Awakened by Darkness: When Evil Becomes your Father is no ordinary book. It is a tome, an opus, an alchemical labor, the culmination of a gifted writer’s searching, profound, and vulnerable explorations; a work over thirty years in the making. It is both personal and chillingly transpersonal; one man’s story, and something beyond. In Paul’s vision, as in the vision of our esoteric ancestors, the microcosm reflects the macrocosm and vice-versa. As a story unfolds here of abuse and family tragedy, we are likewise invited to envision its macrocosmic iteration, our own history writ large, a time in our macro-world of crises and, hopefully, of kairos, the time for crucial action, the opportune and decisive moment.
This story is a multidimensional one, oracular, personal, and archetypal. Paul’s previous book, Dispelling Wetiko, published in 2013, examines in some detail the cannibal virus afflicting our species, and that publication has invited a companion volume, a further fleshing-out on the personal and individual level of the Wetiko material. To do so, and to provide insight into what has mentored and authorized him to write so intimately and vulnerably about Wetiko’s horrors, and to enable us to envision and delineate the cartography of these frightening narcissistic and borderland regions, he has volunteered the intimate and anguished experiences of his own story.
Paul shares his family of origin account. There is wonderful early promise; a beginning and not atypical early life of childhood sports, friends, academic promise and mother love. This is later progressively shattered by an ever-increasing turbulence and violence of the Wetiko-sort, transmitted through a father who becomes increasingly domineering, rageful and hurtful—a most toxic and horrifying legacy transmitted to a very sensitive and openhearted son. One great gift among many in this narrative is the providing of an example and guidance to others who may have felt themselves forever isolated by various outrages of abuse. This account comes from a fellow “decent” human being who has experienced a tsunami of nearly unbearable evil from those who would be expected to carry forward a sacred trust of caring and protection. This is a level of evil that can be imagined to exceed, perhaps, what is ordinarily thought of as the human level. Some readers may be reminded of Alice Miller, and the call for compassionate witnesses. How can one describe adequately abuse transmitted primarily through the invisible realm of psyche that lacks the horrible and more visible evidences of physical abuse? And what is to be said of the field phenomena that can non-locally rally a totally irrational and unjustified defense for the perpetrators? A great deal can be said, and Paul says it.
So much awaits the reader, with intense illuminating lessons and observations regarding wounded healers, shamans, artists, Kabbalists, Jungians, Tibetan Buddhists, esoteric Christians, and quantum physicists. Yes, the spiritual dimension, frequently omitted from these investigations is quite present and most powerfully included. One such resource might notably be mentioned: Carl Jung seems a sort of loving and supportive godfather, upon whose shoulders Paul can climb familiarly, returning again and again armed with amazingly clarified and illuminated understandings. And the dreams, scattered throughout, can be jaw-dropping. They call to mind Richard Russo’s anthology title: Dreams Are Wiser than Men. The various repasts are too rich to fully encompass here. One cautionary note: If you are looking for a surfacey self-help book, or a book averse to confronting evil, you have been misled in choosing this title. The journey that this book calls forth and invites us to is multidimensional and of the depths; it weaves conscious and unconscious, integrating itself into, not a sterile perfectionism, but a great work redolent with wholeness. The end of the book calls us to deep compassion and the awakened heart; quite a long and transformational journey, perhaps a pilgrimage.
An ending note: I have been graced not only with the depth of these multidimensional illuminations, but also by meeting and coming to know the author personally. One not so benefitted may be unaware of the man in his personal self. Paul is one well-acquainted with the darker-toned colors of evil, both personally and through wide-ranging studies, yet he is filled with a gentleness and welcoming warmth. His humor could readily place him in front of an opportune microphone as a stand-up comic. He is a man with whom you could easily share a kind word, a cup of coffee, a smile of friendship and a shared greeting of humanness.
With regard to the man, this book, and his vision, one recalls the poet Theodore Roethke’s words: