Imbolc and the Shadow By Iacchus 01/10/16
Personal unconsciousness is a domain of the soul’s unconsciousness where individual memories are stored. These memories include everything a person has done, experienced or thought. All memories have conscious and emotional impressions. These impressions can vary in strength or weakness and they can be strengthened by routine or ritual-repetitive activity and by acting on or retrieving memory material. It also can be strengthened by the consciousness making associations, or giving attributes, to a memory. This process allows consciousness to recall or remember stored information in an individual’s memory. There is a tendency for impressions of memory to weaken over time, so recall becomes more difficult to occur unless you remember them. This is how memory fades and becomes less accessible to consciousness and is more deeply present in one’s personal unconscious. Memory as a whole is a liminal system that straddles the conscious and the unconscious boundaries of the human soul.
“In 1945 C.G. Jung gave the most direct and clear-cut definition of the shadow:’ the thing a person has no wish to be’ (CW16para 470). In this simple statement is subsumed the many sided and repeated references to shadow as the negative side of the personality, the sum of all the unpleasant qualities one wants to hide, the inferior, worthless and primitive side of man’s nature, the ‘other person’ in one’s own dark side. Jung was well aware of the reality of evil in human life.
Over and over again he emphasizes that we all have a shadow, that everything substantial casts a shadow, that the ego stands to shadow as like to shade, that it is the shadow which makes us human.
‘Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected, and is liable to burst forth suddenly in a moment of unawareness. In all counts, it forms an unconscious snake, thwarting our most well-meant intentions (CW11 para.131)…
Jung professed to deal with the shadow in a way different from the Freudian approach, which he said that he had found limited. Recognizing that the shadow is a living part of the personality and that ‘it wants to live with it’ in some form, he identifies it, first of all, with The Contents of the Personal Unconscious. Dealing with these contents involves one in coming to terms with the Instincts and how their expression has been subject to control by the Collective [see adaptation]. Moreover, the contents of the personal unconscious are strictly merged with the archetypal contents of the collective unconscious, themselves continued their own dark side [see Archetype; Opposites]. In other words, it is impossible to eradicate the shadow; hence, the term most frequently employed by analytical psychologists for the process of shadow confrontation in analysis is ’coming to terms with the shadow’.
Given that the shadow is an archetype; its contents are powerful, marked by affect, obsessional, possessive, autonomous-in short, capable of startling and overwhelming the well-ordered ego. Like all contents capable of entering consciousness, initially they appear in Projection and when consciousness is in a threatened or doubtful condition, shadow manifests as a strong, irrational projection, positive or negative, about one’s neighbor. Here Jung found a convincing explanation not only of personal antipathies but also the cruel prejudices and persecutions of our time.
So far as Shadow is concerned, the aim of psychotherapy [the cult of the soul] is to develop an awareness of those IMAGES and situations most likely to produce shadow projections and one’s individual life. To admit and so analyze the shadow is to break its compulsive hold. (See individuation; integration; possession in “A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis”, by Andrew Samuels, Bani Shorter and Fred Plaut pp.138-139).
Further comments by Dr.Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D. “The shadow, said celebrated Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung is the unknown ‘‘dark side’’ of our personality–-dark both because it tends to consist predominantly of the primitive, negative, socially or religiously depreciated human emotions and impulses like sexual lust, power striving, selfishness, greed, envy, anger or rage, and due to its unenlightened nature, completely obscured from consciousness. Whatever we deem evil, inferior or unacceptable and deny in ourselves becomes part of the shadow, the counterpoint to what Jung called the persona or conscious ego personality. According to Jungian analyst Aniela Jaffe, the shadow is the ‘‘sum of all personal and collective psychic elements which, because of their incompatibility with the chosen conscious attitude, are denied expression in life’’. Indeed, Jung differentiated between the personal shadow and the impersonal or archetypal shadow, which acknowledges trans-personal, pure or radical evil (symbolized by the Devil and demons) and collective evil, exemplified by the horror of the Nazi holocaust. Literary and historical figures like Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, and Darth Vader personify the shadow embodied in its most negative archetypal human form.
Yet, the shadow, while very real, is not meant to be taken concretely or literally but rather, allegorically. It is not an evil entity existing apart from the person, nor an invading alien force, though it may be felt as such. The shadow is a universal (archetypal) feature of the human psyche for which we bear full responsibility to cope with as creatively as possible. But despite its well-deserved reputation for wreaking havoc and engendering widespread suffering in human affairs, the shadow–in distinction to the literal idea of the devil or demons–can be redeemed: The shadow must never be dismissed as merely evil or demonic, for it contains natural, life-giving, underdeveloped positive potentialities too. Coming to terms with the shadow and constructively accepting and assimilating it into the conscious personality is central to the process of Jungian analysis.
Working with dream material is key to comprehending and dealing creatively with the shadow. The shadow tends to appear in dreams as a figure of the same sex as the dreamer, but Jung draws a distinction between the personal shadow and the anima or animus, symbolized in dreams as the opposite sex. Typically, it is the subjective experience of the shadow or evil and its ego-dystonic effects (or, as in the case of the hyper-civilized Dr. Jekyll, an inexplicable malaise or vague sense that something vital is missing in us) which motivates the person to seek-psychotherapy and spurs one toward new growth, maturation, balance, integration, wholeness and individuation. Indeed, in many ways we need the shadow, and must therefore learn to develop a more conscious and constructive relationship to it. Becoming conscious of the shadow requires tolerating the inherent tension of opposites within: sometimes ‘‘having it out’’ with the shadow and standing up to its destructive influence; other times permitting it some measured outward expression in the personality. But always treating it with utmost respect.
