Posted on November 30, 2012 in Uncategorized
“So, are you willing to be bad?”
The client had been struggling with expressing their authentic angry feelings. That would be “unacceptable – bad.” Not expressing himself was keeping him stuck.
“No, I’m not bad, that’s just not me.”
“If someone were going to murder your family, I bet you could get very aggressive, angry and be very bad!”
“Oh, sure. I guess I could be bad!”
Even the “unacceptable” parts of us, in the right context, have use, power and even beauty. We need to connect with and embrace all parts of ourselves to be whole. When we embrace those parts of us that seem most disagreeable it can transform our hurtful criticism of our selves and others into rich compassion.
Later when I created this necklace using a blend of beds and a beautiful Tibetan pendant I found the message emerged again. Smokey quartz (protection from negativity), pearls (pain’s beauty) and the Buddha (awakening!) Then I found this marvelous article by Aisling Ireland that speaks about the “gold in the shadow”. It all resonated together! Aisling expresses the struggle and the reward of getting to the gold in the dark. What riches await us when we mine our shadow?
The Shadow Archetype & Shadow Gold By Aisling Ireland
The Shadow is not simply the psyche’s dark side. Darkness is contained in the Shadow, but some of those contents actually shimmer gold.
Along with the Anima, the Animus, and the self, the shadow is one of the four primary Jungian archetypes. Assessing the shadow as the personality’s “dark half” is erroneous as its provinces are not black and white, in fact some are actually golden.
Fleeing the Shadow
As the repository of all that the conscious mind rejects, the shadow scares many people. Suppression, denial, refusal to even look at it or acknowledge its existence are all ways in which individuals run from their shadows.
Rather than diminish its activity, however, these actions strengthen and lengthen it and waking life is unconsciously lived inside the shadow.
Seeing the Shadow and Projections of the Shadow Self
It is undeniable that the shadow is composed of some unsavory elements; their seediness is why they are exiled in the unconscious. Individuals rarely recognize their own shadows; seeing the very traits so abhorred inside one’s own psyche is never a pretty sight.
The mind is as capable of producing projected reflections, as the sun is capable of creating shadowy images. Ironically, it is projection what makes the faults of others so blindingly visible.
An example of projection is the miser who, while taking back the dollar tip on a restaurant table, is simultaneously complaining about a sister’s stinginess. The nauseating aspects of others may induce sickness because of their deep resonance within one’s own psyche.
While it is true that the shadow contains some less than desirable elements, not all that is in the shadow is actually undesirable. To quote Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, “In the shadow is the gold.”
Shadow gold refers to those elements of the shadow that are actually quite precious, elements relegated to the shadow due to painful associations, societal judgments, cultural disapproval. etc.
For example, an extremely intuitive child might have a family of origin who saw intuition as evil or demonic. That child might suppress all intuitive urges. The child’s intuitive abilities would still exist, but they would exist in the darkness of the shadow.
Similarly, a gifted musician who suffered abuse at the hands of a music teacher might sequester anything related to music into the confines of the shadow.
Shadow Gold and Fear of Transformation
Digging up elements of shadow gold, such as the recovery of one’s personal power, can lead to life transformation. The transformation of one’s life can be a frightening prospect, since it involves leaving behind a life one knows how to navigate in favor of unknown waters.
A survivor of abuse has learned to cope with life in a certain way; leaving behind the only existence an individual knows, can feel life threatening.
Abuse is at the extreme end of the spectrum of why shadow gold remains in psychic darkness. Dreamers comfortable in comfortably numbed lives will with their lives will often run from anything, no matter how promising or precious, that threatens their deadened existence.
Shadow Gold and Dragons
Shadow gold can be likened to the treasure guarded by dragons in folklore. In such lore, the dragon is not evil, but is actually the protector of something precious and oftentimes vulnerable.
Only the dragon’s fierce energy and frightening image protects the treasure from theft or destruction. The same is true of the shadow. The Shadow keeps the psyche’s gold safe until the self is ready and able to reclaim it.
How the Shadow Manifests in Dreams
In dreams, the shadow often manifests as zombies, or other entities associated with the undead. Chase dreams are also perfect manifestations of the shadow as are dreams of the unseen person or that mysterious, unnamable something stalking the dreamer.…
Ultimately, the only way for the psyche to be a whole self is be the integration and acceptance of all its parts. Self-integration calls for the ending projections by focusing attention inward, thereby illuminating the shadow with the light of the self.
Man and His Symbols by Carl G. Jung; M. L. von Franz; Jolande Jacobi Henderson; and Aniela Jaffe.
The Portable Jung by Carl Jung, edited by Joseph Campbell.
Psyche and Symbol by C.G. Jung.