The Shadow, number 15
The actual archetype for card 15 of the Tarot Deck is the Devil, the principle of evil. He represents the sense of wanting to transgress, go against the moral order, be in absolute command. He is archetypal because he ultimately rejects the Divine by his flat out refusal to obey and submit by defiantly screaming out , “I will not serve.” There is another dimension to the Devil revealed in exorcisms: his absolute hatred of human beings and the unrelenting desire to destroy them.
Because of his horrifying nature I have chosen to focus instead on a minor form of that which represents the worst in us: the Shadow. It is that part of us in the unconscious that we are usually unaware of. Ego so wants to exalt itself and consider itself to be excellent that it is unaware of its dark side, that part that human’s not only choose to ignore, but to reject, hide, and obscure. It is often also a shameful part. In Jungian therapy a test to determine if someone reflects the shadow is to ask a person if they are like a same sexed individual that they might despise and who even belongs to similar groups. A vehement denial, “No, no, never!” indicates that the therapist has struck gold; this is a sign of the shadow. Further Jungian insights into the shadow are contained in the pages added to this paper (Introducing Jung, by M H. Hyde and M. McGuinness, 1992).
David Ricoh a therapist, has written insightfully on this topic. He states that the shadow is “an inclination toward evil” (Shadow Dance, 1999, 18). As a result any action or desire coming from that inclination is shameful and embarrassing. To prepare for today’s connection to and meditation on the Shadow, I offer you the following considerations. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and note your reactions to the people I mention. The main response should be not one of rejection, but just to objectively consider as a person comes to mind and if you find yourself reacting strongly against them and want to cry, “No, no, I can never be like that person!” you have probably hit a strong nerve that indicates that person is a shadow figure for you.
All these references come from Ricoh to help discover the shadow in self (p. 22).
List… traits you strongly dislike about members of each of the following groups: your family, members of your profession, people of your same sex, people who have your national background, people of your religious traditions.
Notice how you feel about these people, your initial reactions, perhaps the tendency to criticize and judge them. Do they even elicit a certain distaste or repugnance. Or with a sigh of relief do you say, “Thank God, I am not like them?” Different from this do you ever have thoughts or reactions that you usually repress but at moments of stress, anger, or total exasperation burst forth that surprise you? And what would you like to do that if no one knew, not even God, you would gladly give full vent to? Ah, now perhaps you are finding what is deep within you, repressed, but wanting, waiting in some way to come out.
Today in the meditation on the shadow, notice who it is that emerges, or if an unknown person comes notice what he or she looks like, feels like to you, or the initial reaction you have to them. I will guide you in connecting to them so that you may find what in them is in you. At the end when we come to the gift notice what you receive. The gift may help you come to great self-knowledge and a chance for change.
Ultimately, the shadow also hides something special that can be positive for and in you. It may have a gift you have to develop. Let us note what your meditation reveals.