Notwithstanding its negative influence, Jung well understood the daimonic nature of the unconscious, and that the compensatory effects of the shadow upon individuals, couples, groups and nations could be beneficial as well: ‘‘If it has been believed hitherto that the human shadow was the source of all evil, it can now be ascertained on closer investigation that the unconscious man, that is, his shadow, does not consist only of morally reprehensible tendencies, but also displays a number of good qualities, such as normal instincts, appropriate reactions, realistic insights, creative impulses, etc’’ (cited in Diamond, p. 96). Creativity can spring from the constructive expression or integration of the shadow, as can true spirituality. Authentic spirituality requires consciously accepting and relating properly to the Shadow as opposed to repressing, projecting, acting out and remaining naively unconscious of its repudiated, denied, disavowed contents, a sort of precarious pseudo-spirituality. ‘‘Bringing the shadow to consciousness,’’ writes another of Jung’s followers, Liliane Frey-Rohn (1967), ‘‘is a psychological problem of the highest moral significance. It demands that the individual hold himself accountable not only for what happens to him, but also for what he projects. . . Without the conscious inclusion of the shadow in daily life there cannot be a positive relationship to other people, or to the creative sources in the soul; there cannot be an individual relationship to the Divine’’
http://www.simplypsychology.org/carl-jung.htmlThis posting is based on Dr. Diamond’s article published in the Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion (link is external)(Springer Verlag, 2009) and his book Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity(link is external)(SUNY Press, 1996). See also his chapter in the edited anthology Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature (link is external)(Tarcher/Putnam,
The Aquarian Wiccan and Sweetwood Temenos spiritual and religious approach is a craft of Psyche Therapia, A cult of the Human Soul that fosters psychological wholeness through rituals, celebrations, education and healing of the Soul.
Part of the Aquarian Wiccan Sweetwood Temenos craft of Psyche Therapia is ’coming to terms with the shadow’ and so integrating it into the wholeness of the human soul. Imbolc’s esoteric meaning for Aquarian Wiccan can be seen as a time of remembering and working with the Shadow. This is consistent with the traditional idea of “cleaning the house” in order to prepare for spring’s birth and sprouting of seed, which can be taken literally and metaphorically. It is a time of purification.
In reality the ’coming to terms with the shadow’ is like the Herculean labor of cleaning the Augean stables. The shadow can be integrated into the psychological wholeness of the soul. Even when the repressed elements of the shadow are resolved and integrated and ongoing conscious vigilance is required as the Shadow is an essential part of the unconscious soul. Thus once begun in ‘coming to terms with the Shadow’ it becomes an ongoing endeavor to maintain one’s integration of the Shadow. In order to engage in this process, one needs the ability to love oneself and another, be nonjudgmental, willing to forgive and being merciful towards oneself and others.
The integration of the Shadow is part of the process of individuation and actualization of the Self. The Self is the pattern of psychological wholeness and the image of Divinity of one’s soul that ego consciousness is trying to become. This integration is essential to achieving the stage of psychological wholeness symbolized by the Divine Child.
So even though the work with the Shadow continues through all the seasons of one’s life, it is appropriate to work with the shadow in the celebration and rituals of Imbolc that emphasize this Divine work.
As Dr. Diamond has noted ‘‘If it has been believed hitherto that the human shadow was the source of all evil, it can now be ascertained on closer investigation that the unconscious man, that is, his shadow, does not consist only of morally reprehensible tendencies, but also displays a number of good qualities, such as normal instincts, appropriate reactions, realistic insights, creative impulses, etc’’ (cited in Diamond, p. 96).
Aine, Brigid, Bride and Cailleach are all Sun Goddesses. “The gentle Goddess Aine ‘the best hearted woman that ever lived,’ and the ’meager blue hag’, as Milton called the Cailleach, are one goddess-a goddess who magically restores her youth each year going into a cave and emerging young again, bringing life back to the worn and wintry world” (O’ mother Sun by Patricia Monaghan pp72).
So, going into the cave or being like a ground hog going into its den, we ‘come to terms with the Shadow’. When consciousness reemerges from the cave having integrated the Shadow, we are renewed and we bring life back to the “worn and wintry world”. With this return we bring the fire of creativity and fertility, a new wholeness invigorated by our positive integration and connection with our instincts and a humility that honors the human shadow.
Aquarian Wiccan esoterically celebrates the Shadow with a sacred fire, acts of creation like poetry that arises from the unconscious well of the heart and the blessing of seeds, which all are our positive integration and connection with our instincts. So we humbly honor our Shadow, give it due and pour a libation to it.
I discovered in working with my Shadow that our instincts are much like the Bonobo chimpanzee and so we are a make love and not war hominid. Remember this in coming to terms with our instincts.
“Today humanity, as never before, is split into two apparently irreconcilable halves. The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves [Psyche and symbol C.G. Jung, pp 60).”
The Imbolc celebration, of the Aquarian Wiccan and Sweetwood Temenos approach to spirituality and religion, seeks to transform this inner division of two apparently ever irreconcilable halves. This reconciliation of opposites starts with a commitment to wholeness and the aware ego working with the unconscious in conscious way to integrate the shadow and its contents.