Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today – predicting 6 more weeks of winter….
What about when we see our own Shadow?
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, talked about archetypes and our Shadow, our Dark Side….. defined as the parts of us that we may not want to admit having, the “darker” side….the side that we can project onto others or act upon unless we are aware of it and know how to work with it.
So, I saw my Shadow today as well. As a matter of fact, I have been seeing my Shadow for a while now. It’s not easy to look into the eyes of my Shadow – I have learned in the past to judge it, deny it, push it away. But the Shadow is there, and is, actually, I realize, an important part of me that I need to see, own, and even embrace – as it has things to tell me and things to teach me and things to warn me about.
My Shadow can be impulsive, jealous, afraid, enraged. My Shadow is all the parts of me that I had worked hard to push away or “rise above” in my past. Now, as I enter the later part of my life, I realize (and am still learning) that the Shadow is a vital part of me, a part that I need to acknowledge and understand and embrace – so that we can work together.
Just as the lotus flower needs the mud to grow and bloom from into the light, so we need our Shadow to learn from. We need the rich muddy soil to grow from, to learn from, to bloom from as we reach and strive for the light. We need both the dark and the light. Indeed, we are both dark and light, shadow and spirit, dark impulses and loving impulses. We contain it all – neither one nor the other, neither good nor bad, neither dark or light. We have it all. We are it all.
If we can see this and embrace this, we will be able to own it and work with it rather than acting out from it as we try to deny it and pretend it doesn’t exist in us, but rather only in others, who we then act out against rather than admitting the darkness within each of our own selves.
I am kind, loving, and work to do as much good in this world as I can. But I can also be jealous, possessive, insecure, irrationally (or so it seems) angry, mean-spirited, impulsive ….and more. And I can be abusive, especially to myself.
So this is what I see and this is what I can work with. Sometimes, I even notice, my Shadow rises up to protect me from perceived harm ….seeing it even before I may realize that it is there. It can offer insight, wisdom, understanding into why I may behave in certain ways, and why others may behave in certain ways. It can teach me to become more balanced and whole. It can teach me that accepting all of who I am (which does not mean that I have to act out from my Shadow) will help me better express all of me. It can help me unleash my creativity -which needs freedom from all the rigid and strict rules and regulations in order to be free and come out.
My Shadow is a part of me- and came into being for a purpose. I can deny her (and thus give her more power in that I am not then consciously working with her) or embrace her and learn to integrate all the parts of me into the complex being that I am. To embrace the rich mud and soil and all the nutrients therein so that I can grow and bloom and become all that I can be.
So, I saw my Shadow on this Groundhog Day, and I look forward to more Winter to explore in quiet solitude all that makes me who I am. And to connect with others on this path so that we can all see and hear each other – and maybe even let our Shadows speak with each other, be seen, heard, acknowledged, understood, and…perhaps even…. lovingly accepted.