From BOOT'N LEPAGE: I'd like to learn more about Shadow and Demons. My husband and I have always been interested in the "Dangers" of Dreaming and Shamanism. What trouble can we get ourselves into by being unconscious?
On our Facebook group, Medicine Wheel and Indigenous Dreaming a few members brought up interesting questions relating to darkness, and danger in dreams. I especially enjoyed KL’s question because it was very specific and communicated realities we often hear about like demons and consequences in the dreaming.
So I started a discussion and asked: What do you like about Shadow and Demons? I think we all seem attracted to the "dark" -- why? And what do you think are some of the consequences to being unconscious?
Since my response started to get a bit long on Facebook, I decided to make it a blog entry.
I know for a fact that lots of children struggle with a fear of darkness. I personally didn’t and neither did my children; although their source of pleasure with darkness is most definitely very different to my own. When both my children were born I was heavily involved in my dreamer’s initiation. At the time, I learnt a lot about the importance of certain sleeping patterns and how they are instrumental to lucid dreams. It made sense to me to cultivate good dreaming and sleeping attitudes with my newborn babies. So, I made sure from the start to bathe their bedrooms in darkness every time they slept. ‘Til this day both CT and KT need total darkness to appreciate a good night’s sleep. Both will admit that darkness for them is about comfort, safety and nourishment not unlike being in their mother’s womb.
I’ve noticed with many children who are exposed to “fighting in the family” hiding away in a dark room or under a bed or even in a closet is a common occurrence. With toddlers or young children shame; fear; or humiliation often inspires flight. It’s interesting how it’s almost natural or instinctual to hide when you’re trying to get away from a fearful situation. Both children and animals are good at disappearing when they feel threatened.
I’ve often watched Ravens purposely perch in shadow in order to remain unnoticed, the same way I’ve seen human hunters hide in dark barracks while waiting for caribou. No doubt he best hunters and warriors understand the value of shadow.
I know that the New Age movement has made of the word "shadow" something negative; but in fact from a "survivor" or shamanic point of view shadow is power / medicine. Of course like anything else in life it all depends on how we work with the concept of darkness; or what lies behind shadow. A good thief, rapist or assailant will also know how to take advantage of shadow when it comes to setting a mark and attacking.
I believe that consciousness is absolutely crucial to anything and everything we do. The more we know, the better we are.
I've seen lots of parents attempt to convince their children that "demons are a figment of their imagination". How many times have you heard an adult tell a child especially after a nightmare: “Don’t worry honey none of it is real?”
Yet, if you are one of those individuals who came across demons as a child -- you know how real they actually are. CB mentions in his posting, in the discussion on Facebook the FEAR and how tangible it can be in dreams. In many of the courses I've given on "dreaming and children" I've always said to caregivers to guide children in "developing courage and self-assurance" in waking and sleeping dreams. It does no good to try to convince anyone that what they are experiencing is "imagined." Children especially want to be heard and trusted (believed in).
For centuries the Christian church not only believed in demons; but knew how to banish them. In the New Testament Jesus often speaks of demons. He refers to them as very real entities. What we learn from the Bible is that demons are connected to the experience of deep physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual suffering.
Demons are not as common as some people will have you believe. In other words it doesn’t mean that because you are struggling with chronic illness for example or even mental illness that you are plagued by a demon. Since our society no longer believes in demons the word is often used to refer to “skeletons in the closet”. Secrets and unresolved issues for example are now referred to as demons: Monsters we constantly feed with our denial and resistance.
In pagan traditions demons are often referred to as “creatures from the Earth” who are both attracted and nourished by human suffering or human darkness. People seeking to protect themselves against demons have often approached me; looking for quick spells and potions to keep these beasties away. In some traditions, demons are repelled by holy water; salt and even fire. Personally, I don’t recommend a quick fix. I have found the best way to keep yourself safe from a wide variety of monsters is by learning to find comfort, forgiveness, warmth and love in your personal dark nooks.
Of course that means work: Time and energy; courage and humility; and of course an open mind, open heart and ready soul.
I’d love to continue this discussion by inviting many of you to share some of your stories of shamanic dangers and demons. I’ve no doubt I’ve barely touched KL’s question. Yet, the way I see it – every exploration comes with a dedication of perseverance and patience.