View Full Version : Embracing the shadow

Bright Garlick
22nd November 2013, 10:00
Many of you are familiar with the concept of the shadow. It is a concept articulated by Carl Jung but it has it's likely roots in Greek and Islamic philosophy. Much has been said about the shadow but little has been said about the importance of integrating the shadow into one's psychological awareness.

There are of course many ways to interpret the shadow but I think a nice simple definition might be - all that is disowned within our mind. We might go onto say that the shadow is all that is unconscious or, all processes or symbols or unresolved issues or traumas that are unconscious. Many people believe they are doing shadow work, because they identified their shadow, missing the point that the shadow is usually unconscious (as Ken Wilbur points out below).

The shadows presence in our lives in important for many reasons, not least of which because as a concept, it represents other parts of ourselves (be they processes or tangible issues or qualities) which complement our harmonious whole but also because the shadow dances all around us in the exterior world.

Many folks here on PA for example, talk about demons, archons, bad aliens, and all those evil powers that be - completely oblivious to the projections that are coming from within. Having cast a projection over the world that is so convincing, that they mistake it for reality, rather than what it is, a shadow from within. That is at least one reason why learning to recognise how the shadow functions in our life is so important to being a healthy human being.

I have met some of the most abominable monsters in the world and they were all within me.

I'm curious to hear how others interpret the shadow concept, shadow work, how shadows relate to archetypes and how to genuinely embrace the shadow.

How also might the true darkness of the world represent our collective unconscious shadow ? One that we have all helped to co create.






22nd November 2013, 10:52
The most brilliant movie that demonstrates this concept is Judgment at Nuremburg. You get to see it in their faces and hear it in their reasoning. They always go to the end justifies the means and forget that the means are the end.

Bright Garlick
22nd November 2013, 11:44
Great choice lastlegs !!! Thanks !


22nd November 2013, 11:45
Just watched the 'Ken Wilbur - casting shadow' video. What do his different colour system represent? He keeps saying about someone who's beige or turqoise or indigo etc.

I do really love Jungs idea of the integrated self, one of the most brilliant psychological re-discoveries from the ancient world IMO. I did some research into his connection to the different spiritual traditions some while back. Gnosticism seems to have been his primary inspiration, great article about it at:


Jung's "first love" among esoteric systems was Gnosticism. From the earliest days of his scientific career until the time of his death, his dedication to the subject of Gnosticism was relentless. As early as August, 1912, Jung intimated in a letter to Freud that he had an intuition that the essentially feminine-toned archaic wisdom of the Gnostics, symbolically called Sophia, was destined to re-enter modern Western culture by way of depth-psychology. Subsequently, he stated to Barbara Hannah that when he discovered the writings of the ancient Gnostics, "I felt as if I had at last found a circle of friends who understood me."

After intense and challenging research he discovered that Gnosticism had continued on into the middle ages in the form of alchemy:

First I had to find evidence for the historical prefiguration of my own inner experiences. That is to say, I had to ask myself, "Where have my particular premises already occurred in history?" If I had not succeeded in finding such evidence, I would never have been able to substantiate my ideas. Therefore, my encounter with alchemy was decisive for me, as it provided me with the historical basis which I hitherto lacked

And through Alchemy he came across the works of St Germain who really helped him solidify his ideas of Depth Psychology and Shadow self into a concrete system of true historical value. As can be seen by some quotes by St Germain the idea of plumbing the depths of our psyche to become an integrated individual is a philosophy that has spanned the centuries, along with the idea of 'the big mind' also comes from this system of alchemy and gnosticism.

Some metaphorical quotes of depth psychology from St Germains writings:

Formless am I to the Light-Soul,
formless yet shining with light.
Know I the bonds of the darkness
must shatter and fall before light.

to find things lost in the seas since the upsetting of the globe (the Deluge);
to discover mines of diamonds, gold and silver in the heart of the earth;
to preserve the health and prolong the life to a century or over with the freshness of fifty years and the strength of that age."

NOTHING was, God willing, NOTHING became something,
I doubted it, I sought that on which the universe rests,
NOTHING preserves the equilibrium and serves to sustain.
Then, with the weight of praise and of blame.
I weighed the eternal, it called my soul,
I died, I adored, I knew NOTHING more.

