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The Sacred Darkness
"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty."
This trope is the logical conclusion of Dark Is Not Evil
. It usually manifests in the powers of The Dark Side
being treated as equal compared to the powers of light, coming with the same acknowledgement and worship that people offer to the Light. It may still be treated with suspicion or fear by the common people, however, since this trope does not exclude Dark Is Evil
Usually, this kind of darkness takes the form of a "pure" darkness as opposed to the "corrupted" darkness that is typically used by villains. The philosophical interpretation behind this is acknowledged that light and darkness can and must exist only simultaneously. Darkness can still be associated with aspects such as death, but expect this to be treated in a positive way, such as death being an important part of the cycle of rebirth, being natural and therefore necessary for the world.
Also, a dark god may simply be doing an unpopular, but still very important job, rather than being a villain. This kind of darkness may not be nice, or comfortable, or maybe it is even outright terrifying, but it nonetheless radiates a dignity that cannot be denied and, like it or not, you know that the world would be worse off without it.
"Pure" darkness powers can often easily be distinguished from their "corrupted" counterparts. A One-Hit Kill
spell by a villain using corrupt darkness will likely involve a lot of pain, mutilation, or brutality; A pure darkness spell of that kind, on the other hand, might result in something resembling a peaceful sleep or simply just dropping dead. Pure darkness powers tend to avert the more obviously negative aspects of darker powers such as Mind Rape
and instead tend to be more spectacular and flashy, or involve beautiful stuff, like conjuring up the star-filled night sky, or awesome stuff like summoning a black raven or other creature associated with the night. For instance, if a hero's signature move is a combo attack where he cloaks his blade in light magic, a "pure" darkness counterpart to that move would simply involve cloaking the blade in shadow
Despite this, it may still carry some of the usual problems of dark powers, such as the Noble Demon
spirits empowering the Sword of Plot Advancement
deciding that their user is not worthy enough to use them
, or simply the usual problem of prolonged exposure to the darkness being dangerous to the mind. Note that "sacred" does not have to equal "good." More often, these characters embody a morally neutral concept or ideal. On rare occasions, villains can use The Sacred Darkness, but usually this only works when they are opposing another villain who is using the corrupted variant in an A Lighter Shade of Black
Can also be interpreted as necessary and holy when it's part of a Yin-Yang Bomb
. In a similar vein, the pure/corrupt interpretation can be done for Light in a Light Is Not Good
scenario, such as a "corrupt" light spell that gives the enemy radiation poisoning.
Note that this trope is not just Dark Is Not Evil
. The usual variant of said trope is that a good person is using dark powers despite their villainous and problematic ways for the sake of good. That is not really this trope. This trope is about some kind of darkness that exists in a form where you can reasonably justify its existence for the good of the world or when darkness is treated in some way as equally holy or good as Light would be treated. Generally, if your hero can make a "World of Cardboard" Speech
or Rousing Speech
involving the virtues of their particular brand of darkness, it qualifies.
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Anime And Manga
- Digimon Frontier: Kouichi embodies this and also nicely illustrates the change between "corrupted" and "pure" darkness; he starts out Brainwashed and Crazy using a twisted set of Darkness spirits - the creepy, borderline-Eldritch Abominations Duskmon and Velgemon - and upon undergoing a Heel-Face Turn, the spirits are purified into the Black Knights Löwemon and KaiserLeomon, the embodiments of the sanctity of the element of darkness.
- Given that it turns his eyes from the more aggressive red into an honest green and gives him wings, one might argue that Beelzemon of Digimon Tamers - who is in the broader canon one of the Seven Great Demon Lords - goes through a "dark purification" as well when he obtains Blast Mode. Similarly, his Digimon Xros Wars incarnation (which is very similar to Blast Mode) is an outright holy warrior, being reborn into that form using a mask of the goddess he once served, and is one of the noblest and most loyal characters in the series; whenever he DigiXrosses with Shoutmon, the end of the sequence plays a brief high note of a Cherubic Choir.
- Kara no Kyoukai: Ryougi Shiki uses the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, a very rare and unique power that allows her to see the inherent death of all things. Essentially, this makes her the human personification of the Grim Reaper. Nonetheless, she is good enough to serve as a hero for this story and to get an almost holy-sounding Theme Music Power-Up. It helps that she's essentially the goddess of the void.
