Dancing in the shadow

The self of my dreams came the day I found out that there was gold hidden in my darkness, that there was light shining in my bad behaviour, and that there was power hidden in the traumas of my past. Debbie Ford

One of the less obvious influences on Chakradance, often overshadowed by the more apparent influences of the Hindu-Tantric chakra system and shamanic trance-dances practices, is Jungian psychology.

While the Chakradance facilitator is all too aware that his or her role is to ‘hold space’ for the experiences of the dancers, a very Jungian concept, as is the use of mandala art to ‘contain’ the numinous experiences and energy of the dance. These Jungian aspects are often not obvious to the dancer.

I often refer to Jungian archteypes that people may encounter in their dance journeys, these will often manifest as visions of scenes that play out as interactions between archetypes like mother and victim, warrior and servant.

I have written about archetypes in these other posts. 

The experience of Chakradance is described like a ‘waking dream’ where the dancer lets go of their conscious, thinking mind and allows the unconscious mind to communicate through images, feelings, colours and insights.

This week another Chakradance facilitator posted about Chakradance as a way to interact with our shadow, a Jungian concept for the aspects of self that we are either unaware of or actively suppress because we are ashamed of that aspect of ourselves.

At a time when my shadow, in the words of Led Zeppelin, looms taller than my soul, and having just read a truly awe-inspiring post by a Jungian writer – see here – I felt one of those lightning bolt moments.  (Like a lightbulb moment but way more dramatic.)

Something’s coming up. Let’s see if it can articulate itself here…

Chakradance is a journey within. Using the chakra system as a map to consciousness, we dance beyond the everyday, five sensory awareness into a deeper experience of ourselves. With our eyes closed and our imagination as a guide, during Chakradance we experience our inner world as a waking dream. Many people see visions in their mind’s eye, encounter beings, ancestors, animals, different landscapes which all tell a story about the disposition of our inner self.

In the new Chakradance cycle, called Freedom, we have a different guide for each chakra who takes us on this journey. But I have found many people intuitively find their own guides in the dance as well, be they humans, ethereal beings or animals.

After participating in a Chakradance cycle, many people are surprised at the visions and experiences, not to mention the insights and transformations in their real lives, that they encounter.

It is so astonishing to uncover this unconscious aspect of ourselves, and to realise our conscious, day to day self is like the tip of the iceberg in terms of the multitudes we all contain.

So when we immerse ourselves into the sound and movement of chakradance, what will often arise is aspects of ourselves that we have not been aware of. This can be visions, emotions or insights that are experienced in a loving and beautiful way. Sometimes we are ready to shift and release less attractive aspects of ourselves. These might be long buried memories, strong emotions, or even aspects portrayed as menancing creatures who come out of our subconscious dark zones. 

Like a deep-water diver, encountering sharks or other prehistoric and primal creatures that we may be afraid of, our first reaction to these is often fear or repulsion. But just as sharks have a vital role in the ecological wellbeing of the ocean, so our own shadow has a purpose. 

This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed. D.H. Lawrence

For me, when I began my Chakradance facilitator training, and I was dancing and studying the modality intensely on a daily basis, I had a number of powerful experiences. The most profound for me was an experience in the Solar Plexus Chakra, which not only happened in the dance but also in my dream life. This showed me something was shifting at a deep level in my psyche.

I was awoken from a dream, quite literally, with a bang. In my dream, a large metal pot or cauldron blew its lid with a loud explosion. As a result of reading Jung and experiencing Chakradance, I was becoming more curious about the messages my subconscious communicates to me in my dreams.

After waking from this dream, I felt quite agitated and unable to go back to sleep. There was the strongest feeling that this dream was an important message from my subconscious and I intuitively felt it was somehow related to my solar plexus chakra. So after discussing this with my Chakradance teacher, I moved on to this chakra. During the dance, I had a very powerful experience.

The dance of Manipura (the solar plexus chakra) begins with a flame, and as the music intensifies, the fire increases, and I danced like wildfire. I became one with the fire, I was fire, flickering and wild. It felt incredibly liberating and powerful, and then all of a sudden my perception shifted dramatically.

