With Halloween upon us, it’s a time to reflect on our shadows. Befitting the season, I went to see the musical “Wicked”. What a clear shadow story that musical presents to us!
Glenda, the Good Witch, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, carry each other’s shadow sides. Glenda is blonde, beautiful, ambitious, superficial to the point of being stupid and very popular. Elphaba, born with emerald green skin, is dark, smart, talented in sorcery, kind-hearted, fiery and ostracised. They are fascinated by each other yet repulsed. They know about each other’s existence and at times have no use for each other. If they team up though, they are strong together, unbeatable. The romantic interest in their lives, Prince Fiyero, first gravitates towards the beautiful and seemingly perfect Glenda, until he discovers her dark shadow Elphaba and truly falls in love with her. He sees the gifts in the shadow, the beauty of being different, the power in her intellect and commitment to helping those who are being mistreated. The misguided Wizard of Oz and his press secretary use the fear of the population of munchkin land of the dark, of the different, of the evil to prevent Elphaba from liberating everybody from his dictatorship.
What shows up on stage outside ourselves has such a fascination because it is going on inside all of us. We are all beautiful and ugly, ambitious and lazy, superficial and deep, stupid and smart, gentle and fiery; at times we belong, at other times we feel like outsiders. The musical story shows so clearly that what everybody labels as the Good, personified by Glenda, is neither good nor bad. The same applies to what lies in the shadow and has been deemed by the majority as evil. Elphaba is neither good, nor bad, just misunderstood. In fact, she is able to rise and have a great impact, especially if unified with her light shadow, represented by Glenda.
This is a beautiful story about our own strength if we just step out of the fear of what lies in the dark and – just like Prince Fiyero – begin to fall in love with our shadows. No energy is good or bad when used consciously. All energy has gifts and potential. It becomes a problem if we begin to persecute an energy in us. Just as Elphaba’s powers became greater in hiding when she was hunted and wanted as an enemy of the Great Wizard, who, by the way, stands for the Inner Critic we all have.
Just as Greek mythology tells us, if we cut off the head of the hydra, it grows two. If we cut those off, it grows four and so on. We cannot get rid of our shadow. The more we disown an energy, the more we try to push it underground and starve it, the more fierce it becomes. By befriending an energy, by getting to know it’s true potential and usefulness, we shift from fear into acceptance and love. We can integrate it into us and gain the conscious choice when and how to use it.
One of the ways we do this is a Shadow Integration Process. Another person can stand in for an energy in us, for example the angry energy, which is generally a dark shadow, or the generous energy, which could be a light shadow for us. You are then literally looking into the eyes of that part of you which you have so far judged and disowned. In the Integration Process you release the energy which is right now holding this part at bay because it perceives it as a problem. From the intuitive wisdom of your heart you get to know the gifts and advantages of this energy. From that shift in your understanding and feeling you can truly embrace ALL energy as part of you. Knowing it in yourself liberates you from judging others and being in fear of an energy. It is a huge step towards consciousness, wholeness and greater freedom.