A Mesmeric approach to the Dark Night of the Soul

How many times over the years had he been seduced by the promise of yet another cure, he wondered. Would Mesmerism prove any more effective than any of the other thus far useless approaches which promised salvation.

Psychedelics they had cried. The miracle cure for all ailments of the soul.

Not so for his soul, it seemed. Perhaps the wounds were too deep, too old.

Many joined the great and ultimately useless dance to Widdicombe Fair, in search of the sacred mushroom and the great and the good trampled over Uncle Tom Cobley and All to get there.

Endless glowing articles in publications which ought to have known better. Hyperbole from the best research facilities in the land. And of course the capitalists hard on their tail. Billions raised. Psychedelic treatment centers everywhere, some charging enormous sums of money for this pipe dream. A course in ketamine therapy for the bargain price of £6,000.

Those who dared or could afford it, mostly ended up disappointed. Tipped back into blackness when the clinical trials were over and the overly-optimistic papers published.

Heal thyself said Jesus, cura te ipsum. Know thyself, said the ancient Greeks and perhaps, he thought, it was time to heed such messages. Perhaps he was on his own, the magic potion he sought a mere conjurer’s illusion, an alchemist’s failed experiment.

And so he turned to meditation. A retreat into silence. After all, the wise men from the East claimed they knew of a way out from suffering for those who would listen. And he sat. And he sat. Sometimes he would wake a couple of hours later and found he had nodded off. Occasionally he would have lucid waking dreams.

But dawn was never seen. Cracks of light occasionally appeared in the jet blackness of his moods; but it remained night and very, very dark. During such endless absence of joy, the overwhelming desire is to exit. To take that final, irreversible step can seem tempting indeed when one has lived a long life, mostly in deep darkness.

Abstaining for a while from thoughts of what he macabrely termed the “final solution”, he took up again, after a long absence, with a latter day disciple of Franz Messmer.

A kindly, intelligent and earnest practitioner, he thought of himself as a priest in secular clothing. For 40 years he had sought to cure souls by means of self persuasion no less. Brought up a Catholic in a rough urban area, he had fought his way to the top against considerable odds and became a healer.

It is called hypnosis these days and it is said that all hypnosis is self hypnosis. And so this priest would teach, to all who would listen, the art of self hypnosis. A self imposed consent state, where the giving of repeated suggestion is said to be capable of over-writing the destructive scripts which become entrenched in the minds of the wretched.

Much to his surprise, he found rapid descent into trance a relatively easy achievement. And the deepening of that trance equally feasible. He found himself in a state similar to that which would usually have taken a least an hour of unguided meditation.

The uninitiated would doubtless scoff at such an endeavor, but those who persevere and allow themselves to believe and want such states, will find them readily obtainable.

And then comes the use of imagery and suggestion, the imagining (if you like) of the way you would like your life to be. A symbolic word and a meaningful image brings into the mind, during these highly suggestable states, aims and wishes carefully considered and drafted in states of normal waking consciousness.

Ever a seeker at the doors of perception, long a petitioner begging entrance to other worlds, he found the process altogether satisfactory. While in such states at least, the sun rose and the darkness receded. Sometimes he would find himself in his own past, in a long forgotten room of his childhood. At other times a more fanciful scene would appear – dreams perhaps of strange lands of the past or the future. Occasionally, existence itself seemed to disappear until, sometime later, consciousness would be regained and he would feel puzzled at his apparent absence.

And so where did he find himself weeks later? In darkness still, or some better lit land. He had ever sought and was still seeking. God perhaps. Some realm where the cruel banalities of human existence had no place. Where original sin had never happened and where fear and want were unheard of.

With profound gratitude he was aware of the pink glow of rosy fingered dawn. But night follows day in the never ending cycles of the physical world. Need the mind also be ruled by such eternal, destructive cycles he wondered. He hoped that such need not be the case.


  1. I took a course in transcendental meditation a few years back, which for me focused on a type of hypnosis, reiteration of “your” key word during periods of meditation and contemplation. I found it wasn’t for me (although truth be known, I was all over the place at the time – geographically and metaphysically, and my recurring tendency [as you probably know by now] to go chase after a new shiny thing after losing interest and dedication of the current thing that consumes all of my attention!).

