This post has been a long time in coming…even though I’ve been talking about it for a long time, I can’t seem to get it out in writing. Weird, eh? Even though I’m writing it out, I think I’ll audio record it at some point and post that too.
So anyway, I was in Shanghai hanging out with Sexual Kimchi. He suggested I read a book called, Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche. It’s a pretty quick read and I started in the middle on the chapter called: Romantic Love as Shadow.
After reading that one chapter, I stayed up the rest of the night to finish the entire book. Very interesting stuff.
First, I’ll give the basic concept in my own words and then I’ll direct you to the web page that I think best encapsulates the concept of The Shadow.
Your shadow is the opposite side of your persona. Your persona is what you outwardly display to other people(your “face”), and your shadow includes those aspects of who you are that are buried within where no one(and often even yourself) can see them.
However, we must express those things that are in our shadow in some way whether we want to or not, and our choice is really whether we express them in helpful or harmful ways. A typical example would be when you’re in a bad mood and you snap at someone who doesn’t deserve it…that’s you’re shadow talking.
Looking back at history, many cultures have had ways to allow humans to express their shadows in constructive(or at least not harmful) ways. Catholic confession and Protestant prayer come to mind immediately. Animal and human sacrifice are both manifestations of this too, as does mardi gras in more recent times. They all give an outlet for those qualities that each society has seen as evil.
War is also a way that allowed men to express many of their shadow desires through murder, pillage, and rape.
(And, I don’t care who you are, if you’re a man, you have definitely thought about rape. If you say you haven’t, you’re a fucking liar. Man up and admit.)
Violence is something that we have to teach children to restrain themselves from at an early age. It’s the most natural thing in the world really. You want something, you take it. Period. That’s straight forward “law of the jungle” right there.
However, as part of socialization we learn that that’s not OK, and those desires are pushed into the shadow. In modern culture though, sports takes the place of some of those drives. Other men channel it into becoming a powerful lawyer or business person.
To be continued in Part II.