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"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious." (C. G. Jung)
Within each woman and man, the dim cavern of the unconscious holds our forbidden feelings, secret wishes, and creative urges. Over time, these "dark" forces take on a life of their own, forming an intuitively recognizable figure - the shadow. A recurring theme in literature and legend, the shadow is like an invisible twin, a stranger that is us yet is not us. When it acts out in the public domain, we witness our leaders, like hero-villains, fall from grace in scandal. Closer to home, we may feel overcome with rage, obsession, and shame or succumb to self-destructive lies, addiction, or depression. These appearances of the shadow introduce us to the Other, a powerful force that defies our efforts to tame and control it.
Steve Wolf, PhD, and Connie Zweig, PhD, innovators in the use of shadow-work in psychotherapy, have helped hundreds of clients in their encounters with the dark side. Seeing it - meeting the shadow - is a first step. Learning to live with it - romancing the shadow - is a lifelong challenge. It means reading the messages encoded in the events of daily life in such a way that we gain consciousness, substance, and soul. In fact, shadow-work is soul work.
With shadow-work, we cultivate a deeper self-knowledge and authenticity. When we identify family shadow patterns, we move toward cultivating family soul. When we untangle romantic projections, we begin to build the soul of a relationship. When we face descent at midlife and meet the underworld shadow, we reclaim the unlived life of the soul. And when we retrieve our lost vitality and creative fertility - the gold in the dark side - we nurture the hungry soul.