Jungian Shadow and the Occult
Last Updated: 1 July 2014
The Jungian Shadow is defined and discussed in the Psychology Section on the Jungian Shadow page. In this section I shall examine more its application and use in the occult, in particular reference to the Left-Hand Path.
Spiritual enlightenment, revelation or conversion can have many positive and powerful aspects. For example, it is often a way of reconnecting with a part of oneself that one may have neglected or denied for years or decades, i.e. love. Religious love is in some respects a type of romantic love affair, but with God and a certain part of one's psyche, instead of a physical person. Some people have denied any type of human warmth from their experience. It is also a very powerful way of leveraging out certain negative beliefs from one's psyche. Of course there are other strategies of experiencing and achieving this. Transplanting a belief system such as a pre-packaged religion may have its down sides, for example, limiting one's thinking, controlling one's behaviour and adopting the religion as a path for the Self rather than cultivating the Self in a non-dogmatic manner, and without suppressing or denying any aspect of one's nature. Religious conversion can thus crowbar out one set of negative beliefs (but not necessarily all) and replace them with another set of restrictive beliefs and another Shadow. It can in a sense be a shift of one's Destructive Shadow rather than coming to terms with it. Spiritual experience need not be like this of course, and one can have spiritual awakening in an evolutionary sense, without losing one's sense of who one is or was - without excessive amounts of denial (but perhaps just a little!)
Occultists who use the concept of the Jungian Shadow, whilst realising that there are many paths to reconciling oneself with one's Shadow, generally prefer the use occult ritual for this purpose - but after all, everything is magic in some sense. Whether they believe this to be the most effective means of achieving this, or whether they like it for reasons of familiarity, ego or that it is more 'taboo' than other methods is a matter of debate. There are NLP methods and Psychoanalysis methods available also for working with the subconscious mind, and many occultists, mainly of the Luciferian disposition, seek to incorporate such modalities and knowledge into their own repertoire, to really work their psyche from a number of different angles. These are not always taken up widely or to such a high degree however as they are not as 'sexy' and may involve asking difficult questions, with practitioners choosing to avoid certain areas of their psyche or certain concepts because they have conditioned themselves to avoid them. Of course, introspective reflection and analysis of one's dreams is also something that most occultists like, as it appeals to the desire for fantasy and the 'mysterious' and 'exciting', but is also something that occurs without any effort. However, journalling one's dreams requires self-discipline and also trying to gain control of the dreams and become lucid takes much practice and time in most cases. Dreams of course highlight surface features of our destructive shadow self or or how we are out of touch with our positive shadow selves. Analysing negative beliefs in the cold light of day is not as appealing, when not related to the vivid and ethereal experience of dreams - but the dream can really help to highlight the negative beliefs if the person is open enough and able to be honest enough with himself.
Many LHP practitioners would like to think that their occult practices and philosophical position actually help to reconcile a personality with it's Destructive Shadow, exploring suppressed aspects of one's psyche. To make the person more whole, retaining the former self but integrating it with the hidden aspects and feedback loop of the psyche, thereby reducing the impact and size of the Destructive Shadow. It is an evolution of the personality rather than going from one extreme of self-delusion to another, learning nothing in between. It is the process of gaining more self-knowledge and clarity - being more honest with the self and the subconscious. Such practices would therefore be considered by some to be tools for shadow exploration and personal growth. It depends on what type of occult practices you are engaged in and to what extent what you do is balanced and reflects all the different aspects of your psyche, rather than focussing on one aspect as it is more gratifying to the ego or more 'extreme.'
However, to my outside perspective, the above does not always appear to be a successful experience. Illuminism and Luciferianism may perhaps be more successful in this respect, often incorporating Golden Dawn or Thelemic hermetic and theurgic practices as well as more chaotic practices, demonology and goetia, than less multi-dimensional practices such as the various forms of Satanism. It depends on how the ego is managed of course and how one frames one's ideology and philosophy as everyone is different.
Let us assume that the general shift in conditioning, awareness and mindset is:
- from a self-deprecating, potentially RHP type approach where one lives one's life by society's conditioning, to please others, to serve others and to fulfil one's self-conditioned notions about how life should be lived, and without any significant ability to objectively rationalise and analyse one's own situation and to ask the right questions without muddling concepts, being addicted to one's current values and becoming emotional
- to a position where the individual believes that self-deification, greater self-awareness, rationalism, independence, questioning of past morals, freeing one's from past conditioning and the impulsive need to serve and to do what is expected of one; gaining a higher degree of control over one's own mind; becoming genuinely spontaneous and creative; free of the self-torture and deprecation, and shadow projections that afflict many people; and becoming closer to one's true self.
