Truth is, I forgot I had started the Claude story, which isn't very respectful to a spirit guide (hog-riding or otherwise). So, herewith, is the rest of the story
When last we left Claude and me, it was the summer of 2006 and we were cycling through the forest of my energetic cords and contracts. After a couple of months of making our way through the density of attachments and agreements I didn't even know I had, I began to see the light at the end of the, well, forest. Which felt awesome.
Until one day, as I sat on the back of his bike, holding onto his red-plaid shirted, burly self, Claude came to a gradual stop. He got off the bike. Reached down and lifted up the floor of the forest like it was the astro-turf from some country boy's El Camino. In doing so, he revealed a set of dusty, old, uneven stone stairs. Like the kind that used to lead down into my Aunt Etta's cellar in Bristol, TX. Except, these stairs led straight down into total darkness. Now back on the bike, Claude slowly pulled the throttle back and headed for the stairs. And the darkness. Gradually, gradually, we made our way down each stair. A thump as the front tire hit, then a thump as the back tire did. Descending. Down, down. Away from the forest. Down, down. Away from the light. Thump. Thump. And thump-thump (the first two "thumps" were the tires, the second two, my heart!).
After what seemed like a very long time, we came to a stop. Still on the bike, Claude reached up to turn on a cobwebby gas light, sending I'm not sure what scurrying off to the four corners. In front of us and a bit to the right was a door. A very old door with layer upon layer of faded paint in various stages of chipping off. It was the kind of door that some enterprising interior decorator would call "distressed"...and sell for about $5,000.
It wasn't a big door. It wasn't an impressive door. It was a quiet door. Long ago forgotten.
I slipped off the back of Claude's bike and, following the nod of his head, walked up to the door. Gently, I ran my hand across its surface. Flecks of paint lodged in my fingernails, sprinkled onto my pants, and fell to the floor. Slowly, I looked at my nails, my pants, the floor. The flecks were vibrating ever so slightly, their colors coming into focus.
I knew these paint chips. They were my darkest emotions. And they were painted on that door, one layer over the other and the other and the other. Again and again.
Shame, fear, insecurity, jealousy, doubt. On top of shame, fear, insecurity, jealousy, doubt. On top of...again and again. And again. There were so many layers that, over the years, they had sealed the door shut.
Which made sense. Because the door I was looking at was the Door to my Shadow.
Let's pause here for a bit of a primer on the human shadow. You see, it was Carl Jung who first put forth the notion that all of us are born "whole". That is, all the elements of our core Truth--our Soul Truth--are fully present. And available. When we're born.
We stay that way until we hit 6 or 7. Then....well, then, societal conditioning starts kicking in. And with conditioning comes judgement. By our families, our peers, our communities and, I've found, mostly, our selves. We respond to that conditioning, that judgement, by chipping away all those parts of our Truth that might be considered inappropriate by ourselves or others. Those pieces are called, quite appropriately, the Shadow. They may not always be seen, but they are always there.
Robert Bly says we put those pieces in a bag and drag them around with us for the rest of our lives.
Moving back to our story, I found, in the early months of my journey, that my Shadow dwelled in the cellar of my subconscious. Behind a locked door. Behind a door sealed shut by layers upon layers of those dark emotions all of us use to coat over repressed truths.
That door had been locked and sealed for about 40 years and, quite possibly, it would have remained so for 40 more. Had a raven not risen from my floor. A great-grandmother not joined me for dinner. And a spirit guide not shown up on his motorcycle.
But Claude did. Take me there. Down the steps into the cellar of my subconscious. Over to the Door of my Shadow.
And, then, he did. Leave me there.
Yup, that's right. As I stood in the cobwebby light of my subconscious, taking it all in...the door, the lock, the coats of painted on emotions...I heard Claude pull back on the throttle again. This time not so gently. I turned just as he disappeared up the steps. Out of the darkness and into the, now very distant, light.
I never saw Claude again. Which made sense. Because his work was done.
But, mine was just beginning: I had to open that door.