Shadow integration is an important topic in modern alternative spirituality. The practice entails facing your dark side and integrating it into your psyche. This results in spiritual wholeness and a source of strength during adversity. For many would-be mystics, shadow integration isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. The reason? During astral projection, the Shadow will alert you to its presence. How you deal with it determines whether you grow from the experience or not.
The psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud
Before we discuss the Shadow, we must take a look at the work of Dr. Sigmund Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) . Freud popularized the idea of the conscious and the unconscious in his various works. But what’s of importance was his categorization of the conscious and unconscious mind’s content. Freud divided the human psyche into three parts: The Id, the Ego, and the Superego.
The Id represents our animalistic drives and instincts and wishes nothing more than to satisfy those appetites. Sex, violence, food, survival, and all the other instinctual drives we inherited from our ancestors are a part of our psyche. But we are taught and socialized by our parents, family, and society at large to control and suppress those urges. This socialization takes the form of the Superego, which attempts to shape the psyche into a more civilized form. The Ego is where the two interact to create your unique personality.
Note that we are not always aware of this conflict in us. We aren’t always aware of the drives of the Id that desires to burst out and be free, and the Superego that wants to shape, control, and suppress it. A large percentage of this content is in the unconscious mind and you are only aware of the surface thoughts of the Ego in the conscious mind. But these unconscious parts of your mind have a very real impact on shaping your personality and conscious mind. You may not be aware of them, but they are always there in the background. For this reason, they are to an extent autonomous. Their actions are mostly outside your control until you become aware of them.
Jung’s psychoanalytic theory of the Shadow
Freud’s student, Carl Jung (26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961) saw the human psyche as composed of ‘organs’ that shape psyche. He called these organs the archetypes. They are structures laden with symbolism that make us who we are. The archetypes are to a very large extent unconscious. But until we become aware of them, they can shape our lives in ways beyond our control.
The archetype that concerns us in this lesson is the Shadow. It represents the undesirable parts of our psyche that we suppress. It contains the drives of the Id, but also any other part of the psyche that we find frightening, loathsome, or have other negative connotations. A person who sees kindness, gentleness, and caring as marks of weakness will also suppress these attributes and they become a part of the Shadow.
Yet these attributes don’t simply go away; they stay in the background and shape your personality and life experience. If a person isn’t aware of their Shadow, it can emerge in uncontrolled actions and thoughts that can bring a lot of pain for the person and the people around them.
But the Shadow is more than just the dark and repressed part of the psyche, it is also a gatekeeper. Used positively, the Shadow is a source of great personal power and hides a treasure house of knowledge and healing. By learning how to face and acknowledge that darkness, we can learn how to integrate the Shadow and become better, more whole human beings.
The Shadow is an important Jungian archetype you will encounter during astral projection. It appears as disturbing content and themes that can be unnerving if they aren’t properly understood. These experiences are quite rare unless the practitioner deliberately seeks them out. However, if the Shadow has issues that you need to address urgently, they will come to the surface when you don’t expect it.
Negative experiences during astral projection
Many of the horror stories of people being attacked and harmed are the result of not properly understanding the Shadow. They don’t understand just how powerfully it can manifest and what it’s trying to do. For this reason, every astral projector must be aware of the importance of the Shadow to work with it healthily.
So how do you perform shadow integration through astral projection? By acknowledging and accepting negative astral projection experiences and not running from them. These experiences can range from a gloomy or threatening atmosphere to full-fledged attacks by seemingly negative entities. As I said previously, these phenomena are rare, but they do happen. Fortunately, they are completely harmless and can bring a feeling of wholeness once faced and accepted.
Negative astral experiences are a source of immense healing and power. Don’t fall for the trap of believing these experiences can harm you. Lack of understanding and an overactive imagination is your worst enemies and don’t believe the horror stories of people who don’t grasp this.
Attacks by entities are nothing to worry about
A common fear among beginners is being attacked on the astral plane by negative entities. I must once again reiterate that this is nothing to be frightened of. Some people, especially occultists, like to paint the spiritual world as this predatory hunting ground. Hapless humans get attacked or get taken advantage of by evil or manipulative entities. Furthermore, these entities are around every corner. This is a sad, outdated idea that has no place in the modern world.
