cry of the Dark". Gradually, tales of wolf attacks were added to the folklore, and the boundary between what was real and what was supernatural melded together in stories of werewolves and vampires. One such legend is the tale of Dracula. Vlad the Impaler was a real person; he was a cruel and ruthless tyrant, and it is estimated that 100,000 people were put to death on his orders. The only way the people could explain his evil and wickedness was through tales of the supernatural. They also had a fear that the dead might come back to haunt the living. They feared the ghosts and spirits that roamed the countryside in the darkness of the night.
In my opinion, this all points to a fear of the unknown. We are scared of what we cannot see because our survival instinct kicks in. People fear the unknown and helplessness. Darkness is a symbolic representation of both. We aren't really scared of the darkness; we are scared of what could be in the darkness. Humans have a tendency to dislike and fear what they don't understand or know. In darkness, everything is hidden.
I've never been afraid of the dark...even as a child. I think the only time I ever had a fear of the night when was when I had picked up a case of intestinal worms at about the age of 8; this brought on some very intense nightmares which stopped abruptly when I was cured. Oh, and then there was the time when I first read "The Amityville Horror." I was an adult at the time, but I was afraid to look out the window for fear the pigs would be looking out at my, or when I read "The Entity" and was afraid of being raped by this energy being. But, those were the only two books that really scared me.
Yes, I love the night. There was nothing more enjoyable to me than camping out in my backyard...and once everyone fell asleep, coming out of my tent and just sitting there listening to the sounds of the night. The neighborhood was in darkness, and I became a part of a whole other world. Even now, it's hard for me to fall asleep and stay asleep...and stepping out into my backyard when the world around me is fast asleep is so soothing to me.
So, how about you? Are you afraid of the dark?