The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Monday 8 July 2024

Retrieving Shadows - Book Review

The Mirriam-Webster dictionary gives a definition of shadow as the dark figure cast upon a surface by a body intercepting the rays from a source of light. When we look, we can see this sort of shadow.

This is not the sort of shadow that Christina Lavers is writing about in Retrieving Shadows: A Return to the Heart.1 The sort of shadow she is writing of cannot be seen, and most often we are not even consciously aware of.

The sort of shadow that Christina Lavers is referring to is defined by the eco-psychologist Bill Plotkin as ‘what is true about us that we don’t know – don’t know at all – and, if accused of it, would adamantly and sincerely deny.’

This is the shadow that is the subject of Lavers’ beautiful book.

Retrieving Shadows is the best introductory work on how to work with our shadows that I have read. Christina writes in an easy and compassionate style that makes this book so readable and accessible.

Given the description above, shadow work may sound mysterious, daunting, and possibly even ominous. Christina writes to lighten and assuage such fears.

All of us have much to gain from undergoing shadow work, for as Christina says, we are all ‘full spectrum people, meaning that we each contain the full spectrum of potential expression, from the most sweet, innocent, and easily lovable to the nastiest, greedy, cold, controlling, manipulative aspects.’ Some, or all, of these parts of us can, and do, get hidden away in our Shadow.

Although Christina acknowledges Carl Jung as the originator of the concept of shadow she does not get bogged down in theoretical explanations. Her book is straight forward; indeed, it almost reads as if it were common sense.

Retrieving Shadows is illustrated with words by analogies, stories (presumably from her professional practice,) and personal experience. It is also illustrated graphically with delightful, evocative drawings. These all enable the reader to become comfortable with entering the darkness where shadow resides.

Shadow work has much to offer us, both individually, and collectively. Christina notes that our social system is often both the source of our shadows as well as being the maintainer of them. ‘As children’ she writes, ‘…immersed in the dual nature of reality, we quickly learn to categorise our world into good and bad … even ourselves.’ Working with our Shadow then, must be beneficial for us individually and socially.

Christina offers a number of tools and techniques for working with shadow, and suggests that the supportive facilitation of a shadow-work practitioner may be of benefit. This caveat is well worth noting, as sometimes what arises in shadow-work can be difficult and emotionally painful.

Yet, the work is important, and offers tremendous opportunity for growth, self-awareness, and (possibly unexpected) beauty.

There are some warnings however, and Christina points these out with kindness. The most crucial warning is that of denial. ‘If we deny (the) potential within us, then we are likely to project this energy out into the world, ultimately contributing to and energising distortion at the collective shadow level.’ To me, this is a vital warning, for we may not even be aware that we are projecting a hidden part of ourselves. It can be argued that the massive and inter-connected ills of the world have been created, in large part by our individual, and collective, denial of our shadows. Christina is utterly correct to make the observation.

Three other warnings that Christina makes are: 1. To not rush or attempt to consciously direct the healing process – allow it to take the time it needs. 2. To not ‘remain continuously in the basement’ as this can act to re-traumatise us. We must, she says, ‘stay with the heart.’ 3. To not attempt to point out other people’s shadows.

Retrieving Shadows is not long (just 110 pages) making it easy to read, and re-read. The book is not just for those wanting to do inner work. It is also, perhaps even more so, for those who want to act to change the world, and for those who would wish to transcend the world. For, as mentioned earlier, Chistina declares, we are all full-spectrum beings.

If you know little or nothing of shadows or of shadow-work, then this is an excellent introduction. If you already know of shadows and shadow-work, then this is a valuable addition to your knowledge.

The last words in this review should be those of Christina. They come just 10 pages before the end, and beautifully summarise the interplay between the uncomfortable, and threatening aspects of shadow-work, and the magic and beauty the work can summon.

‘It is important to note that dark absolutely does not equate to evil. Evil is just darkness without love. The dark itself is beautiful, and like the soil out of which live grows, it holds incredible potential in its depth. The heart can hold the whole spectrum of being without judgment, and when aligned with this loving frequency and expressed with awareness of the whole, the dark becomes an integral piece of the entire picture.’


1. Christina Lavers, Retrieving Shadows: A Return to the Heart, Christina Lavers, NSW, Australia, 2024

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