Shadow خيال

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious."
— C.G. Jung

Acrylic, metal leaf on Fabriano Murillo paper 340 gsm. 50x50 cm.

Date22 January 2012

The Shadow (خيال) is a psychological concept that Jung defined in the simplest possible way as “the thing a person has no wish to be.” It’s a subject too vast and important to really describe here, so I’ll just say that, as the quote above suggests, the first step towards achieving wholeness is to face and integrate one’s shadow. This is true both in analysis and in spiritual traditions. For instance, in Sufism the initiation of this process is called Tawba, whereas the Christian tradition of confession harks back to such a practice (no longer really understood). Alchemists referred to the shadow as the prima materia, “vile and glorious”, as it doesn’t only contain our worst aspects, but also our unrealized potentials and natural gifts we have repressed due to familial or social pressure – as indicated by the gold in this composition.

Arabic has more than one word for “shadow”, but as I couldn’t find the one that was used to translate the Jungian concept (if any exist), I chose Khayâl because it also means “imagination”, “ghost” and even “essence (of a person)” – adequately evoking the multifaceted aspect of the Shadow.

A penny for your thoughts...