Posted on Wednesday 14 December 2016
© Kelly Brogan MD. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Kelly Brogan MD. For more articles, sign up for the newsletter at www.kellybroganmd.com
Cars were at a 12 minute standstill and the traffic light repeatedly cycled green to red. In the streets, throngs of sign-toting New Yorkers were giving voice to their passion. There were tears and profanity. The waves of protesters streamed endlessly. “F**K TRUMP” was the choice mantra of this movement. The perplexed Nepalese driver turned and said in his broken English, “Why is dese womens mad? I know what woman is. Hillary has not even little kindly heart. She is no woman.”
If we can zoom out and dispassionately examine the leading characters in this near-Shakespearean drama, we observe that there is a unique alchemy at play here. For the first time in US history, we have the Democratic Party — perceived as a heart-centered ideology — aligned with a female candidate, and the Republican Party — perceived as cold, self-interested pragmatists — aligned with not just a male candidate, but a caricature of rapacious patriarchy.
With the help of mainstream media’s carefully curated and theatrical representation of reductionist platitudes, an expected voting majority was led down the yellow brick road to meet Oz; Oz, in this case, being the redemptive victory of the first ever female president over this embarrassment of a Republican candidate.
As the media showcased Trump’s unscripted and uncensored boorish behavior, we watched women rally. They donned pantsuits. They exhorted each other towards unity in indignation (“Wake TF up! He’s disgusting. He hates disabled people! He’ll be the end of us all.”). They assembled in places like Wellesley College, desperately eager to bear witness to the piercing of the glass ceiling and usher in a new era. We watched as leading female celebrities campaigned to seize this moment in history.
Women all over this country needed Hillary to be the redemptor. To heal us. To right the wrongs and to confer a power we have felt stripped from us.
It’s only natural that women would look to a woman to help lead us home.
What happens when in our desperation for the solution to be simplified, we allow ourselves to be duped… when we can’t bear to scratch beneath the surface to recognize our projections and how we participate in our own co-option?
Co-option? What? How?
Yes. It’s time to take a good hard look at a type of feminism that, practiced today, only serves to keep us indentured and arrested in our development as women.
Classical feminism is men versus women. It’s burning bras. It’s fighting for what’s ours. It’s throwing our lipstick away, gunning for every shred of external validation offered to men — from clothing to salary to parenting roles to frontline combat units. It’s “no thanks, I got the door for myself.” It’s even cultivating aggression and hate.
It may feel empowering. But when we engage feminism primarily from the masculine principle, it contributes further to our silent and chronic oppression.
Look at where playing the game has gotten us. One in four of us is medicated beyond any contact with our own souls, let alone our emotions or our psyches. We are neutered of our hormones, electively and passively, without true informed consent. We are placed in stirrups in our moment of awakening, strapped and commandeered by men (and women) who seek to control and dominate through fear. We shear off our breasts and slice out our ovaries and uteri (and vaccinate our babies) to be safe and smart according to industry-defined standards.
We have done this under the illusion of our sovereignty as we float more and more distantly away from creative power, from cosmic feminine energy, from the great divine mother of the Adi Shakti.
We know this old style of feminism because we’ve lived it.
So many of us women have been feminists in the masculine principle for years. Decades, actually. We have said “Anything you can do, I can do (better)…” We have looked for places to exercise force, totalitarian viewpoints, aggression, and righteousness through the lens of entitlements. We have seized on birth control as a feminist’s right; the elective c-section as the empowered and civilized choice; and the cervical cancer, human papillomavirus Gardasil vaccine as a preventive boon for women everywhere.
This kind of feminism is evidence of women divested of our own divinity, giving our power away to the perceived opposition. It is Stockholm syndrome at its worst.
We must get this.
When a woman who puts aside her fierce grace, her deep nurturance, her unparalleled powers of intuition, and her unique potential to create a collective, she becomes trapped in her masculine principle. There are many of us. But it is time to evolve. Let us explain…
Hillary Clinton represents our tendency to be appeased with exactly what keeps us imprisoned. She is not a feminist’s candidate though she may appear, in form, to be.
She is, in fact, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
What did that taxi driver mean by her absence of heart? Hillary is one, perhaps extreme, example of the illusion of feminine progress, with all of her masculine principle foregrounded and her shadow elements festering beneath the surface.
