How to Deal with Shadow
The Shaman’s Collective recently published the following article within their recent Newsletter, December 2013. While this article was written for energy medicine practitioners, the words remind us to be aware of our shadow elements, release what no longer serves us, continue our personal healing journey, and unify our thoughts and energy in love versus fear. Happy 2014!
How to Deal with Shadow by The Collective
We have passed winter solstice and find ourselves upon the new year and a very special new moon on January 1st. Both mark a time of reflection and going inward to access our deepest wisdom and our greatest gifts. It is a perfect time to release what no longer serves us and step in to the new of 2014.
Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt
A translation by Anasuya:
Om, realms of the earth, air, and heaven, be with us
May we focus our mind on the radiant quality of the highest source energy
To guide our intellect through the shadow to the brilliance.
As an energy medicine practitioner of light, what is the appropriate response to sorcery? When one is stepping powerfully onto a path, gaining visibility and exposure, others may not always understand. They can sometimes even launch an attack out of their own misunderstanding or particular worldview. What does a shaman of high integrity do when he or she is under psychic attack?
Shadow. Around this time after winter solstice, the darkest time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, and as we head into the New Year; we may feel the urge to hibernate. As we approach a New Year’s New Moon, for those who have the courage, this is a powerful time to go within and seek our own shadow aspects. Astrologers will tell you, at this time, many are being pushed to their edges. This push increases the possibility for stress; when the limbic system is activated, the body and mind can slip easily into survival, defaulting to old ways that are hidden in the shadows.
“Astrology informs, it doesn’t compel. It is simply a road map of possibilities. “1
As keen observers of all possibilities, we want to be aware of the many faces of shadow, including passive aggressive behavior – ours and other’s. As Wisdom Keepers of many medicine traditions, we are held to higher standards because we understand the power of the unseen. It is with great care and conviction that we must continue to delve deeply into our shadow aspects, exploring our own psyche, searching for the wounds still in the veils of shadow. Our unhealed wounds, capable of shape shifting, adept in using the recesses of our mind to hide, are subtle. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels; spiritual evolution is an inward experience. When we ignore our shadow aspects, we may be lulled into a false belief that they are no more. Sloth as well as pride can be dangerous states of mind for a shaman.
The unseen power of the Shadow has been eloquently described in traditions all around the world. Perhaps the most familiar comes from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. In these secret teachings, Jesus is said to have spoken of the destructive power of shadow, as well as its emancipating abilities.
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” 2
We are challenged to go within; it is our responsibility to bring into the light that which is darkest. Ultimately, we must do our personal healing. Shadow is an aspect within each of us, that part of our nature that we would rather not share, because the shadow holds our vulnerabilities. So we close our eyes. Often it is a part that we don’t wish to see, and just as often a part that we can’t see.
“The most common lie is one with which one lies to oneself.”3
Shadow, when activated, can be expressed in many ways, already mentioned, and perhaps the most devious is in passive aggressive behavior. In the language of traditional medicine, activated shadow can manifest as sorcery. According to Dr. Stanley Krippner and Patrick Welch “…present day sorcery appears to adopt the attitude, ‘I do what I want, as long as it furthers my own ends.’”4
This mindset is grounded in survival, not creation. This is in direct opposition to a healer’s creed; as healers we are here to cause no harm. Sorcery is the misuse of information or power even with the best of intentions. This misuse often comes from fear and doubt, and the shaman’s greatest enemy is fear. When we play into fear, we’re feeding the illusion of soul loss. We must choose love and grace over fear, whenever humanly possible.
How do we yield to the energy that is coming toward us and meet it, to deal with it as energy, rather than battling something? We work with the momentum of that energy in order to break the patterning and dissolve it. There will be a yang response to this yin energy of yielding. It is the nature of complementary opposites. Yin/yang, or in the Quechua language, yanantin/masintin.
The specifics of each individual moment will determine the appropriate response to the energy. This is where we go within. This is why we continue our education, to sit with each other, to sit with teachers. So we can ground into our own deepest knowing. Do you have everything within you to handle whatever comes your way?
If we are not honoring the medicine through humility, then the ego gets involved, and we think we are greater than the medicine. But the medicine is greater than us. When we get into ego, the medicine leaves us. Through humility we hold the medicine. Humility keeps us teachable, on a humble path, an authentic path of power.
Humility is the ability to use a higher thought process to evaluate the situation as it is, truthfully and honestly. As medicine carriers we hope that we are humbled by the power of the full moon, the mystery and magic of a night fire, by the abundance of Divine Intelligence, and in the understanding that tribal mentality, with all its gifts, is limiting. As we step into global and unity consciousness, we must carry the understanding that there is plenty for all.
We have to be willing to self-scrutinize by checking our motives. What are my motives? That is how we stay aware of our own sorcery. Sorcery is a by-product of fear. Stay out of fear. Acknowledging it, without judgment, can transform it.
“It would be much more to the point for us to make a serious attempt to recognize our own shadow and its nefarious doings. If we could see our shadow, (the dark side of our nature), we should be immune to any moral and mental infection and insinuation. As matters now stand, we lay ourselves open to every infection, because we are really doing practically the same thing as they.” 5
It’s the doings, not the shadow, that get us into trouble! Energy is energy; it’s what we do with it that matters.
We don’t want to be naïve, so we also have to acknowledge shadow in someone else, but then we must hold them in a higher place. If we don’t acknowledge the shadow in someone else, it can infect us in certain ways. We might not see that shadow in us when it arrives. We might be enabling bad behavior.
If we have hostility toward others, even on the level of irritation, then we must have a sense of lack in ourselves. We can ask ourselves, “What am I afraid of? Who’s medicine am I jealous of? Where is my practice lacking?”
If we resent so and so because they did x, y, and z, we can ask ourselves, “How did it affect me? What could I have done differently?”
There is a difference between complying with a medicine tradition and accepting and claiming a medicine tradition. When we see the shadow, we place it onto the altar and surrender. “Oh, yep, that’s me, too.” Once we have seen it, it loses its power, and we can choose how to respond differently. Honesty gives us freedom from self-deception.
If we’re still here, apparently we have not yet ascended, and we may have some shadow work to do. Let’s honor all the beautiful medicine out there that is trying to grow. Let’s ground ourselves in our own truths with open eyes and a compassionate heart.
~ The Collective
Hear our medicine brother, Slim Chandra-Shekar singing the Gayatri: http://www.restoreyoursoul.com/resources/slims-cd
1 Our medicine sister, Paula Lockwood
2 Pagels, Elaine. Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas. New York: Vintage Books. 2003.
4 Krippner, Stanley and Welch, Patrick. Spiritual Dimensions of Healing.
New York: Irvington Press, Inc. 1992.
5 Jung, Carl G., and von Franz, M.L., Henderson, Joseph L., Jacobi, Jolande, Jaffe, Aniela. Man and his Symbols. New York: Dell Publishing. 1964.
Nelson, Kevin. The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain: A Neurologist’s Search for the God Experience. New York: Dutton. 2011.