Shadow –a term that is said to have been coined by the Swiss Psychoanalyst, Carl G. Jung. It is believed that ‘Jung’ became aware of this ritualistic process while observing activities of what was then called tribal people, on the continent of Africa. This process has now been developed to fit western standards and definitions and utilized to describe certain characteristics of the psyche, that we repress, depress, oppress, deny, and in certain instances project onto others. Carl Jung postulated that the shadow represented those forbidden parts of the personality that are unwanted, undesirable, unloved, and unacceptable to society and thus ultimately to the individual.
While they (shadows) do not represent a total split in the personality, as in those with multiple personality disorders, they do represent a fragmentation, of sorts, of which one may be totally unaware. They (shadows) are universal in all humans. In other words you are eligible too.
In a more practical example, the beneath the surface shadow shows up as a behavior that may be abhorrent or admired in others. Most people are in denial that they harbor the same feelings, desires or needs that are so easily seen in another. In some circles there is a saying, “If you spot it you got it”. Shadows are not necessarily bad things, just the forgotten things about the personality. A small number of people may have started the very arduous journey toward finding, outing and sometimes embracing their shadows. Let us be reminded, the shadows we face can be numerous. I do not mean only the individual shadows, but the collective shadows and the shadows of the culture in which we reside.
I met Cliff Berry, founder of Shadow Work Seminars, back in 1995 when I attended the Inner King Training, a training of some cost, $2500 for 4 days. I was trained as well as other attendees with a re-connecting process of what was termed the "sovereign self", another archetype believed to be coined by Jung
This was the summer before the Million Man March on Washington D.C. The march and the Shadow Work training would later prove to be pivotal when we developed a strategy for creating an initiation process for people of color. At the Inner King training I remember sitting at the table asking Cliff Berry and Bill Kauth, the primary founder of The New Warrior Training Adventure, which is now The Mankind Project, what they believed, may be the shadows, of people captured, kidnapped and placed in the holds of slave ships?
They were honest with me, and said that, they didn't know the answer, but they thought it an interesting question. I thought so too, because I had been thinking about it (the question) since I was first introduced to the concept of shadow back in April of 1993. In fact, at that time, I was so fascinated with this process that as a consequence, I purchased every book and read every article I could find on the subject.
Two books, by Connie Zweig, grasped my attention more than all of the others. One book was ‘The Collective Shadow of America’ the other is called ‘Meeting the Shadow’. It is a collection of essays by various Jungian Authorities exposing the shadows of various institutions and groups in America.
Of particular interest was one author’s statement that said, "African Americans are essentially shadow sponges for the cast off, unwanted, unloved, denied, projected parts of white Americans, and black Americans do not have the collective power to repel these projections".
This information was astounding to me, for it infers that, perhaps, so called black people are both attracted to, and, repulsed by so called white people and their construct of life. That is a contradiction and an enigma. It presents a problem that one cannot easily find a solution for. If there has been no discussion of the underlying causes, that are the factors of the equation, then finding a correct formula to solve the problem may be an act of futility.
Please understand that I am by no means an expert on the shadow, but I can say that I have done an awful lot of research, not only reading books and articles and trust me I have read dozens and dozens of them, but I have talked to and queried people who knew much more about the process than I. I have also allowed myself to be a part of the experiment in order to gain experience, much as Jung did, in order to trek the road less traveled into my own psyche and personality.
As a result I learned that few of the researchers have ever transposed the shadow into the area of race and/or oppression save the one lone author in the book that was mentioned earlier in this essay. I vividly remember having a conversation with Dr. Niam Akbar about this particular phenomena and he was (at the time) not aware of it. This statement is not meant to be critical of Brother ‘Akbar’ by any means. I have asked the same question of Dick Gregory and he was equally as miffed. However, both of these great minds confirmed that I was on a solid tract to something real and encouraged me to continue.
Subsequently, the Underground Railroad Odyssey was to become an experiment and an experience in healing the cultural trauma of so called black people. Can you imagine how debilitating the first disappointments were that were experienced? Healing Circles were created and the first person in the circle brought out family of origin issues and the next person did the same and the next and so on. This was not what I intended to have happen.
After all of my research, you mean to tell me that so-called black Americans are still stuck in mama and daddy issues?
After all the prompting, the emersion into the annals of the institution of slavery, all of the atrocities that are recreated on the Underground Railroad Odyssey attendees were only able to get back to mommy and daddy?
It was at that point that a novel idea appeared. “People are setup to serve the construct, to be victims and food for its institutions and they are being setup in what is supposed to be the ultimate safe place in the world, their own family!” Wow, double fucking wow to that!
However, come to find out, there is more to learn and a great deal more that needs to be known!!!!