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Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ordeals

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,404 ratings  ·  119 reviews
Every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference.

Our lives are filled with emotional tunnels: the loss of a loved one or end of a relationship, aging and illness, career disappointments or just an ongoing sense of dissatisfaction with life. Society t
Paperback, 329 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Avery Publishing Group (first published May 3rd 2004)
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4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,404 ratings  ·  119 reviews

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Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone facing major life challenges, spiritual but not religious types
This book got me through one of the toughest periods of my life. I checked it out from the library and after I finished the first chapter, I went to the bookstore for my own copy so I could mark it up as much as I wanted. It is now thoroughly underlined and bookmarked, with notes in the margins, and I've read it twice. It's earned a long-term spot on my nightstand.

Moore doesn't give pat, easy spiritual answers. So much of the modern, spiritually-oriented self-help literature is kind of shallow,
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A very helpful book to read during really hard times in your life. My husband died in January 2014, we were happily married for 34 yrs. and together for 5 yrs. before that. It was very sudden and I didn't know he was sick, though he was facing changes in his life that he didn't bring on himself and he dreaded.

I have found that grief doesn't travel in a straight line, and those who think they know what you are going through don't have a clue. I'm 59, and have friends who still have parents livin
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
"If your only idea is that you're depressed, you will be at the mercy of the depression industry, which will treat you as one among millions, for whom there is only one canonical and approved story. Maybe you're overwhelmed but not depressed. Maybe life has sent you a great challenge, and you need a vast spiritual vision to deal with it." - from the final pages of this book.

After a decade of "rough" years involving deaths of several loved ones, personal illness and other unavoidable darknesses,
May 30, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wendy Brown-Baez
Sep 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I appreciate all of Tomas Moore's books but this one is a reminder of the jewels in the compost. I think it could not be read and appreciated before going through a dark night, nor would I have been able to glean advice from it as I was going through my own dark night. But at the edge of the tunnel, as I once again immerse myself back into ordinary life, it makes a lot of sense and gives me a perspective I didn't have. For one thing he says you can't avoid it and you can't work through it with t ...more
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Abandoning this. Very unfocused. It starts off talking about spirituality and psychology, but soon whole chapters are devoted to more Alternative/New Age topics (i.e. using Tarot cards and talking about the Greek goddess Hekate for entire chapters). Some interesting ideas, but just not my type of book.
Jason , etc.
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
I recently spent a day in a bookstore where I read this and another book in a single sitting. The other book was planned; this one was random. Admittedly, in certain sections it was more of an aggressive skimming than an actual read, but the overall point was gotten and the themes understood and appreciated.

I read a lot of books similar to this one about seven years ago, as well as stacks of psychology and philosophy in an effort to educate myself on the pain I was going through at the time. I
Jul 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
We each have times when life seems bleak and almost unworthy of continuing. Thomas Moore puts this into great perspective and helps one to go on. This book has saved me more than once.
Jan 15, 2018 added it
I found this an excellent book. It helped me feel "better" about being depressed.
Nairy Fstukh
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, jung-read
A must read for anyone going through a dark time. This was an honest and transformative experience. Highly recommend.
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Just as the beauty of nature includes storms, droughts, and geological eruptions, so the beauty of a person includes emotional storminess, dry periods, and occasional explosions. To care for the soul in earnest, you have to learn to appreciate the dark elements as well as the light ones."-Thomas Moore

This is a very comforting book, inspired by the work of Spanish mystic and poet John of the Cross (1541-1597). Moore takes the mystic's Dark Nights of the Soul, which is commonly thought of as depr
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the top three most significant books for me thus far in my summer project. It's definitely not for everyone. But if you're interested in soul work, literature, spirituality, and gaining a deeper reflective sense of self, I recommend it.

"In each case, you can't cheat the process by knowing that it will all turn out right eventually. It may not, in fact, turn out in a way that you would wish for. Your mother may die, your friend may commit suicide, you may lose your job. The new lif
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Moore does it with this book that looks at the spiritual/psychological experience St. John of the Cross called the "dark night of the soul." While Moore begins the book comparing the dark night to the biblical story of Jonah in the whale he draws on a wide variety of spiritual traditions and the works Jung and Hillman to explore how the dark night which he claims is not depression can teach about ourselves. Unlike our culture's attempts at medical quick-fixes ("here take this pill and you ...more
Apr 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I read half of this book and just had to put it down. The author is trying to say that depression can be a teaching tool, it shouldn't be labeled as a pathology, it can teach us things and inspire us... man, have I heard all that before. and I don't buy it. I've been depressed on and off since I was 13. yeah, I've written some interesting poems but believe me, there is nothing divine or soulful or enlightening about this. the author also draws quite a bit on spirituality and that seems like a co ...more
Caroline Minor
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this book, as a matter of fact, as I approached the end, I felt somewhat melancholy. Like a friend was getting up to leave after a life enlightening discussion. This book confirms what I knew all along, and that is our "dark nights" have value. Although the feeling a dark night brings with it isn't a good one it leaves gifts we would not have received if it were not for those nights. One of many quotes I enjoyed is "Clearly love is not about making you happy. It is a form of in ...more
Candace Morris
Aug 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The non-religious religious - and deconstructionists
I have listened to the first three chapters of this book, and just like Care of the Soul - Thomas Moore successfully weaves philosophy, literature, mythology, psychology, and theology into one very simple and effective package. He again reminds us to think of depression and melancholy as gifts to be enjoyed - and to be learned from...not to be CURED by a therapist or ERASED by medication.
Katja Willemsen
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
A thought-provoking book on accepting and embracing the dark and tough side of life and oneself.

