Shadow dream

by Rachel Creager Ireland

It was just about a year ago now that I was introduced to working with my Shadow by my dear friend Mary Jo Grant. Mary Jo is in my women’s circle, and has also written a book about use of dreams in healing. As an archetype, I recognized the Saboteur in my Shadow. Naturally nobody likes the Saboteur, but through this work I came to see that the Saboteur is my friend, acting in my interests, and willing to do for me what I will not or cannot do for myself. In our circle, we wrote poems about our various Shadows. It’s built around a standard form, but I was surprised at the diversity produced by the members of our small group.

The Saboteur

My Shadow wears
an ugly leer
fetid rags
a filthy blanket of shame
and she knows the order of things.
Her hair is like
green slime on a stagnant pool.
My Shadow is a
miasmic disease that seeps in on stale air
a blow to the head
a stab in the back
(who did that?)

I can never turn fast enough to catch her.
The only way to see her is in a mirror.

As I reread the poem, I realize her appearance has changed since I wrote it, as, recently, I’ve decided to make friends with that little waif of a girl. Using meditative visualization, I called the girl, and first thing was to give her something to wear. It turned out to be a funny sort of victorian-looking white dress with lots of eyelet detail, but she was wildly excited to have it. Now whenever I see her, she’s wearing that dress, with her dark hair still flying wild and unkempt. Sometimes I just sit with her and hold her in my lap.

Do I sabotage myself? Sure feels like it sometimes. Now and then I catch myself swimming in negativity or paranoid fantasy, and I hope the Shadow girl isn’t listening. I’ve started, at those times, replacing the negative thought with a more desirable alternative, or an affirmation, and also speaking to my higher self, asking for intervention and protection from the Saboteurs. A couple weeks ago I went to the girl and told her I want to be friends. We can work together. I will listen to her. She can tell me what she wants. We will be partners, and things will work better for everyone. I saw an image of a blue stone, and associated it with the throat chakra, the source of communication and speaking one’s truth. Yes, I need to do more of that. When I got up from meditation, I went to my jewelry box and right there on top was a bracelet I bought years ago, but never wore.  The stone it held was a brilliant blue. I wear a blue stone now at my throat to remind me to speak my needs. If I withhold communication, the Saboteur might well step in on my behalf.

This morning I woke up and laughed at the dream I’d had. In it I was in a big building, perhaps a former bank, with some friends, one in particular whom I admire for her creativity, another whose name is also Rachel. We were working on some crafts. We each had our own special projects, and I was trying with minimal success to operate a sewing machine. I didn’t necessarily belong here, but wasn’t bothering anyone, and everything was just fine. Then entered a woman who was at once earthy and angelic. She had a full figure clothed in a floor-length, flowing white dress, her white shoulders bare. Her hair fell in platinum curls to the hip. She was nice enough, maybe a bit of a busybody, but what annoyed me was that at some point it became apparent that she wanted to steal something, or even take over operations altogether. It was a terrific threat, so when I got a chance, I knocked her down and pinned her. I held her wrists together behind her back with one hand and grabbed her by the hair in my other hand. She didn’t resist, that was good, but what next? Before I could figure anything out, I saw through the window a van full of suspicious people, her minions, no doubt. I asked the others, “Is the front door locked? Lock the door! Lock the door!” But nobody paid any attention. Then four or five men came in, dressed kind of like hipster burglars in black turtlenecks and black jeans and knit hats. They spread out and I saw we were outnumbered. It was hopeless. What could I do? It was easy to sneak out when nobody was looking my way. I felt a little bad about leaving my friends, but if it was that easy for me to get away, they could too, right?

At first I ran, suspicious that someone might be following me. But I lost them quickly, and wandered about the city streets, half running and half jumping, like you might on the moon. I guess I woke up right about the time I realized I could simply fly, and not even have to touch the ground.

Need I explain what I found humorous about this dream? Well, just in case, suffice to say that I had called on my higher self to intervene, like a child asking for a grown-up to settle a dispute with another child. When she came, she appeared as a controlling busybody, to the one I had asked protection from, who was, of course, just regular old me.

Feel free to add any comments, relevant or otherwise, or any stories you might wish to share about your encounters with your Shadow.