Ilie Pandia
22nd November 2013, 12:13
Hi Bright,

Thanks for posting this. Is something that interests me deeply and struggle to come to terms with :). I am definitely better than the "evil elite", right? :becky:

I had stumbled on this "integrate your shadow" as a concept last year and I've doing "work" around it ever since.

And something interesting happened. A bunch of people that I could not stand and were very nasty to me, changed radically and we get along very well now. At first I though that they have changed, but then I noticed that other friends still considered them to be nasty and hard to talk to... so what has changed then :)? Myself? My perception? My "shadow"?

So this has really sparked my interest around this issue.

And as a another "coincidence". I've finished reading a "Light Worker' book where she kept on raving and fighting the evil elite and their machinations only to understand in the end that she was the elite and she help build the things she was taking apart now. Such a tough cookie to swallow that is...

We all consider ourselves here "in the job of Good!" and so we push and fight the "Bad"! It's a useful thing we don't recall ALL of our past lives or the gig would be up.

22nd November 2013, 12:19
Thanks Bright. I really like that Ken Wilber guy. I haven't heard it organized like that, but I very much relate
to his take on it.
I think I would just say from experience that it's the places we won't go until we're dragged there.
Who would know how much fear or despair or maybe even obliteration there is in there. Who'd be crazy enough to look?
The common techniques for escaping that dilemma are pretty much everything we do and think.
But we're only aware of it through sensations in the body, and any story will do if it justifies the feeling.

When we feel discomfort, we do what we have to do to not.
It happens so quick, our next thought forgot it was avoiding something.
You forgot it was just a feeling, and not something that means something, and if anything unpleasant is true, you're screwed.
The psychology of it is boggling.

I found a lot of things in the shadows, but lets use loneliness. The idea of loneliness is irrelevant, no one wants to feel alone.
Is it just that we don't want to die alone? I don't know anyone who knows the meaning of lonely, who isn't feeling it in them somewhere.
Otherwise why would you care?
When you follow loneliness to it's core, to the absolute bottom of it, even imagining you might die, but don't resist the trip,
what you find is what you were lonely for. You. Because you were willing or forced to look for it where you are.
You weren't to be found in the resistance to it. All you found was resistance.

Loneliness is a name we gave a feeling. Nothing more.
But we avoid it. But it's part of us. But we don't like it. But we don't know what it is. But we're too afraid to look.
So part of us stays missing.
It's one of the feelings humans are designed to experience. That's the cool thing about bodies.
And there are endless opportunities to experience it, even though you only need to truly experience it once.
That gives you a clue as to how dependably it's expected that you're avoiding it right now.

That's an example, you can use anything. Try despair, hopelessness, try terror, or vitriol.
Try guilt/regret, that's a popular one. No resistance is the solution. Resistance is what we gave the name 'painful' to.

22nd November 2013, 13:30
This is a nice thread, that's for sure.

In my opinion, there are several aspects of the so called shadow.

One way to integrate with it is to disable whatever self-punishment mechanism which may be established in your mind. We are humans; We are what we are.

Oppressing or punishing the shadow is oppressing and punishing yourself. People often think of themselves as sinners, which is a good example of the demonization of their shadows. It creates the worse kind of division, which is the division within; It all starts from within, then it expands to the outside world...The whole idea of heaven and hell, demons and angels, comes from it.

We're mostly polarized beings and we spend our whole lives struggling with our "good" and "bad" sides...It's a pointless struggle. Whatever battle you fight within yourself, you always win and you always loose; There's no point.

You can't run from yourself, let alone run from your own shadow. We have to accept it as part of ourselves. Instead of fighting it, we must understand it, find balance and agreement.

Another important aspect, is that after people create and feed this internal division, they often use the shadow as an excuse to justify their failures, to justify their misery...Some common excuses for bad behavior and personal failures are "I was not being myself", "I was not in my right mind", "There's a black cloud following me wherever I go", "I was possessed by the devil" and so on...

There's not really a distinction between "good" or "bad" in the natural world, but since we've created both concepts, we must be aware that both of them are part of us; They are inseparable.

So, accepting the shadow is just the first step to start doing some serious internal work to eventually achieve balance. It's all about balance...It's always been about balance...The whole thing.

