“With inner work [your ego accords] every element of life, including the dark elements…a place of dignity and worth.”
–Robert A. Johnson
If spirit persons throughout history are right when they say the nature of Divine Being is light and love, why can’t we see and feel it? Because our shadow blocks the light! Unfortunately, we can’t see our shadow either. In fact, we find the very idea of it difficult to comprehend. So how do we handle something we can’t see and don’t believe in?
Luckily, we each have an inner ally who can help. The Warrior archetype is a powerful pattern of psychological energy with the courage, commitment and self-discipline to show up to work every day. It wants to be active but it only has so much energy so we need to prioritize. We can begin by asking ourselves these questions:
1: What job(s) does my Warrior have now? In other words, what occupies the majority of my time, thought, activity and will power? My job? Family? Home? Appearance? Social standing? Relationships? Hobbies? Addictions? Making money? Acquiring material objects? Pleasing people?
2: Does using my Warrior’s energy these ways bring joy, meaning and fulfillment or do I yearn for something more?
We have two basic life tasks. During the first half our job is to acquire power and success in the material world. Our Warrior’s energy is meant to be directed into socialization, education, perfecting our skills, and establishing a comfortable home, satisfying job and loving relationships. Using some of our energy to disown what we consider negative while trying to act positive and loving is often helpful during this time, but it’s not enough to connect us with the mystery of Divine Love.
If your answer to #2 is that you’re still unfulfilled and yearning, you’re probably near the second half of life. Dissatisfaction at this time comes from having repressed some of our valid, and often valuable, potential. To complete ourselves we need to give our Warrior the new job of freeing our unlived life.First, we need to become intentional about acknowledging our true feelings, especially those which feel dangerous, for they are among the more accessible symptoms of our shadow. Then we need to begin a committed program of regular inner work that will help us see and restrain it. Inner work is a big job, in fact it’s THE big job, and it continues throughout our lives. Most of us find it painful at first, but it gets easier. Spirit persons have always demonstrated that growth pains are preferable to the child’s fear of switching on the light in the closet of nighttime monsters, for that is a choice to remain in spiritual darkness.
Inner work requires our Warrior’s commitment to practice, practice, practice! It can be anything that brings self-knowledge, empowers us to make healthy choices, and provides purpose, meaning and spiritual direction. Examples include journaling, dream work, active imagination, meditation, and psychotherapy. For more information, I highly recommend Robert A. Johnson’s Inner Work. Growing mindful of how and when our shadow shows up is like creating a special road map that highlights unnecessary detours and obstacles, and directs us to safer routes. No one else can make our roadmap and we can’t complete it for ourselves without self-knowledge.
“The theme of solar mythology is a great battle between light and darkness, good and evil.”
Befriending the dark side seems counterintuitive to most people today. After 4,000 years of conditioning by the Sky god’s mythology, our Warrior is far more comfortable trying to obliterate it! But when the sun of our life begins to set and the moon begins to rise, lunar mythology, with its theme of integrating dark and light, is meant to take over. Dialogues with our soul open our hearts. With practice they bring self-acceptance, humility, compassion, forgiveness and love. These qualities connect us to our Source—the Divine Ground in which we and the universe are immersed—and allow it to manifest its love for us. When we accept ourselves and learn to love, our shadow’s power ebbs away and holiness flows in.
Photo: Antique Map of Hungary, Braun & Hogenberg
Photo: Fijian Warrior, Graham Crumb