The stages of the Dark Night of the Soul can be challenging to navigate.
The journey starts abruptly, casting your world in perpetual chaos and darkness.
By the end of it, you’re changed, transformed, and reborn.
But what does it take to endure and fight through the challenges you face?
Here’s everything you need to know about the stages of the Dark Night.
What Is the Dark Night of the Soul?
Before we jump into the details, what is the Dark Night of the Soul?
What does the Dark Night of the Soul mean spiritually?
It’s a period of spiritual depression where the world seems to turn against you.
Nothing goes your way. The past resurfaces to bring you more pain and suffering.
You face challenges that drain your spirit and empty it of energy.
The world blackens in meaninglessness. Purpose fades, shrouded in uncertainty.
For some, the Dark Night begins with death – losing someone they love. For others, the Dark Night descends without warning, casting a shadow of doubt and fear over them.
The experience is unique every time. So, it’s impossible to predict it.
That said, the stages of the Dark Night of the Soul are usually the same for everyone.
Despite the hardships, this spiritual journey leads to growth and rebirth.
By the end of it, you will have discovered a new self – a true self.
It’s a journey of self-discovery where each trial brings more light into your life.
But navigating the endless obstacles, setbacks, and failures can be taxing.
Some fail to overcome them, losing their way in the ever-encroaching darkness.
So, knowing the stages helps you prepare for what’s to come.
The 5 Stages of the Dark Night of the Soul
St. John of the Cross coined the term: The Dark Night of the Soul.
However, the 5 stages we define aren’t mentioned in his classical spiritual poem.
That being said, knowing them can help you prepare and steel yourself for the journey.
As you go through the stages, stay focused on the destination.
Never lose track of why you’re struggling.
There’s a reason why Dark Nights exist – and they’re meant to help us evolve.
The soul awakens when you reach the end with hope and faith preserved.
• Stage 1: The Shadow of the Dark Night Falls
When the Dark Night descends upon your life, it changes everything.
Gradually, you become keenly aware of a deep turmoil growing inside you.
Questions arise, forcing you to reconsider the meaning of life.
In the 1st stage, you experience existentialism on a deeper, more unnerving level. You feel disconnected from reality, imprisoned by your thoughts, and isolated from other people.
The things that once made you happy and filled you with joy are now cold and dormant.
Shadows from within arise to the surface, forcing you to confront them.
Some people go through unresolved trauma – only ten times as powerful. Others face fears that have long lurked beneath the surface in the hidden chambers of the mind.
The 1st stage is a dark and unrelenting tide of challenges and obstacles.
However, not enough time has passed for the Night to extinguish hope.
Most people put up a good fight. But it’s only a matter of time.
Little by little, your shell dissolves, revealing the vulnerable soul. And it hurts.
You’re in pain and agony. And nothing you do can lessen the intensity.
The best thing you can do now is open your mind to change – and embrace it.
• Stage 2: The Descent Into the Dark Night
The shock is gone, but the suffering has enrooted into your life.
The initial grit and strength you mustered – it’s all but gone, sapped away from you.
Now, the true struggle begins as you spiral into chaos and madness.
You go down into the depths of the Dark Night without a light or a compass.
In this soul stage, everything feels meaningless. Life is dark and colorless. The demons you faced defeated you. There’s no shame in it. There’s still a way to fight and resist.
So, you come up with new ways to confront your fears.
You deal with the past. Sometimes, it goes away for a while. You face your fears and break through to the light. The light vanishes just as quickly. And the dark is there again.
The 2nd stage is a spiritual journey of many ups and downs, twists and turns.
You lose hope and regain it. Small victories and defeats are commonplace.
You rediscover purpose and inspire yourself to change course.
By morning, you’re struggling again and feel like giving up.
It’s an emotionally draining experience that sucks the life out of you.
The Dark Night of the Soul bruises your ego and forces you to reevaluate your life.
You’re pushed to your very limits, and it’s only a matter of time until you break.
Embrace your vulnerability and let it show you an inner world you had never seen before – one in which lies strength, not weakness. Let the chaos unravel your soul and enrich it.
Brave the storm and be gentle with yourself as you go through the 2nd stage of the Night.
• Stage 3: When All Hope Is Lost
During the 3rd stage, you’re at your lowest.
You’re no longer at the precipice of despair. You’re deep down in the pit.
This is the most depressing and soul-crushing part of the journey for most people.
