"Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them... Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."
- Remus Lupin, Harry Potter
He came into my bedroom and told me he couldn’t get to sleep.
“I’m scared,” he said.
I held his hand and walked into his room with him.
“What are you scared of, Buddy?” I asked him.
“Dementors, like the ones in Harry Potter. They like the dark.”
“I like the dark too,” I told him. “It gives us good things, like the stars and the moon.” I motioned out the window, and he nodded.
I continued. “The dark is when certain animals come out to play, like the bats and owls. And the dark means we get to sleep and let our bodies rest and close our eyes.”
“And energy,” he added with enthusiasm. “The dark gives us energy. It’s like how we charge our batteries on our phones. The dark gives us energy, so we can be full charged.”
“YES!” I said, excited because I was thinking of our whole conversation the way only a mystic can, with great symbolism and meaning. “The dark charges us up so we can have energy for tomorrow.” Maybe we are both lunar powered and solar powered.
I tucked the blankets around his little body and thought about how scary the unknown is to us, to each of us. The black expanse where everything is a silhouette or shadow instead of crisp outlines and lit up definition.
I was thankful the conversation didn’t center around dementors. I wasn’t exactly schooled on my Harry Potter-ology, and wasn’t sure how one is to deal with dementors should there be an unfortunate encounter.
As I was writing this, I couldn’t remember the name “dementor” and so I did a google search for “the dark ghosts in Harry Potter 3.” Not only did I find the name dementor, I also went on to read about a specific defense called the Patronus Charm, that evokes a positive energy force known as a patronus or spirit guardian.
It made me think about a certain album of lullaby music we had when our children were babies. The first song begins with a child saying, “Dear God, thank you for sending me angels to keep me safe.”
In the future, should him and I have another dementor conversation, I will know about patronus, which is a good thing because now we have options. We will pull one of our painted magic wands down from the bookshelf and wave it towards that bedroom window where the dancing tree limbs cast ominous shadows on the walls and we will say whatever we need to say to feel as though the dark is for us not against us.
I know now that there are some things completely out of my hands. For instance, I don’t get to command the darkness to go away. I don’t get to say, “Sun, come back out because my son is scared and cannot get to sleep and we all really need our sleep around here.”
The magic for me these days is a lot less “take this away” and a lot more “if this is how it is to be, how can I feel safe, loved, and full of wonder even here?" I think Jesus prayed them both. "Take this cup, but heaven forbid if I have to drink it, give me the will power to do so." So we ask the holy question, "How can I find the hidden magic while hunkered down right in the middle of all this damn 'paralyzed with fear?'"
Whether it’s angels or God or animal spirit guardians or hand painted magic wands, or talismans, or snuggling under blankets together or sitting under the moon to learn to trust her wild, or spells or prayers, it doesn’t matter to me. It might be all of these or none of these at different times. What matters is that when the ghosts in the darkness threaten to suck me dry, I will summon the courage to search for one more charm to get me through. And maybe this is another WONDER-full thing the dark gives us, the ability to recall and summon our own internal magic.
My son came to me for help, sticking his little hand in mine. Harry Potter took anti-dementor lessons to learn the advanced Patronus Charm and he traveled with a band of vulnerable and loving wizard friends, and we, going Into the Dark Night, link Wild Mystic arms, so that should a dementor come for us, it will have to get past all of us.
I filled in a prompt in my right brain planner this week. It said, "Build a support team. Change your environment by finding others that affirm the secret messages, use their imagination and read clues. They must see gnomes and be Mad." Because see, I know now that when I am in danger of being depleted by a dementor, I don't need to call someone who will help me do the "right thing." I need to share space with a fellow imaginer. Someone with eyes to see the protective spiritual aura already around me (whatever that may look like) when I feel like the timid and fragile human who is being sucked of life.
That is what Into the Dark Night means to me. It is a gathering of those who have decided to embrace the dark that is not leaving and remind each other in howls or whispers, chants or siren song, hymns or mantras, hugs or love letters, lit candles and incense or blowing prayer flags that even in the face of everything it is actually very well with my soul. There is still time to join us. Care to blow the dust off your magic wand?