I am often asked where my inspiration comes from and I always think, well, it comes from the same place your does. It comes from that part of my psyche that dreams come from.
Jung was amazed at an early age that he could not control his dreams and that lead him to conclude in later life that they came from the same place that the weird ideas, images and “content” that his psychotic (an old term, I know) patients were at the mercy of. He called this part of the psyche, the unconscious.
He disagreed with Freud that these were merely repressed conscious ideas (Freud dealt mainly with neurotic patients), seeing some content so strange and ‘foreign’ to the individual’s experiences and conscious knowledge that it had to be more than just repression.
Because the unconscious is not controlled by consciousness (by definition) it acts as a free agent, it is autonomous. It is not MY unconscious, that implies that my ego controls it.
As the unconscious is a part of the psyche then consciousness is not the totality of the individual. The totality of the individual is only fully manifest when both parts of this duality work together.
So... exploring this part of our psyche is integral to developing as a ‘whole’ person.
Folk tales tell of treasure to be found either in the depths of the ocean (a pearl of great price, a golden ring in a fish's mouth) or in the bowels of the earth (guarded by a terrible dragon), and these gems are things that have been buried (maybe not even by ourselves)... like stuff in a large inventory.
Now, once you start on this path, looking into the mirror, the first thing that pops up is the Shadow. This isn’t a person, but in it’s manifestation shows a trace of personality, like a being in a dream.
...and it’s enough to
“frighten off most people, for the meeting with ourselves belongs to the more unpleasant things that can be avoided so long as we project everything negative into the environment. [blame others]. But if we are able to see our own shadow and can bear knowing about it, then a small part of the problem has already been solved: we have at least bought up the personal unconscious.” (Jung)
...and I have written of shame and fear before in these pages.
now...why would we bother exploring?
“The shadow is a living part of the personality and therefore wants to live with it in some form.”
So...we have to learn to get along, not something that our traditional western culture makes very easy for us.
“It cannot be argued out of existence or rationalised into harmlessness.”
Jung says how difficult this obviously is, to forgive ourself these weaknesses but...
“Nevertheless, the account has to be settled sooner or later.”
...sounds like a good place to start...
So...VWs allow me to see my own behaviour in a totally new way because I am standing outside myself looking in. Normally (RL) I am standing inside looking out, a situation where the tendency to blame others is far easier.
Now, the shadow is the first , and most obvious of the ‘personalities’ that an explorer is likely to meet in the unconscious, but not, by any means, the only one there.
The anima/animus encounter I will tackle later as it is a far more complicated experience to blog...:)) suffice it to say that there are also positive guides, helpers and generally compensatory influences hidden in the unconscious (pearls and gems) with no other aim than to help you find balance.
Star Wars, a tale based on western christianity, presents, like many such tales a very black/white view on the Dark Side. This is unfortunate as the meeting with the shadow can be crippling in its paralysing effect. It also provides an excuse for giving up. In a previous post I try to highlight this.
And... in defense of the Dark Side ..... let me ask:
Without laziness would you not be a stressed-out workaholic?
Without pride wouldn’t you be a door mat?
Without aggression would you get stuff done/ be heard?
Without imperfections wouldn’t you be a total pain in the butt?
....and your friends love you...IN SPITE OF... or, maybe because you are as imperfect as them.
So, your shadow isn’t something to antagonise over, you can have plastic surgery if you hate your big nose, but your shadow you just have to learn to live with.
*spooky music* ........ under the carpet swept the dark things grow, they don’t die by being repressed.
...so, explore... make a really bad alt to explore your badness.......
This is a psychic laboratory, if you want/dare to use it like that.