There are many examples of this. Watch this video interview of one of the true activists on this planet lays that case bare. And also consider where you get your information.
You won’t hear this true story from mainstream media, take it from us! When we rely on the mainstream media for our news, we fail to see the strings pulling on the marionettes as we take in the show. We may absorb the platitudes of party politics and the triumphalism of Hillary’s gender-busting candidacy. But we fail to see the Story of Separation, the subterranean hate, and the old model of feminism that she also represents. Sometimes, it’s hard to even entertain the possibility that what we want to believe and what is true may actually be in tense conflict.
To elect her because she has a vagina is a more aggressive act of sexism than it appears. It is a vote for stasis in this story, for the status quo. It is a vote for the world-destroying machine to which she is beholden. It’s why we women feel placated to have put a vaginal canal in the oval office. It’s the excitement and celebration of illusory gains while we drift farther away from our true prospects of healing.
On the other hand, Trump is, indeed, a wolf in wolf’s clothing.
He is the crass womanizer, the ostentatious vulgarian, and the attention-seeking chauvinist. He is boastful, blunt, and rude… the embodiment of the patriarchal masculine exposed.
But the real gift in this moment in time is that we can look at what the unbalanced masculine is in a man and in a woman. And we can use this insight to reframe our expectations for what an empowered woman and national leader can and will be.
Maybe the system needs to fall apart so we can, together, begin to grow the tendrils of a new, better system to replace it.
In order to respond to this call to action, we need transparency. We can work with the wolf, particularly, if he is lone, without a pack of already deeply established industry and dynasty-level corporate and financial ties to Big Pharma, Big Chem, Big Ag, and Big Business. Think about how many liberties we have sacrificed in the name of “safety” — only to learn that the real danger lurks inside. That the fox is indeed guarding the henhouse. In many ways, the necessary change — environmental, consciousness, healing-based change — will come from the people, not from the president.
We all need to wake up. Sometimes Kali-esque destruction is a part of this process, and can catalyze the deepest forms of healing and regeneration. We need to activate the divine feminine to heal this planet.
Trump is something we can work with, push against, define ourselves through if we use the rupture of his election to ignite and channel latent energy. Sometimes the darkness reveals the path toward the light and invites more and more of us to walk it than would otherwise.
The process that has been kicked off is one of a collective mourning. At the risk of generalization, those who are grieving today, wailing, and gnashing their teeth, are those whose hearts we need most enlivened to usher in the New Story. The grace in this is that people are now feeling.
As activists on behalf of women, families, and health freedom, we recognize this feeling because we have been peeking beneath the veil of the Mainstream Media narrative for collective decades.
We have felt what millions are feeling today, for a quite a long time.
It is, potentially, the first stage of true awakening to service to feel this deep ache inside. These emotions have been IN THERE all along, simmering and percolating and roiling. In our sisters, mothers, and aunts. In our girlfriends, wives, and daughters. The rage, the grief, the indignation, the rip roaring pissed off, seriously God dammit, I’m not taking it anymore, ENOUGH is ENOUGH line in the sand. But we’ve been sublimating these feelings for decades. We can count on two hands how many truly activated women we’ve walked this path with over the past several years.
After all, there’s been plenty of fuel to our fire. There are a lot of Establishment-engineered transgressions that could’ve woken all of us up. But many have been unaware or otherwise not set off by the knowledge that there is more to the story than meets the eye and a whole lot to be pissed about. We find ourselves in a place of seriously grave instability on this planet. It’s an instability that cuts to the core of all of our ecosystems from environmental to human to microbial. To begin with, we have:
So much is so wrong. We feel the pain of this inside and now maybe you do too, more consciously.
The anxiety, depression, and fear are palpable. We know that we are disconnected from something vital. Men and women alike have lost contact with the proverbial mother as we are divorced from our greater sense of recognition, safety, belonging, and love. We know this wound. It is a feminine wound. A community wound. A family wound.
But we also know, deep down that there is, indeed, a more beautiful world that we know is possible. And we look upon the tears and screams emerging today, in the wake of this election, with a feeling of expansive possibility for the women of the world.
