“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.” — Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology
During these highly politicized days, of protests and the ongoing pandemic, the darker side of human nature is very much in evidence. Acts of callous disregard, stubborn ignorance, and violence force us to ask, what is at the root of such behavior. Visible evidence of the Shadow surrounds us. Becoming more conscious of it is how we can heal it. And now is as good time as any to explore this subject, for we have just arrived at the Shadow time of year on the Wisdom Wheel.
We all have our Shadow sides. But Leos carry the Shadow as their Birth Law. Ideally they can teach us more about this topic. Carl Jung was a Leo, Shadow Law person, and he was the one who began to popularize the concept, in Europe in the mid 1890s. Jung also warned of our tendency to project our Shadow sides onto others, unconsciously. We do this because it is so difficult to recognize the suppressed, unsavory truths about the Shadow sides of our personalities. But if we don’t bring our Shadow into the light of our consciousness, it will sabotage even our best efforts.
Jung witnessed this phenomenon, of the Shadow and its projection in Germany during the rise of the Nazis. The psychological defense mechanisms of the Germans triggered their refusal to consider the very real problems of their own inner darkness and Hitler’s. It was easier, and far more politically expedient, to idealize themselves and blame (project) their ills upon others like the Jews and gypsies. Clinical psychologist Mary Trump’s new book Too Much and Never Enough, explains the Shadow’s influences on her uncle, and provides clues to those who cannot see it in him.
Racism is an obvious form of Shadow projection. Those who heap their unresolved anger and prejudice upon others unconsciously refuse to examine their attitudes origins or take responsibility for healing them. The difficult inner work one must do, to outgrow a peer group like the KKK, is hardly going to be rewarded by them.
As we circumnavigate the Wheel of Life, we are offered every kind of opportunity to learn and grow. And we are all given chances to carry the Shadow Law, at ages 12, 39, 66, and 93. To celebrate the Shadow during this, my 66th year, I recently purchased this oil painting by Canadian artist Melissa Burgher. The Raven often represents the Darkness and yet this animal can turn putrid roadkill into nourishment. We could benefit from such transformational abilities. Shadow work confronts our deepest wounds, which are paradoxically the source of our greatest creative powers. Self-knowledge about what we’ve buried in our Shadows is key to our growth and development, as individuals, as well as cultures.
The publishing date is not yet set for the Wisdom Wheel book, but stay tuned for news on that score soon. More writing is getting done, because I cannot (safely) be on the road this summer, selling my memoir and poetry collection as planned. The pandemic has forced me to stay home but writing makes me happy. And so do modest, steady sales. A big shout out to my repeat customers, I’m thrilled to have fans who have bought multiple copies.
On August 4th I’ll facilitate another Rhode Island book club meeting, in Providence. If your book club selects The Importance of Paris, and distance is a challenge, I will attend via Zoom. Contact me for set up. For group discussions, see the list of questions, in the back of the memoir.
Several ongoing Zoom groups are meeting regularly:
Every Saturday morning 10:30 am, Westerly Writing group
Every other Wednesday evening 6pm, Book Writers group
Every Monday evening 7pm, Zoom Lodge
We continue to hold our ceremonies as scheduled. Next one is Sunday August 2nd. Having experimented with allowing a limited number of regular participants to come and do their own rounds, we have now confirmed no harm was done. So we are offering this option to others. The August Lodge is already full but the September 20th ceremony, in honor of Autumn Equinox, still has spaces. Message me for details. See latest updates concerning ceremonies on our HOPE-HOUSE Facebook page.