The mystical death is absolutely necessary before the mystical marriage. The second cannot happen before the first; there are not shortcuts. I know there are those who think they can get there through STUDYING and KNOWING. THERE IS NO SUCH THING. Mystical marriage is not only a mental/ spiritual transformation, it digs right down into the roots of personhood. How can I explain that you are touched physically by God, and that every cell, every pore of your body is transformed? You don't do that by studying!
This death is LOSING. I know very little about clinical death from an experimental or studious point of view, but what I do know about it coincides with the mystical experience. In physical death you feel yourself slipping away, losing, in a sickening, helpless way. You lose the accuracy and strength of your senses and control over them. You feel yourself sinking, and into what? It is a horrid fear, because YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING. And as I said, in mystical death you also don't know what's on the other side because you have never gone that route You can IMAGINE, wish, but you don't know. You feel yourself dying in all ways physically and mentally. That is, you lose your health and strength, and you lose your drive, your willpower. You have no DESIRE which usually spurs one on. To say you are DEPRESSED would be an understatement. You are depressed in a unique way which no therapy of any kind can get you out of. (When I was in the dark night I avoided everyone. Nevertheless, people saw me on the street, and later, gave me their feedback when I returned into the world. They said "you looked like you were paying for something," and "you didn't look like yourself." Of course, that vision was augmented by the fact that not only did I not care what anyone thought about me, I purposefully wore the ugliest, most concealing clothes I had in my possession, hoping to ward people away. And when someone inadvertently still had the desire to approach me and speak to me, I was filled with DISGUST, absolutely revolted.) one good way of putting where you are at is to say you are leaving the SENSE WORLD, just as the dying leave the sense world and enter another plane.
Some people get very sick during the dark night. I didn't. 1 did not feel well, but I was not incapacitated to the point of staying in bed. But normal tasks took superhuman effort because the energy level and the willpower are almost non existent.
At this time my mental chastity forbid me to even TALK to men in general, and attractive men in particular. I recall getting a phone call from a male model who was the most desirable man from the physical point of view. He insisted on meeting me, I insisted just as strongly I was unable to see him. This was abnormal behavior for me. My revulsion extended toward both sexes. Part of the state of introversion during the dark night is an intense vision of what is WRONG. That is to say, you see the DARK side of human nature for what it is; your own human nature and that of others. Just like you saw evil permeating all things in the world, you also see the evil in all motives, the impurity, the taint. Suddenly the taint in all things and people takes over your vision. Your own is bad enough. But you can't bear the sight of everyone's At least you yourself, although you're a sinner, you know you love God. What of these others who don't even admit sin? What of their lust, materialism, phoniness, hypocrisy. You just can't stand the sight of sin any more, and you see it everywhere, in all invitations, in all molestations in all phone calls, in contacts, in people staring at you., What are they thinking? You know what they MIGHT be thinking! You can almost FEEL it like a ray of evil trying to touch you.
PHYSICAL chastity is also very strong at this time. You have no problem keeping away from people and your mental state deprives you of a sex drive. I am not saying it is impossible to be stimulated. I am only saying that a person who has been practicing chastity and wants to keep it has no trouble doing so at this time - the mystical darkness helps. So as long as you don't LOOK for stimulation, your condition makes the vow of chastity easy. You may be sexually impotent at this time. chastity principle holds true for all things. Slowly is ebbing away. You lose your IDENTITY. IDENTITY is what you are in your own eyes and your image in the world. You may have several identities and careers. All this will crumble to pieces and nothing must remain in your mind. It is the intention of the dark night to remove from you all that is not God, all not of TRUTH. Everything fades from your mind of the earth; your careers, your roles in life, your relationships.
The reason for this could be explained in terms of security and NEW identity. You found your security, ego and identity in earthly things. It took YOUR WHOLE LIFE to build these up. Now in just a short time, what took a lifetime to build will be TORN DOWN. Your ego will be torn down. You will be a kind of nothingness. You will no longer IDENTITY with anything in the past, no matter how strong it was. Now your ego and identification will be found ONLY IN GOD. I am not saying in the THINGS of God: I am saying IN GOD HIM/HERSELF. And before you can find this NEW security you must lose the old or BECOME INSECURE IN ALL EARTH THINGS. (Just the opposite site of what the world teaches you!) This new security/existence/place you have in God is reached by plum meeting your own depths, your inner core down to its center. There God is alone, unmasked. Before you find this depth you must leave all else behind; every last vestige of ego, identity, desire and attachment having anything to do with your old life. That is why ALONENESS is important. It takes TIME to accomplish this and TIME to FORGET your life. It is a washing away, a removal. You are being FORCED and also willingly cooperating with the removal of all things from your mind, heart and MEMORY. (How can you stop wanting all the old things when you keep remembering them?)
