Alchemy of the Shadow

Ioana C. Nicolae
5 min readJan 4, 2022
Image from Canva

I’ll take a break from the shadow archetype in literature and I’ll go back to an article where I spoke about the shadow in my life.

Here I gave you an example of the mechanism of the archetype, more precisely, about projecting our negative traits of personality on others; here I used pride and I showed you how I projected it on a very good friend. At first I saw the pride in her, after a while I realized that there was no evidence in what I accused her of, but that I was (my entire life) exactly that. This is shadow work: looking inside yourself, realizing what you are (usually it’s going to be something that you don’t like) and accepting the real image of yourself. Accepting is the first step towards integration, you have to identify the opposite of that element and cultivate it, because that is exactly what is missing form yourself. In the case the pride the opposite is humility. Here humility doesn’t mean having low-self esteem, but thinking less often about yourself and being objective in those thoughts, not putting yourself on a pedestal. This an alchemical process.

The first stage is calcination and this signifies breaking from the bonds that keep us prisoners to a world that does us and the others a lot of harm. In the example given we feel bad if we have a negative opinion about the other person (even if it’s not real) and so does that other person (being accused of something untrue is not pretty). To complete the stage of calcination we have to agree that we should look inside ourselves and accept what we find, even if it’s the exact opposite of what we thought. When we deal with the shadow archetype we create an illusory world in which we entrap ourselves and consider everyone else as an enemy. This is exactly what happens is the case of homo demes, an insane (not mentally ill) individual that creates a world with its own set of vales and perceives the others as hostile. In a previous article I spoke about the similarity between the shadow owner and the homo demens:

Ioana C. Nicolae

Philosopher, writer, poet. My main area o research is the human unconscious and how it can be affected by trauma. We are all alchemists, we are ONE!