Charles Eisenstein on Shadow Work


Fellow blogger Laura Bruno has posted a new piece by Charles Eisenstein that perfectly captures not only the underlying lesson of this election season, but widens further to encompass this Saturn/Neptune moment in his-story, when the walls (Saturn) that divide thin and dissolve (Neptune).

The Lid Is Off

In our Green Acres Village, we call it “shadow work,” and we are consciously committed to help each other to identify, let go, and integrate emerging “projections.” To me, shadow work is the crucial work of our time, and during the NAPC (North America Permaculture Convergence) in California in September (at the start of my just completed five week spiral journey), I found myself over and over again being called into forums to speak about the shadow, both collective and individual,  — identified as those qualities within ourselves and our culture that we tend to ignore or deny, because they contradict our image of ourselves —and how, unless we continuously allow and even encourage the shadow’s release, it has the potential to destroy whatever we are attempting to create, no matter how wonderful that creation, or how  “conscious” we think we are otherwise.

Indeed, I would go so far as to say that what creates war, is at root, the shadow. This is not a new idea. Here’s Paul Levy, on Carl Jung:

Shadow Projection: The Fuel of War

The existence and maintenance of the “shadow” would not be possible without compartmentalization, what the left brain does to the right brain’s unitive spaciousness. Putting ideas, and systems of ideas, not to mention dissasociative personalities, life styles, and sub-cultures in boxes is what the left brain does best. It’s up to the right brain to recognize that all such schemas are invented, not natural. That in essence, life is unitive flow.

One of the beautiful crones I encountered on my trip west told me of her concern about her Navy Seal son, now 20 years in. How, over and over again, he appears to be able to instantly and successfully shift from some kind of top secret mission overseas with his team (five or six month stints that he cannot talk about, even to his wife) to sinking immediately into the couch with his three kids all folded into his tender, loving embrace.

How is that possible? Asks my friend, his mother.

“Compartmentalization,” he answers her.

That’s it! He knows how. However, of course, she still worries. What if the barriers between lives, between personalities, between the guy who can blow off a child’s head and the one who  loves his own children melt, dissolve? What would happen? Are his kids, her grandchildren, in danger?

To a certain extent all of us compartmentalize. Of course we do. We create and inherit segmented structures, matrices, both in space and time, in order to be and move successfully within space and time. We think it’s necessary. That without structure, chaos.

But is it necessary?

What happens now that many of us are beginning to read each other’s minds without words — and on a nearly routine basis? What happens when lies are no longer possible? What happens when we allow ourselves to re-member our connection with Nature, for whom no left-brain structures are necessary? The inherent “order” in the nature of things inhabits and emerges from within the realm of Mystery. Permaculture, and other “systems-thinking” attempt to  plumb and map that mystery (usually without acknowledging it as Mystery), turn it into some kind of “order” or “design” that we can understand, grasp and reproduce. But what if mystery is Mystery? What if, no matter what we think we know, we know nothing? What if we have to move into our right brains and our beating hearts to be able to feel, flow with, and even help fuel Mystery?

What if we are one with the universe?

What then?


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