Things don’t always happen the way we think they will… A transformative encounter with the Shadow should take place in an epic setting such as Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea world, right? It certainly wouldn’t be a rushed affair in a conference room during a Tarot Conference!
Jung has written much about the psychological aspects of the Shadow self as well as the Golden Shadow (the success we project onto others because we are afraid of our own power), and have I nothing to say that would improve on that, so do click on the link and read up on this vital information if you haven’t already.
There is also a shamanic tradition of journeying to meet your Shadow and this is something we were invited to do during the Conference. You would imagine this sort of thing taking place out in the wild or perhaps in a sweat lodge. You would expect there to be someone there to hold the space as well as welcome you back from the Otherworld.
Instead, it went something like this:
“Well, we have 15 minutes left so I’m going to guide you in a meditation to meet your Shadow. You can leave if you don’t want to do this.”
Nobody left, but a friend and I exchanged worried glances. I’m not sure what he was thinking but my thoughts went something a bit like this:
“Oh boy, here we go!” and also “Surely not. Surely not here; surely not like this! I mean, there is fluorescent lighting (random thought, I know!). We are in a hotel conference room and nobody is holding the space or invoking psychic protection…”
I didn’t even have time to complete my thoughts before we were walking along a shore, turning inland on a path where the Shadow met us.
And then it happened. It actually happened:
I stood face to face with my deepest fear.
I wonder what the speaker thought would happen. I mean surely if you invite someone to face their deepest fears, you would expect some kind of reaction.
I didn’t turn to run. I looked at my Shadow and heard him say that he wanted to kill me. I felt the hatred of eons flood through me. All the hatred and violence that had been directed toward the divine feminine through the ages.
All the abuse I myself had to suffer at the hands of men who were supposed to love me and who had shaped the writing on my wall so that in the very depths of me there was a looping voice wishing for my demise.
Dear speaker, did you have no idea what form the Shadow could take for some of us?
And I broke down completely trying to shield myself from the lack of support all around me as I faced my Shadow. I cried very old tears and I could feel the embarrassment of some, mingled with the terror of others as well as the pure compassion of a few brave souls.
And all the way through I knew that the space should have been held… but it wasn’t held for me… and it reminded me of giving birth. All three of my living children were born without a midwife present when the babies were crowning. Every single time, someone came rushing in to watch me do the final push.
Luckily, there was a seasoned Shaman in the crowd and she came to help me with what she correctly labeled as my ‘rebirth.’ She put her arms around me as I was crowning and didn’t let me go until she knew that I was able to breathe normally again.
Because this is what a true encounter with Shadow leads to if we are not consumed with fear. When we move through it (and there really is no way around it) – we come out the other side reborn.
I learned so much from this rushed Shadow encounter and even though I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on my worst enemy, I can honestly say that it was a truly beautiful experience.
There was a huge release of energy and a part of me returned. The illusion of separation grew a bit weaker and I walk the line between worlds a little more sure-footed… better able to serve.
Angel Starlight Blessings,