Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Shadow

My friends in Fresno, Gimel, POS, and Von Faustus, have been blogging about the Shadow lately. POS went to Pantheacon and had a pantastic time, but also participated in a rite with Sam Webster's OSOGD group that has had him aware of his "shadow" in repressed sexuality. Gimel mentions dealing with 20-year-old suppressed anger as being part of a shadow-issue. Von Faustus lists some culty madness as being shadowy weirdness that is "strange or just plain scary."

I might be seeing a common thread among the posts because I lump them together (loosely) into my "Fresno Friends" group in my mind. They may or may not consciously or unconsciously be referring to these things as part of "The Shadow." I don't know.

I asked POS what he meant by the Shadow. His response was "everything we reject that maybe we shouldn't." (I got permission to quote him.) At first I was happy, because this is closer to what I think when I think of the Shadow, but as we talked, I realized that to him it's those things that are repressed, like sexuality, or things that are feared, like being afraid of showing your true self. The Shadow is, to him, the realm where good things get shoved because of fear or repression (social or religious programming that something is bad and shouldn't be talked about, expressed, or pursued). I'm paraphrasing and presenting my own interpretation of what he said, and I hope he corrects me if I'm wrong.

So basically, my Fresno Friends see the Shadow as something "bad." Things that "shouldn't be" are "shadowy." It's bad, it's bad, it's bad. 

I don't get it.

The Shadow, to me, is a beautiful thing. It is dark, mysterious, powerful. It is the potential, the void from which all things spring. It is the absence of light which hides the greatest mysteries. It's not a realm of repression or rejection or fear, it's a realm of possibilities. 

That's magic. The "Occult" is, in a way, a manifestation of the Shadow. It is the realm of hidden knowledge. We have to put together the clues to get the whole picture. Whether East or West, we get introductory pieces, advanced pieces, supernatural pieces, and it all falls together in a moment of Eureka! that leaves us empowered and awestruck, endorphins pumping, satiated for the moment in a way that can't be described. It's beautiful.

And impossible without the Shadow.

What is a magician's Shadow? Is it the equivalent of the "Qlippoth" of the Kabbalistic world view? The dwelling place of all the negative, evil, bad, "shouldn't be" side of our mysterious "selves?" I don't think so. Like I said before, it's powerful, and beautiful. It is unknown, unexplored, but not merely the shit bag of "subconscious" psychological issues, or the twisted, manipulative, evil manifestation of an idea or concept.

The Shadow self is your self enthroned and benevolently dictating your universe. It is you pursuing the things that make you happy, whole, complete. It is you acknowledging and fulfilling the desires for things without being ruled by them. It is you dominating the people around you for their own good because they aren't doing it themselves. It is you taking responsibility for your universe. It is you free from condemnation or misinterpretation, or anyone's judgment. It is you above the law and beyond consequence.

The Shadow can be a terrifying thing. It is ultimate power, and shining a light on it doesn't make it go away, it simply hides it for a bit. Take away the light, and there it is, everywhere. Sort of like the Monad. Take away the matter of the universe, and all that's left is that invisible substrate that forms, connects, and manifests everything. Exploring the Shadow, we find the secret things that are hidden by God. Proverbs 25:2, the Proverbs of Solomon, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter." The King is the Shadow. The Magician is the Occult King of the Earth, ruling his universe from the invisible world.

Don't be afraid of the Shadow. The power, the responsibility, the weight that comes from being directly responsible for everything that befalls you... that's nothing to call "evil."


  1. Just came across this quote today:

    "He who is illuminated with the Brightest Light
    will cast the Darkest Shadow" - Andrew D. Chumbley.

    I thought it was an interesting observation.

  2. There are different type of Shadow. The type you discuss here is one which IS beautiful, hauntingly beautiful, mysterious; it drives my curiosity, which in turn, drives my creativity, my desire to know the unknown, and my magic.

    The other type of Shadow is the Jungian type which can be a destructive force. Aspects of Self which are repressed, repressed memories, repressed desires, all things which keep us from being whole Beings, which in turn, keeps us from exploring the other type of Shadow more fully and being more whole.

    The rays of Black Sun's light illuminate the Depth of the Darkness so beautifully that one can easily work with the Jungian Shadow more easily, and therefore begin to notice the beauty of their natural Shadow in all it's glory.

  3. Excellent post, I won't say the concept is new to me, because my entire life, I've felt this sacred connection to darkness, manifest in various forms in my thought processes and experience. And In all Honesty its actually something my thoughts have been dwelling on recently. And I've had a 'revelation' type experience with it in the past few weeks. So thanks for this, it has helped to clarify/inform some of my perceptions.

  4. RO, your friends are more psychologically correct as it were, the term in that context comes from Jungianism. I don't find it has much place in Neoplatonic magusry that acknowledges the reality of spirits and animism. I pretty much consign Jung to the dustheap for the most part, though I recognize many find his ideas stimulating. So excessive talk of "the Shadow" gets my eyes rolling because it is so 1990s'ly newagishly faddish to couch all magic in such pseudopsychological terms and treat it all like some form of therapeutic head trip..


Thanks for your comments, your opinions are valued, even if I disagree with them. Please feel free to criticize my ideas and arguments, question my observations, and push back if you disagree.