Me and my Shadow ~ living with the unseen

Me and my Shadow ~ living with the unseen

I’ve been pussyfooting around doing any real shadow work because I’m really not sure where to start. All the reading I’ve done suggests that there is no one path to integrating the shadow, but rather many. There is no one size fits all method, no programme to follow. So instead I’ve been exploring metaphors and bits and pieces of myself and getting a slow view of what lies beneath.

The thing about shadows, real or metaphysical, is that they’re not visible until there’s a very bright light. Diffuse light produces no shadows, generally. And we’ve had very little sunshine for a long while so I can’t remember when I last saw my actual shadow. But shining a bright light into the soul is pretty uncomfortable so I’ve resisted doing that on purpose.

Those who are sceptical about the effects of the shadow on a person would perhaps be asking, well, if you can’t see or notice the shadow much, then it can’t really be having much effect, can it?

Good question.

I’m going to reply to that with something from my own life that has emerged in the last week. Some months ago I went to our GP with various symptoms that were causing me a great deal of pain and problems. Because my medical records are peppered with depression and anxiety, his instant response was to ascribe these symptoms to that. I refused to accept this and eventually he agreed to refer me to a specialist. By the time the appointment came round, I was very nervous and worried. I made up my mind that should I not receive respect and empathy, this would be the last time I would agree to see a medical practitioner outside of emergencies.

Someone somewhere was listening to my pain. It turns out I have a congenital condition that has been present my whole life, causing a whole raft of issues, but in recent years, the damage to my body is showing up more and more. There is permanent damage already. I’m being referred for more tests and also for more help, in terms of various gadgets and gizmos that may help to prevent further damage and that will hopefully make life more comfortable. I’ll have to learn to readjust the way I do certain things, and instead of being stoical, actually saying no to the things that will increase the damage.

This has been present since birth. Some has been visible but has only been seen as “That’s a bit odd!” and over my lifetime, NOT knowing it was there has meant I’ve not known to avoid certain activities. That unacknowledged condition has meant that damage in small and large increments has gone on and on. Some of it is visible now, but another person can’t see the pain or the internal damage that underlies it.

I suspect the Shadow is like this. Present in every human, it remains unseen, working away inside, and the damage it can do while it remains unrecognised is unimaginable. But bring it out where it can be seen, shine a spotlight on it, examine and explore it, and who knows? The Shadow may prove to be helpful and not harmful, as long as you know it’s there and work with it, not against it. 

Dark place, deep place, old place

Dark place, deep place, old place


I am in the dark place;

So dark I cannot see the walls,

Only the light that glimmers

Faintly round the edges of my hands.

Not enough to see by,

Only enough to remind me

That I still exist at all.

I hear distant voices,

Too far off to tell

Whether they mock me,

Encourage me, torment me

Or are simply oblivious

That I am here alone

In the dark place again.

It’s cold, but it always is here,

The steady unchanging chill

Of cellar or deep cave

Untouched by warmth of sun

Or the night-ice of frosts.

I am in the deep place,

So deep I cannot see the sky,

Only hear the birdsong

Far off in the distant world.

Not enough to climb towards,

Only enough to remind me

That the world exists at all.

My own voice rises,

Too indistinct for anyone to tell

Whether I am calling for help,

Or crying or simply singing,

Having forgotten the world out there

And have settled down to wait,

Here in the deep place alone.

It’s damp here, but it always is,

With the constant moisture

Of rivers and the moving spirit

Untouched by the need to conform,

To twist the soul to safe shapes.

I am in the old place,

So old I feel like a child again,

Only the heartbeat of earth

Distantly drumming in my ears,

Not enough to dominate,

Only enough to remind me

That I am not truly alone:

When I lie waiting to be reborn,

I lie surrounded by bright spirits

Whose home is here

In the dark place,

The deep place,

The old place

And who wait to guide me

Back to the healing light.

I have put this in today in response to an inspirational piece “Embracing the Shadow” over at Fibi’s blog