Black Dog: Symptom or Sign?

Week 3 17-01-2014 (catch up post)

This topic is not on the list of prompts for the Pagan Blog Project 2014 posts, but it starts with B and it’s an interesting observance (to me, anyway)

Depression is sometimes referred to as “the Black Dog”, and in my experience, many Pagans have had a brush with this dark canine.

Of the many Pagans I know personally, approximately two-thirds have been diagnosed with depression or a similar mental illness. Of that number, most work with deities, energies, and/or entities usually portrayed as ‘dark’.  Does this mean it’s more likely a Pagan is depressed? Or that depression marks a person as more open-minded spiritually?

Honestly, I don’t know.

I can only comment on my own experiences, and speculate about the wider population.

I often wondered if my diagnosis of Black Dog was connected to me finally recognising my patron deity Hekate (whom I have since realized has been with me for as long as I can accurately recall memories).

My daughter was about 9 months old when a chat with my social worker prompted that fateful doctor’s visit. Like the (now obvious) signs and influence from my patron, I hadn’t recognised the significance of these emotions. As far back as I can remember, I have always had this outlook, these feelings – this desolation in my soul, an affinity for darkness and the macabre. Even after two suicide attempts, I thought it was ‘normal’ to feel this way – I had never felt any different.

I was experiencing a pretty severe Dark Night of the Soul, felt completely lost and useless. The world – and my life – felt like an entirely futile endeavour. I believed  – and still do believe – in reincarnation, so I guess my thoughts were along the lines of “maybe I’ll get a better life next time.” I know it doesn’t make much sense, but then neither does suicide itself.

I tend to believe the reason mentally ill people gravitate towards Paganism and alternate spirituality, is because of the balance. Mental illness causes an imbalance in your life – and Paganism (in my experience, anyway) is largely about maintaining the balance, honouring & acknowledging both the light and the dark, and applying this idea of balance to everything – what we do, what we feel, what’s all around and within us. We are light. We are dark. Light cannot exist without darkness & vice versa, and in working positively with both forces (as a lot of Pagans strive for) we can improve our lives – and ourselves.

**If anyone reading this is feeling depressed, suicidal, out of sorts, or worried about their mental health – or that of another – please PLEASE seek help. Talk to your friends, your family, your doctor.

If you want to remain anonymous, or feel like you can’t talk to anyone you know, try the contacts below (Australian resources)


KIDS HELPLINE 1800 55 1800

LIFELINE 13 11 14