    Hope this works out for you, does sound very promising.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is promising, I believe. Like you, I have tried god knows what over the years and nothing much has “worked” as I had hoped. I tried hypnosis many ears ago with this same practitioner but this time round I believe I am more accepting and philosophical about the whole thing. And far more determined to live my life in accordance with such principals as I believe in now more than ever. You know the sort of stuff – written about for eons by every right thinking religion under the sun. I know all too well about chasing the new shiny things – a mistake I have made so many times. Perhaps at last I am on a better path. here’s hoping! All best wishes, A

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “But night follows day in the never ending cycles of the physical world.”
    If this was true, we’d all be okay. But if one reads C.S.Lewis’s “Great Divorce,” there is coming a night that will not end for some, as others enter into an eternal Day where Yahweh is the Light and Jesus sits on His throne.
    The invitation to live in the light is both the most inclusive thing of all; at the same time, it is the most exclusive thing of all.
    ANYONE can come. But ONLY those who choose to will be allowed.
    And we only have this life in which to choose.
    ❤️& 🙏, c.a.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have never touched the wounds, never seen the risen Christ. I await the Parousia. I have a strong inclination to believe in the divine but have never followed the canons of the church (of Rome, Byzantium or anywhere else). I guess I am my own man, a heretic in conventional terms. I love the works of CS Lewis and have been deeply affected all my life by the Chronicles of Narnia. I view them as deeply valid metaphor. I long to enter the Wardrobe. I do my very best to “live in the light” these days. To practice Right Thought, Right Actions. In the words of Thomas Merton and so many others, I see many paths to the top of the mountain. Best regards, A

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I, too, have never touched His wounds nor seen Him beyond a dream. But His promise to Thomas rings true, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
        See my last two blogs for more on this theme, my friend.🙂, ❤️&🙏, c.a.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I did a course in self-hypnosis many years ago. I used self-hypnosis for a number of years for specific things like pain control with random success. Sometimes worked astonishingly well, other times not at all. I put it down to having a very sceptical mind. So when I told myself a “hypnotic suggestion” a little voice would be saying “Not going to work”.

    But I did find that I could use the hypnotic trance to go into essentially a self-guided meditation journey and still use it from time to time to essentially have a shamanic journey into an altered state. Like you, I still find myself in a dark and difficult mood/place sometimes. There are no magic bullets, and I find it difficult to use any of these techniques to pull myself out by my bootstraps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, you are quite right on the magic bullet Colin. I have battled with blackness for my entire life and it does not become any easier. I hear what you say about the shamanic journey – I do exactly the same. The advantage (as against “simple” meditation) for me at least is the swiftness of a hypnotic induction – its almost instant in my case. I too started hypnosis many years ago and then rather lost the plot. Again because like you, the voice of doubt crept in and my natural skepticism took over. 10 or 15 years ago I bought all the books and tapes and did all the practice after many sessions with my secular priest. I always wanted to touch the wounds, have incontrovertible proof that I could eliminate pain, become happy, whatever. I am taking it much more seriously this time, but also perhaps in a more relaxed and believing fashion – I guess it is, after all, a consent state and this time round I’m determined to “consent”. Assuming that my problems are not purely physiological (and I don’t think they are) then I guess they are as a result of childhood and early adult programming. That being the case, I am living my life on false assumptions and wonky programming – and my conscious mind knows that most of my fears are illusory. I have little to complain about and in most respects I have been not entirely unsuccessful, despite the blackness. So perhaps I can be “re-programmed”, perhaps I can drop the endless fear and negativity. In any event, I am determined to try and these days seem to have managed to drop the skepticism. I will keep you in touch! Best wishes, A


  4. This is splendid news, Anthony! As soon as I began reading, I had this strong intuition that hypnosis is a great fit for the way your mind naturally works. You are very imaginitive and enjoy journeying through your mental landscapes, so this method should allow you to use that natural inclination for your healing and deeply rooted happiness. Winds will blow and branches will bend, but you will remain anchored, solid as the oak. Bless you, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful response – thank you so much John. I do so very much hope this approach might help. I fear it is such a difficult world out there I am retreating ever more into an internal landscape. At least as far as human affairs go. My mentor in London has undergone serious surgery with only hypno – anaesthetism, so if you can train your mind to do that, a change of thoughts and emotions should hopefully prove almost trivial. Well, possible at least. Once again thank you for your kindness and good wishes. A

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When it comes to “exit” versus Reality Anthony, there is ONLY ONE stumbling block in fufilling your real destiny as the Seeker you are.