The induced awakening of women nationwide will be a gift of acceleration to us as a planet. Trump is, perhaps, exactly what we need to wake women up to ourselves rather than to lead us to the celebration of our own continued captivity in a narrative that has no room for our divine feminine power.
It is time to move into the new feminism. Our feminism. The feminism that the world demands to heal today. It is not a warring posture, vaginas versus cocks. It’s not women who seek to mimic the dress, comportment, and energy of stereotypical men. It’s not the level playing field. It’s not “our turn.”
This new feminism takes a good hard look at our several thousand year history of divorce from community, matriarchy, and deep wisdom. It sees that our collective hurt must be owned and worked with and fully integrated for true healing. It understands that the most powerful force on this planet is a woman’s divine compass — a compass that only knows the feeling of the collective as one. It knows that we can shift out of our righteousness and into a place of core stability because we already have everything we need if we choose to trust it, feel it, and own it.
We women are working with the deepest powers of manifestation and creation known to this world. But we have given it away.
It’s time for a reclamation.
The reclamation is not a grabbing. It’s simply a radiating. It’s an energetic commitment to healing the self in service of healing the planet. Perhaps, as Regena Thomashauer says in her new book, we need to let our pussies (not our minds) lead the way out of victimhood and into radiance. Yes, this much maligned, abused, and despised part of us that we need only to reunite with as our most trusted connection to a power we have given away.
We must let the rage and pain move through us, come together in ritual, and then work creatively with the energy that only knows to see the other as self. To see each human as a cell in the greater organism. Uniquely, instructively essential.
Hillary has shown us what the old feminism looks like, mired in orthodox power structures, dogma, and non-integration. The new feminism is emboldened by possibilities herein. It is always curious and compelling, the gifts that pain and suffering will bring if we let them flow to the surface, swirl around, and transform us in the crucible of a heart-centered consciousness. If we do this, together… if we let the seeds planted by this election grow, they will yield the leaders, healers, and true earth-bound revolutionaries who will ready us for the New Story in ways that are not yet made apparent by the current binary system of options.
Perhaps the wolf in wolf’s clothing will inadvertently and even unintentionally heal the entire landscape.
Carolyn Baker, Ph.D. is the author of Dark Gold: The Human Shadow And The Global Crisis. Her radio show, the Lifeboat Hour, airs on Progressive Radio Network every week. She may be contacted at [email protected].
In her Time Magazine article “In Praise Of Darkness,” professor, author, and Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor speaks of “full-on solar spirituality.” According to Taylor, solar spirituality excludes the inevitable darkness of human experience which on the one hand feels ominous, yet without confronting it, the spiritual journey is incomplete.
“Darkness” is shorthand for anything that scares me — that I want no part of — either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. The absence of God is in there, along with the fear of dementia and the loss of those nearest and dearest to me. So is the melting of polar ice caps, the suffering of children, and the nagging question of what it will feel like to die. If I had my way, I would eliminate everything from chronic back pain to the fear of the devil from my life and the lives of those I love — if I could just find the right night-lights to leave on. At least I think I would. The problem is this: when, despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life (literally or figuratively, take your pick), plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, nonetheless I have not died. The monsters have not dragged me out of bed and taken me back to their lair. The witches have not turned me into a bat. Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.
While Barbara Brown Taylor is not part of the New Age movement, her brilliant assessment succinctly captures a reality which has incessantly escaped that movement, namely that darkness must be valued as wholeheartedly as our veneration of the light.
Marc Gafni: A New Age Cosby?
While American culture has been recently rocked by ubiquitous allegations of Bill Cosby sexually assaulting women spanning at least the past fifty years, a lesser-known but equally repugnant scandal has erupted among the professional purveyors of “solar spirituality,” namely a plethora of accusations against New Age teacher and former Rabbi Marc Gafni. Born Marc Winiarz and sometimes known as Mordechai Gafni, the spiritual guru, according to Wikipedia, has been accused by multiple women of sexually assaulting them, dating back to 1980, and he himself has admitted to having had sexual relationships with girls as young as 14. He was also accused of molesting a 13 year old girl over a period of nine months. I do not wish to enumerate or comment on all of the accusations against Gafni because the focus of this article is not litigious. Nevertheless, some accusations beg to be mentioned.