You’ve embraced the darkness and grown used to the absence of light.
There’s no purpose to cling to or hope to inspire action. You’re used to it.
Emotions no longer feel as intense because you’ve grown numb to them. You feel alone and isolated from society. Friends might have given up on you – and your family, too.
And, most notably, you’ve all but given up on yourself.
The search for the meaning of life concludes here – and you’ve come up empty.
The all-encompassing sense of emptiness and isolation is your new home.
When the 3rd stage peaks, you’re a husk of life, devoid of passion and color.
Nothing makes sense, and you no longer fight to make it make sense.
In a strange, surreal way, it almost feels like a weight being lifted off your shoulders.
You’ve accepted your situation and made peace with your demons by surrendering.
And that’s what it is – a spiritual surrender and a loss of hope.
It’s a long and draining process, but what can you do when the Night consumes you?
Now’s the time to embrace the darkness and recognize it as a part of the journey.
Everything you’ve lost, you’ve lost for a purpose.
Your soul is being reborn from nothingness. Prepare yourself for what’s to come.
• Stage 4: A Glimmer of Light in the Night
There are 5 Soul stages, but the 4th one is when you rediscover the light.
It’s not the final stage but the opening ceremony to your spiritual awakening.
Now, you’re more aware of the transformative nature behind this soul-wrenching process.
You begin to perceive things differently, having found and embraced the truth.
As the 4th stage unfolds, you experience moments of spiritual clarity. You begin to understand that there was an underlying purpose behind the pain and the suffering.
It happened for a reason – to shape, redefine, and elevate your soul to a higher state.
There are some lingering traces of a soul, dark and torn, but you can sense it being healed from within. Lessons are unfolding. And you’re soaking up new knowledge and insights.
Peace, balance, and harmony are slowly taking form within your inner alchemy.
The 4th stage is an opportunity to reflect on everything that happened and press on.
The world is no longer going dark but reborn in a warm, dazzling light.
You’re still not there yet, but it is a world of difference compared to what you’ve been through – the trial by fire you’ve been put to. Now, it’s much easier to hold on to faith.
Immersed in new self-knowledge, you rise from the ashes, reborn.
Embrace the light and let the moments of clarity help you climb out of the abyss.
Nurture the growing garden within. The seeds of inner work you’ve planted are sprouting. You’re being rewarded for the effort you’ve put in. Celebrate – but don’t lose your way.
Take the steps toward self-actualization and inner peace.
• Stage 5: A Spiritual Awakening
Things are back to normal – but the new normal is much more profound.
Your soul has transformed in ways previously unimaginable.
You feel like you see things differently. And understand more than you see.
The process has come to a close. The Dark Night of the Soul has concluded.
And it ends in the most gratifying way – with a spiritual awakening.
In the previous Soul stages, you’ve cursed the pain. Now, you’re grateful for it. You’re thankful for having gone through hardship. It has opened up your soul and empowered it.
Life has regained meaning. You’re aligned with the beauty of existence.
This is when most people devote their lives to the spiritual pursuit.
Embracing the lessons of the Dark Night of the Soul illuminates the path ahead.
After the 5th stage, you live more purposefully and aligned with your true self.
And it’s not just you who benefits. The people around you are inspired and enriched, too.
Your newfound aura bathes them in positive energy.
You’re more detached from your ego and intertwined with the oneness of the world.
Who knows what happens next? This is where spiritual growth unfolds.
Now’s the time to look forward to new beginnings and opportunities.
Be grateful for how the Dark Night transformed you and use the lessons gained to make a difference in the world. Strive forward in alignment with a higher state of consciousness.
The Dark Night of the Soul: Twin Flame
Some people find their Twin Flame amidst the Dark Night of the Soul.
This takes ‘emotional intensity’ to another level. It’s unimaginably confusing. It’s painful and soul-rendering. If this happens, there’s only one reasonable course of action to take.
Part ways until you’ve regained clarity and made your peace.
During the Night, nothing good can be achieved by being with your Twin Flame.
Make this decision and focus on self-growth and self-improvement.
Brave the Night and reunite with your Twin Flame at a better, more opportune time.
St. John of the Cross coined the term, but it varies from person to person.
Each Dark Night of the Soul is unique to the one who experiences it.
It’s a soul-wrenching process that rids you of hope and power.
But by the final stage, you emerge as a better, improved you.
Painting and writing – these are two passions that I have been perfecting for a decade.