The Things in the Shadows
“He who is illuminated by the Brightest Light will cast the Darkest Shadow.”
– Andrew Chumbley
As occidental civilization ages, it works ever-harder to geld the nocturnal elements of spirituality, to cease acknowledging and hide away from the hinted and grotesque ‘thing in the shadows’. The unseen – which we now smirk at. As a consequence we have abolished the sacred gargoyle and dragon from our cathedrals, and no longer observe the fearsome shadow at the altar, the embodiment of war and strife and the nocturnal.
We ignore those shades, shadows, and reflections to our detriment. Without an embodiment or representation of the more frightful spirit realm, we are at a loss in our world-model. Throughout history, and varieties of religious teachings, it has been a universal understanding that the mythical/unseen world is filled with predatory and grotesque entities, no different than a feral jungle teeming with ferocious snakes and wildcats, or a parched desert rife with thirst, bandits, dust-storms, and scoprions. Energies which view you as their prey.
The spirit world reflects the austere perils of the material world. Positive and negative (ying/yang) are the forces of eternal balance, the higher wisdom. Even when we speak (religiously or traditionally) about people’s ‘destinies’ – what is also known as dharma – we primarily focus on the positive. And it is true, that myth and history teach us that certain courageous and wise souls incarnate in this world to bring divine wisdom, elevation, and protection for the greater good. But rarely do we acknowledge the shadow-side of dharma: that certain sinister souls have destinies to corrupt sacred orders and divine traditions, in order to entrap people inside a ‘material hell’, a living prison of depraved idleness, self-pity, and ignorance.
These sinister forces work to transform humans into a mindless ghouls, by catering to their baser desires, and making sweet promises which are false. It is a test from the divine, which being above the necessary balance, must keep action in motion with struggle. But how to guard against falsehoods? Evil always disguises itself as a force of righteousness in this world. And false righteousness always proclaims itself, and is not satisfied to be self-evident by action, but only righteous by speech. They cause the corruption and possession of souls by catering to the ego’s desire for prompt rewards, fleeting material desires, and vengeful, short-sighted power over others. The methods of such beings are no different from ancients wizards performing black magic rituals, or daemons appearing as dead relatives and friends to guile the fool of trust, or the spoiled and wealthy merchant purchasing a man’s soul.
Thus, a person of true wisdom, a person of experience, performs a certain embrace of the darker aspects, at necessary occasions, and the negative powers of divinity are at least recognised, for the transformation of consciousness and soul. The wise man knows that without tension and conflict, there’s no enlightenment or mastery, physically or mentally.
True wisdom is about embracing and overcoming the nagas, gorgons, dragons, and daemons of myth, which represent the shadow in form. An individual endures the test because with tensions and conflicts there comes an alchemical fire (from the dragon) which transforms the soul into an ideal. The struggle is in order to transmute one’s being, through the solar gates, into the golden hall.
Long before the days of reductionist puritanism, we sculpted the darker aspects of divinity out of fear, in order to embrace heroic struggle with the unknown.
“Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they let evil appear as good.”