The experience transformed from being elemental fire, to being ON fire – being burned, encased in flames – and all the powerful emotions that came with it. Horror, fear, panic. Even knowing it was just in the dance, the emotional reaction was profound. 

I had flashbacks to memories of being hurt as a child, and a great rage rose within me. Ending up like an animal in all fours, I growled and raged, releasing suppressed emotions held within me since I was a powerfless five year old unable to fight back against her abuser. 

It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster. Carl Jung

Recovering in child’s pose, I found myself saying to myself, “that was then this is now, it is safe to be powerful now.”

As I incanted this affirmation, came a vision of a fiery cauldron burning away the hurts of the past, all those experiences where I was persecuted, shamed, or abused for expressing my power.

I would love to report that since then I have never been less than powerful in my life, but it doesn’t work like that. In my life aspects of my shadow, like that scared and angry child, the one who was unable to be powerful and speak up, are still there.

The difference is that I know she is there, and I can see when that energy emerges, when I get petulant or sulky, when I over react to perceived criticism or rejection. These days, I am more mindful, more aware.

And I have made a sacred place for her, where she can be safe to express whatever she needs to. It’s my way of integrating her, without annihilating her. Because she’s part of me. If she hadn’t taken on all that rage and shame for all those years I may not be here today. Today instead of wishing her away I try to honour her. She’s a feisty five year old who screws up her face when she’s not happy and I love her!

I have also tapped into an inner wellspring of power that I never knew I possessed. Now when I dance the Solar Plexus I embody the energy of a fiery God – Shiva Nataraj – or a powerful warrior and feel these numinous qualities flow on into my life.

We need more people who are not ashamed of, or embarrassed by their pain, but who can instead respond to their own and others’ suffering – as an unavoidable facet of the human condition – with love, patience, sympathy, nurturing and respect. True happiness, after all, does not exclude sadness, but rather embraces it within the living paradox which personal wholeness demands. Maureen B Roberts

So what is this shadow? And why do we have it. And yes, you do.

Renowned psychologist Carl Jung believed that on the journey to discover your inner secrets and mysteries, you will encounter the dark, hidden crevices within your psyche. He called this place the “shadow self.” It is also called the lower self, animal nature, the alter ego, or the inner demon – the place where the unowned side of your personality lives.

The shadow is the parts of ourselves that we may try to hide or deny. According to Carl Jung, it can be said to consist of energy patterns, known as selves or sub-personalities that were disowned — pushed down into our unconscious in childhood, as part of our coping strategies.

Jung created the Archetypes model, a concept to describe how our unconscious minds are fragmented or structured into different “selves” in an attempt to organize how we experience different things in life.

Your shadow self is the part of you that stays unknown, unexamined, and out of the light of your conscious awareness. It is the part that is denied or suppressed because it makes you uncomfortable or afraid. Whatever doesn’t fit your image of your ideal self becomes your shadow.

Jung asked, “Would you rather be good or whole?” Many people choose goodness, or more accurately ‘correctness’ as a means to belong in society, and as a result, are internally fractured. There is your persona, the part you want the world to see, and your shadow, the part that you don’t.

What we call civilized consciousness has steadily separated itself from the basic instincts. But these instincts have not disappeared. They have merely lost their contact with our consciousness and are thus forced to assert themselves in an indirect fashion. This may be by means of physical symptoms in the case of a neurosis, or by means of incidents of various kinds, or by unaccountable moods, unexpected forgetfulness, or mistakes in speech… modern man protects himself against seeing his own split state by a system of compartments. Certain areas of outer life and of his own behavior are kept, as it were, in separate drawers and are never confronted with one another. Carl Jung

Jung believed that what you resist in life tends to persist and even become stronger. If you resist your dark side, it becomes more solid. Hence by trying to be good and suppress our shadow side we actually make it more powerful.

As Jung often said what we refuse to face in ourselves, we project into others and onto life creating an external world that seems to reflect our own worst nightmares. We create self-fulfilled prophecies of the stuff we least want.

