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Pilgrimage to the Shadow in Collage

– Posted in: Aesthetics Collage & Montage Creativity Digital Art Digital Collage Inspiration Surrealism Wood Engravings Wordless Wednesday


It is one of the oldest human pilgrimages. Pilgrimage to the Shadow transcends mere journeys through time and space; although it may comprehend both of these qualities, such a pilgrimage is neither bound by, nor bounded by, duration or distance. Pilgrimage to the Shadow may require many years and thousands of miles, or only an instant while one sits quietly in a room. Pilgrimage to the Shadow is different for each of us: there are at least as many different pilgrimages as there are living people, and perhaps even more. But the Shadow, though it has many faces, is always the same.

Pilgrimage to the Shadow (2011). Digital collage created & copyright © by Eric Edelman. All rights reserved.

Lao tzu made the pilgrimage to the Shadow, and came back with the Tao, the unknowable essence of the Shadow. Dante’s pilgrimage, which he made while lost in mid-life and in the midst of a dark wood of sin and confusion, led him in a vision from Hell through Purgatory to Heaven, by which journey he felt his soul purified and brought closer to God. Carl Gustav Jung, the great psychiatrist-archivist of archetypes, made a pilgrimage to the Shadow, and returned with … the concept of the Shadow.

For Jung, the Shadow was, among other things, a vast reservoir of attributes not consciously known or understood by human beings, or even rejected by them: their desires, instincts, emotions, and flaws. The Jungian Shadow is also a reservoir and source for creativity and inspiration, and by being properly integrated into the conscious self, may allow one to live healthily and productively.

The path to the Shadow has many pitfalls.  Some find it so unbearable to know of their own flaws and shortcomings that they refuse to accept them; the Shadow assists them by projecting those unwanted traits upon others. Hatred of the self becomes hatred of the Other, which leads at first to violence and crime, and later to genocide and war.  For thousands of years, projection of the Shadow in the name of religion, politics, or economics has justified exploitation and mass murder.

Sometimes the encounter with one’s Shadow causes despair or the desire to annihilate the self. Only by courage, perseverance, and awareness can one complete the pilgrimage, emerging at last with the Shadow assimilated into the self.  In truth, the Shadow is nothing less than a cast-off, alienated part of the soul:  in the healing of the self, the Shadow is purged of evil, accepted, and given purpose by furthering a creative life.

(All artwork, descriptions, & other text created & copyright © by Eric Edelman. All rights reserved.)
18 Comments… add one

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18 comments… add one
Kaye November 23, 2011, 8:56 am

That’s certainly different yet most intriguing!

Eric Edelman November 23, 2011, 9:20 pm

Thanks for your visit and your comment, Kaye!

EdT. November 23, 2011, 10:43 am

I love that image – it reminds me of something I might see on Monte Python! Thanks for the explanation, as well!

Happy WW!


Eric Edelman November 23, 2011, 9:51 pm

Thanks! As I think I mentioned before, Terry Gilliam & I were influenced by the same visual & animation sources, but I was unaware of Gilliam’s work in detail until I was an adult. I’m glad you liked my interpretation-explanation; of course, it is just one interpretation of a symbol in Jungian psychology.

stevebethere November 23, 2011, 2:09 pm

Amazing as usual love it

Have a great WW! and week, thanks for stopping by 😉

Eric Edelman November 23, 2011, 9:51 pm

Thanks, Steve!

Maša November 23, 2011, 4:47 pm

Interesting, I didn’t know about this concept before.

Eric Edelman November 23, 2011, 9:58 pm

Thanks for your visit and your comment!

Verena November 23, 2011, 5:59 pm

Wow, the collage looks very nice!
Thank you so much for linking up and for your nice comment!

Eric Edelman November 23, 2011, 10:02 pm

Vielen Dank, Verena!, Und ich danke Ihnen sehr für Ihre freundlichen Kommentar. Ihre Website ist immer wieder faszinierend und schön.

Tomas November 23, 2011, 6:07 pm

Wow! Pilgrimage to the Shadow sat me back into an awe. That’s just glorious (unforgettable) expression! Your post helped me greatly, enabled me to look at my frequently empty looking at the window as the most adventurous journey. Thank you for the help to discover the Light’s lesson in my shadows – to open (to remind) the eyes of the heart. Thanks once again for so artistic and comprehensive overview of human dealing with the symbols.

Eric Edelman November 23, 2011, 10:17 pm

Thank you so much, Tomas. I am very glad that Pilgrimage to the Shadow touched you so deeply. The interior journey to the Shadow that we all make is one of the greatest adventures in life. Though such an experience requires courage and strength of character, it is richly rewarding to those who embrace it fully and consciously.

Deborah November 23, 2011, 11:18 pm

Sounds a bit dark and ominous, but interesting.

Eric Edelman November 25, 2011, 1:43 am

In a way it is dark and ominous, but only to the extent we make it so. Jung once wrote, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” The more aware we are of our shadow side, and the better it is integrated into our personalities in a creative way, the less fearsome and destructive it is.

master blogger November 24, 2011, 6:23 pm

You have the most beautiful creation of arts I’ve ever seen, I fell in love with your talent!
Zero Dramas

Eric Edelman November 25, 2011, 1:36 am

Thanks very much for your visit and your kind comment!

GrammyMouseTails November 30, 2011, 5:43 pm

most insightful. I did not know most of this but your interpretation helps & will remind me to beat off that shadow when ever it rears it ugly head.

Eric Edelman November 30, 2011, 7:09 pm

Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. One thing to remember is that this is one interpretation of how we handle our emotional baggage, and I ‘m certain that there are other interpretations. But as this one suggests, a constructive approach might be to make peace and reconcile with one’s shadow, rather than beating it, which only causes damage to oneself.

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