I was invited by our old neighbor to a pagan group meeting tonight at The Pointed Hat to attend a discussion about what "dark" can mean when applied to the wheel of the year or paganism in general. Nothing is ever so cut-and-dry as dark and light, so of course there is enough to speak about for days on end -- that is the beauty of it!
I know that most people will think of darkness as evil. For whatever reason, throughout history 'dark' in terms of witchcraft has been equated to 'evil' witchcraft. But that's not always the case. (As I mentioned, not everything is that cut-and-dry.) But black candles, for just a really small example, are of banishment. You light one, presuming that would be your course of action, for a spell to be rid of something -- generally negativity. In the same respect, the dark stone Obsidian is commonly used to absorb negativity out of the environment where it is present.
Maybe think in terms of yin and yang -- there is darkness in light and light in darkness. Stars shine only when there is darkness. Shadows occur only if light is present. There is a balance in such duality. There are, of course, those who would do evil things and that is certainly considered 'dark' by most looking in on the situation. Then there are those who live by the phrase "love and light," and people would assume that they lead a 'good' life.
Sometimes spells that could be considered "good" can be cast with the wrong intentions or without permission. Sometimes dark magic is used for protecting good people when there is no other way. Such is life. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes bad people have extraordinarily good luck. Some people believe in Karma. Even in literature, you may find a line like "there was a darkness in his eyes" and it automatically signals a bad connotation.
So how does any of that relate to what path you're on? How does darkness work into witchcraft and paganism? The answer is way too vast for closed minds. There are far too many opinions to cover in just one blog post, I'll say as well. The majority of what is right and wrong is your own way. Is it "an it harm none, do what ye will" Or "an it harm none, do as ye must?"
For me, it is the latter. I love living, that is for certain. I strive for peace and I love honestly. Bad things happen to me, just as they do to anyone else, and I move through the darkness. I try not to dwell. But that doesn't mean I would never protect myself or someone who asked of it against another human being. It doesn't mean that I will never get mad or use the word "hate" and mean it. The point I make is that you let go in order to move through darkness. Dark, in this sense, is needed in order to show you how strong or how brave you really are or can be.
Remember as you pave your path that not everything is as simple as it may seem. And nobody will ever physically embody their entire soul -- people need chances. Ideas need to be discussed. Things need to be looked at from different angles. I read a quote once that is entirely relevant here to begin thinking about this discussion: “Re-examine all that you have been told... dismiss that which insults your soul.” -- Walt Whitman