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Shadows, Clowns and Angels in our Dreams

When our "heroes" are as unconscious as our shadows

Most of us are familiar with the “Shadow” in our dreams – the character who has no redeeming features, who does evil, who threatens us, chases us, and even harms us. Ironically the Shadow holds what we most need since it is the container for every thing we dislike about ourselves and wish to disown. It is unconscious material and the Shadow always carries with it the very thing that is lacking from consciousness, the very thing that has been missing and is required for further growth and development.

What is less well known is the dynamic of the “Bright Shadow.” Bright Shadow like Dark Shadow is unconsciously projected, both individually and collectively, but Bright Shadow is composed of all the gifts, talents, genius, and extraordinary abilities that lie within the authentic and whole self, but which, (like the dark shadow elements), are so much easier to see in others than to see, recognize consciously, and take mature responsibility for expressing as parts of my own being.

It’s seductively easy to think we are the sum of our conscious, waking life desires. It is hard, as Jung said “making the darkness conscious…it is disagreeable and therefore not popular.” I would add that becoming aware of the “Bright Shadow” can be just as unpopular. We may find demons in our dreams, but we are just as likely to find the Trickster and the Willing Sacrifice, and that can be unsettling.

Paradoxically the projection of the Bright Shadow actually ends up causing more damage in the long run than the more easily recognized and appallingly destructive consequences of projecting the negative shadow. Any unconscious energy acted out in waking life creates problems. It’s easier to see this when we imagine our darkest, most violent energies acted out, but much harder to understand when our unconscious desire to be an angel, a savior, a world changing rock star, or a life altering “Trickster-Clown,” manifests in the world. Our world view becomes deformed to the degree that we do not own our projection.

Among the less obvious problems with Bright Shadow projection is that it causes many gifted and talented people to see our own unique potential contributions as the exclusive potential of others and, for that reason, we may not allow ourselves to manifest these gifts in the world. The world is then robbed of these unique gifts, and the transformations of consciousness and awareness they are capable of creating - and we don't even know what we have all lost.

The positive, creative, transformative energy lost in this process of unconscious bright shadow projection is the very energy that is capable of reversing the injuries, and healing the repetitive wounds that are delivered by the corresponding, much clearer and more visible processes of dark shadow projection.

About the Author
Jeremy Taylor

Jeremy Taylor, an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, is the author of The Wisdom of Your Dreams.

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