“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the Path to [Wholeness] is hard.” (Katha Upanishad)
To begin with, it is wise to realize that because Shadows are self-created from a “fear-based” thought process, they are in Truth, not real. Although they often appear very real, and are capable of wreaking havoc in a person’s life if not understood, these fears, from which shadows are created, can be a source of great awakening as they illuminate areas of our life where growth is required. Therefore, if understood, our Shadow can be transformed from a curse into a wonderful blessing.
One of the most valuable roles our Shadow can play is to be our bridge from Wounded Soul to Wounded Healer. By uncovering our own hidden wounds and bringing them to the Light for healing we are then able to be of service to others. If we repress our shadow sides completely, we then run the danger of continuously projecting our guilt and shame both inwards on ourselves, and outwards onto others. The Shadow here gets a bit tricky, as it isn’t something to be either repressed, or exclusively lived, because in either case the personality still remains unintegrated.
Perhaps what we need to do is enter into a relationship with our Shadow – accept it, familiarize ourselves with it, and then see what it has to teach us. What gifts may be gleaned from it? We can meet it, confront it, honour it, embrace it, release it, then come to a place of peace with it – an immersion into the fullness of our Being.
Elsa Malpas writes, “There is a battle between Light and Dark, each trying to control the other and yet each longing to be with the other. This describes the anxious lovers, caught in the dance of seduction and romance. This is the dance that creates shadows.”
To completely disown our Shadow side will surely lead us down a pathway of guilt, shame and the inability to accept ALL of ourselves. We will be hindered from embracing who we actually are, to pursuing a phantom idea of who we think we should be. By integrating our Shadow side, we are guaranteed to develop new depths of self-awareness, self-honesty and self-acceptance. In fact, these gifts may not be accessible unless we DO integrate this side of ourselves.
I love this little writing by Maria Rainer Rilke that describes it all so simply and completely. “Like the moon, life surely has a side permanently turned away from us which is not its counterpart, but its compliment towards perfection, toward consummation, toward the really sound and full sphere and orb of Being.”
Having done an extensive two-month exploration of my own Shadow this past summer, I discovered that even the understanding and description of what exactly Shadow sides are, tends to be appropriately vague. I probably consumed a dozen different books on the subject, and while the basic theme in each was complementary, the specifics varied somewhat from author to author. This told me that Shadows are unique and quite individual. And they are anything but black and white, which, I suspect, is the way it needs to be.
Along with being a Reiki practitioner, Brad Hercina is currently immersed in a three year Shamanic Practitioner Apprenticeship and excited to launch a men’s support group in Campbell River.