I’ve been thinking a lot recently about examining our Shadows. The dark side of our selves that we don’t look at very often. The parts we hide away from others. Those parts of our selves we deny or don’t even realize are there.
Right now we are moving into the dark side of the Wheel of the Year. As we turn toward winter, we turn toward the Shadows. The Darkness.
Seasonally it’s the ideal time to dive into our own, personal dark sides. But, culturally & socially, we’re also clearly at a point where we need to confront our collective Shadows. Society’s dark, Shadow side is definitely emerging. And, the most powerful way to confront those Shadows is to dive deep & really look hard at our own, personal dark side.
“If you want to scare away the vampires,
you simply guide them into the light.”
It would be so easy right now to continue to look at our society in terms of “Us” & “Them”.
You have the “Us” who “voted for Love”. For inclusion. For acceptance. And the “Them” who “voted for hate”. For division & separation. It would be so easy to say all of our problems, all the current ugliness & hate, all of the division in our society, is because of “Them” and “Their” beliefs.
But when I dig deep into my heart I know that it is simply not true: that “They” have only hate in their hearts. I know many people–friends, family, people who are very dear to me–who are part of that “Them”. And I know their hearts are not filled with hate. Their hearts hold love and compassion and acceptance, just like mine.
And I know the flip side is also true. Just because I “voted for Love”, I’m not all Pure Love in my heart. I have dark thoughts. I have my own Shadows. I have petty thoughts and prejudices buried deep in my heart, too. (And isn’t believing that “They” are all really hateful racists also a prejudice?)
I certainly believe myself to be an open-hearted, accepting & very loving person. I don’t believe I hold any prejudices in my heart. But you know what … I’ve had moments where I’ve encountered a group of young black men in my neighborhood and society’s messaging will whisper in my ear, “What are those guys doing? Casing houses?”
My conscious brain quickly counters that saying, “Whoa! Hold up. That’s totally not true. They’re just a group of buddies walking to school. And you’re an asshole for thinking any differently.”
Even though, in that instance, I am able to immediately counter that initial commentary, I still have that dark, shadowy voice, that prejudice, that messaging from society, pop up in my ear. And I’m certain there are messages I don’t even realize are there. Messages that are so shadowy & hidden, I don’t even know they’re coloring my thoughts & perceptions.
By simply existing in this society, we have received constant messages about a whole variety of “Us” & “Them.” Messages about men & women. About black people & white people. About Muslims & Christians & Jews (& Pagans!) About people who live in the city & people who live in small towns. And on and on.
The messages we’ve received from our culture are fierce. And they are pervasive. These are thoughts & ideas that burrow deep into our psyches. We are all lying to ourselves if we say they’re not there. Whether we want to accept them or not, there are ideas & beliefs hidden in our collective Shadows.
And if we want to grow & evolve as human beings, and as a society, we have to dig deep & acknowledge those Shadows we have hidden in our own dark places.
We can’t expect others to change & grow & acknowledge their dark Shadows, if we’re not actively looking within ourselves and truly, truly, admitting & discovering what beliefs are hidden there.
Discovering your own Shadows will allow you, personally, to grow & evolve. But it will also allow our society to grow & evolve. And right now, our society is screaming desperately for our growth & evolution.
So let’s do this! Right now is the time! Culturally this is the time. And, seasonally this is the time.
It’s time to really dig deep into our Shadows & see what’s hiding there. And I promise you–it’s not all darkness & ugly. Some of your greatest & most profound treasures are hidden in those Shadows.
If you’re not already, make sure & sign up on my email list, below. All winter long I will be sending out ideas, exercises, journal prompts & other thought-provoking goodies to help you explore your Shadows & really dig into the dark corners of your psyche. I really hope you’ll join me for this important & profound work.