When I think of my Shadow
Black and white are two very distinct colors. I immediately have to think of the yin-yang symbol of the Taoist tradition from China. This is a very clear way to show two opposites that at the same time cannot exist without one other. They are complementary. They hold each other in perfect balance; they belong together and are different at the same time. They cannot become each other and stay together within the circle of eternity. As Carl Gustav Jung said:
“When yang has reached its greatest strength, the dark power of yin is born within its depths. For night begins at midday when yang breaks up and begins to change to yin.”
Black relates to yin, to the female, the night, the moon, darkness, quietness, earth and space. White relates to yang, to the male, the day, the sun, the light, action, heaven and time. What is so interesting is that there is a black dot in yang and a white dot in yin. So they are also part of each other.This means for instance that there is darkness present in the light and also that there is light present in the dark. And that is just the thing that I was drawn to with the deep magenta and clear in the bottles. They are a part and not apart. One can never be without the other.
Another concept is the shadow. What is this shadow? Suppose I am in Italy on a piazza and it is a beautiful sunny day, the sunlight touches me from the front, the shadow appears behind me on the ground. I cannot see how big it is or what it looks like at all. Also I cannot reach my shadow when I stand in the sun. I can turn around a little bit and peek over my shoulder but the shadow moves and changes its shape similar to the movements of my body. Objectively looking at the shadow myself is not possible. It remains to be a part of me whether I can see it or not. It will not leave me by itself, except when I would stand in the darkness under the arches of the piazza. Mmmm, this means that standing in the light makes me aware of my shadow too. That is a challenge and an advantage, depending on the perspective that I have. The funny thing of it is that when I look at someone else standing on the same square in the sun, then the shadow is very visible to me but not to the other person.
So I can be conscious of my shadow but most of the time it is a shadow that is traveling with me on an unconscious level. But what is the shadow in modern psychology? They talk about my personal shadow and how I am born into Mother Earth as a whole and complete human being. Then I have experiences that I do not like and I also do not know how to handle them. This process goes on both on a conscious and on an unconscious level. Anyway the experiences are stored in my shadow since I do not deal with them. Concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, win and loose will be born. I prefer not to look at them for now and my life will stay be okay. However as I have seen in the yin-yang symbolism, both the dark and the light will try and find the balance again and again in my life. So in my life events will begin to trigger this dark side again to make me look at it, deal with it and grow more conscious of who I am and who I am not.
Most people live a life where the shadow side doesn’t get or deserve any attention. People live behind their mask and try to only show their “light” side. Now and again the shadow will pop around the corner, because the shadow is an integral part of someone, just as the light side is. So it can happen that a normally very sweet mother, e.g. me, becomes a very angry woman and will put her children in their own room over something really silly. What happens is that after the event I will hurt myself even more because this was something that should not have happened, I feel guilty and make it even worse by telling myself that this is not allowed. Here I can begin to grow my conviction that I have to control my anger. The shadow really likes this and gets even more attention. And next thing you know I get angry again. The shadow part of me has grown again. What I try to suppress will finds it way out.
Using the shadow
Do you remember that seeing the shadow of other people on the same Italian piazza is far more easy than seeing your own? I learned that every other human being shows me things about myself, so also aspects of my shadow. When I feel irritation over people that live in the light side of life, it makes me look at how I live in the light. I can relate really well to the dark side of my life, I have seen a lot there so to speak. However as the yin-yang it needs to be balanced. With my focus on the dark side I can only attract people with a focus on the light side of life to balance these things out.
My own perception of my dark and light side is not a valid one. I can only see half of it anyway. With knowledge of my shadow I can use it for me rather than against me. For instance with the angry side of me that lurks in the dark. It is hidden for so long now that it has shape shifted in a way. The original quality of it can hardly be seen. By exploring the shadow I can release the original quality again. This is not an easy task; it takes guts to get the glory so to speak. I will get skeletons out of the closet at first, ugly looking mothers that I do not want in my life. A little later I will notice that some of them also have good qualities that I did not see at first.
Marriage of dark and light
The balance of yin and yang is also the balance of the light and the dark or deep magenta and clear. For me their purpose is to find the peace within and live my life to the fullest. In the Gospel according to Thomas it is Jesus who said: “When you make the two one, and when you make the inner as the outer and the outer as the inner and the above as the below, and when you make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male will not be male and the female not be female… then shall you enter [consciousness].”
[This story is part of an essay written for an Aura-Soma level 3 course, written in April 2006].