People often talk that we're all one, that we're all part of the same whole, but as long as they don't accept themselves as one in the first place, this is pure demagogy.

People always talk about how bad division is without being aware that the root of most problems is the division within; It all starts from within.


22nd November 2013, 15:40
Once you've embraced your shadow
there are no further shadows:


22nd November 2013, 18:36
First a brief (I hope) foreword.

When I was 16 years old I graduated from high school, I have counted I should use my vacation to find out what I should do, but while I graduated that problem became solved.
I should first start in august, so now I had a whole vacation I haven't count with. First I found out I didn't know what I have learned in the school, yes I could answer a lots of questions, but I didn't really felt I have learned anything.
I decided I would 'Find myself and find out what the meaning with life is'. It could not be so hard. Yes, I was a teenager :)
At a time the thought came to me, "maybe there has been something with me all the time, which a haven't noticed" I thought at different things and ended up with maybe just a sound. If that was the question
then I have to be at a place with total soundless. Where could that be, Oh yes, in Sahara desert. Now, as a child and teenager I was en awesome daydreamer :) so I have no problem to imagine myself in the Sahara desert, and suddenly I found myself sitting on the ground with some rough sand and small stones. This is not Sahara I said to myself, because in my geography book there was a black and white picture of
Sahara withe endless hills of sand. A voice in me said, "It is Sahara". I was looking at the ground, but noticed there was a light in front of me, I raised my head and saw a fire camp with 3 men sitting around about 10 meters away from me. A man in front of me where half raised up with big eyes and a shaking finger pointed in my direction. I wondered what he was pointed at, and went behind him. then I saw myself as a kind of light body. I raised my hand to salute him and went back to my bed.
When i returned the room was dark, as I left it, I look out of the window and could see a few stars, then I looked at the end of my bed and there was a dark really dark figure, in the same moment it threw itself over me. We fought and it seems like we were equal in strength, but my strength were fading out after a while, which not seems to be the question for the other. I asked: "what do you want", and of all answers I could have come up with, this would be the last I have expected, "I want to go into you" it said, "why, I asked" "I just want it" it said. As I said my strength was fading out, so while I had some of it left which I thought I then could control it with, I then said "OK". It disappeared from my hands and went in to me via my breast. I took my hand over my breast to see if I was wet, but I was not, so I was not bleeding :)
I didn't feel any kind of feelings, just wondering, and i don't remember what kind of thoughts I had after or if I just felt asleep.
I haven't given the 'episode' many thoughts after, because things with me went really fast at that time. It was first in, I think 2005, I read about the concept shadow work and wondered, what the heck is that, but it had nothing to do with my experience.
So if you want your shadow, aspects or soul fragments back, just with intent ask, "What has always been with me, which I haven't noticed".
BTW this episode was my first really conscious OBE.
Haven't you, if you have had OBE's or just dreams seen yourself, walking, running, talking or just standing looking at something? Who the heck do you think is looking at you. It took me years to grasp that. Even after it happens twice I saw my biological and my light body in the same room. (and they where both acting) :)

Many greetings and love :)


22nd November 2013, 18:53
[QUOTE=ulli;761439]Once you've embraced your shadow
there are no further shadows:

You are quite right !!!
Do you know god spelled backwards is dog :-)

22nd November 2013, 19:00
Reality 'out-there' is a mass-projection of our collective (un)consciousness. A physical manifestation of our collective actions both conscious and unconscious. But, what if the elite decides to leave the planet overnight, will that not change everything on earth? For every open place at the top, thousands of human beings are eagerly waiting for their turn to get into power. The forces at play are tremendous. This will to power (cf. Nietzsche) is the main driving force in humans beings: achievement, ambition, the striving to reach the highest possible position in life. The mechanism at play incite individuals all over the place to become master over all space, to extend its force and to be rewarded accordingly in terms of status and money. As a consequence, we have hypercompetition and people kicking each other teeth in. It is the history of mankind.

