“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” ~ C.G. Jung
Befriending Shadow characters (the people, animals, archetypes, plants or even inanimate objects we see as negative) can bring about incredible transformation.
I have first-hand experience with this. For my entire life I’ve had arachnophobia. Even the tiniest spider used to send me into fits of panic. Back around 2006, I worked with a therapist to help me overcome my phobia. She introduced me to the idea of exposure therapy, and I got to a better place. But I still had a serious fear.
Depth psychologist Carl Jung gave us the idea that the things we’re most afraid of actually have incredible gifts for us. I like this idea, and so last fall I began working with my phobia in a completely different way: I looked at Spider not as an enemy, but an ally.
Once I changed my perspective in this way, interesting things happened. I became more curious about spiders and not as afraid. I can look at pictures of spiders now without any fear. I have a stuffed animal spider on my bedside table and a remote-controlled tarantula that sits at my altar.
This transformation came from having intentional conversations with Spider through active imagination. It also came from dream interactions with Spider, as well as waking-life ones. As soon as I shifted my perspective and saw Spider in a different light, I was able to remove some of charge surrounding the creature and see it as a wise teacher.
For me, the energy and gift I received from Spider was fierce self-love. Whenever I see spiders now, they are a reminder to love myself and be courageous.
I want to help others face their fears and embrace their biggest gifts, so on May 12 I’m teaching a class on working with Shadow characters. I will lead participants through a guided meditation to meet a Shadow character and give them tools for working with the Shadow. It’s going to be awesome. If you’re local, I’d love to see you there!
And if you’re not, but you have a phobia you’d like to transform, you can contact me for a coaching session or healing.
Working with the Shadow Class Details
When: Monday, May 12
Time: 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Where: 1606 Bonita Ave., Berkeley, 94709
in the Fireside Room
(at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists)