The Shadow

Earth-in-Outer-Space-600x450[1]The Sun has been in Scorpio these last weeks, a deep, secret, powerful energy.  The New Moon (Sun and Moon together in the sky and in the same sign) on November 11, 2015 was in Scorpio.  So, we have each had an opportunity to look at our deepest, darkest, most secret parts.  This brought to mind three books I read a long time ago dealing with our shadow side.  Following is a rough, outline sketch of the main points in each book.  Taken together they can give you a good feeling for the Shadow.

Freedom, joy, peace, love, your true light – all can manifest in your life more easily when your shadow aspects are brought up from the dark recesses into the light of awareness and accepted and/or released.

So, here goes – I’d like to introduce you to your Shadow.


  1. A Little Book On The Human Shadow, by Robert Bly

The Shadow is the long bag we drag behind us, heavy with the parts of ourselves our parents or community didn’t approve of.

The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.

If any help is going to come to lift me out of my misery, it would come from the dark side of my personality.

We don’t invent things, we just remember.

We spend our life until we’re twenty deciding what parts of ourselves to put into the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again.

When we put a part of ourselves in the bag, it regresses.  It de-evolves toward barbarism.

Every part of our personality that we do not love will become hostile to us.  It may move to a distant place and begin a revolt against us.

The bigger the bag, the less the energy.

We notice that our anger is far in excess of any appropriate response.  We work to justify it.

When we feel diminished in relation to our children, it’s usually because we have given our child to them.  In Europe the children discipline themselves so that the parents can have a good time; in America the parents discipline themselves so the children can have a good time.

The person who has eaten his shadow spreads calmness and shows more grief than anger. . . he is more energetic and more intelligent.

No one should make you feel guilty for not keeping a journal, or creating art, but such activity helps the whole world.

Our psyche gives us a hint of where our shadow lies by picking out people to hate in an irrational way.

Honor the shadow material.  The greatest harm the Christian church has done is to make people mistrust instincts.

Talk to your anger – what do you want from me.  The anger is angry at us for not honoring it.

Shadow energies become destructive when ignored.

Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  The dominant personality in the West tends to be idealistic, compassionate, civilized, orderly, as Dr. Jekyll’s, who is so caring with his parents; the shadow side is deformed, it moves fast, “like a monkey,” is younger than the major personality, has vast sources of energy near it, and no morality at all.  It “feels” rage from centuries of suppression.

Whatever has a tail and lots of hair is in the shadow.

“Evil” permanently places the energy out there, as a part of some powerful being other than ourselves.  Shadow – the energies are inside us.

Idealists are shadow haters.  The shadow has to be lived, too.

When a person divorces, he or she usually sets up a similar life with a different person.


  1. Owning Your Own Shadow, by Robert A. Johnson.

The persona is what we would like to be and how we wish to be seen by the world.

The ego is what we are and know about consciously.

The shadow is the part of us we fail to see or know.

We sort out our God-given characteristics into those that are acceptable to our society and those that have to be put away.

The refused and unacceptable characteristics do not go away; they only collect in the dark corners of our personality.  When they have been hidden long enough, they take on a life of their own – the shadow life.

It often has an energy potential nearly as great as that of our ego.  If it accumulates more energy than our ego, it erupts as an overpowering rage or some indiscretion that slips past us; or we have a depression or an accident that seems to have its own purpose.

Some of the pure gold of our personality is relegated to the shadow because it can find no place in our culture.

To draw the skeletons out of the closet is relatively easy, but to own the gold in the shadow is terrifying.

Sainthood in the original meaning of the word – a full blooded embracing of our own humanity, not a one-sided goodness that has no vitality or life.

We are presently dealing with the accumulation of a whole society that has worshipped this light side and refused the dark.

The tendency to see one’s shadow “out there” in one’s neighbor or in another race or culture is the most dangerous aspect of the modern psyche.

Unless we do conscious work on it, the shadow is almost always projected.

Today whole businesses are devoted to containing our shadows for us.  The movie industry, fashion designs, and novels provide us with easy places to invest our shadow.

Projection is always easier than assimilation.

Parents lay their shadow on their children.

To be in the presence of another’s shadow and not reply is nothing short of genius.

Jung – we can be grateful for our enemies, for their darkness allows us to escape our own.

As the shadow is drawn up into consciousness, it becomes softer, more pliable, more gentle.

This is nothing less than healing the split between heaven and hell.  Lucifer, another name for our shadow.

Hero worshipping is pure shadow; in this case our finest qualities are refused and laid on another.

People are as frightened of their capacity for nobility as of their darkest side.

