It’s really important that we have this one straight. This is a topic that gets twisted and misconstrued and used for other purposes all the time. We hear iterations of it from leaders of organised religion right down to the junior classroom.
It’s communicated as bad, as nasty, as immoral, as evil, as dirty, as wrong, as shameful, as irredeemable. But what actually is the Shadow?
Let’s start with what the shadow is NOT
The shadow is not bad.
It’s not any of those words mentioned above and if you read no further in this piece I feel better having shared that fact.
The shadow is not the part of us that we need to kill or banish or hide or push to the darkest corner of ourselves and hope nobody sees. And this is where we get bogged down as unawakened individuals. The external world or the matrix or maya, whatever you know it as, it reinforces the idea of shame and otherness and immorality on that which it cannot control. It pushes and pushes these ideas. It gets men in uniform to stand in front of congregations to preach it and it seeps into popular culture until we are policing eachother. All to maintain maya (the illusion).
Everything that is considered ‘shadow’ has been driven there by this society we exist in. The world so bent on capitalistic patriarchy has driven the light from common human experiences to keep up living in fear and shame.
The fearful and shamed are easy to keep control of and they’re very easy to sell to.
So … what is the shadow?
The shadow differs a little from person to person. We all have our own unique flavour of shadowy goodness. But the themes are consistent across the board.
Ego. Sexuality. Authenticity. Guilt. Fear. Trauma.
These big, bold elements of life so, so often end up in the shadowy recesses because the world has forgotten how to uplift them in the light. And when things get banished to the shadow, they get repressed. Repression will always lead to festering and that is where things get murky.
The ego, that thing that is designed to keep us safe, begins to rule the individual like a parasite. The further into shadow it is pushed the more authoritarian it becomes. It flares at every perceived questioning of a label it ascribes to – you’ve seen people get real heated about coffee bean choice or music taste? Ego unleashed.
Our sexuality is one of the most beautiful aspects of human existence. There is such power in sensuality, individual and partnered sexual union. Ah but us commoners can’t be running around with all that divine connection in our pocket. We might upset the hierarchy. Better shame it into hiding! And repressed sexuality does not lead anywhere good.
I mean, for fuck sake, that living authentically has been shoved into the shadows tells you what you need to know about the matrix that does the pushing. But yes, speaking our truth is a pleasure that so many miss out on because we’ve been fed the idea that how we are naturally isn’t palatable. This is widely spoken about and advocated for on all fronts but we seem no closer to bringing true light to this collective forced repression.
Guilt when thrown to the shadows becomes shame. And shame does such damage to us. Guilt is when we feel badly about our action. Shame is when we feel badly about ourselves because of an action. It’s ‘Oh no I forgot about that, let me create a reminder so this doesn’t happen again’ va ‘I’m so fucking stupid, I forgot to do X. Why did they even ask me, there’s no way I’m up to this task’. And baby, that shame roots deep.
Fear is a natural impulse. It is literally designed to keep us alive. Yet we’ve been led to believe that fear is weakness. That it is to be laughed at. ‘Man up’, ‘don’t be so silly’. And when it’s pushed to that shadow place something very interesting happens to fear. It can be used. We are living in a time of fear made manifest. Fear of the other. Fear of poverty. Fear of lost power. A natural instinct hijacked by the matrix.
I’ve not yet met a person who hasn’t experienced trauma in their life on this plane. I don’t quantify trauma. I don’t put it on a scale. Trauma is trauma to the body and the mind, the ‘level’ is not helpful. So, yet again, we have this universal experience that we’ve hid behind closed doors! And hidden trauma adopts shame really quickly.
This is in no way an exhaustive list. The things we banish to our shadow are personal and influenced by what we experience through our journey. But you get the idea, right?
Welcome the shadow
Did you see the consistency above? All the things being shoved into darkness are universal elements of the human condition and they’re definitely not things we should be feeling bad or shameful or guilty for, right? It’s in the hiding that the toxicity develops.
So what can we do with all these elements of our Self? Because your ego and your feelings towards authenticity and your shame is you just as much as your favoured traits. We are one being, we just like to fragment to make ourselves feel better.
We’ve got to begin to slowly draw back the curtain. Let the light creep into those shadow spaces. We’ve got to let enough brightness in so that we can see whats hiding back there. And when we can make things out we need to shower them in compassion and love. Because only through love is shame diminished. And we’ve been lacking in collective love for a long time.
Putting the pieces of your Self back into a whole is a revolutionary act. It’s a direct assault on the external world. It’s a fucking wild and brutal thing to do. The more whole we are the more authentically we can love and uplift and serve. And slowly, we’d move towards welcoming a generation where there is no enforced shadow. It’s just all love, baby.