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Samhain 2003 Isian News - Issue 110
By: Olivia Robertson

SELF & SHADOW

How bizarre, how magical are our shadows! They are us – each individual – quirky – ridiculous, both a caricature and comment on all that is. For every creature upon this earth has a shadow. There are many legends about shadows taking possession of their “owner”, of shadows getting up to every sort of mischief, unregulated by master or mistress. What child has not played with its shadow – pathetically stunted and fat at midday, but elongated across a field in the evening.

Are shadows evil because they are dark and mobile? Should respectable people have shadows? It is said that a Master of Wisdom casts no shadow. In that case, he cannot be self-luminous, because the greatest creator of all shadows is the sovereign sun! The moon does her best and Sirius can do so on occasion – but it is our sun, revered as being solemn, accurate ruler of chaos – that yet parodies itself in innumerable comical, frightening, absurd parodies of any solid object, rivalling water in reflection.

I have been pondering as to how we can reconcile our idealism, our spiritual pretensions and creeds – with the apparent duality that surrounds us! We have a noble meeting of philosophers, yet shattering jealousies and spite manifest afterwards. Charming women do not always appreciate each other: even Priestesses and Priests can manifest terrifying envy and jealousy that can be very disillusioning to their loyal disciples who are forced to “take sides.” As for politicians – one need not amplify.

Curiously enough it is the Jester in the Tarot pack that helps me cope and laugh, rather than give up and weep. One can forgive other people for gossiping after a spiritual gathering – but not oneself. Worst of all, one can enjoy slander, criticism, tabloid newspapers, and clever radio presenters turning an interview into an interrogation. Why? Does one go on retreat? Is that the answer?

I remember I decided to speak no harm about anybody for a week – when I was very young – and wore a ring to remind me. I was wonderful, spiritual, a kind if not very interesting companion. I really felt, along with my pacifism and vegetarianism, that I was joining the ranks of the Blessed. Then a brilliant woman author called. . . and we began talking about fellow authors. At first I held out and was a cream and goodness. But suddenly the floodgates opened and all the unpleasing knowledge I possesses poured forth. It was true too. We spent an entertaining evening and I “took alcohol” – i.e. a glass of sherry.

The North American Indians have the Shadow God, the Heyoehkah, who acts in the role of “grounding.” This extraordinary character keeps the tribe sane through burlesque, wild humour – the Clown. Such a genius was Charlie Chaplin, who under the mask of humour revealed the ugliness in the “Modern Times” film. I remember a machine that fed the workers at top speed so that they could put in more work on machines. The God Logi enacts the same fiery role in Wagner’s “Ring Cycle.” When the Gods and Goddesses are making a stately progression over a Rainbow Bridge to a mighty white palace in the sky, Valhalla, Logi informs the audience: “what a pompous shower they are! They have created this Heaven from stolen gold taken from the Rhine Maidens.” (Nature) Does this ring a bell?

We, twentieth century non-gods dwell in tall buildings using up nature’s resources, especially with artificial air. I remember being in ideal weather in a New Orleans University and would escape under a tree, where I would read in soft shadow – while a typhoon blast of air-conditioning was freezing those in the main hall, waving witches’ robes around in a surrealist manner. We grow some obese people so fat they need two or three seats in a plane, while others in “the Third World” often look like living skeletons. We try to emulate them by slimming, using every sort of strange diet that sometimes kills.

Is this criticism? No. Not at all. It is laughter. What is the difference between laughter and anger? It is spiritual recycling. I know loved ones who have banners “Down With”, and a space for insertion as to what they are wishing to remove. This is a healthy outlet, to walk in processions waving a banner. It is the suppressed rage that is a killer both of body and soul. I have known fine people with lofty idealism give themselves strokes and heart attacks from fury at the evils they see in the world. But do the Deities emulate them and kill themselves? The angels weep – The Gods laugh.

My own method of dealing with the horrors one reads about in newspapers or sees on television is to centre myself in Divine Reality, where evil does not exist. Evil is the shadow of the real. Even with those apparently completely wicked, one is not seeing them at all. One is not seeing them as God/Goddess see them – as their own loved children. One only sees the monster, while poor Dr. Frankenstein has vanished. When the shadow becomes completely evil, the true self is pushed aside and withdraws to an astral haven, where only a strange absent-mindedness marks out the casting of a monstrous shadow. Such a person complains to fellow spirits of occasional nightmares – of loss of memory, of a nagging feeling that something must be put right. In response, the Divine Self will send forth another incarnation, so that the inquisitor of one life becomes a red-cross doctor in the next.

But how can we bridge the gap? My way is always to accept the divine in all that is: but find this difficult when I think of child-abusers and boa-constrictors. And it is precisely in this area that the Jester can help! For the Jester has a godlike source, Hermes, Messenger of the Gods. Hermes has the ability of travelling through all spheres, because he has that everyday aspect of wisdom – understanding. He is the Bard feared by kings, the journalist who probes, the author who makes us laugh – like Mark Twain – the illustrator like Max Beerbohm and James Thurber. They have a magical mirror which shows us the Truth even while we laugh. Hermes-Mercury brings down the mighty from their seat and restores the humble and meek – words first used by the Goddess Beltis and later given to the Virgin Mary.

Why don’t we have feminine Heyoehkahs? I was as a girl always warned to avoid wit and “cleverness” because men did not like being laughed at by women. Women comedians are still rare. For humour is a styptic, a slayer of passion. One humourous word out-of-place, and bang goes the balloon of passion! Do you want to get rid of fundamentalism, fanaticism, that passion that leads to “stalking” and rape? The sure way is by the mirror of truth, whose rays bring laughter. For this is the Gorgon’s Head so dreaded by all. It is held aloft by Mercury the magician – but used over the heart as a shield by Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom. Combined with compassion, humour may save our world.


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