Some individuals may only partially achieve this and don't quite manage it because they have fostered their ego - a very positive step - but have let it get out of control so that it inhibits further personal growth and self-honesty in all areas (restricting it to only certain areas), and restricts their interests to those that gain kudos and credibility in the more 'macho' or 'gothic' ends of the occultic social spectrum. One may actually be masking low self-esteem behind this facade or fixation with strength, exclusivity and ego, and be in denial of one's softer qualities, the ability to be completely emotionally honest in all areas (but without losing perspective or the concept of the self in a balanced manner).
In some sense one may simply going from one extreme to another, simply replacing one type of Destructive Shadow self with another, but which torments the person in slightly different ways, but in ways that the person does not notice so much or does not acknowledge, or admits to with friends - probably in the same way as he did before as his former self. It is hard to tell as LHP practitioners often try to project an external image to the communities they inhabit or are so single minded in their interests and what they say about themselves that it is hard to get any feel of the whole person and only a one or two dimensional stereotype. For many LHP practitioners, they are one person in the LHP community and another in private one to one conversations with close friends during the odd fleeting moment of honesty and baring of the emotions. Where they can admit to being able to learn from many other people and not just those they deem accomplished on the LHP, in that world - as there is a rich diversity of personality qualities out there.
The addiction to feeling superior to others based on perceived superior intellectual capabilities or rationalisation and analytical skills (to cut to the chase and get to the bottom line), or more cohesive, credible, 'sexy', dark or 'powerful' philosophy or practices is a mistake some LHP practitioners make and often results in cementing self-denial, certain areas of low self-esteem, e.g. not feeling that one deserves to enjoy complete self-honesty or to meet all of one's fundamental needs (i.e. not just focussing heavily on some that have been neglected for years at the expense of others that one prioritised more heavily before potentially). One can easily hind behind the facade of strenth and hide one's self-hatred deep so that one does not think it exists as one feels strength.
It is the fine balance of nurturing the ego and the sense of self to benefit the self but not to hold the self back or push it in a direction which is not in keeping with the true self or one's true will. The ego is there to keep you alive, to give you confidence (i.e. to see reality rather than a negative, self-deprecating illusory verson of yourself) and to protect oneself from negativity, bullying from others, and to stand up for oneself.
A feeling of superiority attaches meaning where there was none prior, and is a form of unreality or illusion (or delusion) - to see the world and reality how it really is - and to acknowledge one's true power to transform that reality to what one wants - is a skill that requires nurturing over time. But to get intoxicated with superiority and excesssive power can result in one shutting one's eyes rather than opening them further - so that you no longer see the world or yourself as it/you really is/are. You see an illusory version, much in the same way that potentially you did before, but in a different way, resulting in sub-optimal decision making and being burnt or losing what you truly value as you are blind to yourself to some degree or in certain areas. The LHP should ideally be about integrating the psyche not enlarging those areas that have been neglected and trampling on others (i.e. still a divided psyche). IT should not ideally be about simply shifting from one destructive shadow self to another that comes to torment the person in new ways.
The whole purpose of understanding the shadow is to reduce it in size, to become more whole, not to increase its size or merely shift what it is, by denying who you are, to throw oneself into an arbitrary set of prescriptive philosophical beliefs that may not fit your true self so well. There is a fine line between understanding the self and deluding the self (whether pathological or not). In such a secnario one would simply be replacing one shadow with another. Perhaps some consider it to be an initial step in deprogramming the mind and banishing the mind of previous monotheistic brainwashing and conditioning, but of course, one might well be conditioning oneself in simply a new way, which would be rather pointless unless one later one evolved one's path to embrace the totality of one's experience and needs. If it is a just stepping stone rather than final destination, a way some Luciferians consider Satanism or Misanthropic Luciferianism, then to use it as such a powerful deprogramming tool can be beneficial to one's long term personal development, but to have such a philosopy as a final destination or to get too conditioned and trapped by it so you remain there even though you may not have originally intended to do so, then you may end up with the above scenario.