In the December 25, 2015, New York Times article “A Spiritual Leader Gains Stature, Trailed By A Troubled Past,” Gafni’s long history of accusations of sexual abuse was examined as well as his associations with the founder of the Integral spiritual community, Ken Wilber, and with Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey. Clarifying the definition of “Integral,” Barbara Marx Hubbard stated that, “Integral theory is based on the understanding that evolution itself is an expression of a spiritual universal force of creation embodied in each one of us as us, as unique selves.”
In Sara Kabakov’s article of January 13, 2016 in Forward Newspaper, “I Was Thirteen When Marc Gafni’s Abuse Began,” she writes, “Right now there are children in the Jewish world, and in other communities, who are being abused and forced into silence. Their parents and teachers don’t know what is happening. I know, because it happened to me. I am the woman Gafni molested when she was 13 years old. This is the first time I am telling my story in my own name.” Kabakov tells her story in depth and also recounts her healing process and her struggle to recover from years of sexual abuse and emotional manipulation at the hands of Gafni.
Only days before Kabakov’s story was released, Forward Newspaper published a daring piece that came after Gafni’s team mistakenly sent Forward a recording of them plotting a strategy of suing journalists. The tape is extremely revelatory and includes Gafni’s statement, “Let’s have a separate meeting, and figure out — do we want to sue someone and who would that be?” Gafni said to Michael Wright, his press representative, and Christopher Marston, his lawyer. Earlier in the conversation, Gafni said: “If we do decide to take action someplace, maybe the Forward would be the test case.”
Another damning piece regarding Gafni, “Gafni Faces Fallout From New Age Community,” was published by Jewish Week on January 5. The article states that, “Already some 25 New Age leaders — including Deepak Chopra, the best-selling author; Andrew Harvey, founder of the Institute for Sacred Activism; Craig Hamilton, CEO of Evolving Wisdom; author Jean Houston; and Stephen Dinan, CEO of The Shift Network — have signed a public statement disavowing themselves from Gafni.”
Perhaps the most thorough piece to date is from William Harryman writing in his Integral Options Café blog and highlighting the psychological aspects of Gafni’s devastating actions. Harryman notes that,
“One of the many things missing in the NYT article, and most of the ones that have followed, is a recognition that Gafni’s pathology is not only emotional and sexual manipulation and other forms of abuse, it is also a sociopathic personality that almost hides the malignant narcissist within. The NYT article exposed some of the controversies surrounding Gafni (which has led to the current outrage in the Jewish community and in the integral community, but in each instance allowed him to refute the allegations with no further exploration of the facts or statements by the victims.) What could have been an important document revealing Gafni’s 35-year pattern of abuses–interpersonal, sexual, and control–became little more than a PR piece for him and his ‘think tank.'”
Harryman, who has two Masters degrees in counseling psychology, states that he has worked extensively with survivors of sexual abuse, and pointing to Gafni’s repeated defense that his abusive encounters were “consensual,” Harryman argues that,
“It is also important to understand that Gafni works hard to make these issues be about pseudo-consensual sex because the reality is much darker. His survivors ARE sexually manipulated, and there are consistent reports of debasing sexuality (woman as whore), but the sexual relationships are simply the seduction that brings women into his circle of influence. Once he seduces someone, then he begins the process of mind control, shaping their thoughts and experiences so that they come to see things his way.”
Additionally, Harryman dares to use the term sociopath to describe Gafni and adds,
“Sociopaths… can be VERY charming and seductive, and if you’ll notice in some of the online statements, even those who have distanced themselves from Gafni marvel at his charisma. It is the charisma that lures women, and it also lures in supporters (financial) and defenders (students). Once they are seduced, especially the women, Gafni’s mask will begin to slip. These women discover the porn addiction, the rage, the manipulation of others, the lack of remorse, the debasing sexuality, and the inability to tell the truth. Understandably, they are frightened of him, and when they escape, they remain trapped in silence out of fear or reprisal — because if they do speak out, he will call them liars, or say they are mentally unstable, and on an on.”
In telling her story, Sara Kabakov (above) reinforces Harryman’s perspective.