I think I first became aware of my shadow 18 years ago. Having hit, in 12-Step parlance, my rock-bottom through alcohol and drug abuse, I found myself sober in a 12 Step program. Suddenly I had no Dutch courage, no medicine, no anaesthetic, and no buffer between myself and reality. I had started using alcohol to numb my feelings at age 15 so at age 25 I had acquired zero emotional maturity or coping mechanisms that didn’t involve a drink, a fix or a pill.

I found myself sitting in cold and dank church halls and community centres – where many AA meetings seemed to be held – with hideously bright fluorescent lighting – “ve have vays of making you talk.” Even though I had spend much of my ‘drinking years’ in dank bars, the veneer of alcohol always made everything sparkle, it gave me a warm inner glow, and the dim lighting covered a multitude of sins.

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. Joseph Campbell

Now I felt exposed, transitioning from a creature of the night to an attempt at daytime normalcy, I found myself squinting and blinking at the brightness of the world, like a mole forced out of her hole. Supermarkets were particularly painful. The combination of the bad Muzak, over-lit endless aisles of stuff and people was pergatory for me.

Especially the people. Early detox from alcohol is defined by it’s combination of the physical shakes and extreme paranoia. I was sure every person in the place was watching me trying to wrestle control of my hand to pick up a packet of cereal or extricate money from my wallet. If someone actually spoke to me, it all became too much, the walls would start closing in and I had to abandon all my shopping and leave.

It was a shock to see what a ‘shadow’ person I had become, more comfortable in the dark, shadowy side of life, invisible, afraid of the most ordinary things.

In the AA program I was forced to confront my ‘defects of character,’ another ways of describing the shadow aspects of my behaviour. For someone who had meticulously avoided any emotions, or difficult aspects of myself, this was a hideously confronting process. On a daily basis I was faced with the choice of facing my shadow or facing complete annihilation. It was not a happy time.

We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations. It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle. Sigmund Freud

But, through this process I learned to be increasingly more comfortable with myself, all of myself, and embarked on a path of self-awareness and self-acceptance as I had never known before.

It was to be my first of many experiences, where I discovered that facing my shadow, no matter how painful or undesirable, brought untold gifts.

Eventually though I found myself again at a rock bottom. Having crashed and burned emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually not long after my fortieth birthday, again I was searching for answers.

As appealing as it was when I was happy, from this depressed state I found much of the New Age stuff very shallow. Wishful thinking, affirmations, faking it until we make it, are sometimes helpful to get out of the rut, but they cannot be long term life plans. True authenticity comes from facing the shadow. That stuff that lurks just beneath the surface that we push down with a myriad of avoidance strategies from sedation to excess busyness.

I am highly suspicious of any practice which focuses only on the light or positive aspects of our being. We are all made up of dark and light. A really simple way to uncover your shadow self is to see what really irritates you in others, what drives you bonkers. Is it disrespect? Arrogance? Greed? Inconsideration? Guaranteed the stuff you most resent in others is stuff you deny or repress in yourself. This is called projection, we literally use others as a screen to project our shadow traits onto.

Our journey of Self-Exploration is a bit like Dante’s Inferno. Before making our way out of “hell” we must walk through the depths of our inner darkness. Many religions symbolize these experiences well. Two famous examples include the case of Jesus who had to face Satan in the desert, and Buddha’s encounter with Mara (the Buddhist Satan) before his “awakening”.  Mateo Sol

We all do this, so there’s a couple of options, suppress it and keep frantically chanting OMs hoping that no one realises our murderous rage within, or acknowledge it. Take a look at it. Next time you judge someone else, either for the positive or negative – even jealousy often is us projecting our unowned good qualities on another person – witness that.

Be curious. Dive into it. Ask yourself, can I be disrespectful, arrogant, inconsiderate? Maybe sometimes these qualities are actually useful. Especially when used consciously.

