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Guardians and Angels, goauche and watercolor crayon in handmade journal, by Erika
Our True Nature
This round of Befriending Our Shadow course is complete. This week we had our last sessions, the last one being the day before Thanksgiving. Participants in the class have come full circle, from tentatively approaching the shadow, which was experienced as a monster, lurking in the shadows, to acceptance and even friendship with the shadow. More than that, they have come to see more deeply how the shadow and the light are deeply intertwined. They have explored in their powerfully expressive dolls, how the shadow cannot exist without light and vice versa and how one nourishes the other. Fundamentally the truth of our true nature as human beings is coming clearer, that we are beings of light.
Participants in the course have been courageously wrestling with dark emotions of grief and loss, anger and frustration, and questions of identity in times of transition. These deep explorations are mirrored in their dolls, which morph and change, just as the participating artists relationships with these dark emotions shift and change. Monsters shape-shift into partners in growth. Deteriorations related to illness or aging are seen in a new way, as a pathway into acceptance of the full self. Continual change begins to be welcomed as the only reliable constant in life.
Throughout the course we have had guided visualizations, and one of the first ones was a journey to see the hidden light or gold within the shadow. It was very moving to see how brightly the light shone in these meditations and at the same time, how this light was gently held within the shadow. And this week we meditated on how the true self, that core of gold within, is held by both the shadow and the inner guardian. We saw again how closely linked these “opposites” are, not really opposites at all.
Meeting of Light and Dark, goauche and watercolor crayon in handmade journal by Erika
The Light within the Dark at the time of the Winter Solstice
It seems appropriate to talk about these things as we approach the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, in the Northern hemisphere. We usually think of this time as a time of short days. We wake up in dark and before our days are fully done, it is already dark. Yet, the solstice is also the time when the earth shifts and starts its journey towards light again. The pause at the fulcrum of this transition, can be seen as the earth taking a breath. And together with the earth, we can also take a breath, appreciating the wisdom of the dark and anticipating the coming of the light. We are reminded that, no matter how dark it may seem outside, whether because of the time of year, or because of what might be going on in the world at this present time, we can never get away from our true nature as a being of light.
More Guardians and Angels, goauche and watercolor crayon by Erika
The Meaning of Our True Nature as Beings of Light
Last week, in talking with one of the participants of the course in a private session, I said, “in some ways, I feel like I know less about the shadow than I did when we started,” and she laughed in recognition. One of the themes, running as a thread through these eight weeks has been the idea that once we come to a true place of impasse, when there seems no path forward, we are given the opportunity to discover a new way of approaching our problems. This is when we let go of the left brained thinking that is the most common way of approaching problems in our modern day world, at least among what Clarissa Pinkola Estes, of Women Who Run with the Wolves fame, calls, the “overculture,” and turn instead to a right brained more creative way of thinking. This way of thinking is less about “figuring it out,” and more about developing a comfort level with the uncertainty of life, with all the parts that don’t seem to fit, with all the ways in which our world feels “wrong,” essentially the shadow.
Once we begin this shift, we begin also to recognize that there is a part of ourselves that doesn’t change, no matter how dark we feel, and that is our inner true self, our hidden gold. There is a story about a treasured statue of the Buddha in Thailand:
In 1957 an entire Monastery in Thailand was being relocated by a group of monks. One day they were moving a giant clay Buddha when one of the monks noticed a large crack in the clay. On closer investigation he saw there was a golden light emanating from the crack. The monk used a hammer and a chisel to chip away at the clay exterior until he revealed that the statue was in fact made of solid gold.
Historians believe the Buddha had been covered with clay by Thai monks several hundred years earlier to protect it from an attack by the Burmese army. In the attack, all the monks had been killed and it wasn’t until 1957 that this great treasure was actually discovered.
We begin to discover our hidden gold or true light, once we release our hold onto the outer shells of our identity and rest into who we truly are, the bedrock of our being. And in so doing, we also connect to that golden light within others and in the world around us. And though this may seem like a small step, if we take this small step each day, we are adding golden light to the world around us. Our ability to renegotiate our relationship with our own light on a daily basis, can contribute in a small way to the healing of the world.
I've been making dolls for about ten years now. I believe that dolls serve as representations and reminders of the best part of ourselves. I am excited to share with you here my learnings about new methods and techniques for doll making and healing. So glad you are here!