Since the publication of the December 25, 2015 New York Times article, over 40 other articles from a variety of sources have been published regarding the Gafni scandal. In addition, a number of spiritual teachers and authors have spoken out against Gafni and distanced themselves from him. One of the largest networks of spiritual teachers is Shift, which recently posted on its blog a statement of disavowal of Marc Gafni with a very specific explanation from one of its members, Andrew Harvey, which stated:
We, the undersigned, have concluded, based upon direct experience, investigation, or conversation with trusted allies, that we cannot endorse Marc Gafni as a teacher in any way. Furthermore, we will not feature him in any event, publication, or online activity we produce, nor will we participate as a speaker or promote any event in which he is featured.Signed by:
Sera Beak – Author of Red Hot and Holy
Adam Bucko – Hab Community
Rev. Diane Berke – Founder, One Spirit Learning Alliance
Deepak Chopra – NY Times bestselling author
Stephen Dinan – CEO, The Shift Network
Scott Edelstein – Author of Sex and the Spiritual Teacher
Lion Goodman – founder, Clear Your Beliefs
Andrew Harvey – Founder, Institute for Sacred Activism
Craig Hamilton – CEO, Evolving Wisdom
Harriet Hawkins – Center for Spiritual Living Livermore Valley
Ross Hostetter – Founder, The Fieldwork School
Jean Houston – Author of The Possible Human
Kurt Johnson – The Interspiritual Network
Anodea Judith – Founder, Sacred Centers
Bill Kauth – Founder, The ManKind Project
Rory McEntee – Foundation for New Monasticism
Devaa Haley Mitchell – Co-founder, The Shift Network
David Nicol – Founder, Subtle Activism Network
Terry Patten – Integral Evolutionary Practice
John Robbins – Author of Diet for a New America
Ocean Robbins – CEO, The Food Revolution Network
Robb Smith – CEO, Integral Life
Mirabai Starr – Author of Caravan of No Despair
Marcia Wieder – CEO, Dream University
Claire Zammit – Founder, Feminine Power
Additionally, Change.Org published a petition entitled “Stop Marc Gafni From Abusing Again,” signed by more than 100 rabbis who stated that:
As a group of religious and communal leaders, we are motivated by the obligation embedded in the belief that whoever saves a single life, it is as if they have saved a whole world. Marc Gafni has left a trail of pain, suffering, and trauma amongst the people and congregations who were unfortunate to have trusted him. He has abused his extraordinary intellectual gifts and charisma to harm many who came to him in search of spiritual guidance and teaching. He has used professional alliances to legitimize himself by association, and thereby be able to continue creating more harm. As a result Marc Gafni is neither trusted, respected, nor welcome to teach virtually anywhere in Judaism. In community after community, those who have trusted him have had their trust betrayed. Some of those who sign here were severely mislead and even once defenders of Gafni’s integrity only to see that we too had been deceived.
Polyamorous Or Polyamoral?
Gafni defends his sexual proclivities as polyamorous, and to that orientation, he is certainly entitled. However, the trail of alleged sexual abuse documented by his accusers and those who believe them reveals manipulation, mind control, and ghastly incidents of misogynistic abuses of power over his victims. Moreover, Gafni touts himself as a “sexual pioneer” who is being persecuted for his polyamory in a manner similar to the way in which a gay man might have been persecuted for his sexual orientation in the 1950s, daring to compare his twisted sexual cannibalism with the benign sexual orientation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered human beings.
Chaya Kurtz nailed it beautifully in her article “How To Spot A Spiritual Sexual Predator:”
Anybody Who Ideologically Justifies Polyamory: If he’s really “progressive”, this man can quote The Ethical Slut. And since his predecessors in his spiritual lineage had multiple wives, certainly he should have them. While he is free to enjoy his spiritually-sanctioned dalliances, you’re in big trouble if he even thinks you’re cheating on him. After all, it’s Tantra! Or it’s Christianity! Or Abraham had more than one wife! He has so much spiritual mojo that he is simply gifting it to all the women he’s intimate with. How dare you refuse his gift!?
While Marc Gafni attempts to package himself as a spiritual and sexual revolutionary, he has shown himself to be yet another ethical train wreck–a sexual predator with a pretty face, an impressive resume, and terrifying charisma. Gafni is nothing more than a retread of an ancient archetype with which world literature is replete and religions in particular are infested. Whether it’s the prurient guru system of a variety of Eastern spiritual traditions or the Vatican’s soul-murdering path of sexual carnage among innocent children, the story is always the same: Power, control, manipulation, conquest, and psychological mayhem.