Rather than run away from times of grief, loss, pain, failure, Moore suggests that by living them, accepting them, one grows, and becomes stronger, less vulnerable to life's knocks.

"She lived her life with imagination" - my favourite quote in the book
Aug 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
I couldn't get into this one. I found it depressing and unhelpful.
Kathleen Sams
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thomas Moore, who became a psychotherapist after spending 12 years as a Catholic monk, writes about the importance of embracing the dark aspects of life. We should not try to get rid of these dark elements, but should embrace them - allowing "all experiences to have their place. Your job is to be affected by them, letting them do their work on you. You can then see life as a process in which your understanding and will are step by step defeated by the thrust of vitality, by life always wanting t ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most important books I've read in the last few years. I wish I'd read it earlier. Moore frames life's "dark nights" as essential experiences that lead us toward developing and expressing our authentic selves. He acknowledges the seemingly impossible circumstances that people sometimes find themselves in, and proposes how we can respond to those circumstances and embrace the darkness that may be left with us when we make it through.

Moore does differentiate between depression an
Mary Karpel-Jergic
I'm not sure that anyone writes like Thomas Moore; his take on spirituality and soul is a wondrous mix of literature and experience, both personal and professional. What is so compelling about this book is that it offers a framework for thinking differently about life and its sometimes tortuous experiences. Instead of reason and intellect, here is how imagination and emotions can be harnessed in order to both understand and experience life fully even when there doesn't seem to be any purpose or ...more
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
This may have been worth four stars, but I had a hard time getting through it. The ideas that Thomas Moore presents feel useful and fresh, but the subject matter is a little heavy, and the way he treated the subject was very thorough, which was both good and bad, because there were many useful perspectives, but often about cases that didn't feel particularly compelling to me.

Still, this book is full of hope and insight and inspiration, and I would recommend it just in general to almost anybody t
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
My friend brought me this, thinking it was St. Thomas More. Not that she knows the difference.
There's a big difference. Thomas M-o-r-e was a devout Christian. M-o-o-r-e is, well--I'm not really sure. But don't look for Jesus here. This is pop psych at its most repetitive.

Moore seems to be saying that your depression, your pain, your bad situation can be a blessing. Well, it can, but not with Moore's guidance.

I was getting more depressed by the page so I gave it up.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book saw me through a long, slow depression. It was deep and profound enough to pull back the reigns of foggy mindedness and self pitying to allow me to see my life from a higher perspective. Not many people in the world have this gift to give. Thomas Moore has it. I appreciate him and his difficult journey for giving me the substance to see through the drought occupying my spirit. Thank you, Thomas Moore.
Jason M Bopp
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring from Within

Amazing text to find the spark within yourself even in the darkest of times. Thomas Moore has such a depth of knowledge and pulls from literature, spirituality and common social references to provide an alternative view of dark nights and how they can feed the complexity of who we are as humans in this vast world.
Leah Wescott
It took me 7 months of reading and reflecting on application before I wrapped the bow on this. In the meantime I was already buying discounted copies on eBay to distribute to loved ones in need. There is tremendous depth to Moore's work, and work it will be indeed for anyone who intends to fold his words into their life. I look forward to returning to this book routinely.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
The first few chapters were okay, but once he started going on and on about Hekate, and for many pages after, it just become annoying and I couldn't keep going. I also realized that as I read it, my mindset shifted--I no longer believed there was value in suffering, and the entire point of the book is that there is. In fact, the entire book seems to romanticize suffering. I can't.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was wonderful in truly explaining what a “dark night” is. I think the most significant part was the end of the book (which coincided with my own dark night coming to a close). It felt like a little message to me. 5 stars!
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
it was different. Had a couple of profound thoughts that I actually wrote down for future use.
Joe Pickert
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really thought provoking and very helpful for those recovering from a significant life trauma
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Thomas Moore is the author of the bestselling book Care of the Soul, Ageless Soul, and fifteen other books on deepening spirituality and cultivating soul in every aspect of life. He has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, and a psychotherapist, and today he lec
“It is precisely because we resist the darkness in ourselves that we miss the depths of the loveliness, beauty, brilliance, creativity, and joy that lie at our core.” 88 likes
“During the dark night there is no choice but to surrender control, give in to unknowing, and stop and listen to whatever signals of wisdom might come along. It’s a time of enforced retreat and perhaps unwilling withdrawal. The dark night is more than a learning experience; it’s a profound initiation into a realm that nothing in the culture, so preoccupied with external concerns and material success, prepares you for.” 13 likes
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