- Hayate Yagami of the Lyrical Nanoha franchise holds the title "Queen of the Night Sky" and is the heiress to the Book of Darkness' power, as well as the only mage in canon who can use elemental Darkness to power her spells. However, she is also the Big Good and nobody minds her darkness much, neither magical, nor inner.
- In Nanoha A's, there is even the "pure-corrupted" dichotomy: the old Book of Darkness (or rather, parts of it) is "corrupted", while Hayate herself and Reinforce (the Book after being reprogrammed and cleansed by Hayate) are "pure" Darkness. It is strongly implied that the Book itself was "pure" Darkness upon its first creation but it got worse along the way.
- More specifically. It was originally called "the Tome of the Night Sky", and was simply a repository of magical knowledge. Being such a thing, various douchenozzles over time took to obtaining that knowledge for the usual reasons evil people would seek it. Their manipulations, across time, resulted in the Book becoming corrupt.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the Gentle Darkness not only is a force for good, it's what actually created everything in the first place. This isn't commonly known information, but it's true nevertheless.
- It becomes a plot point in the final season. Since this darkness is a raw potential that can moulded by people's hearts, humanity's perception that Dark Is Evil gives birth to the final Big Bad.
- Sailor Moon: Both Sailor Saturn and Sailor Pluto possess a heroic destiny as senshi, even though Saturn's element is Destruction (and Birth). While Pluto's domain is primarily Space-time, she still has an obvious Darkness-theme going on, in that she is also called 'The Guardian of the Underworld' and her very first attack the Dead Scream. Also present in their aura colours (deep purple and black respectively in manga), and uniform colours, with Saturn being shown with deep purple with bronze/dark maroon bows, and Pluto being black with veeeery dark red bows.
- The rennaissance Spanish poem "The Dark Night of the Soul" (La noche oscura del alma) by the mystic Spanish poet and saint, Juan de la Cruz, uses the metaphor of night, as a cherished time during which a lover may meet his beloved in secret, as an allegory for the soul finding unity with God.
- O guiding dark of night!/ O dark of night more darling than the dawn!/ O night that can unite / A lover and beloved one,
- Chronicles of the Emerged World: One of the Eight Lands is the Land of Nights, which is covered in eternal darkness. Nevertheless, the darkness is also one of the eight sacred elements needed for the Talisman of Power, and the spirit of darkness is the kindest and most helpful. By contrast, the Light spirit Glael comes across as a Psychopathic Man Child who's willing to resort to Demonic Possession to end his solitude.
- Toyed with in Book 7 of The Dresden Files, Dead Beat, in which Kumori claims that Necromantic magic (Always Chaotic Evil) can be turned to good purposes (such as when she brings a recently dead man back for long enough for the paramedics to save him), as ordinary magic can be turned to evil, her reasoning being that if death is defeated, the genii of history could live for ever. Harry considers this for a moment, then points out how close this is to Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
- Explored in the Dragonlance novels, pertaining to the different mage orders of White, Red, and Black. At least one character wonders why the "good" mages allow the Black Robes to exist in their order, and it's explained that darkness has its own purpose and that there must always be a balance; tipping the scales either way leads to catastrophe, and in fact, the Cataclysm that devastated Krynn was caused by the Kingpriest trying to tip the scales towards the side of "light"; the same applies to priests, since the evil gods need worship just as much as the good gods. Also explored by Crysania in "Time of the Twins" in the same series, when she muses that fear of the darkness is childish and stupid, and that lighting candle after candle to keep the darkness at bay only results in a house burning down because people can't understand that the darkness has a purpose.
- The Dwarfs of the Discworld, being belowground-dwellers, have many values opposite to those of humans. One of them is that they consider darkness sacred, and their equivalent of priests keep themselves in it whenever possible, many shunning daylight altogether and believing it to be blasphemy. They recognize different kinds of darkness—including malevolent kinds like the Summoning Dark—but generally think of it as a good thing; one dwarf priest uses the metaphor that the eyes grow wider in darkness, but shrink in light. For example, their creation myth:
"The first Brother walked toward the light, and stood under the open sky. Thus he became too tall. He was the first Man. He found no Laws, and he was enlightened. The second Brother walked toward the darkness, and stood under a roof of stone. Thus he achieved the correct height. He was the first Dwarf. He found the Laws Tak
had written, and he was endarkened."
