I was doing some research on the Pillars of Solomon and part of that included listening to Taliesin McKnight’s video post on the subject. The idea of the Great Work in general is uniting both halves of the self into a unified whole, or regenerating the soul is the term he used. The topic of looking at the light (known) and dark (unknown) parts of ourselves in the endless quest to bring more of ourselves into the light of understanding is pretty much the topic of this journal/blog.
In the cited video, at about 21:50, where he is talking about the repressed and expressed sides of the self, he uses his own literal shadow to illustrate this point.
In that moment, a word sprang across my brain: Doppelganger. Literally, it means “double self” and I always thought the doppelganger would find a “host” by stepping into their shadow and becoming that person’s shadow – only once it had fully imprinted on the person, it could detach at will and become an exact duplicate of that person. Essentially an Evil Twin. It would do its mischief, and then return to the host as their shadow, the person being none the wiser. In researching the doppelganger, I didn’t find too much about the shadow part so forgive the error but that was my understanding of this word which encapsulated the concept to follow.
The shadow, or the repressed and unacknowledged aspect of ourself, is still us, still me. I may not acknowledge my inner cheerleader but she’s there – lurking in the shadow of me, waiting to pop out to prance around and shake pompoms. Like all aspects of the self, it wants to be expressed. It WANTS to see the light of day and dance in the sun; but it can’t, because I have that perky little bitch in chains chucked into the basement. Alas, the more I seek to deny and bury these repressed aspects, the more they can sneak around and get out on their own. Indeed, this is the very concept behind the Hall of Mirrors – what I repress in myself I give to others, and they are my mirror. The more unaware of this whole process I am, the more I live deep in a Hall of Mirrors having no idea that what I am seeing are actually distorted versions of myself.
So the myth of the doppelganger, or shadow person, is a PERFECT allegory for this. That shadow self IS me, and when it slips away from my conscious control it’s like someone other than me is sitting at the helm, using my body to dick with people.
I sat agog at how beautiful this myth perfectly illustrated the concept. Then other images flashed to mind and I started to see just how many of our myths include the concept that while the Dark may be evil, that’s where true power lies, and if courted or sometimes just given half a chance then it will take us over.
I’ve been hot-boxing Supernatural (DEAN! *faints dead away*), since they are now up to like season 13 and I originally stopped watching after season 5. It’s not really a show you can just catch piecemeal, so I had to stop and now I’m finally catching up. Anyway, I’ve totally been stewing in the demon and witch mythos that the show really hits hard. Talk about a perfect illustration of the idea!
- Witches get their otherworldly power from a pact with a demon, a being from the darkest pits of Hell. Once granted, it’s really not feasible to be a nice person still.
- Demons, well, they are darkness and they can take over a person and do all manner of evil then, leaving the person to pay for the crimes of this controlling “alien” entity that made them do these things.
- The werewolf is somewhat similar, in that it comes out at night and is uncontrollable evil, taking over the helpless daytime self.
- Switching shows a bit: “If only you knew the POWAAH of the Dark Side!” Dude. Archetypal much?
So yeah, this shadow aspect of ourselves which has the power to take over in some form or other is so freaking common in our stories and myths that when I stopped to see it … it was impressive. How could I have missed this?? But now that I see it, I’m starting to really re-evaluate a lot of storylines…