2018 is a year where the presence of the shadow in society will be unavoidable. Chaos, violence, crime, people being offended, the eruption of sex scandals, political intrigues, and abuses against people, animals, and the planet will explode exponentially. These eruptions which are already quite visible are increasing so that humanity can integrate both the collective and the individual shadows held until now in the collective unconscious and the personal subconscious mind.
The shadow is a personal and collective phenomenon. When our personal problems remain stuffed under the carpet of our awareness, and when we keep ourselves “comfortably numb”, shadow work is needed to help us to live more responsibly. As we confront our shadows and become more honest with self and others, we align our lives to a lifestyle which benefits everyone, and not just our self. Fairy tales are a form of spiritual alchemy that are specifically designed to help us to integrate the parts of ourselves that we don’t fully understand, accept, or that are painful. Fairy tales, accessible to people of all ages and cultures, are a great resource for shadow work.
Marie-Louise Von Franz worked with C.G. Jung, and is the most important analysts of fairy tales, in particular from a feminine perspective. Her work is invaluable.
We live in a time where it is OK to be a victim, to constantly be offended, to blame others for our problems, not honor commitments. Today, it is acceptable to manipulate and use others for our own benefit, and to pillage the planet, hurt plants, animals, people, soil, water, air, trees, without any thought to the consequences of these choices. Relationships are superficial. People use each other for sex, perhaps for some semblance of connection or grounding to the planet and the body. It seems as if most people are divorced from their own emotions.
Some people call this paradigm the “service to self” conditioning and way of life. In this paradigm, everyone and everything is separate and limited. Our thoughts, feelings, choices affect (or so we think) no one but our self. In this system of thought, behavior, and social conditioning, the human being needs to stuff a lot of pain, sadness, self-hatred, and judgment of others into an ever-growing hideaway that psychologists have named the “subconscious mind”.
In a world where limitation keeps us feeling needy, lonely, hurt, and where the answers (and even God) lie always outside of self, there is permanent sense of emptiness which haunts us. This perception of our human self being limited, vulnerable, and essentially powerless is the source of all abuse of self and others, all wars and conflicts, all bullying, all victimization, all manipulation. The way our financial systems, laws and government on all levels, prisons and judicial systems, schools, families exploit human beings, animals, and the planet is both the cause and the result of the great suffering on the planet today.
This experience of limitation is coming to an end. In order for human beings to stop distracting themselves from the truth of their own power, we must wake up, individually and collectively.
Facing the shadow is the first step in awakening and taking back our power, leaving behind duality to become unified, and fully responsible for self. Shadow work is very difficult, but it is important and inevitable if we want to grow as individuals and as societies. If we want war to end, if we want universal healthcare, and for all people to thrive in harmony with plants and animals, we have to take our power back. Each of us has to do the work by ourselves. No one can do it for us. Changing the world means looking inward. The shadow is inside each of us. No more can we use hatred of others, racism, xenophobia to avoid facing our own inadequacies and lack of self love and approval.
Shadow work involves confronting all of the suppressed truths that we have refused to confront since birth into our bodies. It also means facing, one by one, all of the ways by which we have been conditioned. All of the belief systems which have limited us. For example, I long believed, as I was taught, that I could not make a living as an artist. I hated this belief, but it ruled my life for so many years. And because I believed it, I bargained and compromised myself by working part-time jobs. Later, as a single parent, I encountered so much bullying and abuse in relationships, that I chose to work full-time jobs that made me miserable so that I could be free from abuse in relationships. At that point, I needed the solitude to heal myself and learn to love myself. For so many years, my heart wanted to do creative work full-time, but my head (ego) told me that I could not provide for myself and my family, that I could not survive or thrive doing the work that I love to do.
When I finally began to confront myself regarding these beliefs, I had to find the courage within myself to break the bond with what I had held as truth for so long. This is painful, because I had to grieve all of those lost years doing work I hated, as well as the loss of all of the time I could have spent being creative. In addition to those facts, I am still working up the courage to leave the security of a job that pays the bills and venture into the unknown to find a way of living that gives me the freedom to do what I love to do. This requires faith, and faith lies in the heart, not in the mind – where the ego has been allowed to reign as king over all of our institutions. Keeping us fearful, limited, puny, mistrusting.
Limitation and separation teach us that the ego is the only important part of self. Physical survival primes over everything else. We are all conditioned to be terrified that we will be homeless and starve to death if we dare pursue a path that makes our hearts sing. We must be slaves to the system; ego and separation demand it. This is all part of the conditioning. However, the heart and the creative spirit of human-kind is reawakening. By facing each and every fear, and we all have many, we are doing the shadow work that will allow us to live in full integrity, full responsibility, and full alignment with our higher self.
The collective, or society at large as a group, is facing the same challenge now that we each face as individuals. As scandals erupt in an escalating flow, disclosing sexual abuse, harassment of women, pedophilia, financial scandals, and pervasive abuse of power throughout every institution in our societies, we are all forced, even the most reluctant among us, to face all that has been hidden from us for a very long time. We have kept, mostly willingly, the wool over our eyes and spirits, accepting what for some has always been unacceptable. Now, it will no longer be possible to continue to live comfortable lives ignoring the suffering of others. We can no longer ignore the suffering of farm animals, trees, plants, sea creatures, human slaves, the responsibility for war and the misleading banners of patriotism. We are now all aware. We are now all responsible. This is waking up and facing the shadow.
Fairy tales are the blueprint for integration of the shadow, and such folk and fairy tales exist in all cultures all over the planet. They function as a type of psychic medicine for the soul, working on the unconscious mind which intuitively understands the symbolism of the stories. When we hear these stories and crave to hear them again and again, the subconscious mind allows these symbols and patterns to work their magic, even if we remain unaware of the true meaning of these symbols. In these stories, every fragment of the human being is portrayed as an archetype. The characters work through challenges, sort the chaff from the wheat, learn to be responsible for their choices and to integrate the missing parts of their soul which have been lost or separated from the whole. Shamanism and soul retrieval work much the same way, as can dreams and art work.
For the next several years, the population of the entire planet will be engaged in shadow work. As the exposure of darkness escalates, do not be alarmed. This is a necessary process. Many of us starseeds have been born into abusive families and have lived through lifetimes of extreme duress, learning to deal with the shadow, learning to love ourselves unconditionally so that we may guide humanity through this difficult task.
After millennia of living as co-dependent, reactive victims entangled in countless avoidant and addictive behaviors, it is not going to be easy for humans to realize that everything we were taught was real, true, and important was in fact a lie. The illusion was designed to enslave the majority of humanity to benefit a handful of elites around the world in the areas of religion, finance, military, and government as well as off-planet manipulators.
It is going to seem like the darkest, most hopeless time. The dark night of the soul. But, in fact, this time we are engaged in is the night preceding the dawn of a new era in which humanity begins to love self and others and begins to take back power and responsibility for self. Unity and service to others are the outcome of this upward spiral. Please be brave, and do not give up hope. As in the fairy tales, there is always a deep, menacing forest to cross, and challenges to confront, before the integrating moment of the marriage takes place at the end. Integrity means being, becoming whole. We have been deprived of essential parts of self, including, most importantly, the divine feminine. On some level, we have agreed to that experience of limitation and suffering…for a time. Now is the time to become whole again.
Art credits: Lotte Reiniger (German film-maker), Kara Walker, Arthur Rackham