In my post this morning, I referred to the election as “cultural shadow work”. I realize that not everyone sits around reading Jung for fun, so let me explain what I meant.
For Carl Jung, the definition of the “shadow” in the psyche was all of the stuff that we have said “that’s not me” about. All of the broken off bits, and all of the things we can’t admit about ourselves gets shoved in the subconscious basement.
The stuff we shove into our shadows then bubbles up against our wills. It oozes out the sides of our lives via nightmares, or triggered emotional responses that make no logical sense. The shadow often hits us like a mack truck if we ignore its lessons for too long.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ~ C. G. Jung
If You Are Surprised, You Weren’t Paying Attention.
Our cultural shadow in the US — meaning all of the things we in the Melting Pot righteously declare we are NOT – contains racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia and a hell of a lot of rage. It includes the ongoing racism and denigration of First Nations people who were here before the rest of us. It includes violence and injustice. It includes rape culture. It includes ratings and sensationalism over real people and real news.
The people who are surprised that it includes those things “so much” are the ones I’m giving the side-eye right now.
Ask a black woman with a teenaged son how surprised she is. That woman deals with racism, rape culture, sexism, the threat to her child’s safety because of the color of his skin every single day, and she has for her entire life.
Yes, it was really this bad already. You just didn’t notice it before.
You Can’t Clean Out the Basement Without Pulling All the Crap Out Onto the Lawn.
The truth: This is going to suck.
Cleaning out the basement sucks. We have to yank all of the stuff we hate about ourselves and each other and our culture out into the light. We have to evaluate it. Take a good, hard look at it. We have to decide whether to trash it or accept it as part of our cultural basement in case it is useful when disaster strikes or the kids move to college. And then we have to fucking own it.
The reason why Trump won was because he voiced the rage and fear of a lot of people. Silencing that rage and fear will only make it ooze out in even more disgusting ways.
The worst thing about Shadow work? The only way out of this is through it, y’all.
Calling all Poets.
I’m learning something about myself today.
I’ve done a lot of shadow work. I’ve gone through hell and back. I know what it means to face this down and come out the better for it on the other side. I’m noticing as I look at the people around me that I have a different perspective than most of my friends. So, I’m stepping up.
Now is a time for healers. For shamans. For storytellers. For poets and songwriters.
We are the people who hold the lantern in the darkness, and point the way through the night. We know the path.
22 thoughts on “Cultural Shadow Work”
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Oh, I read Jung for fun too. This is a wonderful analysis. Thank you.
I’m going to share this with a group of Joseph Campbell-y myth-maker types that I’m part of.
I’m in that group too! ❤
Should have known. Sorry. 🙂
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