The single most healing practice for those who fear that “Evil” exists outside of oneself -in the form of malevolent spirits & other entities, like Satan – is the integration of one’s own shadow. Or what I call Shadow Eating.
Most of us have been raised to be moral, good & agreeable, but we have also been putting all of our “unacceptable” qualities in what Robert Bly calls The Long Black Bag we drag behind us, what Jung termed the personal Shadow.
The Shadow is the place where everything we have forgotten, denied, rejected or not yet discovered goes to live. The greater the denial of one’s darkness, taboo, or ‘negative emotions,’ the more fertile the breeding ground for fear, shame, depression, violence and anxiety.
Now if you add public power to that equation, you are in for real trouble. Anywhere you see the attitude of the “evil-doer,” the corrupt “Other,” you can be sure the shadow has been denied in the self and now projected onto the outside world.
In those places where extreme self-righteousness is proselytized, the more rampant the shadow becomes. For instance, in the Christian doctrine, where good and evil are decidedly split down the middle, the focus on ‘love and light’ has a companion history of terrible corruption and violence against ‘heathens.’ We see something similar happening in the New Age Movement, where gurus are being regularly toppled from grace for unethical behaviour towards their followers.
This is what Jung means when he says, “one doesn’t become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” For most of us, enlightenment isn’t a sudden awakening, but a slow process of shining the light of consciousness onto those rejected, forgotten and denied impulses within.
You could say that the Devil has been made a scapegoat. The truth is that each of us carries a piece of what we call Evil, but it is often just vitality which has fallen into its negative aspect because it has been ignored or denied.
Eating Your Shadow in Dreamwork is the slow practice of meeting those dark figures within and growing one’s bravery to face them – learning to live with our failings, shortcomings, anger and grief.
But Shadow Eating is also a source of great potency. As we break from traditional morality, we learn the true value & meaning things have for us. And in learning to love the entirety of ourselves, we come into contact with a far vaster compassion for others. As Alice Walker says, “Helped are those who love others unsplit off from their faults; to them will be given clarity of vision.”
Most extraordinarily in this work, we discover that the lion’s share of our shadow is pure gold. Hidden in the dark we find our creative endowments – those things which make us most uniquely beautiful – and little by little, our divine inheritance can be fully claimed.
© Toko-pa Turner