    The block is this human construct called Anthony Garner.

    You are destined for far greater things than Anthony Garner will ever achieve on its own, if my experiences are true

    When the shadow of Reality presently named Anthony Garner is fufilled nothing will ever be the same. Only the same empty shadow of that human condition will last until its use ends naturally and it is disposed of for ever.

    This is my experience, Anthony, for what it’s worth in your present apparently blocked condition.

    All Is Well. We are much loved.

    As ever, Keith.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keith, I would suggest that it would be better to refrain from “reaching out, cautiously” to people whom you imagine are “chosen and driven to seek Ultimate Reality,” (as it says in your Gravatar identity) with words that fairly strongly suggest death is the answer to all their ills, especially to anyone with a history of depression.

      The key word in your comment is “if” – if your experiences are true. If they’re NOT TRUE (and I’d suggest we should all have sufficient humility in these matters), it would make your position dangerous, egotistical nonsense. I will also remind us all that there is a great deal of evidence from scientific studies that mystical views of reality are indeed nonsense.

      These are of two types – the long, careful study of psi phenomena asserted as true by mystics have shown literally ZERO positive (reliable) evidence, causing project after project to close or retreat into more and more ridiculous redefinitions of their postulated realities, and the long, careful study of psychological phenomena that show how error-prone human minds are, how unconsciously biased we are to believe what we want to believe, and how desperate we are to escape the sometimes disappointing realities of life.

      The overwhelming conclusion is that the only condition in which any pleasure can exist for humans is in between birth and death, which is why the enlightened consider it precious and reject death cults.


      1. “… the long, careful study of psi phenomena asserted as true by mystics.”

        ‘Never heard of this or of any mystics who have …

        From your email I deduce you have not had the experience that defines true mystics. Ergo, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Nor will you ever know anything about the phenomena, what scientists have recognised for a long time and refer to as the “ineffable” experience.



      2. Keith, I have experienced states just like those in your unremarkable book. I was taken in by them for a while and had a massive ego about how mystically enlightened I was. Then I did more research.

        But it doesn’t matter what you think of me. Your post seems to encourage people (Anthony and any other readers) to believe that their life is expendable. Did I misunderstand that? It seems from your reply that I didn’t.

        Do you actually claim that human life is expendable? Do you want people to kill themselves, “dispose” of the “empty shadow of their human condition”? Or do you just not care if they live or die? Because all is well?

        You describe yourself in your book as a quietist, and then define quietism as: “A requirement to withdraw from all human effort and practice passive contemplation of Reality.” Try that (or better still, learn to doubt your subjective experiences and do some proper scientific study of the subject). I don’t care, just stop being a danger to people.

        Take care,


  6. I believe that unknown unknowns greatly (perhaps almost infinitely) exceed known knowns. I admire scientific achievement but believe that we are as fish in a bowl and may never be able to see outside our universe. Or even to the fullest reaches of the inside.

    I have always had a great affinity to Teilhard de Chardin and the concept of the Omega Point. Electric lights and the telephone would once have been deemed impossible magic. The concept of god or reality should be widened out and not restricted to the (frankly) ridiculous dogma of many of the world’s religious thought experiments.

    I see no conflict between mysticism in a very broad sense and science. It can only be a belief of course, my belief, but eventually, like de Chardin, I see sentience approaching the level of what we would now call “god” or at least something with godlike powers.

    Am I talking of Spinoza’s god? Very probably. I certainly do not refer to the Abrahamic version but the Buddhist sense of an infinitely fecund emptiness gets me much closer.

    Is god a number, an algorithm? Perhaps.

    Personally, I shall never cease to wonder at the universe and to hope for better things.


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