Joseph Campbell


Joseph Campbell – "The Hero’s Journey"

The Shadow can represent our darkest desires, our untapped resources, or even rejected qualities. It can also symbolize our greatest fears and phobias. Shadows may not be all bad, and may reveal admirable, even redeeming qualities. The Hero’s enemies and villains often wear the Shadow mask. This physical force is determined to destroy the Hero and his cause.”

Excerpt from "Archetypes, Relationship, Shadow, Anima/Animus, and Personal Myth" by Joseph Campbell  

"There's a lot in you that's neither being carried into this persona system nor into your ego, as part of what you perceive as "you." Just opposite to the ego, buried in the unconscious, is what Jung calls The Shadow.

Now, the society will give you a role to play, and this means that you've got to cut out of your life many of the things that you, as a person, might think or do. These potentials get shunted down into the unconscious. Your society tells you, "You should do this, you should do that"; but it also says, "You mustn't do this, you mustn't do the other thing." Those things you'd like to do, which are really not very nice things to want to do, those get placed down in the unconscious, too. This is the center of the personal unconscious.

The shadow is, so to say, the blind spot in your nature. It's that which you won't look at about yourself. This is the counterpart exactly of the Freudian unconscious, the repressed recollections as well as the repressed potentialities in you.

The Shadow is that which you might have been had you been born on the other side of the tracks: the other person, the other you. It is made up of the desires and ideas within you that you are repressing—all of the interjected id. The shadow is the landfill of the self. Yet it is also a sort of vault: it holds great, unrealized potentialities within you.

The nature of your shadow is a function of the nature of your ego. It is the backside of your light side. In the myths, the shadow is repre-sented as the monster that has to be overcome, the dragon. It is the dark thing that comes up from the abyss and confronts you the minute you begin moving down into the unconscious. It is the thing that scares you so that you don't want to go down there. It knocks from below. Who's that down there? Who's that up there? This is all very, very mysterious and frightening.

If your personal role is too thin, too narrow—if you've buried too much of yourself within your shadow—you're going to dry up. Most of your energies are not available to you. A lot can get gathered there in the depths. And eventually, enantiodromia (the tendency of things to change into their opposites) is going to hit, and that unrecognized, unheeded demon is going to come roaring up into the light.

The Shadow is the part of you that you don't know is there. Your friends see it, however, and it's also why some people don't like you. The Shadow is you as you might have been; it is that aspect of you which might have been if you had allowed yourself to fulfill your unacceptable potential.

Society, of course, does not recognize these aspects of your potential self. You are not recognizing these aspects of yourself either; you don't know that they're there or that you have repressed them.

If you think of the self as a great circle with a center, and you think of consciousness as well above that center, then the ego is up in the center of consciousness, and the shadow would be way down opposite in the deep unconscious. The shadow is interred down there for a reason; it is that aspect of yourself that your ego doesn't know about, which you bury because it doesn't fit how you perceive yourself to be. The shadow is that part of you that you won't allow to show through, that includes good—I mean potent—as well as dangerous and disastrous aspects of your potential.

Now, typically, all these archetypes come out personified in myths and dreams. We personify the mystery of the universe as God. The ego becomes the hero or heroine figure. The unconscious self becomes the wise man or woman. The shadow becomes personified, too, as a kind of Mephistophelian figure. Evidently, The Shadow holds not only what is good for you but what is bad as well. It swallows those things that it would be dangerous for you to express, such as the murderous intent that you have for that son of a gun over there who's been interrupting you all evening, the urge to steal, to cheat, to destroy, and so on. But it also holds potentialities that your ego and the persona system don't want to accept.

In your dreams, and in the myths of your society, these urges are represented in The Shadow, and the shadow is always of your own sex; it is always to be seen as a threat.

You can recognize who it is by simply thinking of the people you don't like. They correspond to that person whom you might have been—otherwise they wouldn't mean very much to you. People who excite you either positively or negatively have caught something projected from yourself: "I do not love thee, Dr. Fell. The reason why I cannot tell, But this alone I know full well, I do not love thee, Dr. Fell?"

Why? Because he's my shadow. I don't know whether you've had similar experiences in your life, but there are people I despise the minute I see them. These people represent those aspects of myself, the existence of which I refuse to admit to myself. The ego tends to identify itself with the society, forgetting this Shadow. It thinks it's you. That's the position society puts us in. Society does not give a darn whether you crack up when it's through with you—that's your problem.

I remember hearing one clergyman say to me, "If I didn't believe in God and Christ and the Church, I would be a terrible person." Well, I said, "What do you think you'd do?" He couldn't think. I said, "I bet I can tell you what you think you'd do, but I won't tell you. All I can tell you is you'd get tired pretty soon, and you'd find you're just another old drag in the world, and you wouldn't have blown it up at all. And even if you did blow up some little portion of it, that would soon be built up and you would have been no great menace to the world. So let yourself go. Do some of those things. You'd find that they're not all so bad at all either, and you won't be saying things like that anymore."

You should find a way to realize your shadow in your life somehow."


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