The Holy Relationship Between Creativity and the Shadow

A prevalent aspect of Christian and New Age thinking is that we must only consume or attach ourselves to that which nourishes us – this practice and concept extends to every area of life such as which people you associate yourself with, the food you eat, your personal belief systems which can either be empowering or dis-empowering.

Nonetheless, I will be focusing solely on the creative aspect of this belief – either, creating, making, watching, listening to reading or experiencing any type of art.

With regards to this, the idea is that we should only consume that which ‘uplifts’ us so instead of listening to SlipKnot, opt for a more uplifting type of music such as, Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People. After all they have ultra spiritual lyrics such as the one’s illustrated in the video below: (*Just by the way I actually like Nahko Bear – this is just to make a point)

A very personal and extreme experience I had with this was during High School when a not-so-shy Christian teacher told me to not read the Harry Potter books because they’re evil.

Now although I do see the value in this and feel that it can help one to a certain extent, I do think there is a paradox here we need to take into consideration and to learn how to ‘dance with’.

By only filling ourselves up and expressing ‘positive’ creativity, we run the risk of repressing the Shadow, and when you do that, it can unconsciously come out in nasty and toxic variations.

It’s been a few years since I studied philosophy but I am pretty sure Nietzsche or some other philosopher said something along the lines of creativity being the greatest portal of which to express our darkness through. For one, you aren’t truly hurting anyone in the strictest since of the word and if you are, in my view, it’s more of an invitation for your Shadow or darkness to find a portal within which to express itself rather than an actual hurt – and I say this within reason and caution.

I remember my first Ayahuasca ceremony. I was shown my own darkness and the collective darkness of the whole world. I was shown that I have the capacity to be as evil as Hitler and so does anyone else.

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The funny thing was that I was shown, once again that the best way to deal with this part of ourselves, or at the very least for me, was to express it through art.

I think ‘Metal Heads’ are a great model for what I am trying to say here. I have read some articles, (admittedly I didn’t have the time to find the value of these sources or search for the amount of peer reviews) which claim that these wonderful human specimens are among-st the kindest, happiest and calmest of men – and women – and whatever gender you classify as.

In my own personal experience, having known quite a few of these amazing individuals in my life, is that despite the stereotyping, the Metal Heads I have met and befriended have literally been on my top ten list of the kindest, warmest, relaxed people I’ve known and know.

My theory, and it is simply a theory, is that this could be because they express their Shadow Side through the music they listen to and through the energy at the concerts they attend. No one gets hurt (Okay so that might not be completely true considering mosh pits), and they end up walking out of these concerts with their shadow expressed, not to be unconsciously thrown around and all they have left is being fucking awesome.

Okay so it’s not such a tight-knit theory but nevertheless, what I am trying to get at is that creativity is seemingly the one portal where we can express our darkest desires so that they don’t lash out in more harmful ways and that although being mindful of what type of art you take in is important to a certain extent, I think it’s equally as paramount to find space within creativity where one can be free to express our secret devils. After all, aren’t both creativity and freedom intimately intertwined?

Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individuals conscious life, the blacker and denser it is – Carl Jung

2 thoughts on “The Holy Relationship Between Creativity and the Shadow

  1. As a musician and an audio engineer, I like this post and would love to share a few drinks with you and postulate the variables contained hidden inside the thought process of what you wrote.

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