text and photo © Jonathan Zap
Your inner child is peering through all the surface distractions of your life. How does he or she feel about what you have wrought in your adult life?
The occurrence of this card indicates a need to locate your inner child. It’s become a bit of a New Age clichï¿½ to talk about your “inner child.” But this aspect of the psyche is as real as any bodily organ. A few years ago I had an experience of an unhappy inner child breaking through and it was shocking, devastating, but ultimately healing and my inner communication since then has been much more open.
Like a tree that has rings within it that remain from its earlier seasons, the adult psyche seems to be a superimposition of new layers on top of earlier personalities which continue to exist within. The inner child often embodies our emotional self, a self that is less conditioned, closer to our essence, and that is more independent of all the compromises and adaptations we have made to function as adults in the world. While your adult ego may be busy thinking and laboriously trying to navigate through all the practical problems of the adult world, your inner child lives closer to feelings, and is more concerned with love, nurture and imaginative play. It may want to rebel from the stern disciplines, suppression of feeling, and dutiful busyness of many adult lives.
Of course we should not be ruled by our inner child or any other subpersonality, but it is good to remain empathically in touch, especially during difficult times when your inner child is likely to be lonely and unhappy. Sympathetic consolation may do much to gain its cooperation.
Peel back the layers and find out what this core aspect of yourself has to say and how it views your present existence.
Also be aware of the darker side of your self and of life and know what it is saying to you.
“I Stood Upon a High Place”
I stood upon a high place,
And saw, below, many devils
and carousing in sin.
One looked up, grinning,
And said, “Comrade! Brother!”
— Stephen Crane (1871-1900)
The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. Everything has a shadow side. If you don’t see the shadow of a person, you don’t see the person and are blinded by idealization. If you don’t see your own shadow, you are in denial, and will project your shadow onto others.
We all have a side of ourselves we consider dark. Our shadow may include appetites, lust for power, manipulative agendas, chaotic emotions and sub-personalities, addictions, and so forth. The more we deny the shadow, the more it weighs us down. But if we embrace its reality, learn how it works, and then integrate it into our awareness so that it cannot rule us, we become enlightened. We become wiser and more empathic for having a shadow and discover that there are hidden treasures in the dark continents of the unconscious.
If we are at war with our shadow, then it dominates us. We project it onto individuals and groups, and act out our inferior side. If we are unable to accept our shadow, we become hungry ghosts, forever seeking outside recognitions to compensate for the doubts that gnaw at us. When we recognize and accept our imperfections they strengthen us, and we become more nourishing and attractive to others. All people have a shadow, but only the strongest are able to integrate their shadows with acceptance and love. Summoning the intense moral courage to accept your shadow is an ongoing process that creates healing for yourself, those close to you, and the entire world.