- Taken to the extreme in the Black Jewels Trilogy and subsequent books. In-world, the Darkness is the source of the characters' power, receives the characters' prayers, and inhabits the Abyss. As an extension of darkness being one of the most positive traits, possessing a darker Jewel confers a higher position in the society's hierarchy.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Tom Bombadil (the oldest being in Middle-earth) mentions that he "knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless—before the Dark Lord came from Outside". The association of the starry sky with Elves and the Elder Days ensure this trope is always in play in Tolkien's works, even though Morgoth and Sauron are textbook examples of Dark Is Evil: this is an example of the "uncorrupted darkness" idea.
- Also part of Tolkien's universe: when the sun and moon were created, one of the demigods, Este, whose domain is sleep and rest, asked that the sun not always illuminate the Earth, and that there be a period of darkness every day so that creatures could sleep. Este's gift of darkness is meant to be a daily refuge during which we can heal our wounds, cure our illnesses and ease our difficult emotions.
- Tolkien in general seemed to have an affinity for "Sacred Darkness": Varda, the one among the Valar who Morgoth hates and fears the most, is the mistress of starlight and night, not sunlight and day. Likewise the Elves are always associated with nighttime and soft light to the point that they are even said to experience sunlight as too bright and harsh. They are even mentioned as being somehow more beautiful under moon/starlight and the association goes so far that Samwise is surprised at how Lothlórien is the most "Elvish" place he has ever seen, despite the brilliant, golden light that lives in the forest.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Faith of the Seven believes the new gods to be the seven faces of a single benevolent deity, one of which represents death and the unknown. Meanwhile, a competing religion regards R'hllor as the one true god of life, light and flames, but also of the shadows they cast, which are contrasted with the shapeless darkness of his enemy the Great Other. Judging from the shadows, this might in fact be Evil Versus Oblivion.
- The Old Gods appear to feature this theme, too. When Bran Stark discovers the truth behind them, his mentor teaches him not to be afraid of darkness, lives in a dark cave and controls ravens, traditionally ominous birds.
- In The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, practitioners of the Zen/Taoist flavoured religion of Karhide say 'Praised be to darkness and creation unfinished', to express appreciation that there remains scope for growth, change and discovery. Or something.
- The The House of Night series uses this trope extensively. The titular House is a beloved, sheltering Extranormal Institute, and the protagonists are all nocturnal vampyres note . The vampyres' main goddess, Nyx, combines this trope with Light Is Good; she is most frequently associated with shadows and night, but comments that others worship her as Dawn.
Religion, Mythology and Folklore
- This trope was also true for several religions, such as various myths about the Moon. Gods of death, the afterlife, etc. also occasionally qualify.
- One of the theories for Stonehenge is that it was built to show that the moon was "higher" (more holy) than the sun: once every few decades or so, both the sun and the moon will pass through one of Stonehenge's windows (or at least, the windows Stonehenge used to have), but the moon will pass through the window above the sun's window.
- In Greek myth Thanatos was a child of the night goddess, Nyx, and was the personification of death. Rather than being evil, however, many myths associate the god with a gentle, non-violent death, such as passing while asleep.
- Similarly, the only deities directly associated with darkness, like Nyx and Erebus, are not considered evil. They're just kind of there.
- The worst of the lot is Nemesis, the Goddess of Just Retribution, her job being taking away undeserved happiness and punishing excessive pride and evil deeds. Meaning that if you met her on the job she would give you a punishment, and often a crushing or sadistic one, but also that you literally asked for it..
- The Christian God is associated with... well, everything, but He gets compared to shade and rest just as much as light and holy fire - case in point, He keeps his people in "the shadow of His wing" for protection. By contrast, Satan AKA Lucifer is the "Light Bringer" and the "Bright Morning Star".
- Actually referenced in a Biblical verse, Psalm 139:12-14. "The darkness and light are both alike. I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
- For desert-dwellers, shade and shadow are wonderful things. In the Hebrew Bible, references to "shadow" are often positive. During the Exodus, for example, God provides a cloud to shade the people from the sun each day.
- The Yin half in the Yin and Yang. It represents the female principle, water, cold and darkness (it literally means "shady side"), and alongside the Yang, that represents the male principle, fire, warmth and light, it is not only necessary for life and existence, but also both forces are complementary rather than opposing. It is arguably more benevolent than the Yang: Yin symbolizes calmness and peacefulness, while Yang is harshness and aggressiveness.
