Sun and Shadow

338.EEDiskNancy_Peru-2008 083On Equinox, the sun passes directly over the tall pillar of the Intiwatana Stone in Machu Picchu, Peru. Intiwatana means “hitching post of the sun.” The tall pillar does not cast a shadow on Equinox.

The concept of casting a shadow is profound on many levels.

The dream image of shadow may suggest feelings of being overshadowed, or feeling inferior in waking life. It can express a fear of the unknown, or of negative impulses. Jung referred to the shadow as the dark side that a person would like to keep hidden. It can be thought of as an instinctive and primitive side of your personality, or just as the part of yourself you don’t want to acknowledge. The shadow often contains values that the dreamer needs to understand, and only becomes hostile when ignored or misunderstood. Thus the concept of “making friends with your shadow.” It’s coming to know all the aspects of yourself, even those you’d rather not admit are there.

A shadow can be a sign of coming events, because you often see a person’s shadow before you see them. You may have heard the expression, “a shadow of foreboding.” There’s also the expression, “It’s better to be small and bright than be large and cast a shadow.”

Remember Peter Pan? His shadow came off and took on a life of its own.

At the same time, we seek shade to escape the heat and brightness of the sun. Shade is shadow by another name. Shade gives us relief from heat and exposure. Living in the shadows is another way of saying a person doesn’t want to be seen. Are they up to no good, or just shy? We don’t know, but we make a lot of assumptions.

Is our preference for light instinctive or learned? We can see better in the light, and we tend to fear that which we cannot see. Yet only when it is dark can we see the dimmest points of light: we can’t see stars in daylight. Only at night can we see and appreciate the beauty of stars and other planets as they move across the sky.

Day and night, light and shadow—each complements the other, reminding us that life moves in cycles: breathing in and out, tides ebb and flow, cycles of expansion and contraction. Night and shadow give us an opportunity to rest and reflect. Day and light encourage us to stretch and grow. Shine light on what you’ve been avoiding, or that which scares you. Maybe it’s not so bad after all.

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"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." - George Eliot
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Gandhi
"There is little that separates humans from other sentient beings – we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all deeply crave to be alive and live freely, and we all share this planet together." - attributed to Gandhi
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