Anti-Cosmic Gnosticism or Satanism is a Left-Hand Path philosophy for some practitioners, but in some respects it could be considered to be a branch of LHP occultism that reinforces one's Destructive Shadow - in the sense that the desire to destroy physical existence and the Universe may be partly liberating but is partly a Shadow projection. Some other Satanists of various flavours who are waging a literal spiritual war on Christianity, may also be seen in this light too. To want to make everyone the same as you, or to be so offended or threatened by something, or insecure in one's own sense of self, one must be in denial about something psychologically. Those who also replace their brain or personality or sense of Self with the text book or stereotypical values of whatever occultist or LHP community philosophy may also be similarly suppressing part of their true nature in the interests of conformity.
This type of nurturing of the Destructive Shadow and in some sense aligning much of one's conscious experience as a projection of the Negative Shadow, is a temptation for many, as they do not fully understand the nature of what the 'dark side' or 'unknown' is, and perhaps believe that by taking on 'evil' or 'malevolent' or 'self-oriented' qualities that one is more balanced or complete. Self exploration and improving one's sense of one's Authentic Self, for oneself, is of course important - as long as it is not at the total expense of some of one's positive personality traits (of one's core personality type and from the Authentic Self or Constructive Shadow), but in harmony with them. 'Dark' is often used synonymous with 'evil' in many 'gothic' contexts, but 'dark' just means unilluminated or unknown. This may be missing the point, as one should probably be seeking to remove the inhibitions and sense of limitation, and to reintroduce a feeling of unlimited possibility, but at the same time looking to instill positive and empowering beliefs that can guide the conscious mind to actually achieve what it really wants. To tap into one's creativity and Authentic Self, and be in touch with one's Constructive Shadow.
Just because the mysteries or the occult are secret or unknown to many, this does not necessarily mean that everything in this area is beneficial to exploring one's subconscious (long term - or perhaps short term depending on the individual's immediate needs) and not getting tied up in ego and in actually achieving the opposite of what one really wants (i.e. nurturing the Destructive Shadow, as it seems Adversarial or macho to do so). One really has to look at the individual activities in question, and judge them on their personal application, the spirit behind them, what they are seeking to achieve, and also whether they serve any useful purpose in exploring one's subconscious mind. It may also come down to whether one believes they are metaphors for subconscious exploration; or whether they are literal exploration into the 'astral realm' - in which case whilst this may be attractive or exciting (to the ego) it may not necessarily be of any benefit to being aware of one's Shadow any more than say exploring a mountain or an underwater cave system is - putting yourself into dangerous situations that call on strength of character to overcome - and may indeed result in self-deceit. Certain astral explorations have a literal Shadow metaphor to them, and these may be more relevant.
The Shadow or the Guardian Angel/Guardian of the Threshold can in a sense protect us from our own subconscious mind and act as a filter between ourselves and our subconscious mind, but also provide feedback from the subconscious mind in the form of projections of or 'attacks' by the Negative Shadow, e.g. in nightmares etc. The Guardian protects us from ourselves much of the time, the layers of self-hatred or suppression of emotions that would otherwise result in emotional meltdown, revealing only small amounts at a time if at all. However, it also serves as a defence mechanism against outside or external interference or access to our subconscious. This is to say, it protects our subconscious from outside interactions, in person or 'otherwise'. In the former scenario, we may be talking about personal interactions such as conversations, certain types of situations, peer pressure, attempts to influence or manipulate, stress etc. If the external party is crude in his methods, then our Guardian may be more readily engaged. Clearly there are many predisposing factors and often the ego is actively engaged in preventing outside access to our subconscious.
