Today we are at the darkest time of the year.
The winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere is a sacred time to go inward and address the darkest parts of ourselves, both individually and as a society, to reflect and clear old patterns and wounds, so that we can turn towards the Light. It is a time to embrace the shadow self with understanding and compassion and accept it into the warmth of the whole to be healed. If we can understand the shadow, we can accept it. If we can accept it, we will be changed for good.
What is the Shadow Self?
The shadow is the unincorporated aspects of our own psyche, the ones that hide in the basement. These unincorporated aspects of ourselves are the parts we don't want to look at, for fear of what we might see.
Our shadow has been created by trauma, lack of evolution, or both. This is true on both a personal (individual) level, as well as on a collective (global) level. In the trauma of emotional wounding, ‘unmet needs’ have harmed the self’s healthy sense of wholeness and empowerment. Healing the traumatized parts of ourselves means ‘parenting’ those hurt aspects with a three-stage approach: rescue (from that way of thinking); nurture (back to health); empower (to help fulfill their dreams and make whole again).
Untamed Aspects of Ourselves
Aside from trauma, the shadow aspects of the self can also be caused by the primal self that has been slow to evolve, the untamed aspects within that ‘feel wildly’ and do not think. These aspects need care and nurturance to be brought from the shadows into accountability and acceptability. They need no judgment, only understanding. In Aramaic (the language that Jesus spoke), there was no direct translation for the word ‘evil’, the closest was the word ‘unripe’. If we are able to understand our shadow selves, where they came from and why they feel as they do as simply ‘unripe’, we are able to integrate them into our open, not-hidden selves; they then become part of our lives and our society and they are nurtured into wholeness and belonging. They ripen and evolve.
Tides of Change
As a consequence of this healing of the darkness, in the self and in society, come the tides of change as we slowly evolve as a species. There is a leveling of power in our society slowly taking place, and it is a good thing, long overdue. The Weinstein affect, which has spun around the world now in just a few short weeks, is clearing out the acceptability of patriarchal norms of old. We have a long way to go, but it is happening and the consequences are far-reaching. The ‘taking of the knee’ movement at NFL games and elsewhere, protesting police brutality against black people, has added potency to a movement for change that has long been swelling. Black Lives Matter, marriage equality, the $15ph wage movement, the women’s movement, Standing Rock. There are many examples making an urgent call for change, too many to cite here. There is an old African proverb. "If the youth are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel it's warmth.” I understand this to mean that if the marginalized in society are not given equal status, they will revolt. A lot of the change we are seeing is simply the changing of the tides, where patriarchy and the prejudices enshrined in the hierarchal institutions of our society are in decline and slowly subsiding. In their place are forming web-like structures, grassroots organizations affecting change, demanding that the rights afforded to some be afforded to all. Representatives of these groups are now beginning to be elected to office.
Do you Choose the Light?
But among all this change and healing emerges the question underlying our evolution: Will you choose to embrace the whole, the Light, compassion and the web of inter-being, or will you choose the self, the darkness, oppression, and the hierarchy of power and powerlessness? In other words, which side of history will you be on?
Being in the Light brings bliss, for individuals and for society; it is the default human state. It is the bringing together of all, in an elevated state of consciousness, to live in a state of ‘interbeing’. As we clear away our own debris and evolve, we come to know that bliss by moving towards enlightenment, illumination, samadhi, or a state of grace, depending on our path. We come to know the synergy that we all share on this planet and with each other; harming another, literally harms ourselves, but also it removes us further from the Light and in all darkness there is suffering.
Currently re-surfacing in society is an age-old sinister mindset, intentional in it’s approach, that has caused wars, slavery, rape, child abuse, subjugation and hate. We are seeing the ‘rise of the white man’ around the world; so-called alt-right politics, once thought lain to rest with the defeat of nazism in the world wars, is now alive again in the world and growing. Theirs is the real darkness of the world, fed not just by trauma and lack of evolution but also by an intent to harm, to withdraw from ‘Light consciousness’ and to act against free will and human compassion. We are going through an immense evolutionary leap right now and this sinister mindset needs to resurface to be fully cleared, but in that clearing, many will fall into that mindset themselves and so the polarization of humanity has begun. This is a time to be steadfast in our commitment to our personal work, our spiritual practice, our dedication to love and to be mindful of our thinking and what we put out into the world; what signature does that thinking hold? Are we working for the darkness or the Light?
So, at this sacred time, as the year in the depths of darkness turns back towards the light, we are invited to turn inward and reflect on healing the darkness within us, as individuals and as a species. We, too, can turn back to the Light.
Afterword: This Month's Meditation
For many, there are unfinished wars, unmet needs, hidden hurts too painful to see. There are victim dynamics and persecutors within all of us. How do we heal what we can’t let go of, the bitterness we carry for wrongs done to us? How do we let our enemies go?
At the end of this newsletter is a recorded mediation, a Dismemberment Ceremony, where we go on a healing shamanic journey by offering our entire selves to our enemies to devour. Theirs is a baying for blood. Ours is a need to rise above the victim-persecutor dynamics. The ceremony has each of us journey to find a ‘holy oil’ that when consumed will fill your body. When we then give our bodies over to our enemies to devour, they eat the holy oil and are healed. In full surrender, we are free.