Ceremonies – you can draw it, sculpt it, write a vivid story about it, dance it, burn something, or bury it – anything that gives expression to that material without doing damage.

Remember a symbolic or ceremonial experience is real and affects one as much as an actual event.

Ceremonies the world over consist mostly of destruction, sacrifice, burning, ritual killing, bloodletting, fasting, sexual abstention.  That is why a true religious ceremony has to contain as much darkness as light.  The Catholic mass – a perfect balance of destruction and creation.

To fall in love is to project the most noble and infinitely valuable part of one’s being onto another human being.

The divinity we see in others is truly there, but we don’t have the right to see it until we have taken away our own projections.

In-love-ness obliterates the humanity of the beloved.  One does a curious kind of insult to another by falling in love with him, for we are really looking at our own projection of God, not at the other person.

The will of God is always singular and if you think there is a choice between any two alternatives you have not yet done your homework.  When the issues are clear, it is absolutely apparent what one should do; there is no choice, for the mind of God is unified and knows no duality.

It helps us move from contradiction – that painful condition where things oppose each other – to the realm of paradox, where we are able to entertain simultaneously two contradictory notions and give them equal dignity.

If I can stay with my conflicting impulses long enough, the two opposing forces will teach each other something and produce an insight that serves them both.  This is not compromise, but a depth of understanding.

The most troublesome pair of opposites to reconcile is love and power.

To own one’s shadow is to prepare the ground for spiritual experience.

Find out what a person fears most and that is where he will develop next.

A mandorla is that almond shaped segment that is made when two circles partly overlap.  The overlap of opposites. Heaven and earth.

Whenever you have a clash of opposites in your being and neither will give way to the other (the bush will not be consumed and the fire will not stop), you can be certain that God is present.

Anyone who thinks he is enlightened certainly is not.

The great individuals in history have only momentary glimpses of wholeness and they, too, return very quickly to the world of ego-shadow confrontation.


  1. The Shadow Effect, by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford and Marianne Williamson

To have a shadow is not to be flawed, but to be complete.

The notion that cosmic evil has been loosed in the world – if this is your explanation for the shadow, the natural solution is religion.

Yet it’s hard to settle whether religion defeats the shadow or actually makes it stronger by arousing strong feelings of sinfulness and guilt.

Jung said that the archetype of the shadow creates a fog of illusion that surrounds the self.  Trapped in this fog, we evade our own darkness, thus giving it more and more power.

The shadow exerts its power by making the darkness seem like the light.

The first step in defeating the shadow is to abandon all notions of defeating it.  As soon as you talk about winning you have lost.  You have been dragged into the duality of good and evil.

Addicts – an extreme example of a common situation: a divided self.  For addicts, the separation between the “good me” and the “bad me” cannot be resolved.

You have only one self.  It is the real you.  It is beyond good and evil.

The shadow loses its power when consciousness stops being divided.  Consciousness sees itself.

When a person has unconscious impulses and drives, they come from the entire history of humankind – the collective unconscious.  It’s about us, not me.

The unconscious has a goal which is to keep us unconscious.

What kind of connections can exist invisibly, without people talking to each other?  A friend of a friend can make you prone to smoking, unhappiness or loneliness.  The statistics are there to prove it, even though you have never met this friend of a friend.

This supports the notion of the One Mind.

The shadow then is a shared project.  Anyone can have a hand in building it.  All you need is the ability to remain unconscious.

The sinner has a future and the saint has a past in which their roles are reversed.

The shadow seeks separation, the divine seeks unity.

What is the Devil?  It’s the mythical shadow, the fallen angel, it was born divine.

Everyone uses projection as a defense to avoid looking inward.  “I can’t admit what I feel, so I’ll imagine that you feel it.”  “I’m OK, but you aren’t.”

None of us need to protect ourselves from a childhood that is long past.

I place high value on sympathy.  If you can look at yourself and say, “It’s all right. I understand.” You are giving yourself permission to be who you are.

The future depends on undoing your past.

The illusion we fall into is thinking that life forces us to choose between good and evil.  In reality there’s a third way, which is to be whole – you can balance the darkness and the light, being a slave to neither.

See your source as a point while your whole world is an expanding circle.  The more you see, understand and experience, the bigger the circle gets.  Yet it is always expanding from the source.

The only ones who conquer the shadow don’t fight it; they transcend it.

Quit labeling, blaming, and judging.  Give up fantasies of showing the world that you are right and others are wrong.  Remember – you are not in the world, the world is in you.

To understand our shadow completely takes a willingness to let go of what we think we know.


I wish you well on your journey into wholeness!


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