Attempts to pry into our feelings or thoughts or to get us to admit something that we are really feeling are often blocked by our ego or our Guardian, or met with a defensive response. This defensive response may well be manifest throughout the body, in one's body language, hostility, tensing up muscles, etc. The second way of trying to connect with someone's subconscious is 'remotely'. Those familiar with 'new age' practices of Reiki or Quantum Touch may be familiar with the idea of remotely connecting with a person. Or even praying for someone or 'sending them good vibes'. These activities share some similar principles, in that they are only really possible or effective if the person's Guardian allows them 'in'. Healers often tell their clients that they should try to be 'open to healing' and usually as the client has sought out the healer, then they really want his services, and so are ready to lap it up, and this is not normally an issue. This usually is more relevant when engaging in a physical activity, such as osteopathy, when a patient may tense up or have to work very hard to consciously override the body's natural inclination to tense up when in certain situations, to protect itself. Of course, in many instances, intense prayer or healing performed in person and by a number of people may work its way into a person's subconscious and body even when the person tries to consciously or unconsciously resist for ego or other reasons. The same may be true of other types of 'connection' with a person. These may include 'spells' such as love spells, to try to manipulate a person's thoughts so that they develop romantic or sexual feelings towards one, or perhaps to redevelop romantic or brotherly feelings towards a spouse, loved one or family member. Other 'spells' may include trying to read that person's mind (subconscious, i.e. memories) or cause that person harm (even through astral projection to physically interact with him or her, uninvited). Clearly this is an area of personal conscience and moral values, and a variety of 'beneficial or adhorrent' activities are possible, with or without the person's actual consent.
When trying to connect with that person, the Guardian usually attempts to block or filter out that connection, depending on what it is. Whether that connection is blocked may depend on whether one has interracted before with that person and what the personal connection is like, and indeed whether one is aware of the attempt at connection occurring. As is noted by the police, often a killer is let into the home with no resistance because they are well known and not feared by the victim. The same applies to the human mind. If one has engaged in some form of the above activity with the other person in the past, then this connection to one's own mind from outside by that person may be much easier, meeting with little or no resistance from the Guardian. There are many other factors that may affect the ability of the Guardian to block outside influence or interference. For example, a general sense of self-preservation that does not require too much rationalisation; the 'default' settings of the Guardian in terms of how you interract with yourself and others. For example, you may have an automatic and default setting where you routinely allow yourself to be attacked by your Negative Shadow, or where you actively seek it (subconsciously) to reinforce a sense of self-hatred or loathing or feeling of worthlessness, i.e. you deserve the abuse - either in your conscious state, criticising yourself constantly or in your dreamstate, through nightmares or unpleasant dreams and dream situations. You may have an automatic setting in your interraction with others whereby you automatically agree to things that you don't want or really dislike, without thinking about it, and only afterwards realise, well actually you didn't want it and you should have said 'no' or 'hold on a minute' etc. and exercised your assertiveness. You may be the kind of person that is easily stressed by outside noises, influences or situations, whereas the next person may not be ruffled at all and be as cool as a cucumber. These external stressors are not actually 'attacking' you, but you are giving them permission to do so, or you are exaccerbating their effect on you by reacting to them and spiralling them out of control.
There are of course ways to nurture your 'Guardian' to do its job properly and to resist unwanted external access to your subconscious that you do not consciously desire, according to your True Will and True Self's desires. This may involve sorting through the various issues above, in terms of empowering and positive beliefs, to assertiveness training, being yourself more, nurturing your will and your spirit, expressing yourself, visualising boundaries between yourself and others and the outside world (e.g. an invisible, impenetrable 'bubble' around you, starting on top of your skin and slowly moving it outwards - a form of shielding), working on your self-confidence - mentally and also physically (e.g. training, martial arts, social interraction, awkward situations etc.), keeping cool, stress management, shadow exploration of various forms, positive suggestion and self-dialogue, religious beliefs, religious practices (e.g. prayer) and even occult practices (for protection and otherwise). For example, when performing healing on another person, it is of vital importance to perform proper grounding of your own level of vibration, so the healing process does not act in reverse, for the ill person to make you also ill!
The following quote from Carl Jung's 'Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious':
'Whoever looks into the mirror of the water (the unconscious) will see first of all his own face...the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor...the shadow is a living part of the personality and therefore wants to live with it in some form. It cannot be argued out of existence or rationalized into harmlessness.'
It is worth reading the ideas of Paul McKenna on the Personality Types page in the Psychology section of this web site. He refines this idea further in terms of one's Pretend Self, one's Negative Self Image, and one's Authentic Self. When analysing one's personality, one can ascertain what image one is trying to portray to the world, to cover up one's negative self image and self-loathing, and underneath all this, what one's real self actually is. When one considers one's 'shadow', is the implication that it is a 'darker' side to oneself, or just the hidden side to oneself? It is easy to get caught up in the language of 'dark', 'shadow' and so on, to mean the same thing, but they are not necessarily so. Examining Paul McKenna's model, it may perhaps be that Carl Jung may be associating both the Negative Self Image and the Authentic Self as both being the shadow. Jung does not appear to differentiate these conceptually.
