“To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. Once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the self. Anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle.” ~ Carl Jung, Good and Evil in Analytical Psychology
This Spring, I happened across a tarot reader at a coffee shop on the coast. Among the cards that sprung from her deck was one depicting a yin-yang symbol in the form of a merged sun and moon. This meant I needed to focus on what she called my shadow self -— not necessarily a negative thing, she explained, but the parts of myself that I kept hidden or repressed.
Accessing these attributes takes an excavation of sorts — an unwrapping of everything we’ve shunned or silenced since an early age. Remember all the times you had to change your personality or character in order to adapt or fit in? What impulses regularly beg you to act out or break away from normalcy or your comfort zone -— especially the ones that harbor shame or resentment? Ignoring these parts of ourselves creates a split persona: what we present to the public versus what we do or yearn for in the shadows.
For me, the concept of having a shadow self was uncomfortable and perplexing at first. What parts of myself had I been hiding and why? I won’t share all the details of my personal journey here, but I will tell you that my shadow self did eventually reveal itself, as I realized it usually does: in the form of self-sabotage when I find I’ve settled into a state of staleness, stagnation, and self-negligence.
Now, as the seasons are changing — as the stuff of fall decomposes, and Winter creeps in to cast it’s sheet of silence over the land — I think it’s important that we delve inward and reflect on our shadow selves and how we’ve grown over the seasons. Perhaps the following prompt will fill you with insights, or just be fun to think about. Either way, enjoy…
Shadow Self & the Changing of Seasons
• What parts of yourself have been shamed, silenced, or discouraged – at home, school, work, by loved ones, yourself?
• In what ways do you feel privileged or bountiful? What ways do you feel oppressed or starved?
• What’s something you’ve given up recently, or what might you be in the process of losing? How do you feel? What might you be gaining?
• What do you crave or fetishize, versus what do you idealize?
• If money or others’ opinions weren’t in the way, what would you be doing?
• How has the universe spoken to you lately — through dreams, symbols, intuition, etc?
• What places do you feel spiritually connected to, or emotionally grounded? Empowered? Drained?
• What lessons have you learned since last fall? How has your life changed?
• What or who are you grateful for?
• How would you define the authentic self? Who is your shadow self? Who is your ideal self? Who is your authentic self?