ARTICLE. Illuminating The Shadowlands

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Sculpture: Expansion by Paige Bradley

Illuminating The Shadowlands

It is time to face the shadows.

There has been a shift, a turning point. It is almost palpable. In the profound occurrence of full moon paired with a solstice something is clearing.
During the solstice the sun reaches its culminating point – It sits for a few days in stasis upon the horizon and during this time we find ourselves under its full illumination. It turns the beam of its light upon us and under its radiating scrutiny we are invited to reveal our true selves good and bad, light and dark. We are summoned to face the shadow that we cast. This year the full moon also turned her penetrating gaze toward us so even within the velvet depths of the night we were highly illuminated. Even in the throes of the unfathomable night our shadow was given sharp form. During the solstice – a time where we focus on the light – our shadow has been revealed to us.

Individually, as a society or as a culture there has been nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

Yet many of us fear our own shadow. Blinded with the horror of our own darkness we run from it so hard that our lungs are set aflame with the exertion and our thundering hearts explode from our chests – yet all the while it follows us because it is an integral part of who we are.
Sometimes we turn away so that we cannot see the shadow. We seek to deny the darkness is there at all because its shade does not fall directly upon our own path. We do everything in our power to be happy, to be positive, to live authentically and in our truth. We attempt to do only good in this world and yet how can we live truthfully while pretending that the path we walk is not screened for others? They dare not follow our path for fear they will tread into our darkness.
And sometimes we step into the looming shadow belonging to others so it will eclipses our own. We actively choose to become obscured by someone else so we can stand comfortably veiled in order to avoid facing who and what we really are. It can be all too easy to live enshrouded by the cloaking darkness of another. It can be a relief.
We repress and we suppress. We restrain and we censor our truth through fear, disgust and ignorance.

By doing any of these things we are letting our shadows rule us and yet no matter what we do, as long as we choose to travel on a path of illumination our shadow will remain always with us.
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Image source: Nosferatu

During the solstice we may be called to stop – just as the sun appears to stop upon the horizon during the solstice period. During this time we can take the opportunity to minutely survey ourselves. We can take some time to truly explore the darker side of ourselves. Dwelling for a time in the shadowlands. Journeying within and intimately scrutinising and unpacking all that we are. We can identify our demons, screaming their names into the abyss – be it anger, apathy, desire, lust, envy, control, manipulation or anything else we wish not to reveal to the world at large. Once the echoing roar has subsided and each demon has been declared we can spend time discovering their origin and how they have a hold over us . We can determine if they are an enemy or an ally. We can use this as a time to experience and explore the dualism of good versus bad, dark versus light. We can utilise what within our darkness can serve us and what can serve others. We can start to heal what needs to be healed.

Then and only then can we honestly accept ourselves as we truly are.

Now it is time to make a stand! We are not shadow-puppets dancing to the tune of something we fear.
Let’s not allow the fear of our shadows rule us.
Let’s not only travel in one direction so it is always behind us.
Let’s not turn our heads away, suppressing what we truly are and assume because we don’t see the shadow that it does not exist.
Let’s not attempt to run away from it (it is only going to follow us anyway!)
Let’s not cower in the darkness of others in order to mask what we fear in ourselves!

During the days around the solstice and by the light of a full moon we have been invited to face our shadowscape and embrace it as part of ourselves.
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Image: from Destruction/Construction project by Chris Slabber

Let’s know ourselves unreservedly and unapologetically, leaving no stone unturned. Let’s recognise the true depth of our darkness, so we can take responsibility for it and fully own it. This is a process of purification. Let’s be brutal in our honesty, revealing layer by gruesome layer anything we usually hide in order to lay it bare – so it is shivering, naked and vulnerable before our keen scrutiny. Then and only then can we  truly face it down. Then and only then can we rid ourselves of our grotesque monsters with their obscene and assiduous presence. And once the beasts are slain, let’s sit quietly in our darkness for we may find that what is left is, in fact, exquisitely and intricately beautiful. We may find something awe-inspiring, something that we never knew existed because we were using all of our energy trying to pretend that it didn’t.

And let’s remember that having a shadow is all part of the intricately complex and ferociously messy joy of the human condition.

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