Where Are The Voices Of Solar Spirituality?
Marc Gafni is the co-founder, with Ken Wilber, of the Center For Integral Wisdom, one of many organizations promoting Integral Spirituality. According to Wikipedia, “Integral theory is Ken Wilber’s attempt to place a wide diversity of theories and thinkers into one single framework. It is portrayed as a ‘theory of everything’ trying ‘to draw together an already existing number of separate paradigms into an interrelated network of approaches that are mutually enriching’.” Gafni has been long associated with two heavyweights of the Integral movement: Ken Wilber and Sally Kempton.
In 2006, three women from a spiritual community in Israel, headed by Gafni, filed complaints with the police of sexual misconduct against him. At that time, Ken Wilber did not distance himself from Gafni but offered his opinion on the Jews School website:
I have stated my conclusion, after reviewing the evidence and as many perspectives as I can, that there is truth to some of these allegations and that this is due in part to Marc’s illness, and that as long as this dysfunction is not addressed, I do not believe that Marc should be teaching. But I want to point out that emotional illness can be treated and in many cases cured. Marc may or may not be sincere, and his therapy may or may not be effective–but that is exactly the purpose of the therapeutic board: namely, to make that decision, and not to let either of the partial sides do so. I do not know if this solution will work, but to date it is the only rational, compassionate, and fair one that I have heard, and therefore the only one which serves justice.
At that time, Ken Wilber and Sally Kempton published a lengthy defense of Gafni, asserting that the women in Israel had lied.
More recently in the New York Times, December 25, 2015 article, Wilber was quoted as saying that, “Marc has a lot of Shakti,” [Mr. Wilber said, using a Sanskrit word for energy.] “I don’t think he understood the impact it had on people.”
To date, neither Ken Wilber nor Sally Kempton have spoken out about the ongoing, incessant, enduring charges of sexual misconduct against Gafni that surfaced in 2006, 2011, and 2016. In fact, on Gafni’s website, one finds endorsements from Wilber and Kempton who have been aware of Gafni’s proclivities for years, yet neither have distanced themselves from Gafni. What are we to make of this?
Living In The Light, Ignoring The Shadow
For the past three decades, I have been a student of the immortal Carl Jung and currently as a life coach, a former psychotherapist, and an author, my life has been profoundly altered by Jung’s work. Perhaps most personally profound for me in the body of his work is the reality of the human shadow of which I was totally ignorant when in my thirties I wildly embraced solar spirituality
After many years of immersion in New Age spirituality, at the age of 40 my life fell apart as a result of my shadow blind spots. I subsequently entered Jungian depth therapy, and as I persevered in it, I quickly came to understand the extent to which my reliance on New Age spirituality had served to mask my pain and obscure the deep childhood wounds I needed to attend to in order to experience the wholeness for which I longed. My obsession with positive thinking and attempting to manifest a pain-free life had fostered within me an ego-inflation that was rapidly de-flated as I became more familiar with the ugly, obnoxious aspects of my shadow.
While basking in the sunlight of positive thinking was more pleasurable for me than allowing the presence of the so-called “negative,” it neither rang true nor felt consistent with the full spectrum of my humanity. As I read the works of Jung and as I opened to the reality of my own personal shadow, on the one hand, I felt more emotional distress, but on the other, exploring the forbidden territory of my psyche felt profoundly authentic and substantial. I soon realized that solar spirituality, focused primarily on the light, offered a dubious peace of mind at the expense of familiarity with my deepest humanity and the human condition at large. In fact, I came to understand that addiction to positive thinking precariously ignores the dark side of humanity and in doing so, conceals the shadow of manipulation, abuse of power, self-righteous arrogance, and compulsive control that lurk beneath the still waters of “living in the light.”
Seldom does one find discussion or instruction on shadow dynamics within the New Age movement. In an astonishingly hypocritical article by Marc Gafni himself, “Shadow Integration,” Gafni reveals that he has no idea what shadow work entails:
Why would you want to integrate your darkest impulses? Perhaps those impulses need to be transmuted and evolved. At the very least, it would appear that they need to be disciplined and controlled. Is shadow integration merely a sophisticated license for ethical libertines, as some spiritual moralists have wanted to claim? And if it is not, if shadow integration points to some profound and important intuition about our wholeness and enlightenment, as others have loudly claimed, but not explained, then what is it?