- In Neopagan circles, Spirit/Akasha is the "highest" element, being the cosmic glue that unites all living things and the other elements. It is also frequently described as basically darkness, being defined by emptiness, the cosmos, and represented often in either black or purple. Which is very ironic, as Aether in Greek Mythology (the basis for the modern notion of Spirit) is pretty much the essence of light.
- In Warhammer, magic is either present in its raw chaotic form, or is refined into eight winds (which can be further refined and weaved together into High Magic); one of said winds provides magic over death, and another over shadows. Both are very distinct from the chaotic magic used by necromancers and worshippers of chaos gods.
- In Magic The Gathering, while Black magic is often focused on unpleasant things like necromancy, corruption, selfishness, and Mind Rape, it is not inherently evil, and also encompasses necessary forces such as death and self-preservation. Not only have some protagonists been pure Black but, like all colours of mana, Black is necessary for planar stability.
- Taken to its logical extreme in the Theros Block, where the gods reside in the realm of Nyx, basically Heaven represented as the nightsky, a paranormal realm also associated with dreams. The non-malevolent Black god also has an important role as the caretaker of the dead, but he's ironically cut off from Nyx: in the Sun-less Underworld, the nightsky is absent.
- R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk supplement Home of the Brave. A religion called Worshippers of the Night considers the night to be a time of rest and spiritual purification. They patrol the streets at night to "protect the night's holiness against the evil that surrounds us."
- In the Mystara setting of Dungeons & Dragons, the Immortal (Immortals being the D&D functional equivalent of AD&D's gods) Nyx was the Entropic Immortal of darkness, night, and the undead. She is also pretty much the only Immortal of Entropy who is not evil, although her goals would be horrifying to most people. Still, Nyx serves as the key reminder that Entropy is as necessary for the existence of the cosmos as are the other four Spheres of Power, and is not inherently evil.
- Believe it or not, the will of the galaxy itself in Boktai (literally known as "Dark") is this. Although its followers, the Immortals, seek to destroy humanity to supplant them with their own race of undead, Dark itself wishes to eliminate humanity to return peace to the galaxy, fearing that humanity will otherwise spread unfettered across the galaxy and ultimately destroy it and themselves.
- Fire Emblem: Several of the holy Infinity+1 Swords used by the Precursor Heroes and eventually obtained by the player are dark magic tomes, but are treated with exactly the same level of reverence and usefulness as the other holy weapons; said weapons are Apocalypse and Gleipnir. The exception here is the Jugdral canon, which plays Dark Is Evil very straight - of the holy weapons of the Twelve Crusaders, none of them are dark magic, and the equivalent dark tome, Loptous, was born of a destructive evil god of the same name and is used by the final boss, a descendent of and possessed by said evil god; however, the "holy" blood of Loptous is charted in exactly the same way as the holy blood of the Crusaders. Nontheless, the holy sword Mistoltin might be an example, as side materials sometimes call it a demonic sword and its destined wielders are always Black Knights.
- Kingdom Hearts skipped into this occasionally. While usually Dark Is Evil and Light Is Good, some parts of the story regarding Riku have felt like this, especially in Chain of Memories, where he's told to accept his darkness and uses it to beat Zexion.
- King Mickey outright tells Xemnas that the Worlds are made of both Light and Darkness, and that "you can't have one without the other."
- Shining Force. The Sword of Darkness, despite being a cursed weapon, might count as this, since it's needed to form the Chaos Breaker.
- Heroes of Might and Magic V has the dark elves, who worship Malassa the Dragon of Darkness, and the necromancers, who worship the "death" aspect of Asha the Dragon of Order. Both ultimately work for the "good" side in the campaign.
- The Umbra Witches in Bayonetta are the counterparts of the Lumen Sages but are not presented as evil as such, even though they get their powers from a Deal with the Devil. The two clans paid each other great respect (before they started waging war to each other, that is) and each one protects one Eye Of The World. These "Eyes" represent Darkness and Light and are both necessary to awaken Jubileus.
- It also helps that neither force is depicted as good either. Characters and texts in-game suggest that both forces have influenced humanity for good and bad, but for most of history have not actually attempted to take a permanent stand. At least, not until the events of the game, when the Angels finally attempt to revive their Creator.
