Shadow Places

Carl Jung defined the Shadow as a part of the human personality that we are ashamed or embarrassed about. Because it represents the opposite of our conscious, chosen attitude about ourselves, we try to push it into the background, into the unconscious. Often, we take an immediate dislike to other people who openly exhibit this aspect of themselves.

Although people often assume that the Shadow is evil or perverse, that is rarely the case. For example, if a woman cultivates an image of herself as a free-spirited artist, her Shadow might be a businesswoman who insists on order and control. A man who tries to be a tough negotiator in his business might have a Shadow who cries over romantic comedies.

There are Shadows in our communities, too, and they are the hurt places we live among. Shadow places are the city dumps we take detours to avoid, the bare, littered places under bridges where homeless people live. Shadow places are wilderness trails you used to hike that have been opened to mining.

When we ignore these places, we are trying to shove them out of our consciousness, just as we do with those secret places in ourselves that we hope others won’t notice.

Mental health professionals remind us that we can’t be whole, healthy individuals until we get to know all the aspects of ourselves and accept them as intrinsic parts of who we are. We can transform some of these shady personalities into qualities that serve us better—but not until we are willing to look at them, honor them, explore them.

When we visit wounded places and get to know them as they are now, we are bringing the Shadows of our communities and wilderness areas out of the darkness and into light. Being willing to really see them, we find beauty there. Making beauty, we come into a new kind of wholeness with both the place and ourselves.

 

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.

MORE RADICAL JOY REVEALED

  • Costa Rica Altar

The Gift Decoupled

The French anthropologist and sociologist Marcel Mauss (1872-1950) was the first westerner to write about gift-giving as an essential aspect of culture, more widespread and more universal than any other. Mauss saw gift-giving as a [...]

  • Mandala Sasha Daucus

The Wound Is Part of the Wholeness

Sasha Daucus has been an active member of Radical Joy for Hard Times since 2012 and has hosted Global Earth Exchanges every year since then. For the 2017 GEx she rallied people in her hometown of [...]

More Revealed

SUBSCRIBE

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.

2019-04-07T11:39:20-08:00
This website uses cookies and third party services. See our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information. Settings Ok

Google Analytics

We use Google Analytics to track your path through our website. To assist in protecting your privacy, we anonymize the last 4 of the IP address.

Tracking Cookies

To monitor and help enhance your visit while on the website.

Host Accounts

We offer a individuals private member access as Hosts when they register. We offer Host newsletters and the ability to manage Earth Exchange Events & Stories that Hosts will author and help manage. We ask for basic information from Hosts to join. We additionally ask the Host to provide detailed information about their events and preparations. This includes images and narratives about their event and any Stories told about the Exchange Events hosted.