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  • Michelle L Geldenhuys

Gods and The Shadow

Throughout religion and mythology there is the symbolism and personification of good and evil.... The God and the Devil. Even in Polytheistic mythology there are bringers of order and there are bringers of chaos, and in some cases one deity can be the bringer of both destruction as well as prosperity and preservation.

This dualistic nature of the cosmos is embedded within the collective unconscious. It depicts our own inner dualistic nature of our Ego, or operating self, in constant conflict with our Shadow, the unconscious self.

Since our Shadow side is largely made up of the darker parts of our personality and often brings chaos into our lives it is seen as the Devil. And since our conscious self, or Ego, is seen as the part of our personality that brings order it is seen as God.

The dance between good and evil is prevalent throughout our history and is a universally understood portrayal of our dualistic reality. Ignorance or denial of either side of the spectrum can unbalance our lives and lead inevitably to chaos.

One cannot bring order to chaos if one is not yet even aware of the chaos. One cannot live only within the positive, or conscious, aspects of the personality with no awareness of the opposite, or unconscious, aspects since they are dual aspects of the whole and fundamentally inseparable. Denial of either end of the spectrum leads to fragmentation of the personality and of the self.

If you look back throughout Mythological stories we find that the constant polarization between the Gods, or God and the Devil, kept the balance between good and evil. The balance between order and chaos was upheld by the polarization of the Mythical gods. In some cases some Gods embodied the inclination towards both good and evil, order and destruction such as the Djinn in Islamic texts, Loki a Norse God and Set in Egyptian Mythology.

In Ancient Egyptian Mythology the Goddess Ma'at, and symbol for harmony, symbolized the fundamental Ancient Egyptians' dedication to cosmic order and balance.

In Buddhism 'The Middle Way' is the preferred path to live one's life being balanced between two extremes. The one extreme being 'self-indulgence', or chaos, and the other extreme being 'self-denial', or order. It was Buddha's belief that one should, and could, not be all good or all evil....that one cannot become a slave to all desire just as one cannot live in severe asceticism either.

The idea of cosmic order and balance points directly to the need for us to maintain balance between our own notions of order and chaos. Within us lies the Ego, or God, and also the Devil, the Shadow. The Devil, or the Shadow, tempts us into the darker parts of our personality which leads us to behaviours that are generally destructive. Yet we need to have awareness of these unconscious aspects that lurk in the Shadows in order to work with them and possibly correct them in order to bring balance and harmony into our lives.

Since good and evil, or order and chaos, are two extremes of one spectrum neither can be eradicated, the solution can only be balance and acceptance of the whole.

Each opposite exists within and in virtue of its opposite polarity.

Within this dualistic reality, only balance is the rational solution.

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