While meditating, I had a startlingly real, dream-like vision of being chased by a malevolent presence until rubber-legged and exhausted, I was able to run no more. To my immense surprise, when I turned around to face my fate, I found out the dreaded enemy was me, my split-off, vulnerable, frightened-to-death self, in need of understanding, compassion and love.


CC Jean Stimmell                     Facing My Shadow                  A Montage of my photographs manipulated in Photoshop


My experience is similar to what happened in a masterful, mythological fantasy, written by Ursula Le Guin, I was first exposed to in graduate school 20-years ago: Ursula’s protagonist, Ged, was also being relentlessly pursued by a fearsome presence, yet when he finally turned to face the shadow, Ged discovered they were both one:


“Ged took hold of his shadow, of the black self that reached out to him. Light and darkness met, and joined, and were one.” [1]


Through the voice of Ged’s friend, Ursula goes on to say: “Ged had neither lost nor won but, naming the shadow of his death with his own name, had made himself whole: a man: who, knowing his whole true self, cannot be used or possessed by any power other than himself…”[2] Ged gained this power because he was no longer divided against himself; he no longer has to live in fear of being punished by higher powers who turn out to be, when confronted, only phantom shadows.


I take this daydream vision, as well as several of my recent dreams, as a sign that the armor of my ego is softening and starting to crack open, opening up the possibility of entering a higher consciousness and a deeper spirituality. But I know full well not to take anything for granted. Nothing in this world is certain and, in order to allow my fate to unfold, I must maintain a total commitment to “not knowing.”


As the Jungian analyst, Barbara Sullivan, wisely says,  “We need to find ways to swim in the murky waters of our lostness rather than getting out of the water to live in certainty.“[3] My goal is to dive ever deeper in the waters of my emotions, not get out!


I have written a lot about this in my blog, my journey to descend from the tender-dry, joyless, abstracted certainty of the thinking mind to immerse myself in the waters of life: my emotions, my body, my sense of place within Mother Earth’s embrace.


[1] Ursula Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea, p. 179

[2] Ibid. p. 180

[3] Barbara Stevens Sullivan, The Mystery of Analytical Work, Weavings from Jung and Bion, page 29


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Comment by Jean L Stimmell on August 24, 2015 at 8:52am

Thank you Mark for your insight and support. As a recovering white, middle-class male, I am – to use your terminology – "walking the talk: airing my complexes," descending into the moist mysteries of my Amima. Jean

Comment by Mark Sipowicz on August 24, 2015 at 7:49am

Thank you Jean for the bold and beautiful, courageous and heartfelt invitation to do our shadow work. Reminded of James Joyce's recommendation (and many others of course) to dive in rather than risk being dragged in. Both a challenge, but the consciousness working with the unconscious seems to always have a more fruitful effect. Also, really appreciate you linking Earth Body and Mother Earth to your exploration of Mystery, the unconscious and the gifts of these shadow figures that need and perhaps want to be encountered and engaged. 

Comment by Jean L Stimmell on August 23, 2015 at 2:14pm

Thanks for the encouragement, Linda: You give me even more motivation to keep swimming in the murky waters of my lostness. Jean

Comment by Linda AK Thompson, PhD on August 23, 2015 at 11:07am

Good afternoon Jean - thanks for sharing.  I enjoyed gazing upon the image with the narrative you provided and wishing you the best in "the waters of life" embrace you are seeking.  Peace + Love Linda

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