Oct 042012

Duality of Personality, by Tomasz Alen Kopera

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.

Detail of an illustration of a solar barge on page 55 of Carl Jung’s The Red Book

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

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A writer, artist and tender of dreams, Toko-pa has been interviewed by CNN News & BBC Radio and her writing has appeared in publications around the world. Thanks to Skype, she works with dreamers internationally in her Private Dreamwork practice, based on Salt Spring Island in Canada. You can find Toko-pa on Facebook or sign up for her mailing list to receive news about upcoming events.

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  25 Responses to “Dreamspeak: Eating Your Shadow”

  1. Yes, it takes courage, but the pay-off is a much larger experience of the self and of life. Toko-pa, I wonder if people who are less familiar with this path might like you to develop this theme with some specific examples/ detail of the process in a follow-up post?

  2. It’s interesting that, for example, wolf packs, with social structures similar to ours, have a designated “scapegoat” that takes the brunt of the groups’ frustrations. One could argue that the devil, in Christianity, is a healthy way to preserve human bonds by transcending the belief that persons are at fault and substituting the origin of undesirable behavior with an unseen deity. Only when we project the dark onto specific groups, such as, in historical terms, African Americans, Women, Homosexuals, do we run the risk of making the Shadow a valid enemy.

    • Thanks for dropping by – I appreciate your thoughtful comments, Donna. Projection is more than healthy – it is a necessary part of coming to consciousness. But the next responsibility (which not everyone is up for) is to then withdraw that projection, owning one’s “undesirable” traits alongside one’s goodness. This is what I would call transcendent.

  3. Thank you for this article Toko-pa.
    It reminds me so much of our session together.
    I often revisit that time, the things you helped me to learn and to see.
    And I need to be reminded,
    thank you.

  4. Dear Toko pa, is this a course you are offering? I would like to join ~ much love,

  5. this is very interesting and relevant to me.i live in a small town and have had so much mud thrown at me and i really dont understand why.i’ve only lived here 2 years and rack my brains trying to think what i’ve done wrong (that they would know about !!).so i think what you are saying is i’ve projected the negativity at myself because i’m not acknowledging that part of me. in 10 days time i’m attending a retreat where i will be in darkness for 5 days ,perhaps i will be able to wash the mud off after that. i’m so glad i found you on facebook ,i find your posts both inspiring and reassuring. thankyou.x.

  6. I look forward to ur posts every day. They are a companion to me on the journey. Today’s was so synchronized with the book I picked up to reread, healing through the dark emotions be Miriam Greenspan. I sat with my dear friend one year ago today as her husband died. It was a graced moment.

  7. Thank you for this thought provoking post!
    I am also interested in your next course, please add me to your mailing list.

  8. what one of my shrinks termed poetically as stepping on your own dick.

  9. I am interested in any elaboration on “eating your shadow” especially like the the issues you implied of the generational recivitism of the shadow – or even concepts of sin. As fate would have it – I had that plate 55 of Jung’s Red Book within arm’s reach of my desk here. Usually I can’t can’t even find a pencil here.
    I’d be very interested in anything you might have to say about the character below the boat, the gong (?) on top the boat, the 4 lines written above the sky (what they mean), and anything about the guy at the tiller – that you might feel comfortable sharing. I got to your FB page somehow and some of the images had a strong impact on me – the two girls sharing one heart (I am a twin – but we are fraternal) – the other is a woman waving around a shadow like a lasso as it is turning into a crow – I immediately thought of the Leonard Cohen song – “I caught the darkness”. I shared them on my page. so anything you’d have to say would be greatly appreciated.

    steve zubo

    • Hi Steve! I use the term eating here as a way of implying integration – the process of tasting, chewing on and swallowing our own shadow material that it may become a part of of our wholeness. I haven’t spent any time analysing Jung’s artwork, but I’d be curious to hear what you’ve discovered.

  10. Toko-pa, Do you think we are capable of finding our own “blind spots” if we are open and asking for guidance from our dreams and subconscious? I have a friend strongly encouraging me to attend a personal growth workshop called “Landmark Forum” and she insists I need the help of these workshop leaders to see my own blind spots and “rackets” (hidden agenda’s) clearly. I fear she is being brainwashed, and perhaps handing her authority over to these supposed “experts” abit too much. I prefer to go within myself and find my own guidance, and sometimes get help from others / therapists, etc. if needed. What are your beliefs about our abilities to see our “blocks” or “shadows” and heal them ourselves?

  11. Thanks, Toko-pa, for your detailed response. I’ve always been a person who dreams alot and tends to remember my dreams, so I’ve been lucky that way. I hadn’t really considered how sharing dreams in a community could be not only for my benefit but healing for the whole tribe. I have kind of suspected that dreams can show us our blind spots, but it also makes sense that talking about dreams with a group of caring people can help us see even more clearly.

    Your passion about dreams makes me want to return to taking the time to write them down again and paying more attention.

    Blessings & Peace to you………….

  12. Thank you Toko-pa, am curious to read the rest of your responses to the comments above as the sharings are quite deep and many of us share threads in common, in dreamtime and in life.

    • Thanks for reading Alana! I am not sure what happened to my comments back to Shelley, but you should be able to read the rest of my responses. Let me know if you have any enduring niggles 🙂

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