You and I spoke last week about shadows being “holes in the light” that speak of past actions and their consequences.
We are not the first to make that observation.
The ancient Egyptians believed your shadow was the spent energy coming off you and dying in this world. Your shadow was separate from you but part of you, always there. The reason you could not see your shadow at night is because darkness swallows darkness.
“The spent energy coming off you and dying in this world” sounds a lot like past actions and their consequences, don’t you think?
Psychologist Carl Jung spoke of our shadow as the darkness within each of us. He said,
“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is… forming an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions… In myths the hero is the one who conquers the dragon, not the one who is devoured by it. And yet both have to deal with the same dragon. Also, he is no hero who never met the dragon, or who, if once he saw it, declared afterwards that he saw nothing. Only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the ‘treasure hard to attain’. He alone has a genuine claim to self-confidence, for he has faced the dark ground of ‘self’ and thereby has gained himself… He has arrived at an inner certainty which makes him capable of self-reliance.”
Did you notice that Carl Jung was speaking of past actions and their consequences?
When Peter Pan first meets Wendy, she sews his shadow back on for him. Author J.M. Barrie used the shadow of Peter Pan as a symbol to help us better understand this “boy who would never grow up.” For Peter to be able to fly, Peter cannot have a shadow that binds him to the ground. He cannot have memories of the past. He cannot have memories of his mother.
Victoria Rego writes,
“In a moment of darkness, laying in my bed I suddenly remember Peter accepting his shadow before Wendy was able to sew it back on. It hit me in that moment that this is what we do with trauma. We tuck it away for safe keeping until we are either ready or forced to deal with it. This is how shadow work begins. When we do shadow work, we are learning to become aware of beliefs, ideas, triggers that we have been avoiding, parts of ourselves that we tuck away, so they do not ’cause trouble.’ Acknowledging these aspects of ourselves allows us to heal and find balance within ourselves.”
I believe Carl Jung would have endorsed Victoria Rego’s observation.
Are you ready to talk about history’s most famous shadow?
David, that boy who slew a giant with a sling and then became a great king wrote of this greatest-of-all-shadows 3,000 years ago,
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me…”
Death, that final consequence of all our actions, casts a very great shadow indeed. It is a mountain that looms before us and none can escape it.
But take hope, my friend. That mountain would not cast a shadow in this valley where we walk except there be a bright and happy light on the other side.
Roy H. Williams
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