Preparing for the Journey of the Shadow
Today’s post is a reminder that the work of Samhain is not only about connecting with the Ancestors, but also one of entering into the darker spaces we hold within. This is the work of the Shadow and the way in which this work is achieved varies from tradition to tradition, psychoanalytical practice, beliefs and philosophies and everything that makes us human and spiritual in nature. When we become aware of this aspect of ourself, we are claiming the mantle of walking in both light and dark and recognizing the polarized state of Being that we are. I’ve posted below Part One of a three-part article exploring the shadow I wrote several years ago. We’ll revisit this work later in the month…. Enjoy!
Down the Rabbit Hole – Part One
The Dark Side of the Light
At some point in the journey on our spiritual path we must encounter another aspect of our nature that is often called the “shadow self”. This encounter is an important milestone in keeping us moving forward along our chosen path, and it is at that juncture that we come upon the divergent crossroads that offer choice of either embrace or retreat in this lifetime. Stepping into the center of this space of opening can very much be the type of experience Alice (of “Alice in Wonderland”) had in falling down the rabbit hole. Cramped in some spaces, too large in others and completely disorienting and unplanned for in process. In fact, if we look more deeply at the metaphorical implications of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we could conclude that all of the characters were aspects of Alice in their varying levels of evolved or devolved state. These permutations and subtleties are similar to the varying shades of light and dark experienced when we speak of our light body and our shadow or dark other. On either end of the spectrum we have the most pure essence of what that aspect of our being comprises. However, it is necessary to form alliance with all of the variances and characters of archetype that present in between to act as guides and guardians in order to reach these pure forms.
We all have aspirations of moving into a state of communion with our Higher or Light-filled Self but most do not fully commit to the work that is necessary in engaging with and truly coming to know the necessary polarity of our shadow self. We chase the white rabbit out of curiosity and hopes of finding another truth, and its slips easily from our grasp leading us to a completely different inner landscape full of shadows and illusions. So, how do we purposefully seek out this shadow self? We can begin the process by looking at the psychological components that help to form our expression of self, ego, will and the eventual goal of individualization.
My Shadow-The Other
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” (Carl Jung)
According to Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, there are within the human experience and consciousness several highly specialized archetypes that define the human psychological experience. These archetypes are closely linked to our physical nature and are often brought to the surface through the varied preconditioned responses that we have gathered from our environment of both instinctual and mental learning. These become the patterns that play out in our lives in a continuous thread until some upheaval at either a conscious or sub-conscious level brings out what has lain hidden within our unconscious psyche.
This often plays out in the form of projection; or seeing the negative traits in others we encounter that are actually in resonance to those same qualities within ourselves, albeit latent and for the most part unacknowledged at a conscious level. Within our spiritual landscape this “other” takes the form of our shadow self. We see and respond to this part of our being as being neither of our self nor something we can control. Whether we choose to acknowledge and confront this aspect of ourselves or retreat in fear at the prospect we cannot move beyond what momentum of growth we have established up to that point until we face what is hidden in the recesses of this uncomfortable territory through shadow work.
Read Parts 2 and 3 of this series here:
Let’s begin our work of the shadow with a pathworking. To access the Pathworking:
The Journey of the Shadow Bandcamp