Sunday, October 5, 2008

Shadow Dance

"Dark Days" by Susan Schanerman

I've been studying human nature for the better part of my life. I guess I have the kind of mind with an insatiable need to understand ... how and why we do what we do ... internal and external influences and how they play a part ...

I received an e-mail yesterday or the day before, from my friend and shamanic counselor Michele Lessirard. While she is an astrologer and likes to explain things from that perspective, she is also a very wise woman and has great insights about all aspects of life. For her, astrology is a tool to understand the cycles of life, both personal 
 and collective. It offers guidance as to how to live proactively, rather than reactively.

She says that cycles spiral in four stages - a time of hope, a time of growth, a time of completion and a time of standstill. As she sees it, we are currently in a time of standstill. What that suggests is that we are being forced to deal with the death of the old structures. It is also a time when the “shadow aspect” of ourselves wants to be acknowledged. 

"Too often we discount the richest part of the journey... the death of the old ways, the death of the old self. The moments of standstill...” – Michelle Lessirard

Carl Jung, perhaps the greatest proponent of the shadow or “shadow aspect” of our personalities, wrote that "everyone carries a shadow." He considered it a part of the unconscious mind that holds our shortcomings, repressed weaknesses and instincts. The shadow is prone to project, and without recognition or acknowledgment, it will form "an ever thicker fog of illusion between the ego and the real world." - - Carl Jung

What I found to be particularly interesting was that Jung believed "in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness--or be perhaps because of this--the shadow is the seat of creativity."

We spend inestimable time and energy in this society suppressing what we deem to be our undesirable qualities (our shadow.) In so doing however, we are actually denying our humanity.

Author Jill Badonsky suggests that "the phrase 'I cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought' and the book/movie The Secret [actually] go against our inherent make-up as people." She goes on to say "...You see what a waste of energy it is to try and stop negative thoughts especially when both the energy we use and the thoughts themselves have so much potential for creativity."

Obviously, we don't want to identify ourselves or act out of our shadow. But observing and acknowledging it non-judgmentally, allows us to embrace our humanity. We've all seen examples of the fine line between madness and creativity. Our shadow can be transformed and even exalted by giving it creative expression.

Giving ourselves permission to be the totality of who we really are is what gives the magic and passion to our lives. You know what the silliest thing is? Each and everyone of us has a shadow aspect - - and yet most people spend the better part of their lives trying to hide, deny or suppress it.

"This it is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster's shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters."--Stephen King


Catherine Behan said...

Wow, wow and wow!

This is especially meaningful after our conversation today.

I hid from my shadow for so long, so ashamed of the habits that seemed to rule me. Through therapy and most recently the fabulous magic of energy clearing, I can finally hear myself giggling at myself instead of nagging!

I am not there yet, mind you, but awareness is the first part of change and I am glad I am awake!!

You rock, Susan, and you inspire deeply.

Even more deeply now that I know you a bit better.

Thanks for sharing your soul!

Flourishing Business said...

So true. It is our imperfections that make us beautiful as people and within our supposed dark instincts therein lies our passion.

When we deny our shadow, we deny our soul.

When we reliquish the need to judge it as "bad", we create more of the light and we set our heart free.