When I stumbled upon Chakradance, something lit up inside of me. Here was the best of the New Age. A practice that combined ancient wisdom with modern psychology. It drew upon the Chakra system, shamanic dance and Jungian psychology. All practices which resonated with me. And best of all, it was music and dance! I had always found great freedom and liberation from my difficulties by pumping up the stereo and dancing myself silly. Chakradance gave me a framework to use this for my healing.

Any practice which takes us out of the conscious mind and engages with the unconscious, be it dance, creating art or music, meditation, immersing ourselves in nature, will help this more primal side of ourselves to emerge.

In Chakradance we dance into our unconscious, and then we create a mandala drawing so we can express all this beautiful untapped energy, and all the powerful images we encounter which help us to recognise these hidden parts of ourselves.

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age. Walt Whitman

Because the shadow is often made up of primal instincts and urges we have repressed, as well as tribal and ancestral traits we have rebelled against, I feel that the base chakra is particularly relevant to this work.

When I was in India last year I took the opportunity to see an Ayurvedic doctor. In Ayurveda all aspects of self, mind, body and spirit are addresssed. So as part of the consultation, he discussed the state of my chakras. He felt that my physical and emotional symptoms indicated my base Chakra was weak – almost non-existant! – and needed activating. I have been practising the mantras he gave me and the chanting practice. When the Chakradance Reboot Your Base Chakra eCourse came up I immediately signed up.

I am a great believer in divine timing. As my shadow self seems to be bursting out causing me to act, think and feel in ways I find very overwhelming and challenging, I have this beautiful practice of Chakradance to ease me back into my body, to help me integrate all these aspects of self. Chakradance is gentle like that, it doesn’t force things to come up in the psyche, Jung believed that could be counter-productive. But when stuff is ready, it rises, and it feels so good to be able to dance through and integrate my shadow work.

In the base Chakradance we connect with our power animal. Dancing our power animal is one of the most powerful shamanic practices to revitalise and strengthen our spirit. Each animal brings its own strength, wisdom or medicine, and a connection to our primal, instinctual nature.

Mine is an animal who hibernates seasonally, and as such as we head into Winter here, I am reminded of the restorative power of cave-time, time to withdraw from the world, rest, nourish and replenish the body.

The work of the soul is not always sparkly and full of surrender-gasms. As Caroline Myss said the truly powerful and great spiritual moments are usually accompanied by great humility or suffering, as the metaphor of the birth of the messiah in a stable illustrates.

In my eyes, indisposed. In disguises no one knows. Hides the face, lies the snake. And the sun in my disgrace. Chris Cornell

During this time of increased shadow rising, I became increasingly depressed. Perhaps instead of something rising up, it was a place I descended into.

Weirdly my darkest nights of the soul coincided with the tragic suicide of my musical hero Chris Cornell. I felt that right there was my shadow, I so empathised with the darkness that took him on that lonely night in Detroit.

I drew on my love for my son to get me through, like a candle illuminating the dark I knew I had to survive the darkness for his sake. It sounds melodramatic I know, but when you are hanging on by a thread, you use whatever power you can.

Depression can be seen as a descent into shadow. It certainly feels dark, and as though every negative and undesirable aspect of self takes front and centre stage. However there is also a palpable shift in awareness as if a doorway into a previously hidden part of life is opened.

Depression is a wilderness where nothing makes sense or has meaning. As long as it doesn’t take me out completely, this mental blackout can be helpful. It often forces me to challenge what truly has meaning in my life, what has substance, what brings vitality and joy. And similarly to recognise that which does not.

Leading up to this bout of depression I had done some work with a spiritual healer that included soul retrieval. In fact I could pretty much pin the beginning of my descent to that time. I became curious about this link between soul loss, soul retrieval, shadow and depression so I began to read more about it.

Soul loss is the idea that parts of our soul or spirit break away during traumatic life experiences, leaving us less vital. In psychology this idea is known as dissociation, where a person may have no memory of the trauma or seem disassociated or overly detached from their current life.

In psychology they are not concerned with where these lost parts go, but in many shamanic traditions, there is an understanding that these parts have gone to places in non-ordinary reality or the ‘spirit world.’ Shamans are experts in tracking down and coaxing back these lost soul parts to be reunited the body of the person they were splintered from. This is soul retrieval.