As he blathers on throughout the article, Gafni repeatedly reveals his ignorance of the shadow and implies instead that he has a fuller grasp of it than all of the world’s wisest teachers on the topic.
In my 2016 book Dark Gold: The Human Shadow And The Global Crisis, I offered a detailed definition of the shadow, bolstered by several other authors in the Jungian tradition.
For example, mythologist and student of Jung, Joseph Campbell, states that “The Shadow is, so to say, the blind spot in your nature. It’s that which you won’t look at about yourself. This is the counterpart exactly of the Freudian unconscious, the repressed recollections as well at the repressed potentialities in you.”
In The Shadow In America: Reclaiming The Soul of a Nation, Jacquelyn Small notes that:
Until made conscious the shadow causes us to act in ways that create catastrophe or explosions of emotionalism….When we try to deny the shadow, it multiplies. When instead, we choose to invite it in, we gain stability and expand consciousness, losing our self-righteousness, and becoming flexible, less defended, more balanced.
In her 2005 book The Sacred Purpose of Being Human, Small refers to the shadow as “…our holy grit. It’s the sandpaper in your psyche that rubs you raw until you make it conscious.”
It is important to understand that we commit to working with the shadow not only because failing to do so impedes our loftiest intentions but because we are “prospectors” in search of the “dark gold.” If there are precious metals to be mined, why would we settle for less? For as Robert Johnson reminds us in Owning Your Own Shadow, “…these disowned parts are extremely valuable and cannot be disregarded. As promised of the living water, our shadow costs nothing and is immediately—and embarrassingly — ever present. To honor and accept one’s own shadow is a profound spiritual discipline. It is whole-making and thus holy and the most important experience of a lifetime.”
Clinical and forensic psychologist, Stephen Diamond asserts that authentic spirituality requires consciously accepting and relating properly to the shadow as opposed to repressing, projecting, acting out and remaining naively unconscious of its repudiated, denied, disavowed contents, a sort of precarious pseudo-spirituality.
”Bringing the shadow to consciousness,” writes another of Jung’s students, Liliane Frey-Rohn (1967), ”is a psychological problem of the highest moral significance. It demands that the individual hold himself accountable not only for what happens to him, but also for what he projects. . . Without the conscious inclusion of the shadow in daily life there cannot be a positive relationship to other people, or to the creative sources in the soul; there cannot be an individual relationship to the Divine.”
Thus engaging in meticulous and astringent shadow work is a moral and spiritual imperative. Moreover, in situations of ghastly abuse as we witness in the sordid saga of Marc Gafni, a host of enablers always encircle the perpetrator. He would not have been able to continue his devastating sexual behavior without the likes of Ken Wilber and Sally Kempton fluffing pillows and making tea for him. The Gafni scandal reveals nothing if not the grotesque head and monstrous appendages of the human shadow writ large across the entire New Age movement, intoxicated with the Kool Aid of solar spirituality. Overwhelmingly, the New Age movement and the spiritual guru system is in abject denial of the shadow, and until it confronts its shadow, we can expect to see lives and communities ravaged by the darkness ignored while spiritual celebrities bask in the light of happy-faced, huggy, saccharine spirituality.
In his January 3, 2016 statement on behalf of Shift Network, Stephen Dinan wrote: “I strongly believe that the full truth of this situation needs to be surfaced, witnessed and addressed, not just for the sake of those involved but for the sake of our whole movement so that we may do collective shadow work and face the abuse of power that too often happens under the guise of spiritual teaching.”
Integral teacher, Terry Patten, who has firmly distanced himself from Gafni offered wise counsel in a recent blog:
The victim narrative is too easy, too convenient, and very incomplete. We are all autonomous adults. No matter how smart, talented, and tenacious Marc Gafni might be, the only power he has over anyone is the power we have given him. If he has compromised our community, it’s up to us to reclaim it. It’s our responsibility to draw a clear line if we want greater goodness and moral intelligence.His unexamined shadow compromises everything he associates with, so it’s undermining those remarkable philosophical ideas and this community of practice and inquiry, not serving them. They are the victims I’m most interested in defending.
