Nigredo: Finding Light in Our Darkness

Apr 16, 2020

A black circle is surrounded with blue light, suggestive of an eye, to illuminate the concept of nigredo.


The alchemical term nigredo means black or blackening, and is associated with decomposition and putrefaction. As a psychological state, nigredo is “the great suffering and grief” which the detached forces of nature inflict on the soul.

We realize in sorrow that what we thought were truths were illusory. Individuals may have taken pride in their virtues, talents or good fortune; societies may have touted their cultural superiority, military prowess, or wealth. When we are stripped of easy beliefs, we have no defense against the desolation of nigredo.

But as surely as a seed releases its urge to life underground, blackness is also a place of incubation. Jung states, “Everything psychic is pregnant with the future.” Our task is “to be at home in the darkness of suffering and there find germs of light and recovery” from which new life will come.



I was arriving to a commotion in a beautiful open-space garden beside the university building where I graduated. As I was approaching the crowd, I wondered who it was that everyone were so excited about. I was carrying a sort of notebook and was wearing a sort of girly school outfit that indicated that I was a student again.

I was surprised to see a slender gay man who was topless and with a floral headpiece dancing in a circular motion or like he was just so free and flowing and everyone was hoping he would notice them. He was dancing backed up by 3-4 women with floral crowns and white flow-y gowns. He was just so fluid and beautiful. Then he looked at me. And I knew he liked me. When his dance was finished and everybody had left, he came to me and said hi. And then, we kissed. It was a deep and profound kiss; I have never been kissed that way.

With our tongues doing the talking, we communicated to each other. He told me, ‘Why are you so sad?’ I said I was afraid. Then I woke seeing my sleeping baby beside me.



Edinger, Edward. Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy (Amazon).

Check out this episode!


  1. Anthony Innerd

    I first listened your post 107 but is there a way to forward my son. I read young most of adult life starting modern man in search of soul thank God still have 40 years on. My son eldest talented musician but has slight stammer and felt he may like your series. Have you an Apple podcast as I got this in Twitter by chance and really enjoyed it and wonder if can send dreams I got after my father died who did not kniw close when he was old but spent early 20-26 with him and met him shortly before he died. My mother was mentally ill as a child and I left home at 15

  2. Donald Raiche

    I’m surprised that in podcast 107 you didn’t say more about the dream figure being gay. I’d like to hear more about that topic in reference to the dream but also gay dream figures in general. Have you already discussed that topic more in another podcast?

    • Joseph23455

      We have yet to unpack the idea of a “gay psyche”. Gay figures frequently occur in heterosexual person’s dreams and offer an opportunity to discuss hidden dimensions of sexuality. You might enjoy Robert Hopcke’s work.
      ~ Joseph

  3. Cheryl Fuller

    Can you give a reference for the Jung quote Joseph read? What volume is that in?

  4. Brenda Percy

    “everyone was hoping he would notice them”

    good thing she embraced him, she could have run away…”
    so rich, humus indeed, thank you deeply

  5. Brenda Percy

    Re The Dream

    embracing her animus as
    a gender fluid person,
    not betraying partner;

    ‘Tongues do the talking’
    says the dreamer
    (don’t they always, say I)

    the god transcends categories,
    we are abducted beyond
    stereo types

    feminine eros freed from dis Grace,
    ripened from maiden to queen
    by love recognized.

  6. LAB

    I recently had a dream that was very similar to this (I am a 35 year old woman and a college professor). Hearing it and your interpretation nearly brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing. I am hoping that my own dream is sending a positive message about my ability to grow in the strange and difficult world we live in now, too. This entire episode was fantastic.


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