It would be helpful if you have not already done so to read the Personality Types page before reading further.
Some may argue that dabbling in that which is harmful to us is a way of confronting inner demons. Another way of confronting 'inner demons' is to be honest with yourself, try to avoid compartmentalisation and accept a certain side of you, with balance of course, let it run its course, and it may slowly disappear or fizzle out. One can also try to understand why one has a certain 'inner demon' and brainstorm the negative beliefs that prop it up, and try to erode the reference points or 'legs of the table' of those negative beliefs, and build up countering positive beliefs that can replace them, including actual or invented memories or reference points. More on this in the psychology section of this web site. Indeed, by fulfilling an unmet desire or dream, other 'inner demons' or frustrations expressed in other ways may well automatically disappear.
Re-experiencing and re-living our inner 'demons' in many cases just reinforces them or their significance, in the sense that we are less able to control our focus and that we bring them to the fore more. In some cases this may indeed make things much worse, the intensity of the event often increased with each 'replay', and the most painful parts exaggerated. NLP teaches us techniques to change the memories or 'demons', make them comical or less significant by making them 'lower volume', 'black and white', 'slowing them down', inserting comical or funny voices or running them backwards. The meaning that is attached to such memories is changed and the 'demons' then become just one in a set of memories that isn't really very significant or important. For example, you don't regard your last visit to the toilet to defacate or perhaps even a bad case of the 'runs' a 'demon' do you? It's just an insignificant event. You don't keep reliving it or let it tear you up, do you?
One could view that embracing one's 'demons' could be more a process of just acknowledging what they are, developing your awareness of them, and why they are there. By becoming aware of them one can let them go or change them (using self-development/hermetic principles). Simply denying them or repressing them creates a thicker Shadow and we will be more haunted by them. What are the reasons that the event or situation is disturbing to us? Are we denying something to ourselves, fooling ourselves or are we just lacking self-confidence in a certain area, or have a negative belief(s) that affects the way we feel about a certain situation? Once we acknowledge the reason for our 'demons', and we can see with clarity, we can then decide whether we want to do something about them or not, whatever that might be, so they do not become 'demons' any more and they can disappear naturally without having to just be repressed.
There is perhaps a fine line between knowing one's demons are there and trying to reconcile one's personality more so that there are no more demons to haunt one; and dancing with the demons and actually growing one's Destructive Shadow and living more of one's conscious experience within the projections of the Destructive Shadow. And indeed dancing with danger and anything dangerous spiritually or biologically, as this could be viewed as part of one's mire, even if it has no relation to one's Shadow at all - in doing so, one may also be thickening one's Shadow by creating addiction and unseen negative beliefs. Dancing with other people's demons or demons outside of oneself (literally - demonology - which is not necessarily a metaphor for one's own Shadow) - and bringing more 'trouble' onto oneself than one would otherwise have had - which may make you stronger or take you further away from your Constructive Shadow, depending on which way you look at it. Clearly one would have to be specific here.
It should be remembered that Shadow exploration is only one part of many occultists' interests, and there are often many other spiritual or psychological goals.
In the LHP occultic sense, angels and demons are in fact the same thing, beings that are a pure essence of Will, and depending on the spirit in question, that Will may vary, but if one knows how to interact with them and to protect oneself properly (in the case of the latter 'angels' or wraiths/demons), then one can actually experience personal growth of another kind, through experience, learning through familiarisation with one's own psychological archetypes and aspects to one's psychological make up, or asking of these 'beings' or psychological archetypes (induced/invoked, controlled, temporary psychosis) particular questions regarding one's own psyche.
Some occultists, as discussed in the section below, may actually regard 'angels' or 'beings of light' as those beings that seek to enslave us and keep our consciousness divided, to use our loving side to enslave us and for their own worship or reverence (like an ego trip for them or a form of 'feeding on our consciousness') or for other reasons (that can be utilised by society to control us) - like a 'fake' kind of love. The converse could be true of those that invoke agents of chaos representing figments of their shadow who will likely lie to you (perhaps creative unconscious activity) to maintain your level of interaction with them also - in a similar fashion that occurs during an uncontrolled psychotic episode. Not all those who believe in communicating with Angels refrain from putting them on a pedestal and praying to them. All angels or 'fallen' angels being deemed to have a strong Will and a desire to impose that Will on the practitioner, whatever that may be.