The inner world of Carl Jung was filled with shadows, daimons (demons), and the secrets of the individuation of the Self. Jung knew that people would think he was crazy for writing about such things but his conviction was so strong that he had written extensively about these subjects to the point that it became the main theme of his life’s Great Work.
Jung had said that he did not only believe, but he proclaimed that he knew our world was populated by demons and he was sure that many people were possessed by these disincarnated spirits.
“Unfortunately, it is my fate that other people, especially those who are themselves possessed by demons, think me mad because I believe in these powers. But that is their affair; I know they exist. There are demons all right, as sure as there is a Buchenwald (WWII German concentration camp).” (C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters pg. 155)
Carl Jung also believed that everyone had an unconscious self ie: an ego that he called a demon and also animus/anima which he equated with the self and what he sometimes said was the “Soul Image” of the person. This shadow is not something that you look for outside of yourself, it is inside of us all and that is why he once proclaimed, “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
Jung said that “the shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself.” (CW 9i, para. 513) and he tells us, “Everyone carries a shadow.”
“Individuation means becoming an “in-dividual,” and, in so far as “individuality” embraces our innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one’s own self. We could, therefore, translate individuation as “coming to selfhood” or “self-realization.”
In order to reach selfhood and not become possessed, ignorant or go mad, (controlled by their Shadow), we must have a friendly encounter with our own demon and get to know him or her. A process that represented an archetypal stage of self individuation.
He says, “the initial encounter with the Self casts a dark shadow ahead of time.”
Jung claimed that not only do our evil tendencies arise our demon/shadow, but also our good qualities. He writes;
“If it has been believed hitherto that the human shadow was the source of all evil, it can now be ascertained on closer investigation that the unconscious man, that is, his shadow, does not consist only of morally reprehensible tendencies, but also displays a number of good qualities, such as normal instincts, appropriate reactions, realistic insights, creative impulses, etc.” (Carl Jung, CW 9ii, Para 423)
It is important to understand that Jung implies that the goal is NOT to repress or put our Demon in chains, to do so would make our shadow revolt and cause us problems. He also warns us not to misunderstand and or repress our dark side.
Jung said, “Whether our shadow becomes our friend or enemy depends largely upon ourselves. The shadow becomes hostile only when he is ignored or misunderstood.” (Man and His Symbols)
He further warns us, “The educated man tries to repress the inferior man in himself, not realizing that by so doing he forces the latter into revolt.”
What I believe he was saying is that we must come to know our demon and learn from him or her so we can integrate them into our lives. By doing so, Jung believed we would become enlightened to the truth that we all have a demon/shadow and this process also allows us to understand or own evil natures and other people’s darkness.
Jung had said, “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”
To deny or resist it will create problems in one’s life and only strengthens one’s adversary or great foe ie: their unconscious self or Demon/Shadow. When someone is unconscious, they live as if they are blind and the dark side of their shadow ie: their bad traits and own faults become projected onto their neighbors
“A man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbor.”
Meaning that when we do not come to know and understand our own darkness or evil natures, we falsely project them into the world upon other people and our neighbors. We become unconscious automatons who are unaware that we can be or are just as evil and sick as our neighbor who we ignorantly look down upon and foolishly judge as if we are better than him.
When in reality, the same things we despise and hate in our neighbor are the same bad traits we carry within our own shadows that our Demon unleashed onto the world in revolt.
“…if it (the Shadow) is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected and is liable to burst forth suddenly in a moment of unawareness. At all events, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.”
Jung advises, “If you feel an overwhelming rage coming up in you when a friend reproaches you about a fault, you can be fairly sure . . . you will find a part of your shadow, of which you are unconscious.” (P. 174)
He says, “When an individual makes an attempt to see his shadow, he becomes aware of (and often ashamed of) those qualities and impulses he denies in himself but can plainly see in other people . . . such as egotism, mental laziness, sloppiness, unreal fantasies, schemes, plots, carelessness, cowardice, inordinate love of money and possessions . . . in short, all the little sins about which he might previously have told himself: “that doesn’t matter”. (P. 174)
In Jung’s world, the only way to become a truly enlightened human was to become conscious of this hidden world and our own demons and by doing so, each awakened person becomes a unique individual who has a distinct and possibly predetermined destiny.
This is no easy task and Jung makes it clear that it takes a lot of honest self-examination, courage, and work to face and integrate one’s shadow into their life. Jung writes;
“The discovery of the unconscious is one of the most far-reaching discoveries of recent times. But the fact that recognition of its unconscious reality involves honest self-examination and reorganization of one’s life causes many people to continue to behave as if nothing at all has happened.”
He says, “It takes a lot of courage to . . . tackle the problems it raises. Most people are too indolent to think deeply about even those moral aspects of their behavior of which they are conscious; they are certainly too lazy to consider how the unconscious affects them.”
When I study Jung’s writings for a solution to this ancient battle of the modern self and our much older shadow demon, it appears the only saving grace for humanity is for each of us to find our own selfs ie: shadow and then stand in the center of the two battling forces who were really never met to go to war against one another.
“To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. Once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the self.
Anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle.”
To fail would mean to lose one’s soul and for the totality of humanity, a soulless and meaningless life would mark our days for eternity.
“If man does not reverence and submit to the unconscious, which created his consciousness, he loses his soul, that is, he loses his connection with soul and unconscious.” (Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Page 214)
As Jung as guided us, the only way for someone to get in the middle is through knowledge of the self which leads to understanding our own good and evil natures and by doing so, we learn how to reason with ourselves and others which leads to the light ie: true wisdom of the world in which we live.
This newfound wisdom allows us to integrate our modern lives that are often governed (molded) outwardly by our unconscious world ie: parents, government, community and culture with the inner Self which then becomes the true archetype of wholeness and self-transcendence.
An enlightened person who understands the light and darkness in themselves and also in others but stands in the middle using reason to transcend our self made prejudices and boundaries
The person who has integrated with his or her shadow no matter the era always seems to become a beacon of light for humanity helping answer life’s most difficult questions and confronting the monsters that many of us who are too afraid to confront our own shadows.
The universal image is the Hero and the end result of this Great Work no matter the race or culture is that immortal person whom we have all come to love and adore.
In this Age-old saga, we will forever see the visions of the Great Shadow of the Swiss Gnostic Hero – Carl Jung forever bringing light to those who fear their own darkness.
I will leave you with what I believe Jung’s final prophetic solution to conquer the demons of our modern era;
“I have already suggested that the only salvation lies in the piecemeal work of educating the individual. That is not as hopeless as it may appear. The power of the demons is immense, and the most modern media of mass suggestion – radio, film, etc. — are at their service.
But Christianity, too, was able to hold its own against an overwhelming adversary not by propaganda and mass conversions — that came later and was of little value — but by persuasion from man to man.
And that is the way we also must go if we wish to conquer the demons.”
Moe is the founder of GnosticWarrior.com. A website dedicated to both the ancient and modern teachings of Gnosticism.