Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Shadow (Symbol, Myth, and Metaphor)

"Where there is much light, the shadow is deep."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We can trace the Symbolism of The Shadow back to Ancient
Egypt. The Shadow is an integral part of probably all Belief
systems. We find it appearing in ancient texts, mythology,
folklore, and psychology.

The dark, mysterious essence of The Shadow has intrigued
mankind since the earliest beginnings of Time. The Shadow
is attached to all things, and all that is required to view a
Shadow is a little bit of light; for a Shadow cannot be seen
unless we first have light.

In mythology, the Ancient Egyptians expressed the essence
of The Shadow in Nephtys, the dark twin sister of Isis.

In astrology, The Shadow is expressed as Lilith, the dark and
un-seeable side of the moon.

in folklore, The Shadow is expressed as the doppelganger,
or "double walker".

In Psychology, The Shadow represents our alter ego.

And yes, even in Fairy Tales we read of Peter Pan losing his
Shadow; and of his frantic effort to find it, catch it, and have it
re-united with himself.

So, what is this Shadow? And, why does this Shadow enchant
us so?

The first thing we need to keep in mind is that we exist within
the realm of Duality. In the realm of Duality, nothing can exist
without its exact opposite: its Lilith; its Nephtys; its alter ego;
its doppelganger...its Shadow.

The Ancient Egyptians realized that each one of us are composed
of two distinct and different persons:

The first is our physical, visible person which consists of all of the
characteristics, Lessons, dreams, and ideals which we have
Blended and bonded into our everyday self.

The second is our invisible, Shadow person which consists of all
of the characteristics, Lessons, dreams, and ideals which we
have Chosen to not incorporate into our everyday self.

Therefore, our Shadow is our dark, hidden, and unmanifested
Alter-Self. In it resides all of the essences, options, and Choices
of that person which we have either not Become, are afraid to
Become, or have not yet Become. In other Words, within the
Shadow is contained all of the unused aspects, or potentials,
of our personal evolution.

Hence, our Shadow is the necessary Dual part of our current
nature which compliments the person we are today.

Furthermore, in a more cosmic and expansive role, the Universal
Shadow is also the unseen compliment of all things in the Universe
which have as yet to manifest themselves.

As our dark side, our Shadow is our personal receptacle for all of
the things we do not wish to bring into our life. Things we are
uncomfortable with: such as our fears and inhibitions. It contains
that unknown aspect of ourself which we are reluctant to venture
into and experience.

As our alter ego, our Shadow contains many aspects which we
both shun and admire. And every so often we become tempted
to delve into our Shadow in order to experience some of the hidden
and tantalizing aspects contained within it.

These are the Times when we generally bring mischief into our
lives because we are experimenting with aspects of our Shadow
which are not compatible with our established personality.These
are also the Times when we allow incompatible individuals to enter
our lives in order to satisfy our craving for an alter-ego experience.

It is during these "alter-ego experiments" that we discover (and
often re-discover, to our dismay) that although "opposites may
attract", they are not always Harmonious with who we truly are.

And though we may allow these individuals, or temptations, to
temporarily enter our lives, we generally do not retain these
persons or experiences for very long for they eventually Become
too dis-Harmonious with our established personality.

However, we must always remember that we exist in a realm of
Duality. And because Duality always contains a positive and
negative polarity, so too does the darkness of our Shadow.

Darkness has acquired a very bad reputation throughout the
centuries and is hardly ever expressed today in its Esoteric
and True meaning.

Darkness, and by association The Shadow, is often represented
to be "evil". However darkness, in its True and Esoteric sense,
represents the Great Feminine Womb from which everything
comes into being.

In this sense darkness is the Hermetic chaos, or the Great
Subconscious, within which everything that will ever exist already
exists in its unmanifested form. In other words, it is the Great
"Unknown" which we have been Indoctrinated to look at with
fear and suspicion instead of curiosity and awe.

This brings us back to our Shadow, and the positive aspect of its

The Lesson contained here is that not only does our Shadow
contain those aspects of ourselves which we have Chosen not to
Become, it also contains those aspects of ourselves which we
have not yet Chosen to become.

Therefore, if we are to Become all that we can be, we must not
be afraid to boldly venture into the dark unknown of our Shadow.
For within our Shadow Realm is where our Creative Womb resides.
And our Creative Womb contains the Realm of our Imagination; in
which all of our unmanifested opportunities and wonders reside.

When we venture into our Imagination, we are accessing our
Creative Womb. We are journeying into the dark, magical, mystical,
and enchanting domain of Our Shadow!

Here is another interesting point to consider:

Although it takes very little light to create a Shadow, no amount
of light can ever quench a Shadow. The brighter the light, the more
dense the Shadow Becomes.

The Lesson contained here is that the brighter and more
Illuminated we become, the more we realize we do not know.
These additional unknowns then become deposited into our
Shadow and serve as new catalysts for future Adventures and

Our Shadow is the dual, complimentary part of our current nature.
As we expand our nature, and Become more Enlightened, our
Shadow has more and more unmanifested essences deposited into
it. This causes our Shadow-Self to becomes denser and denser.

Therefore, Symbolically and metaphorically, the brightest and
most Illuminated individuals possess the darkest and densest

Comments and Emails: I welcome comments and emails from
people with similar thoughts and feelings. My email address is
located in the upper-left area of this page. Comments can be
posted by using the "Comment" link located below each article.
Also: If you found value in this article please feel free to forward
it to other like-minded individuals, organizations and sites.

Disclaimer: None of my articles should be considered to be
either advice or expertise. They are simply personal opinions
and no more. Everyone is encouraged to seek competent
advice from a licensed, registered, or certified professional
should such advice or service be required.

© copyright Joseph Panek 2011
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DorianDantes said...

Great stuff, Joe. I appreciate the easy to understand description of a complex topic, including the mentions of shadow as they are found in different disciplines. The proper introduction to a subject can make all the difference!

Unknown said...

I loved your article and found it refreshing in its balanced depiction of Shadow. Thank you so much!

Tangeni said...

Loved reading through. The subconscious seems to be ever more a place of the unknown self that could be both good/bad. I think at its extreme it could alter personalities in a blink of an eye and its potential could make anyone become godlike. But how/what do you suggest can one tap into the subconscious and self discover/heal?