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Monday, September 21, 2009

Gadzook and the Shadow – CREDO LXXXVI

In a corner, high on a bookshelf is a large stuffed toy of a wizard elf with a bulbous nose, a white beard, a peaked hat with stars on it, and a blue jacket with facing silver moons. I named him Gadzook. He was the gift of a grateful client, the first one I shared the great aha! that came to me about one way of approaching one’s Shadow. And I owe it all, of course, to Jung but also to the archetypes of astrology.

Jung defines the Shadow in this manner:
Everyone carries a Shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.... If it is repressed and isolated from consciousness it is liable to burst forth suddenly.... At all accounts it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions. (CW 11, para.131)

This described my dilemma perfectly. For decades, so often when I would want to do something, an inner voice would come up and tell me why I couldn’t. Over and over. In a granted moment of grace in active imagination, it was as if all my most negative opinions of my own character added to the shame of my physical shortcomings were formed into a horrid homunculus of a little dwarf and cast down into a dark cellar of denial! Aaaargh!

So one day, when I hear this voice telling me why I can’t, I rebel and shout I know why I can’t, how about telling me how I can!! Well, a miracle occurs, a hatch opens and up comes this pale old creature and remarks, “Well I’ve waited fifty years for this! Now, come along, let’s get to work and let me help.”

From the astrological point of view, I suddenly realized that Saturn rules the Shadow and that I should have remembered that every member of our solar system has a positive as well as a negative archetype. In the case of Saturn, the negative always comes first: the Cruel Judge! I even would tell my suffering clients when they would be putting themselves down, to quote the blacks in the play Green Pasture, who cry out, “Here comes de jedge!” But Saturn also has a positive archetype – The Wise Old Man! Aha!

So by combining these two, I learned that the secret lies in befriending one’s Shadow, though only when it is a matter of genuinely good intentions. As Edward C. Whitmont, the late and my beloved analyst, confided, “Whenever I learn something, out of nowhere a patient appears who needs to know that very thing!” Sure enough, a man appeared with whom I could share this latest attack of insight, and, out of gratitude, he brought me the gift of Gadzook! Now the friendly creature has presided over every session I have had since, and I think the good humor he engenders may help my clients relax and realize that to be introduced to the way they are likely to process experience might well induce a chuckle of conscious recognition.

Those of you familiar with dealing with the Shadow will recognize that this was only an unconscious aspect of it, namely my negative animus, and would be quick to warn the practice of inviting too much, too quickly. It is far wiser to contemplate the Seven Deadly Sins one at a time, and examine one’s conscience. These were defined in the fourth century by one Evagrius of Ponticus, sometimes considered a forerunner of psychology.

Gulagluttony of any kind
Fornicatiolust of any kind
Avaritiagreed of any kind
Tristitia – despair
Acediaapathy, sloth
Vanagloriapride (the worst of all!)

I, personally, prefer Buddha’s Noble Eight-Fold Path, which I try to recite nightly before sleep. I find it so much more positive than any commandments. I have shared it in a previous CREDO but it bears repeating!


The Four Noble Truths

There is suffering in this world:
All suffering comes from attachment and desire.
There is a way beyond suffering.
The way is the Noble Eight-fold Path:

Free from superstition and delusion

High and worthy of the intelligent; worthy of mankind

Kindly, open, and truthful

Peaceful, honest, and pure

Bringing hurt or danger to no living being

In self-training and self-control

The active, watchful mind

In deep meditation on the realities of life


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