Many years ago when I was studying shamanism in Bali, I had a conversation with a friend about this. As a psychotherapist he pointed out that the mind is always trying to find balance or equilibrium, and as such rejects anything that threatens this. Bringing back soul parts after many years, especially soul parts that were splintered off on account of trauma, must throw this balance of the psyche into turmoil.

I wish that soul retrieval were safe, simple, and filled with the white light of love and light that people think it is. But something cannot be powerful and safe at the same time. Mary Shutan

Interesting alongside this deep suicidal depression, I also had other old dysfunctional behaviours crop up. And I craved cigarettes so badly I actually asked a drunk guy for one, fortunately he said no. I haven’t been a smoker for over sixteen years.

What I began to intuit is that some of the soul parts that had come back were pretty dysfunctional when they left.

Whether you see these parts as repressed aspects of self or lost soul parts, the effect of bringing them back into consciousness is the same, they are strangers to the psyche who has been getting along just fine – or so it thinks – without them. Sometimes it is not a happy reunion.

And seemingly they had brought some of their old dynamics back into my psyche, throwing me into turmoil. In a way my shadow selves were ignited and fueled by this process, and I was left in a frightening shadow world where all I could see was darkness and hopelessness. Much like the teenage addicted and suicidal me.

You will have to stand someplace you’ve never been willing to stand before. Go to places you have deemed off limits. This is the time to take off the shell of your past and step into the rich possibilities of your future. Debbie Ford

Fortunately, weeks ago I had signed up for a Spontaneous Transformation workshop on stress and overwhelm. Spontaneous Transformation is a beautiful technique that addresses this very issue by dialoguing with these soul parts and helping them address the trauma in order to find a resolution, recognition and integration.

Through this daily practice and through Chakradance, I have found peace with myself again. And beyond that, these angry and hurt parts of myself actually taught me a lesson or two about how I could be kinder and support myself better in my life.

In India, the Hindus practise Aarti, which literally means an illuminating light in the darkness. I believe by bringing the light of awareness onto our shadow we can find gold there. Don’t throw away the treasure in your cave because  you’re scared of the dark – light a candle and see the gold in there.

Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) Walt Whitman

Hari om tat sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Try Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul


The Lover, The Rebel, The Priestess, The Child, and The Mother – the wisdom in archetypes


I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. Rabindranath Tagore

Joy. What’s not to love about it? Odes have been written to it. Perfumes, dishwashing liquids, and magazines named after it.

Joy is my sixth intention, and although one possibly should not play favourites with such things – it is mine.

With joy anything is possible. Being mildly broke seems bearable. The assault on the environment and human rights still irks me, but I feel less pessimistic and more hopeful of solutions when I come from a place of joy. Joy makes mundane tasks pleasurable, singing whilst doing the dishes, chatting with the other mums whilst watching three hours of cricket.

The way to maintain one’s connection to the wild is to ask yourself what it is that you want. This is the sorting of the seed from the dirt. One of the most important discriminations we can make in this matter is the difference between things that beckon to us and things that call from our souls. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Joie de vivre. Pure, unadulterated delight in just being. That’s what calls to me from my soul.

Yet somehow, along this wild and wacky journey called life, I have been shamed out of feeling joy. I have been labelled as lightweight and fluffy, overly naive and annoying optimistic. Shallow even. What’s all this about then? I think it has to do with the misconception that joy is childish, when in fact it is childlike. And as we all have an aspect of self that resonates to the child archetype, I think its people’s unhappy child that wants to take a swipe at my joyful one.

Journeying into the psyche through Chakradance has been enlightening in myriad ways, none more so than the exploration of archetypes.

Maidens who stay maidens turn into saints. Old women become sorceresses. Tough jobs, both of these. Tanith Lee

Now you may believe that you have little knowledge or archetypes or even less use for them. However, you may be surprised to realize that archetypes are being used all around you every day.