"The truth of the matter is, is that no one is in control. Absolutely no one. This stuff is ruled by the equations of dynamics and chaos." -- Terence McKenna


22nd November 2013, 19:02
Bringing what is unknown to light
Leaving off the urge to fight
with self, befriending a great sea change
Takes courage in new landscapes strange.
The golden shadow we give to Gurus
where "gee you are you" is discouraged
Must depart!!!
we have that open youthful heart.
Yes, we first must meet the stark outrageous truth
and love ourselves in patterns dark (that calls for youth).
The youthful brave of open ended
The youthful willingness of undefended
is nigh and is the ONLY only case, It's up to me
to see my ego as I once refused to see.
The differentiation "good", "not good"
Directs an ego's should (and could).
The biggest sin to self (outside) is hypocritical
as it lets me do what's hated (inside) in the physical.
BUT the veil is thinning
A UNIVERSE is by authentic winning.
You will see yourself in full light
will gain full peace, no need to fight.
It's now written in the stars as time
And truth cannot but be Divine.


23rd November 2013, 03:32
I find it interesting that almost all the people who speak to me long term have been through the dark night of the soul or a complete nervous breakdown as some have called it. This includes the relatively recent like Paul Levy and Eckhart Tolle. Jung had one, R.D. Liang, Rollo May, Scott Peck to name a few. Then there are those like Teddy Roosevelt that were never projected to live long and had long physical debilitating experiences and recovered. This often made people born to privilege much more integrated and compassionate human being--think FDR and JFK.

I personally had that experience at 26 and I remain deeply grateful to have had it so young so I had a lot of time to integrate it and the beginning took ten years.

I will tell my story of projection for you all to make of it what you may. During my months of institutialization and being given all these drugs like thorazine and Haldol etc. I became completely catatonic. I had this concept that I was living in a tunnel with no ability to either move forward or back. In my experience, they hire a new young shrink and his name is Dr. Gary Bonnell. He is a very beautiful and flamboyant hippie. Long blonde hair, beautiful blue eyes, long silky beard he is always stroking, wearing fringed beaded shirts and moccasins. He starts group therapy with all these young people that the state of California have rounded up drugged out hippies when almost all of us had had an idiosyncratic reaction to drugs and in my case did not take it but had it put in my drink.

The group meets once a week and I often fall asleep during the sessions. To which Gary says no problem when you need to remember what I have said it will be there and you will hear it again. I meet with him privately in his office twice a week for months. He has only carpets in his office with pillows all around and parachutes hanging off his ceiling with lots of living plants in macramé and sand candles for auroma. He is very controversial but for a time, he rules. He takes me totally off all drugs and now I find that so fear ful having to be awake and aware that I beg for them back. He refuses and he tells me, I see a flower emerging from the dirt and you are asking me to step on it.

So I get better enough to go to a half way house and find people at San Francisco State who for whatever reason are moved to help me get grants to become a graduate student in psychology. That alone in a hoot and that part for sure is real. Meanwhile, Dr. Gary gets fired and leaves and I never see him again in person. But most of my life I think of him and how he saved my life.

Then in 2009 I am speaking with a friend of that era on the net who I also have not seen for 28 years and I tell this story. And we are moved to look up Dr. Gary Bonnell. And there he is -- living in Florida and has now written ten books and is a spiritual psychologist. His resume matches as I understand it but his picture looks nothing like him. I go through his website and there is this painting he did. His one and only and he said he did this while channeling Jesus for 3 years. And it is exactly like Dr. Gary Bonnell as I knew him. The story goes on to say that he has given this painting to a monastery in Georgia and people come from all over to see it and many healings have been produced by it.

I am really blown away by this and I email him and he writes back. I send copies of all these emails to the person I was talking to when we were both inspired to do this. Dr. Bonnell denies ever being in the institution I was in. When I asked how this could have happened, he told me that guides from the ether often come and ask him to help and he does what he can. I stopped writing him because in many ways even after all this time it was too much to process and was part of an on going much more mind blowing experience.

Part of being able to deal with this is that I have had 3 NDEs in my life and I no longer have any fear of that transition and just fall into the flow of it and so now it is not so mind blowing. I have also gotten less and less into -- is this real and just be content with it is real to me. Any way this is either such things really do exist or we really can do one hell of a lot of projecting to meet our needs.

23rd November 2013, 04:00
Once you've embraced your shadow
there are no further shadows:


That's it. No escaping it. When you're mad, you're mad. Dammit.