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The heART of Ritual


On Shadowlands

We all have aspects or ourselves that we’ll do just about anything to avoid ~ our deep fear of intimacy, unacknowledged narcissism, undigested grief, unfelt sadness, disowned rage. Even our own natural capacity to feel and know joy, nourishment, rest, and play.

It was intelligent at an earlier time to push these visitors out of the body-vessel and into the shadowlands, where they could remain out of awareness, with the secret hope that they wouldn’t be able to reach us. But every piece of soul that is sent away longs to return, aches to come back home, not to harm us, but to take its rightful place in the inner ecology of being. There are shards of gold and silver there, but at first glance they appear as lead, tin, or some other rusty, worthless substance.

If unacknowledged, untouched, and unintegrated, this material has a way of leaking out into our lives, especially into our relationships. Like a psychic version of “leaky gut,” we’re unable to assimilate the wisdom-nutrients of the somatic-emotional world. As emissaries of wholeness, they will seep into and out of our muscles, cell tissue, and nervous systems and even through our sensory experience, coloring the lenses of perception.

In alchemy, there is the image of the vessel. One of the greatest concerns of the alchemists was that the vessel would become “leaky,” bringing all sorts of challenges and unwanted results. They spoke about the vas hermeticum, the “sealed” vessel which was required for the great work to unfold. Likewise with us, with these bodies as alchemical vessel.

The goal is not to “not have a shadow” which is impossible as long as there is a human body; and as long as there are the ancestors and intergenerational transmission of wounding and relational trauma. As long as we have a raw beating heart connected with others and the moon and the stars.

As long as there is light there will be shadow. No shadow, no light.

We need not “get rid of” the shadow or enact some fantasy that “we don’t have a shadow” but to seal the vessel with the materials of our touch, holding, and love. To infuse the shadow with light. Not only for ourselves, but for all of life.' ~ words by Matt Licata.


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