According to research, about 10% of the general population have had an OBE. There are over 7.5 billion people on the planet, that makes between 375 million to 750 million people who have had an OBE. If people were harmed by astral projection experiences, we would have noticed it happening consistently. The fact is we don’t. The studies performed by Stuart Twemlow in the 1980s showed that people who astral project are as mentally healthy as the average person.
The source of astral attacks
However, people do get attacked, but here is the truth: these attacks are harmless they are a path to healing yourself. What causes attacks? There are primarily three sources: stress and anxiety, deep-seated emotional problems, and the Shadow. If you’re experiencing a lot of stress or anxiety in your waking life, it can carry over into your OBE. This can cause the experience to feel threatening. Your mind will then conjure illusions that reflect the threatening atmosphere. The ominous feeling will then trigger an attack by these illusions.
The second and third sources, namely deep-seated emotional trouble and manifestations of the Shadow are different. You will be busy exploring the spiritual realm and then you’re confronted by something that reeks of pure evil and dread; this experience can be very scary. Then the being attacks you.
All three sources of attacks are the result of your unconscious mind bringing something troubling you to the surface. Whether it be stress or emotional trouble, it is an attempt by your mind to bring these problems forward for healing. Shadow integration happens the same way.
As you can recall, Jung described the Shadow as those aspects of our psyche that we are preventing from entering our conscious minds. It isn’t just our dark side, but all those aspects of ourselves that we are suppressing. One example is a stoic, disciplined man, who suppresses his emotional, caring side out of fear that it might be a weakness. This caring side becomes a part of his Shadow, alongside negative personality traits he can’t or won’t face.
Attacks are triggered by fears, problems, and hidden desires in ourselves that we cannot face. They appear dark, threatening, and ominous because what they represent frightens us. This is one of the most important lessons astral projection teaches you: astral attacks, are symbolic, not literal. They look and feel real, but hide a deeper meaning that isn’t always obvious, yet is always there.
In Archetypes of the Collective Unconsciousness, Jung describes a common motif in stories. The hero in a story has a goal to accomplish. This can include rescuing a princess, saving a land, or finding a magical object. However, a terrible monster guards this treasure. The hero then faces the monster, defeats it, and rescues the princess or finds a magical object. The hero returns after the ordeal and all is well in the end.
This very common motif in stories across the world carried meaning for Jung. The hero is you; the monster is the Shadow; the princess or treasure is wholeness. By facing your Shadow, you gain the treasure you seek: a better life.
The face of shadow integration: “negative entities”
From my own experience with Shadow integration during astral projection, the monsters appear very real. I noticed that many people in online forums and Facebook groups describe attacks by “shadow people”. Many also realized that these attacks don’t harm you.
In this case, the “shadow people” are a representation of the Jungian Shadow. However, the Shadow can manifest as wild animals, monsters, demons, or violent people. These emerge during an OBE and proceed to attack you. This is an extremely good sign that you’re doing something right.
It means, you have penetrated far into your unconscious and the process of Shadow integration has begun. You will gain a lot of insight from this experience. You will understand where your problems come from, and what you need to address.
Don’t be afraid of astral attacks, they are there to help you. As scary as they are, they are a blessing in disguise. At its core, your mind is good and there to help you, and the spiritual world is a world of the mind.
How to perform shadow integration during astral projection
If during an OBE you see a threatening figure or feel an ominous feeling of dread do the following:
Stand your ground, don’t run away, or otherwise you will be wasting a golden opportunity.
If you can’t see the source of the feeling of dread, command it to show itself until it does.
When you can see the figure or figures that are frightening to you, allow yourself to relax as much as possible. Accept what is happening and don’t run from it. You can talk to the figure or group of figures and find out what they are, or you can choose not to, the choice is yours.
Move towards the figures and allow them to attack you if they must. Give in and accept the experience, allow whatever happens next to happen. Afterward, end the OBE or continue on your journey.
If you are uncertain about embracing astral attacks, then I urge you to read Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. In that book, Stephen LaBerge has an entire chapter dedicated to attacks during lucid dreams. He realized that by not running from them, you can help heal your psyche.