But make no mistake: this is a teachable moment, a developmental opportunity. Our community needs a way to protect itself from talented sociopaths with histories of unprocessed shadow and violating others’ hearts, souls, and bodies.
With respect to Marc Gafni, the trail of accusations against him is so long and so despicable that it is difficult to discern if Gafni is just another so-called spiritual teacher who needs to do shadow work, or if he is a sociopath who truly lacks a conscience and for whom, therefore, shadow work would be meaningless. In any event, until individuals on a spiritual path have done deep shadow work, they are highly susceptible to being blinded to it by solar spirituality, making themselves vulnerable to taking advantage of others or being taken advantage by them. One of the risks and liabilities of solar spirituality is that it makes us prey to exploitation and abuse and also increases our own potential for becoming a perpetrator of abuse. Unfortunately, the more “light” associated with anyone in the public sphere, the more vulnerable that person is in terms if his or her own shadow. Likewise, the more “light” we project onto that individual because we have not done our own shadow work, the greater the danger of shadow eruption and the greater the disservice we do to them and to ourselves.
The poet William Stafford in “A Ritual To Be Read To Each Other,” notes that “the darkness around us is deep.” Without doing our own shadow work, we severely compromise our ability to engage with the gargantuan challenges of shadow and darkness in the world. Embracing a spiritual path compels us to commit to doing shadow work so that we may skillfully and compassionately navigate both the darkness and the light.
Marianne Williamson speaking on women and religion at the Parliament of World’s Religions, in October 2015, Salt Lake City Utah.
Marianne’s voice is clearly becoming more powerful as she moves even more directly into her wise woman, sacred activist, priestess self…..the Goddess and this goddess, is fierce! And it’s about time that these words be spoken….thank you Marianne, for speaking on behalf of the herstory of women in patriarchal religions, and the priestess within all of us.
I had the honor of attending a lecture at Western Carolina University here in my mountains of North Carolina…a remote place for sure to see Gloria Steinem speak! But, what an amazing opportunity it was. Gloria turns 80 in a few weeks. Dressed in a simple black jumpsuit that belied a tall slim figure, hair tied back in a braid, there was little sign of alteration to Gloria’s natural beauty other than a few gray roots in her reddish hair. She was her usual straightforward self, admitting to us that although she was asked to speak about the changes she saw from the 60’s till now, she did not tend to look to the past, but lived in the future. So, getting this opportunity to compare her view from here to back there, she spoke a version of her famous quote: “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off!” She confirmed that there were lots of things to piss us off these days, the condition of women’s rights in the U.S. and in the world on top of the list. Gloria feels we have made only incremental changes, and if we invested in women the way that we invested in bailing out banks and corporations, the return on that investment would have been all the economic stimulus we would need. Women don’t tend to put their money in Swiss bank accounts, but to spend it for the good of their families and communities. “It is more rewarding to watch money change the world than to watch it accumulate.”
We tend to think that feminism is old-school, over, done, passe’, but the truth is that we are just getting started. As long as there is racism, discrimination, reproductive coercion and repression, class-ism, heterosexism, and patriarchy, there has to be feminism, says Gloria, because it is all just imperialism towards one group or another. The core abuse is towards women, because as long as abuse and violence towards women is tolerated, every other form of abuse will be tolerated as well. We have made little progress in the 47 years since the 60’s, because the God we worship still looks like the ruling class, and that means we are still in deep trouble. Gloria said many times in her talk that there is nothing wrong with the majority, and that most of us are aligned with women’s economic and reproductive freedom. The issue is with the 1% who still holds onto the power over. The old boy network is still in charge and has in fact taken over many states. We must stand together to shadow our state legislators, demand fair voting districting, and do our part to stay as aware, active, and attentive as we can every day. The empowerment of women is still ridiculed and it is still threatening to the 1%. We can continue to stand up and speak out. As Gloria says: “Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.”
And, I love Gloria’s definition of feminism: “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”
Enjoy this very entertaining and moving TED talk by Isabel Allende from 2007: It all still rings true-true today in this time where our greatest hope is that the patriarchy will have a good death…..soon, and that women can finally come out of the shadows and into the sun of a new day on this precious and abused (feminine) planet.
March is Women’s History Month http://womenshistorymonth.gov/