A classic example is advertising. Watch any ad for nappies or breakfast cereal and right there is a woman we all instantly recognise as a “mother”. Or the prosaic car ad, with a devastatingly sexy man or woman, “the lover”, and even a car so sleek it turns into an animal archetype of speed and grace such as a jaguar.

Even done a Myers Briggs personality test? Or one of those Facebook quizzes on which Game of Thrones character are you? Yep, all archetypes. In fact the art of storytelling is implicitly archetypal, based on the narrative path coined the Hero’s Journey, from Joseph Campbell’s seminal work on myth, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.archetype

Have you ever seen a Disney movie without a witch, warlock, magician or some variation of these?

The bad guy in all movies usually is involved in some kind of alchemy, whether dark magic, or production and sale of illicit substances. Magic traditionally gets a bad rap from the uber-conservative and religiously pious Hollywood.

If you have yet to be called an incorrigable, defiant woman,
don’t worry, there is still time. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

So these are tangible and obvious manifestations of archetypal representation, but what of the archetypes Jung wrote of, what exactly ARE they?

You are a slave of what you need in your soul. Carl Jung

Carl Jung suggested that every society ever created shared its knowledge through storytelling.

Originally all societies were oral and pictorial storytellers, then many moved to written, and now electronic technologies, to tell their stories. That Facebook update or SMS you just sent, is a story. In these stories are characters, and throughout all cultures, thought the details may be different, the essence of the characters in these stories are the same.

Whether it was a Hollywood movie or an indigenous tribe, the same characters show up. According to Jung, this is how our minds store information about the human psyche and its relationship to the world. These archetypes allow our mind to access and process emotions, people, relationships, and stories into personal meaning, guidance, and wisdom.

Let’s hear what the man himself had to say on the subject…


Jung used archetypes as a theory to describe the human psyche. These universal, mythic characters reside within the collective unconscious of all people, regardless of race, culture, creed. These archetypes provide a symbolic representation of the evolution of experience human experience, and are deeply held, operating unconsciously, and intricately entwined with our emotions.

Archetypes are, at the same time, both images and emotions. One can speak of an archetype only when these two aspects are simultaneous… By being charged with emotion, the image gains numinosity (or psychic energy); it becomes dynamic, and consequences of some kind must flow from it. Carl Jung

Jung described 12 major archetypes, but there are many more. Caroline Myss describes over 70 in her book Sacred Contracts, and says that new archetypes emerge when technological development causes new aspects of evolution in the human psyche, characters such as “the geek” and “the networker.” There are ever developing subtleties in the field of archetypes.

Each archetypes has a unique set of meanings, motivations and personality traits. Listen to the way you describe people over the next day or so, “Oh she’s a real go-getter, she’s a total drama queen, he’s a phony” – all archetypal.ITWOP

It is the function of consciousness… to translate into visible reality the world within us. Carl Jung

So why should you care about archetypes? Well, not only are advertisers using them to tap into your unconscious and create emotive reactions in you, learning about your dominant archetypes can be a profound insight into the way you operate in the world, your communication style, those areas where you get stuck, and an insight into your relationships with others. And well, it’s fun and absolutely fascinating to boot!

Archetypes are… that portion through which the psyche is attached to nature. Carl Jung

Archetypes can be very useful in examining our behavioral patterns. For example, I have always experienced fear and anxiety. This is based in my child archetype and a need for security and reassurance.

The fact is being an adult involves a degree of risk – along with responsibility comes decision-making, which invariably is a calculated risk based on what happens if I do, what happens if I don’t. The inability to make responsible decisions, or to blame others when things go wrong, is a manifestation of the child archetype.

Each archetype has a shadow and a functional side. So, to further elaborate on my example, I want to move from the silent, vulnerable aspect to the joyful, playful aspect of the child archetype. Yet, we must be careful not to fall into moral judgements of “good” and “bad” as ALL archetypes serve a valuable function, and perception of them is somewhat fluid and subjective.

