Know Thy Self…

Know Thy Self…Light and Shadow

Just as the sundial
Knows its place and function
Within this world…

Standing as it does
As a meeting point
Between light and shade…

Its form designed
To face the sun
Yet cast a shadow…

Which can be read
By clear sighted eyes
And discerning mind…

To learn something
Of the nature
Of this universe…

This poem came from a meeting with a shaman a few years ago. I cannot recall his words exactly but I do remember him describing something of the nature of our existence… Ideas to do with the Light and the inevitable connection between lightness and darkness… That when any form comes into being, we are like a puppet standing with the Light shining upon us… And by the very nature of our existing, a shadow will be cast… We stand as the meeting point between lightness and darkness… We are formed from the Light and cannot exist without it, but neither can we exist without the shadow… Our journey includes learning to accept and understand the shadow for what it is and ultimately choosing to face the Light…


4 thoughts on “Know Thy Self…

  1. Light and Shade, Yin and Yang. However much we wish for constant light, darkness brings balance. Even in the darkness of space there is light, energy from stars. Emotionally there is light and dark, happiness and sadness, ease and struggle……how quickly we become worn out by struggle in terms of movement it requires more effort or does it? However much we are in darkness, hold onto that small ball of light.

    • Hi Dawn, thank you, yes, it is hard in darker times to appreciate the lessons within, easier and understandable to wish and pray for lighter times… At least when lighter periods return, we can reflect and be more thankful for the night that may have just passed…

  2. Yet again Amanda… On the wavelength again! Exactly what I have been mulling over lots this week (how does this keep happening?!). So, anyway,here are my thoughts:

    I believe that the journey to wholeness means recognising and accepting that we always cast a shadow; that we contain both dark and light and that wholeness comes from finding the point of equilibrium.
    Trying to run away from, or to erase our less desirable qualities, our shadow, by ignoring and denying it means, ‘turning down the light’ of our awareness, our consciousness. Trying to focus only on the qualities that we consider desirable, is like shining a torch in a dark room on the things we want to see, which makes the darkness around larger than ever. When we open the curtains or turn on the light to see the whole room, all the treasures and the junk are seen at once, and then we know….Where we stand… Who we are.

    If we explore a room full of the things that are the sum of a persons life, it is the whole collection; the precious and the banal, the badly chosen or ugly objects as much as the beautiful, rare gifts, and the evidence of human weakness as much as strengths, that makes the person whose room it is come to life, that gives the sense of someone real and whole, someone fully human.

    If we only look for what we want to find, we may miss the treasure hidden in the darkness…

    Acceptance of the shadow, is acceptance of our total, unique selves. It is recognition that if we want to embrace and make use of the power of our strengths, we must acknowledge, accept and forgive the darker,or seemingly weaker aspects of these unique traits… New life needs rotten dead matter, growth needs rain as much as sun…personal power needs anger…
    You can’t have one without the other, and restricting one leads to distortion, imbalance, unhealthiness. (What could be energy-providing healthy anger, is destructive anger instead)

    Accepting the shadow, means we can enlarge ourselves too, as within our most denied shadow traits may be the gift of strengths and powers that we didn’t even know we had.
    Acknowledging a strongly resisted and denied arrogant tendency, may lead us to discover leadership qualities for example.
    Most importantly, It is only when we fully embrace the dark and light within ourselves, that we can fulfill our full capacity for loving to others.
    As long as we deny the shadow in us, our ability for unconditional love is hampered by how we project those dark, denied qualities onto others, and by the internal conflict and depleted energy of suppression.

    It is hard for many of us to reach this point, as we can’t just consciously decide to embrace our shadow. Most of us need to work hard at this, through perhaps journaling and meditating on self-compassion for example, or through therapy ( if our life experiences have created particularly powerful shadows!)

    As who we are, and what we believe about ourselves and the world is created through relationship at the start of life, I do believe that it is through relationship that we heal or grow as we go on through life.

    If we are lucky, we may have the gift of relationships and friendships that offer something close enough to unconditional love that can allow us to be accepted for our authentic selves, shadow traits and all, so that we can begin to learn how to accept ourselves in this way too.

    In terms of wise texts or illustrations, there are many on this subject of course, but one film that came to mind as I wrote this illustrates this truth so beautifully and hopefully to me, it is the film, ‘Despicable Me’.

    How wonderful that this is a children’s film, as perhaps the message that is so strong in the film, may go some way to counteract other messages many of us receive as children about needing to be perfect, good, etc, ie only half of ourselves, if we want to be either loved or loving.

    The shadow is born, partly through necessity, as, in order to conform to the community of others, we all need to learn to suppress some natural tendencies.
    The size and power of the shadow varies however, depending on the values we are exposed to as we grow up, and so some of us have a harder task to face and embrace our shadow than others.

    I like to think of my shadow as a dark-mooded, selfish, grumpy, bossy, jealous, manipulative friend, who, unfortunately, I am stuck with on this journey through life…And she doesn’t like being with me either!
    What I am hoping, and is beginning a little to already, is to find that as the story goes on, this undesirable friend actually has some skills and qualities that are useful for this journey, and, that when I recognise our companionship and need for each other in order to survive, I can accept her more. As we travel on together, her dark traits may seem less threatening as she uses the power of them for our good. I hear her story and come to love her. We then become a unit, a team, whole, as all that is needed to survive and thrive in this life is covered by our combined resources.

    Thank you for you words that spoke so well of this Amanda

    Love, your friend, Mel x

  3. Dearest Mel,

    Thank you, thank you for your wonderful, expanding, ever-wise words.

    You mentioned ‘Despicable Me’… Two books come to mind for me on this subject. One is a non-fiction book that I just came across a couple of days ago online (after, on a whim, enterring ‘shadow, self and reconcile’ into Google), called ‘Shadow Dance’ by David Richo. You might enjoy that. The other is an all time favourite of mine, ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’ from the Earthsea series by Ursula Le Guin, but that one I guess you may have already read.

    An aspect which ‘Shadow Dance’ delves into is that, as well as our shadow containing all our ‘unlovable’ traits (what we deem unlovable), it also contains our unexpressed higher potentials. All those marvellous parts of ourselves we may be capable of being if we can walk the journey of becoming more whole, but which may remain hidden, denied and unknown for many years, or indeed a whole lifetime.

    I cannot help but feel particularly joyful at knowing that you are one of the wisest, most compassionate people I know in this world, and that after years of your friends and family being able to benefit from this, you are now expressing that part of yourself in the wider world… I know it has taken a lot of work for you get HERE, and much of that is shadow-befriending work, but witnessing the fruits of it is utterly amazing. I am so proud of and in awe of you!

    I miss you so very much and thank you deeply for sharing your wisdom here.

    Love, your friend always, Amanda x

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