Location: The Pocono Mountains
What is the Shadow?
“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”
The Shadow is our dark side.
The Shadow is where our darkness hides from us, and where we hide from it.
The Shadow is any part of human being which we deny, repress, and otherwise fail to accept as being.
The Shadow is that part of us which the light of our conscious awareness is currently not able (or not willing) to touch.
The Shadow is where we hold our disowned, disavowed, unintegrated lies, anger, traumas, sadness, addictions, and resentments, among other things.
And because those energies are our Shadow, our Shadow is where we can look if we want to release and integrate them in a healthier way.
Those scary places of existential growth reside in our Shadow, and maybe not by accident.
Our Innermost Cave
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.
In our last article, we got deeper into what Ayahuasca is, and some effects that I’ve experienced in myself and others.
As mentioned before:
- Ayahuasca can show us where we’ve hurt others, while helping guide us to mend the situation.
- Ayahuasca can help us forgive and integrate the lessons that we still haven’t learned from challenging events in our lives.
- Ayahuasca can help reveal patterns of behavior that are holding us back, and present us with greater potential to transcend and include them.
The above has proven true in my experience, and in the experiences of many of my friends and students who have worked with the medicine.
The primitive magician, the medicine man or shaman is not only a sick man, he is above all, a sick man who has been cured, who has succeeded in curing himself.
Is Ayahuasca the only way to do Shadow Work?
Short Answer: No.
More Answer: People everywhere have been doing this work for all of history.
Much of modern psychotherapy was created to help people work with the Shadow.
The many 12 Step Programs which help folks reduce suffering around the world also contain work of this sort.
The “secular” psychotherapeutic and “spiritual” 12 Step approaches were heavily influenced by the religious approaches that preceded them.
In the Buddhist, Christian, and various other world wisdom traditions, certain acts of prayer, confession, repentance serve a very similar purpose, regardless of what we believe about any “afterlife” or possession by “demonic spirits.”
And just as the religious approaches influenced the modern approaches, the religious approaches themselves are methods that transcended and included elements of the shamanic approaches that preceded them.
The traditional Ayahuasca Ceremony is one example of a shamanic approach, but not the only one. Shamans have also used dance, music, ritual, fasting, breath-work, and various other medicines, including psilocybin mushrooms, for many thousands of years to help people know the Shadow better.
Adherents of the various religious, spiritual, and psychotherapeutic approaches mentioned above might be emotionally triggered by the fact that I compare their favored approach to other approaches, if they have dogmatic tendencies. They may feel anger, instead of being genuinely willing to explore the possibility that connections do, in fact, exist.
Those who feel triggered could find this a great opportunity to “go there” and investigate.
Light does not come from light, but from darkness.
– Mircea Eliade
A Side Note: I’m currently investigating the anger I feel when people I deal with folks who display absolutistic and black & white thinking. We all have our Shadows that could use a little work. 🙂
We’ll continue expanding on this idea of the Shadow, and what it has to do with Way of Light, in the next article.
I’ll be aiming to bring light to those dark places within myself as I prepare the next article.
Until then, take care, and God bless you.
With Joined Palms,