Understanding as had the ancients that angels and demons were identical – interchangeable archetypes – all a matter of polarity: the guardian angel who conquered your enemy in battle was perceived by your enemy as a demon destroyer. Dan Brown

Caroline Myss writes that the apparently ‘negative’ or shadow archetype has power precisely because it remains in the dark; we tend to deny its presence in us because we consider it unacceptable. Only when we face and acknowledge the shadow’s presence can we neutralize its potential negative impact on us, and embrace its wisdom.

Archetypes are not passive entities floating around in the psyche like old family portraits hanging in a dusty corridor of your ancestral castle. They take an active role as guardians and inner allies, alerting you when you are in danger of falling into destructive or “shadow” behavior. The Saboteur, for instance, warns you when you are in a situation in which you tend to sabotage your own best interests. Once you learn to recognize such a pattern, instead of ignoring it or denying its presence, it becomes your friend and can help you avoid selling out. Caroline Myss


Take for example the characters in the Wizard of Oz, the whole journey to Oz resulted in the realisation that they had the powers (agency, heart, brains, and courage) they had sought, within them all along, only their shadow archetypes (The Child, The Prostitute, The Saboteur, The Victim) were dominating their persona.

Yet, it was these very shadow archetypes that propelled them to take the journey to see the great Oz in the first place.

So working with archetypal concepts can be a great way to work through psychological issues, and who doesn’t have some of those? Archetypes have a functional aspect and a shadow aspect. The shadow aspect may be operating in our lives but we are unaware of the dynamic. So to use the example of my child, for many years I was operating from a desire for childlike security and dependence without even knowing it, now I can resolve that by acknowledging the security and independence I provide for myself, and investigate more functional aspects of my child archetype, like play and wonder and JOY!

While archetypes may emanate through us for short periods of time, in what we call numinous experience, no woman can emanate an archetype continuously. Only the archetype itself can withstand such projections such as ever-able, all giving, eternally energetic. We may try to emulate these, but they are ideals, not achievable by humans, and not meant to be. Yet the trap requires that women exhaust themselves trying to achieve these unrealistic levels. To avoid the trap, one has to learn to say ‘Halt’ and ‘Stop the music,’ and of course mean it. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

absolute-sandman-20061013055215200As a side note, I realise I am rather crudely over-simplifying a highly sophisticated theory here, for my own need, as a novice in this field, and to not over-complicate the point for my readers. It does however feel akin to plodding through a Japanese pebble garden in combat boots, so my sincerest apologies to those with a deeper understanding of this theory than mine. And I do hope as my understanding deepens I can share this new awareness with y’all. Or please share yours with me.

Asking the proper question is the central action of transformation – in fairy tales, in analysis, and in individuation. The key question causes germination of consciousness. The properly shaped question always emanates from an essential curiosity about what stands behind. Questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Chakradance uses Jungian archetypes as a way to explore each chakra.“The Intuitive” is the light archetype of the third eye chakra, or Ajna, and “The Over-Intellectual” is the shadow. Intuition versus intellectualization – I visualise this as ‘head up’ or ‘head down thinking.’ Head up, gazing at the wonders of the universe, head down in hands, thinking of the worries of the world.

Two men looked out from prison bars,
One saw the mud, the other saw stars. Dale Carnegie

Natalie Southgate from Chakradance writes that Ajna has a two-fold meaning when translated from Sanskrit – to perceive and to command.

The third eye chakra is said to be the centre of perception, that intuitive sixth sense of just knowing, without knowing how we know. It is also the centre of our dreams and memory recall, the chakra where we can tap into archetypal energies. Through active use of our imagination, we can gain command over our vision of the world.

Though her soul requires seeing, the culture around her requires sightlessness. Though her soul wishes to speak its truth, she is pressured to be silent. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

It is in Ajna that we tap into the ‘collective unconscious’ and the world of archetypes. During the Chakradance we work with an archetypal energy in order to allow that energy to enter the physical body and move through it. By embodying archetypal energies in the meditative dance space, we can gain insight into how these energies are manifesting in our lives.

milina.luisvilalon1-300x199So thin a veil divides
Us from such joy, past words,
Walking in daily life–the business of the hour, each detail seen to;
Yet carried, rapt away, on what sweet floods of other Being:
Swift streams of music flowing, light far back through all Creation shining,
Loved faces looking–
Ah! from the true, the mortal self
So thin a veil divides!

