Veronica's Garden

I originally started this blog to promote my novel, Post Rock Limestone Caryatids. Now I write essays and poetry about everything, including the Flint Hills, healing, parenting, etc. WARNING: emotional content, sometimes intense. Read at own risk of feeling.

Tag: Saboteur archetype

The Shadow Saboteur’s Magic Wand

I dreamt I took the kids to a birthday party, and, because I had no pockets, I set my phone and journal on a table while I went about the party. When it was time to leave, the table had already been taken down and put away. I tried to find the hostess to ask her if anyone had seen my things, but I couldn’t find her. Eventually I looked through some things, then went to a basement room where there were rows of stacks of things. I searched through countless items, none of which was mine.

Now, this shadow saboteur bit is getting tiresome. (See my previous posts on the saboteur.) On the face, this dream might seem to be about seeking that which is unattainable, but you can tell that in fact these things are attainable, only the saboteur is preventing them from being mine. I could find lots of things, but it was as if someone were looking over my shoulder, someone who knew all my secrets and weaknesses, who knew just what feature of a thing would eliminate it from the category of mine, someone who held the magic wand, not the one that generates matter in being, but the one that specifies its nature, so that as soon as I have a phone in my hand (My phone is red. Or is it sparkly green?), this one is black. I find a checkbook I wasn’t even looking for, with the right cover, the right style of checks, a winning lottery ticket tucked inside, but the name on the checks is someone else’s. I find a journal, and not only has it no cover at all, but the pages are filled with unfamiliar handwriting.

In the end, I did find the phone, because it rang, and it turned out it had been tucked safely in my cleavage all along. Did the saboteur relent? Or somehow slip up? What do I do with this?

Engaging the Saboteur

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.

Shadow dream

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.

%d bloggers like this: