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Dark Night of the Soul - Mary Kay Fosnacht

by Mary Kay Fosnacht

24" x 24" (61 cm square)

Inspired by the poem, Dark Night of the Soul, by St. John of the Cross written in the sixteenth century.

The five overlapping circles represent a person going through the stages of the soul's transformation as described by St. John of the Cross. The central flame is the light that we carry within ourselves and is the only illumination through the darkest passages of our night.

The purple color palette, historically associated with royalty and spirituality, signifies the sacred and the divine. Here, the sacred is reflected in the human and the elements of heavenly and the divine converge.

The ladder ascending in the background represents the ladder of spiritual ascent detailed in St. John's writings. It symbolizes the arduous but ultimately transformative path one must take to reach a higher state of spiritual awareness and union with the divine.

The organza in the foreground is meant to evoke a sense of a misty morning before the dawn. The translucent fabric has an ethereal quality to it and may suggest a veil between the material and spiritual worlds - a threshold to be crossed in the journey toward enlightenment.

Toward the end of the poem, St. John writes, "the fanning of the cedars made a breeze" and is reflected here in the gold streamers.

Dark Night of the Soul

by St. John of the Cross

On a dark night,

Kindled in love with yearnings

–oh, happy chance!–

I went forth without being observed,

My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure,

By the secret ladder, disguised

–oh, happy chance!–

In darkness and in concealment,

My house being now at rest.

In the happy night,

In secret, when none saw me,

Nor I beheld aught,

Without light or guide, save that which burned in my


This light guided me

More surely than the light of noonday

To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me–

A place where none appeared.

Oh, night that guided me,

Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,

Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,

Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Upon my flowery breast,

Kept wholly for himself alone,

There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,

And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

The breeze blew from the turret

As I parted his locks;

With his gentle hand he wounded my neck

And caused all my senses to be suspended.

I remained, lost in oblivion;

My face I reclined on the Beloved.

All ceased and I abandoned myself,

Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.


One of several iterations of streamer and organza placement:

Two layers of organza, one white, one black are tacked down with monofilament thread.

Mary Kay Fosnacht


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