- In Illusion of Gaia, the hero exclusively wields dark powers, while some of the monster he fights used to be human before they were touched by the light of an evil comet.
- In Ocarina of Time, the Sage of Light sends the hero on a quest to awaken the Sages of Forest, Fire, Water, Shadow and Spirit, all forces of good required to defeat the Great King of Evil. This theme is further explored in Twilight Princess, with events such as the Blade of Evil's Bane being blessed by the gods of the Dark World.
- In Luminous Arc, the Twilight Witch is Cecille, formerly of the Luminous Church. Her powers of Darkness counterbalance the Dawn Witch, Lucia's, once it's revealed that the Witches are not evil.
- In Universe at War, the Masari are masters of both Light and Dark. They advocate maintaining a balanced vision above all else and are definitely not evil. Their Light powers give offensive buffs (longer line of sight, extra damage to enemies over time) while their Dark powers boost defenses (increaced speed and Dark Matter Armor, a self-regenerating second health bar).
- The Undead element serves as this in Skylanders. There are references to the undead attacking the living, but some have shown themselves to be friendly; plus the Eternal Undead Source is one of the components of the Core of Light, and the Skylanders themselves include a number of Undead members (even if one is a Token Evil Teammate and people are wary of the dark powers of two others). It should be noted though that while undeath is all right, darkness is still portrayed as evil.
- Occasionally has a minor part in Final Fantasy games. In Final Fantasy III, it is stated that previously the world was saved by Dark Warriors fighting against light. In Final Fantasy IV there are 4 light crystals and 4 dark crystals.
- MARDEK has this as a major plot element. Every element is required for the world to function properly, and even though dark is often evil, it's still necessary, most notably to spur on technological and magical progress. Rohoph is unwilling to accept this, which begins causing problems at the end of Chapter Two.
- In Knights of the Old Republic II, despite being a Humanoid Abomination capable of drawing power from Force-Sensitive individuals and creating Force-Bonds to sway them to their point of view, the Jedi Exile is still nonetheless a Light-Sided Jedi.
- Tenebrae in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is the Centurion of darkness. He feels most at home in the Shadow Temple, though he finds the darkness in the Earth Temple to be unsettling
- The Dark Templar of Starcraft fame are a nomadic people who revere the darkness and Void Psychic Powers, which are derived from the vast expanses between planets. Their favored powers include invisibility, the Flash Step, and huge "warp blades" that can slice through armor, which they use to perform ninja-style infiltrations and assassinations. Despite this, they are far and away more friendly than their light-using High Templar counterparts. They see the shadows as safety from the "prying light" of the Khala, a psionic connection between High Templar that allows instant communication at the price of privacy. They are likewise dedicated to the concept of protection, as shown in their blessing adun toridas: "Adun hide you" or "shelter you".
- In Shin Megami Tensei, the demon Black Maria, based off an interpretation of the Virgin Mary with black skin, is stated in the Compendium to be a holy mother of the dark. Likewise, the demon Alciel, the "Black Sun", of "King of Gehenna" has added commentary in the Compendium saying darkness is a part of rebirth.
- Although not a dark type, Cresselia from Pokémon fits this Trope perfectly; she represents the crescent moon and is part of the Lunar Duo with Darkrai. While Darkrai represents bad dreams and is an example of Dark Is Not Evil, Cresselia is an entity of pleasant dreams and peaceful nights.
- The orc gods of light and darkness in Dominic Deegan are supposed to form a balance of death and rebirth - bad things happen to both when it is disturbed.
- Visions of the dark planet seen by residents of Night Vale may fit here, especially when contrasted with the threat of a Smiling God. Notably, the dark planet was shown to be Cecil's vision of perfection.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has Princess Luna, who is essentially the Physical Goddess of the night. Her sheer frustration at her subjects' failure to understand that Dark Is Not Evil actually turned her evil for a brief period (one thousand years counts as "brief" in divine terms). Her job of making the night fall was so justified in its existence, however, that her sister Celestia, responsible for the sun, took over the job of bringing the night into existence as well after Luna's banishment into the moon. In the present day, Luna has returned and taken to her duties once again (which involves not only dominion over the moon, but tertiary responsibilities like watching over her subjects' dreams). It helps that, according to the backstory, both Celestia and Luna stood up together against Discord, the god of chaos, by wielding the Elements of Harmony.