“THE SHADOW” is the name pioneering psychiatrist Carl Jung gave to the collection of rejected and disowned parts of ourselves we didn’t feel safe to express as a child. In a boy raised by a family who associated the arts with the “feminine,” the shadow might include artistic ability. In a girl conditioned to always and only “be nice,” the shadow might contain anger, or the ability to say no. The shadow often contains any of the myriad ways we are unique, or different, in a culture that values conformity. As a result of hiding these aspects of ourselves in the shadow, we might resent, or even hate, anyone bold or free enough to be different. Why should they be allowed what we were denied?
The shadow also famously hides guilt. Rather than take responsibility for our own fear-based or hateful behavior, we project responsibility onto our victims. They “deserved it,” or “provoked us,” or “made us do it.” They’re “gooks,” or “sluts,” or “illegal aliens,” or “vermin,” rather than fellow human beings.
Robert Bly, who wrote the famous Little Book on the Human Shadow, said that we spend the first twenty years of our lives putting things into the long black bag we carry behind us (the shadow) and the rest of our lives taking them out. That’s shadow work. By doing it, we become whole.
In this issue of The MOON, we interview Connie Zweig, “the shadow expert,” on the benefits of facing and embracing our shadows. We also feature three fabulous short stories illuminating the dark side; four essays/memoirs on the shadow’s impact on our personal and collective lives, plus poetry, MOON Shine, and Movies You Might’ve Missed on the shadow.
We each have a personal shadow and we all participate in one or more collective shadows. That’s why it’s worth investigating our shadows; after all, shadows disappear in the light.
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