The slipping and ebbing away of all things is a disgusting and violent experience. Confusion is strong here because no one knows for certain what is happening. I, fortunately, had studied mystical theology (on my own) and knew vaguely what dark night of the soul meant. I had read about a cleansing, purging when even faith is threatened. (I guess it is easy to believe when times are good, hard to believe when all goes wrong. This is the time-of "all wrong.;') I clung strongly to my faith at this time and felt it strengthening more than ever. Thank God I had knowledge. Pity-those who have no idea what they are going through! (Is it possible, though, for a mystic not to have any idea what she is going through, when the vocation of a mystic is to know through love? I believe a mystic always has some idea of what is going on, though that idea may be vague and confused. I like it when St. Thomas of Aquinas says it is our obligation to study the things of God!) Speaking of vague and confused.You probably think I knew I was in the dark night of the soul leading to marriage. I didn't. I had had an experience similar to marriage in February, 1980. Thinking back, I realize it was a union of closeness or "trial" marriage, but not the real one. I did not know the big wedding was still ahead of me. (I am not re referring to the betrothal I had-in January, 1978. There was no mistaking it was the actual mystical betrothal.) Literature on mysticism is severely lacking. There is more scholastic literature, which is mulling over the experiences of the mystics, than there is fresh fact. we are still interpreting writings of hundreds of years ago as some of the best things ever written. Namely, for example, the writings of Dante, revelations of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bonaventure, St. Gertrude the Great, all of the 1200's. Then in the 1500's there are St John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. My own favorite for study is one little known to the academic world; Van. Mary Of Agreda and her Mystical City of God. Much of this literature is antiquated in expression although it is well translated and explained by scholars. Still, there is much modernization needed to apply the experiences of the mystics to our experience today in the light of what we know through psychology and medical science, technology and all the rest.
Mysticism is probably the least known, although the most important, of all sciences. It is confusing, even when one studies mystical science, because each soul follows its own path. Of course, each religion or discipline has its own set of symbols to try and chart the way. Even if one follows one's own religion, in my case Catholicism, there is still much difference in the individual experience. Symbols are only symbols. They represent what is happening inside and outside to try and explain something in ESSENCE.Not only each religion but each culture has its own symbols.And culture changes through the ages, so that not all the symbols of Dante's time nor even of the 1600's, nor even of the 1800's, can easily apply to today.. So, no matter how much you study the treasure of mystical theology, you are bound to get confused. YOU ARE WRITING YOUR OWN MAP AS YOU TRAVEL ALONG LIFE'S WAY OF MYSTICISM. I will give an example: The gift of contemplation. How did I know I had received it? I knew I had received something., what I saw and felt, but what was it? When you get the vision there is no announcement: "This is the gift of contemplation." I finally found out what it was by reading Evelyn Underhill's MYSTICISM, especially the description by Delacroix. But how would a Moslem explain the gift of contemplation? How would a Jew deal with the Holy Trinity within the soul? The Holy Trinity is there, in all souls by grace, but how do Pon-Trinitarian religions explain it? Various mystical gifts come to all mystics of all religions, but do they all explain them, and in what way? Are there some things we are missing from Yoga? Certainly, all religions could benefit from some of the great revelations elsewhere.
Let us get together and establish a science that all people of all religions can understand. Mysticism is mysticism, like psychology is psychology. It can be, t o some degree, non denominational - by taking away denominational terms. (For instance, praying to God instead of Christ for rebirth. You are still reborn when you do so.) Although there is such a disparity from soul to soul, I would like to make a general guideline according to my own experience confirmed also by some of what I have read. First, of course, there is the rebirth. This is the LITTLE rebirth although it seems (perhaps) big at the time. My own rebirth was in 1968, but I hardly-felt it at all on the sensible, emotional plane. There was no consolation, just a hidden work of God within my soul and body which began to make things right. I only felt a big, powerful influx of grace during my SECOND CONVERSION in 1971, when a faith healer healed me of a severe oppression.
After 1971 I began my period of illumination - the second step. In some people illumination starts right after the "little" rebirth, if their rebirth is an upheaval, or in fact, not little at all. For example, St. Paul"s rebirth on the way to Damascus which was rebirth and conversion and a remarkable miracle all at the same time. St. Paul's illumination began as soon as he was healed of the darkness; my illumination did not begin till my second conversion. After illumination follows betrothal, then -marriage, and then divine stigmata. After the stigmata it is difficult for me to say what happens, since it has been two years and eight months since mine, and nothing truly dramatic has changed. I think perhaps I will have to undergo more darkness and more severe conflicts before the next stage of progress is met. It is hard to judge because one needs I would say at least two years to assimilate/understand each significant change, and in the case of the stigmata, which is so baffling, twice as long. To continue the study of what happens after marriage and stig-mata you could read Dante's Paradise (if you can make anything of it, it is so advanced and arcane you need a guide to make it out) but most of all, for clarity of expression, the last part of Mystical City of God by Ven. Mary of Agreda, who explains how the Virgin Queen retired from active life and was never again assaulted by Satan. She lived at this time a life somewhat in the Light of Glory, while still retaining her mortal body. Naturally, this doesn't happen to most mortals, but at least gives an idea of what COULD happen, to some degree, in the very proficient. (It seems to me some of these things happened to Ven. Mary of Agreda herself.)