Friday, January 22, 2010

Embracing the Shadow Side

Let's begin by describing what I mean by the Shadow World, as it does embrace several concepts. First, and most importantly, the Shadow World is the opposite of life on Mother Earth. Many Shadow Creatures live in this Shadow World, and they appear as exact opposites in the Shadow World. I've met Shadow Eagle, who was a giant dark bird, flying on the wings of night. He taught me about Shadow Creatures. He showed me His world. He is still the one who flies closest to the Creator, and still the observer of life from that highest perspective, even in this Shadow World.

When we visit the Shadow World, we must also protect ourselves during our travels there. Protecting one's body in the physical reality is not enough. We must protect ourselves in "All The Worlds", especially when we are travelling in them! When Shadow Eagle appeared to me, it was to teach me this lesson.

The rule, As Above So Below, is almost the point I'm trying to get across here. As it is in this world, so must it be in the Shadow World, only opposite. Like looking at a photo negative, is how this Shadow World appears. If Eagle exists in our physical world, so, too, must He exist in the Shadow World. I believe this applies to many other creatures, especially our totems and Spirit Helpers.

Each of us has a Shadow Side. We go within to find it. That is where our fears, doubts, and insecurities live, as well as where unhealed parts of ourselves exist. When bad things happen to us as children, it can have a twisting or limiting effect on parts of our personality, making these childhood traumas into irrational fears. We must get to the root cause of the problem, i.e. the actual childhood traumatic event, in order to alleviate the adult's irrational fears. These fears are what live in our Shadow Side. And until we heal them, we get no further in our efforts to explore our Shadow Side.

The other part of our Shadow Side is about death, and how we deal with it, how we feel about it. I had the honor of meeting a Muerte artist, one who creates skulls and skeletons in the tradition of the Day of the Dead. His pieces were so much fun! He obviously deals well with his shadow side. This led me to explore my own Shadow Side, and to begin expressing it as art. If you look closely at Muerte skulls, you'll see that most have flowers on or around them. This symbolizes that from Death, comes Life. Blossoming, blooming life. But it is only by understanding and embracing death, can we accept this concept.

Some of the things that many of us are afraid of include (but are not limited to): snakes, spiders, rats, roaches, complete and utter darkness, and maybe a few slimy creatures added to that. Some fear Owl and Crow, thinking they bring death. I've explored that concept a little in the Halloween Animal Symbolism article posted earlier in this blog. I personally don't see Owl or Crow as needing to be feared, but that's just me. I have learned to appreciate the advance warning they can bring to me.

For many, many years I had horrific dreams of death and destruction. I lived in fear of sleeping or dreaming. It took a long time, but I made my peace with what I was shown. Now I can appreciate it as the advance warning that I need in order to be more aware in walking my path. This too, is part of embracing one's Shadow Side.

Spiders and Snakes have always instilled fear in people. But from every fear, we can learn great lessons. I was confronted with Snake, in person, and had to deal with my fear, right then and there. But evidently, that wasn't enough, for He began haunting my dreams. Had I been immobilized by my fear, I may have never delved into the messages and lessons that Snake was offering to my life. Snake is about Transmutation. That is, in this case, transmuting my fear of Him into a healthy respect for His teachings. Or transmuting issues from the past, into a healing path that helps one to overcome their fears, and embrace life to it's fullest. Or even transmuting Snake's poison into Visions that can help us all. Snake is a great Shadow Totem to have, for all of these reasons. And He is a Shadow Totem when we fear Him, when we learn through our fears.

Let's now look at how the Shadow World can affect us. All of our fears, unresolved issues, as well as our hurt and pain, prejudices, insecurities, and other twisted logic is buried deep within us. The only way to heal these is by going within. Creatures that are Shadow Totems can assist us in healing these issues, fears, and problems. Call on them for assistance. Look to Snake, Spider, Mother Bear who lives in the West and teaches us about going within, or Mole who lives deep within the Earth in darkness, or Bat, or Owl or Crow. Each of them can bring important lessons that can help to heal us. But the ones we fear the most, can help us the most.

Once we release our fears, childhood trauma, past issues, pain, hurt, insecurities, and everything else that is holding us back and blocking us, we can then begin embracing our own Shadow Side. Crow becomes one who alerts us to dangers ahead, instead of one who brings death messages, as does Owl. Snake can become the Healer, instead of something slithery that haunts our dreams. Bat becomes a symbol of Rebirth, instead of a guano-producing night creature whose leathery wings remind us of our primal fears.

We can take it even further than this, however. Embracing death, we learn about life. Embracing our dark side, we learn who the other half of ourselves really is.

Death is a part of life. Until we can embrace it, we cannot fully explore our Shadow Sides.
Sea EagleImage by logjayge via Flickr

What does my Shadow Eagle story have to do with all of this, you're wondering. Shadow Eagle is an example of the opposite side of Eagle, the Eagle we are familiar with in this Earthly plane. Each of us is composed of two sides as well. Light and Dark, Outer World and Inner World, Male and Female, Father and Mother, Intelligence and Creativity, and even Love and Hate, perhaps. We, too, have a Shadow Side, just as Eagle does. It is only when we can embrace our Shadow Side that we can become whole and balanced.

Maybe for you, embracing your Shadow Side will entail healing childhood traumas, or maybe it will involve painting or writing it all out. Snake may be there to help you to Heal and Transmute the blockages you have within your Shadow Side, into incredible works of art, or healing energy you can share with others. You never know what's there, until you embrace your Shadow Side.

The other part of this is that your sense of Passion, your Inner Fire, cannot burn fully until the blockages to your Shadow Side are removed. These blockages can stifle our creativity, our sense of clarity, our ability to be our very best, and to embrace life fully. If your Fire is dimmed by unresolved issues, your Power is being dimmed. And, your life is not balanced.

An observation that applies to this is that when we make decisions that affect "All The Worlds", we should include both the Masculine perspective, as well as the Feminine perspective. Showing compassion but not to the point that we completely let down our defenses. Waging war must be tempered with our sense of humanity and compassion. Disciplining our children must include both punishment and love, in equal proportions. But until we can fully embrace our Shadow Side, and come to terms with it, these things are not in balance in our lives, and therefore, our life is not centered, nor is it balanced.

Healing oneself is a major step towards increasing one's awareness, talents, abilities, and gifts. Healing our Shadow Side is a part of this. For only when we can let go of our fears, can we fully embrace all that life has to offer. And when we can embrace it, we can then manifest our highest goals and aspirations into our lives.

One step and then another, and we will get where we are going. But we have to start taking these steps, for the good of all. If healing oneself helps one to manifest one's highest desires, imagine what our world would be like, if everyone were healed...

Walk in Beauty,


Leviathan said...

Wonderful insight. I have to work at embracing my shadow side...many unresolved issues, but fascinating the resources we can draw on to help us embrace those dark details (shadow, death, fears, etc.)

Michelle said...

Thank you Leviathan. Symbolism I received when working on Shadow issues included a volcano, spewing lava... There's a lot of help for us from the Spirit World, once we begin this journey. And glad you enjoyed the article!