Kivas of the Hopi

In the Kivas of Mesa Verde

ed: i would love for retreating caves to be as ubiquitous as in some indigenous cultures. i wonder if the Hopi used the kivas for darkness retreating, as do the Kogi of Colombia?  below is an extract. for the full and original post, go here.

kiva bob sessions

At Mesa Verde National Park, a ceremonial kiva has been reconstructed at Spruce Tree House. photo by Bob Sessions

Kivas (the word comes from the Hopi language) are found in or near virtually every living area at Mesa Verde as well as in other sites of the Ancient Puebloans. Archeologists say that each extended family likely had their own kiva, which were excavated out of either sandstone or soil with considerable effort. Because space was so precious in the cliff dwellings, these subterranean rooms likely served a mixture of social, storage and—most importantly—religious purposes. They would have provided a cool shelter from the relentless sun of summer and a warm sanctuary from winter’s cold. They were entered through a hole in their roofs, which were sturdy enough to be used as living space on top. At Mesa Verde kivas are typically round in shape, with a central fire pit and a ventilator shaft that allowed fresh air to flow through. An air deflector stood in front of the fire to keep the flames from being blown out by the fresh air. The kiva’s sides contained a banquette (similar to a bench) around its perimeter and usually had six pilasters, or pillars.

What would it have been like to live above one of these kivas? To know that underneath your living space was the entry into a place of mystery and wonder? There are so many possible symbolic meanings of a kiva that one hardly knows where to begin. They recall the darkness of the womb and the safety of the cave. They were betwixt-and-between places, pregnant with possibility. In emerging from them, perhaps the people felt they were reborn anew, following in the footsteps of their ancestors.

Swarupapriya: meditation in the dark

meditating in the dark can sometimes bring  the same results of a shortish version of dark retreat. Swarupapriya speaks of her discovery of the blessings of darkness meditations and her suggestions for others to experience.



Uploaded on Nov 7, 2011

At thirteen, I decided to overcome a fear of the dark by forcing myself to look deeply into it meditatively.

What happened as a result of that impromptu darkness meditation was not only an intense release of the fear, but also, a beautiful darshan of Maha Kali- the Hindu Dark Mother Goddess, herself.

From then on, my understanding of life, individuality, religion and meditation has grown and expanded beyond anything I could have imagined before.

This video, and the story of the meditation within it, is for anyone interested in overcoming the fear of darkness, and anyone seeking a connection with Kali Ma. Continue reading

Arjuna Ardagh “Enter the Darkness”

arjunaArjuna Ardagh book  “Leap Before You Look: 72 Shortcuts for Getting Out of Your Mind and into the Moment”  includes an article  “Enter the Darkness”

following is an extract from Enter the Darkness. go here for full original article.

“Enter the Darkness.” Wow…did this excite me. Later today, I will be joining my dear friend for some shared time in the darkness. How powerful for my own peace of mind, and hopefully how wonderful for my dear friend. I fully expect this will be a practice I embrace for years to come.


click image for source

Create a room that is perfectly dark.
You might need to tape black plastic over the windows,
And lay a towel at the bottom of the door.
Make it so dark that you can sit with your eyes open
And see not a single chink of light.
Now sit in that darkness, with your eyes open,
And drink in the blackness.
Make friends with darkness,
Reach out into it, and let it soak into you.
Stare with open eyes into the blackness.
Start with an hour.
You can build up to sitting in darkness for many hours,
or even days.

It is said that this meditation was taught by the Essenes, who some say were the teachers of Jesus. The great Russian mystic Georges Gurdjieff also used this with his students, and it is also found in Tibetan Buddhism. Darkness is the abode of mystery; it is from where we arise, and it is where we return every night. Every child starts his or her life in the womb, in nine months of darkness. Every seed germinates in the darkness of the soil. Every new dawn, every new meeting with the busyness of the world emerges out of the darkness of the night.

Most meditation places much more emphasis on light: we associate it with the upper chakras, and see it as our goal. Most people fear the dark. Hence, we have created an artificially illuminated world: in a city like New York or Los Angeles, it is never dark; it just shifts from natural light to artificial light.

When you become friendly and comfortable with darkness, something very deep in you can relax, and fear dissolves. Darkness initiates you into the world of the night, into the world of dreams and the unknown. In the beginning, all kinds of fears and freaky images will visit you. You may see snakes or monsters, or remember the most terrifying scenes from murder movies. But this will pass. It only comes because we have pushed darkness away so completely. Then another phase will come, where you will feel the darkness to be your mother, to be safe and nurturing and all around you.

read another article by Arjuna Ardagh on his website: Change Your Bedtime, Increase Your Brilliance




Lindsey Vona: 14 days darkroom retreat

this article is originally from the sierra obscura website of Danielle Dao. and has been seen at dolphinology and andrew durham’s site and

vona2Multitalented Lindsey is a web designer and graphic designer and musician.

Dear Family,

This is a detailed description of my retreat in total darkness for 14 days at Sierra Obscura Darkness Center [now defunct].

Recently I’ve been getting quite a few requests from friends in the community to share my experience so I decided to go all out and offer a candid portrait of my journey through the abyss into self-realization. I don’t speak much about the physical environment or daily diet type elements as I feel that they are secondary to the actual evolution of one’s inner world while inside of a retreat of this nature. It was very intense and wonderful, and I am looking forward to doing an even longer one possibly at the end of 2010.

Here goes… Continue reading

Gertrud Niehaus: Dark Retreat in Germany

(translated google to english )  here

dark retreat 


Gertrud Niehaus

Stays in complete darkness were used in all spiritual traditions, to attain enlightenment. In Europe different tunnel networks are known as spaces of initiation through the darkness. In Egypt, in Rome and at the Dead Sea it was caves.

Caves represent the Earth Mother and their power lines. 

The cave symbolizes immortality and an inner alchemical room. 
The darkness in which you spend a few days and nights, altered sensory perception. Feelings and sensations is amplified. Dreams become clearer and it comes quite naturally, deep self-knowledge. Also, set a mental regeneration and calming of the energy flow. The darkness takes us back to our true selves and we are reunited with our divinity within us. We are to “electromagnetic conductors” of universal energy.
For me personally the stay meant in the dark a breakthrough from the prison of limiting programs and arriving at myself. I could learn who dies only fear and behind it frees the true nature. Depth inner silence, light and peace remain. 

The dark retreat will take place in my house in a completely dark apartment. There is a daily conversation in which the symptoms occur and psychological situations are analyzed and if necessary deepened by appropriate exercises and made aware.
Continue reading