Edward Carpenter

Accessing the full power of the imagination is a gift inherent in all of us. The ‘command’ function of Ajna relates to the powers of visual imagination. This allows us to shift from left-brain rational cognition to right-brain creative thinking. This is the shift into our inner visionary. Yes, you DO have one!

The Ajna Chakradance, under the full moon by the sea, was euphoria, bliss, joy, energy, insight, connection. The place and surrounds were deserted. It was just me on the damp grass under the trees and the stars, with the sounds of the ocean crashing in the background.

At first I found being outside distracting, I was over-thinking it, trying to force a vision, also a little nervous about being so alone and isolated. Focusing on the music and movement, I tried to keep my eyes closed, but they kept getting drawn open to the natural beauty that surrounded me.

After a time, I felt an energy shift, the light became more intense as my dancing slowed, I intuitively reached my arms to the moon, I felt she was calling me. At that moment a tunnel of white light came directly from the moon into me, with the most vibrant and loving sensation, I felt completely safe and perfect. An intuitive voice came within the light saying “You are beautiful. You are now a Moon Goddess”ser_espiritual

After that my energy levels spiked and I was dancing like a whirling dervish, I felt I was a faery with wings dancing and leaping around the garden. At one stage my ring flew off my finger and landed near a wand-shaped stick. I decided this was meant to be my wand and I used it to ceremonially cut cords with any negativity.

The lesson of this dance was in reacquainting me with my divinity. When I am over-reliant on my rational mind, I can become quite disheartened about life, this connection with the universal energies of the moon and stars reminds me I am connected to all that is, there is no need to worry, the universe is unfolding, and I am part of its divinity.

Tapping into the archetypal world of the collective unconscious, allows synchronicity to flow in my life. Synchronicity is often discounted as coincidence, and it is acausal in the same way, but it is meaningful. For example, I was sitting at a park bench on my lunch break last week, re-reading my last blog post and thinking about the post I wrote for my friend who died, called “For You, Blue” after a somewhat obscure Beatles song, and at that moment, a man walks past singing that song. Now there is no connection between me and this man, yet at that moment, we were physically co-present, and our conscious minds were simultaneously focused on a Beatles song called “For You, Blue.” That is synchronicity.

To put it bluntly, and I think the process is far more subtle and nuanced than this conveys, events of synchronicity are the collective unconscious’ way of communicating with us that this connection exists. Why? I don’t know. It feels, to me, like sensing a ripple in the sea of the collective unconscious. You know, like in Star Wars “I feel a disturbance in the force”. Or an exclamation mark, “Yes! You are having a meaningful moment in the collective unconscious” – gold star. Okay, I really don’t know…

Like the characters from the Wizard of Oz, our power is always within us. We may search in external powers, like the Great Wizard, only to find he is just a man. Yet he is wise enough to know we have been acting from our power unconsciously all along. Like Dorothy, all we need to do is set the intention and we can go home at any time, the shoes, the incantation are just the point of focus, they bring our truth to our conscious mind, the power is within.

I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories… water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Affirmations for third eye chakra from Purely Om:

I open myself to know my inner guidance and deepest wisdom.

I align my consciousness with the source of all life.

I believe I am unlimited in my capacity for joy, healing and happiness.

I open myself to new energy, new people, places and experiences.

I live in the light of my truth and I accept what I know.

I create clarity of mind and unlimited vision for myself.

I am wise, intuitive, and aligned with my highest good.

I open my imagination to see the best in people and things, and to see the best in myself.

I am the source of truth and love in my life.

As I tap into my inner wisdom, I know that all is well in my world.







Women who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype Clarissa Pinkola Estés



Title: Edward Burne-Jones The Mirror of Venus 

Card playing archetypes

Archetypal faces

Wizard of OZ

Archetypal mask

Ajna woman

Moon Goddess