“Those who stand in the brightest light cast the darkest shadows.” (A Gerry Tobin quotation). What do you see in the above image? (Found in Google images).
When I first began writing my blog, I thought I would do all I could to stay positive as my natural inclination is toward negativity. I have to work very hard to keep that promise to myself these days while also staying current with national affairs. That being said, I thought it would be useful to follow up on my last post’s theme of Narcissistic Personality Disorder with a reflection on Shadow Projection.
I know enough of about Jungian Analysis to know that anything I may write here risks a glaring exposure of my own shadow projections, but I’ll charge ahead anyway as I do believe it is imperative that we all deal with this issue. How did we get ourselves into the situation we face today? I believe it behooves us all to ask that question of ourselves as we are all responsible.
Simply put, we project onto others what we do not want to see in ourselves. We can project both negative and positive attributes. A key to recognizing shadow projections is the vehemence or emotional energy behind the projection. An example of a positive projection is when we might gush over the talents of another. Perhaps we are afraid to recognize similar talents in ourselves. Negative projections, which we appear to come by more naturally, are when we see evil in another human being. Any time we dehumanize other people due to their difference(s) from us, you can be sure shadow projection is at play.
One of my favorite books on Jungian psychological theory is Boundaries of the Soul, by June Singer, (DoubleDay/Anchor Books, 1972, 1994). She makes Jung’s theory accessible without dumbing down. As June Singer describes, a man caught in the grips of the defense mechanism of projecting the shadow will find causes everywhere but in himself for why he cannot accomplish what he’d set out to accomplish or be the person he’d hoped to be. “Always there will be an unfortunate combination of events which works against him, or there will be somebody who is out to get him. That somebody will inevitably be described with great vehemence as having just those despicable qualities which he fails to see in himself, but which dog his every step.” (174)
In order to deal with the shadow we have to be relentless in dealing with our own shit (pardon my language but that seems the clearest description). The easiest clue to recognizing when shadow projection is at work in you is the emotional energy involved. As June Singer describes, “Every situation in life which carries for an individual a charge of strong affect, which makes him excessively angry or anxious or even delighted, must be considered…in the form of a shadow projection.” (175)
Furthermore, shadow projection is not just the stuff of individuals. Nations can carry shadow projections as we’ve seen over and over again throughout history whenever a group is singled out as evil due to race, religion, gender, sex, or region. As June Singer warns, and as Carl Jung did before her, “We, as a nation, need to discover our own shadows. We can find them in the images we project, if we can only remember that they are our images.” According to June Singer, the best way to recognize and heal our collective shadow is through each individual’s efforts toward dealing with his or her own projections. In other words, the best way to deal with our nation’s problems is if we each take on the task of dealing with our own shit. June Singer puts it more elegantly when she says each individual needs to take care to “differentiate his own flaws and to take responsibility for them before he goes out to correct his neighbor’s.” (177) Such is the path toward an open mind and heart, and the attainment of wisdom.
To inject a bit of personal history and I hope humor into this post, I’ll share some of my own musings about shadow that came up while I pondered what to write. I began to wonder why I am such a catastrophic thinker. I’ve always assumed my negativity bent was due to my brother’s death in the airplane crash, but upon further reflection I realized that my father built shadow right into the design of our family home, which he designed. As a product of his experiences from WWII and the Cold War, we had both a bomb shelter and an incinerator built into our basement. Talk about symbolic representation! A Jungian analyst would have a field day! Add to that, our house was built into a hill, so that the front of the house looked like a ranch, but from the back a two story. All the kids’ bedrooms except for the newest baby’s, were also in the basement. Find me an analyst! I could go on and on, but the point is we all as human beings possess both the good and the bad and we must take responsibility for our part in the state of affairs.
Here is where the Devil’s Food comes in. As an homage to all that is good and bad within us I made up a Devil’s Food cake or cupcake recipe that is not all good or all bad. This cake has elements of the BAD ingredients e.g. white flour and white sugar but less so, and what are currently deemed GOOD ingredients date sugar, coconut sugar, and gluten free flours and beets. Fortunately, they turned out a delicious batch of cupcakes. The devil is in the details. So whip up a batch for all that is good and bad in you!
A Deal With the Devil’s Food Cake or Embracing Your Shadow Cake
This makes 24 cupcakes. I only have one cupcake tin, so made a small nine-inch single layer Valentine’s Cake for me and my husband.
150 grams white unbleached un-bromated flour
150 g gluten free flour (I used a wild combination of 50 grams each of tigernut, banana, and almond flours, but go ahead and experiment)
55 g cocoa powder
2 t baking soda
½ t sea salt
1 t sanka or espresso powder or instant coffee mixed with 1 T of hot water
2 eggs (room temperature)
130 grams (2/3 C coconut oil), melted
½ C of sugar
½ C of coconut sugar
¼ C of date sugar or maple sugar or maple syrup (your choice)
200 grams of beet puree. Blend one 14 oz. can of salt free beets in most of their water (I poured out approximately 1/3 cup of their water). Then weigh out 200 grams, which is most of it.
2 t vanilla extract
400 ml buttermilk
1 can of sweet potato puree
10 oz. of bittersweet chocolate chips.
1 t Kahlua (optional)
1 t instant coffee mixed with 1 T hot water (also optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9 in round cake pans or line cupcake tin with liners. Sift flours through cinnamon in a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a large bowl of stand up mixer (or use hand mixer no worries) blend coconut oil and sugars until light and frothy. Add the coffee mixture, beet puree, and vanilla, whisk to combine then beginning and ending with flour mixture alternate adding with buttermilk until evenly combined.
Divide batter evenly among prepared pans or tins and bake cake approximately 25 minutes or cupcakes 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
Heat up one can of sweet potato puree on the stovetop to a simmer. I added 1 teaspoon of Kahlua and repeated the 1 t of instant coffee with 1 T of hot water to the mix to enhance the chocolate goodness. Remove from heat and add 10 oz of dark chocolate chips stirring until melted. Allow frosting to cool on top of stove. It will thicken as it cools.