Engaging the Saboteur

by Rachel Creager Ireland

Here we go again, another of those periods in which the quotidian consumes the totality of my mental capacity, leaving no space for the flowerings of thoughts that blossom here in Veronica’s Garden. (And isn’t that the kind of thing Veronica would say? But it’s I, Rachel, writing today.) I’ve been night and day running over and over in my mind a complex of intractable problems which I share with others, but which, it appears, I am the one to fix. Which raises the question, if I am the one to get us out of this deep hole, might I have been able to prevent us from being in it in the first place? I didn’t think so at the time, and I was assured that others would take care of it. But things happen.

This is the interesting part. Things happen. Why do they happen? Who makes them happen? Or are we helpless victims of meaningless series of unpredictable events? I wrote in another post about the saboteur archetype, the shadow part of the self who does for one what one cannot or will not do for oneself. The saboteur sees her/himself as a protector, but one whose method is destruction, burning bridges, a scorched earth policy. In my previous post, I had asked my higher self for assistance in reining in the saboteur, to prevent her from following through on fleeting thoughts to which I did not wish to give power. It didn’t turn out terrifically well. This time, I took a different approach. I called together all the shadows I know, the waif girl, the witch, the black man and his young son, and others whose faces I don’t know. We stood in a circle and I took their hands. I asked them if we could be friends. Could we work together? It would be for the benefit of us all, our energies streamlined and in concert rather than shooting off in all directions, many opposing one another. Let’s be friends.

That night I dreamt of a weathered building, sort of a large shack or perhaps a decrepit barn. It was surrounded by golden grass, in a flat land with mountains in the distance. There were no nearby signs of civilization. There were a group of people who shared this space, hosted by my friend V, a vivacious and charismatic redhead, one with a talent for making the most dreary space into a warm and welcoming home. Later someone else lived there, but the circle of friends remained. At one point it was known that They were coming. You know Them, the authority, the enforcers of rules, the arbitrary, faceless power which is always to be feared and reviled. We were rebel outcasts, and if They were coming, it was bad. One of the young men, attractive and shirtless, whose unpredictable rebelliousness stood out even in this crowd, decided to torch the building. Not waiting for the trouble to begin, I left. Outside there was a single tree, with low-hanging branches that made a hidden place to watch the violence. I stroked the soft head of a cat who joined me, and when my younger daughter crept up beside me, I shielded her eyes to protect her from seeing anything fearful.

Apparently befriending the shadows isn’t going to be that easy.


Where to from here? I suppose I’ll continue plodding along, pretending to do that of which I believe myself to be incapable, chewing Rescue Remedy gum, staring blankly at projects I was formerly committed to, but now have nothing to give to them. Might be a while before I do much blogging.

Meanwhile, who are your shadows? Do you talk to them? Do they talk to you? What do they do in your life? I’d love to hear about them.