by Winafred Blake Lucas, Ph.D.
In her ground-breaking book about releasement The Bright Light of Death, Anabel Chaplin, a conservative but innovative social-worker came to feel that physical symptoms that could not be reversed by allopathic medical procedures were at times the result of what she called “shadowing.” By this she meant that entities who had experienced sudden death or who were tied to persons still living by strong feelings such as anger and dependency, not knowing where they were, tended to hover around and influence those they were tied to. This shadowing had many consequences, the most pervasive of which was physical weakening and chronic fatigue in the individual shadowed. Chaplin’s work was primarily with entities who had been in the experience of her patients in this lifetime, and my own sparse experience with the phenomenon of shadowing replicated this.
In the dozen or so experiences of shadowing I have been involved with over the past ten years, most have been associated with severe energy drain along with manifestations of other problems. Physical concerns were usually non-specific and involved chronic fatigue. It was not my impression that severe physical problems could be released through working with the shadowing so the two experiences in which such a reversal occurred in my practice were unexpected and led to reflection on what happened.
The first experience concerned a sculptress who in the midst of an apparently successful career gradually developed such extreme enervation that it was considered an illness by her physician. Because it had accelerated until she could not sculpt or drive and had to spend most of her time immobile in her house, it was finally labeled “probably terminal.” Her husband attended one of my workshops and when I mentioned shadowing, came up and asked me to see his wife.
When I first saw Ursula she had been brought to the office by her husband somewhat against her wishes, as she had lost hope there would be any solution to the continuing deterioration. I spent the first session getting background and trying to find an entering point. Her marriage seemed sound and supportive and she had made steady progress in her sculpting career, with several shows to her credit. When I asked about the onset of the enervation and pain, she said that it had started just after her return from Kashmir four years before. The trip had been delightful, a good sharing with her husband, and she had enjoyed their houseboat on the Dal Lake.
Knowing that shadowing often begins with a sudden death of someone the patient knows, I asked if anyone close to her had died at that time. She said that her sister had been killed in an auto accident while she was in Kashmir. She told me about her sister who, according to her, had become very angry when Ursula had been able to break out of a suffocating home and go to Chicago to begin her career as a sculptress. Ursula portrayed it as a one-way anger, her sister’s bitter resentment against her.
On her second and last session I took Ursula into a meditation garden, entrance into which effects a deep altered state, and had her call her sister to come. The speed with which entities appear, whether they represent real energy fields or metaphoric representations (which may be the same thing), is surprising, and my patient reported immediately that her sister was there. When asked if she was shadowing my patient, the sister confirmed immediately that she was, at which Ursula broke out in a tirade against her. The angry dialogue which followed, both sides of which were reported by Ursula, progressed from anger at the sister for bothering her to a series of recriminations from both that went back to their earliest childhood. It became apparent that they were tied to each other through pervasive and long-standing anger.
I allowed the angry exchange to go on for some time, exploring the incidents and feelings by asking questions and making comments to facilitate expression. Eventually the anger thinned until neither sister had anything further to say. It was then apparent that some sort of forgiveness of each other was necessary in order to release the two from the anger which bound them. I asked Ursula if she could let go of her expectation that her sister should have been different, but Ursula was unwilling to do this. Her sister was equally uncooperative. I told them both that it was their choice—they could go on carrying the burden of anger: the sister could stay bound to the earth plane and not go on with her soul journey and Ursula could keep the shadowing going and perhaps eventually die from it. No one could make them give up their anger. It was totally up to them.
There was silence for a while, which I did not break. Finally the sister said she would release her expectation that Ursula should have cherished her and would accept her the way she was, and Ursula decided to let her hostility, apparently triggered by her sister’s dependent and demanding attitude be diffused in some understanding of how it must have been to grow up in a family where another child attracted all the attention and approbation. We worked on the process a long time, testing every assertion to see that it was congruent, until the anger transformed into the beginning of caring for each other. Finally, I had the sister look around for her Guides, and I called on my own to help, and Ursula and I walked a little way with her to the Light and then let her go on her journey.
When we left the garden and came back into the room, Ursula’s face was serene. I had no idea what on-going effect this imaging would have and, not wanting the experience to be negated by her skeptical social world, suggested that it might be better if she didn’t mention it to her husband or friends until we saw how things worked out for her. She called me several days later and said that nearly all the symptoms were gone and she had begun sculpting again. It was apparent that she had told everyone in sight, including some psychologists who were mutual acquaintances. I had no doubt that my reputation was in tatters!
Ursula kept in touch with me for some time and maintained her good health. Her doctor, though surprised, considered her physical recovery to be a spontaneous remission. When she tried to explain what she thought had happened, he attributed what she said to the general instability of the artistic personality. Finally Ursula sent me a flowing statuette of a young woman leaning slightly backward to catch a feather, and this closed our interaction.
It is uncomfortable enough to work with shadowing that starts in this lifetime, but when it originates in another lifetime it makes serious inroads into our comfortable space-time paradigm. My first experience with this occurred with Philene, a woman in her late twenties whom I had seen for extended therapy until the previous year. Originally she had come to see if we could find emotional blocks to her becoming pregnant, since doctors could find no physical ones. At that time I was not doing regression work if there seemed anything unexplored in the current lifetime. Philene, who had wanted to be an artist and had never done anything about it, was so unfulfilled as she went from one doctor to another trying to get pregnant, that therapy seemed to have sufficient scope helping her develop a sense of identity and competence. While in therapy she had gone to a good art school for training in commercial art, graduated, and got a position on a magazine, at which point we discontinued her therapy.
A year later she called, saying that her arms and legs had gradually become full of pain and she had had to quit her job. The doctors did not know what the trouble was but suggested bone cancer of some sort and were going to do more scans, and there was the possibility of amputation. Naturally Philene was frightened. After the heavy slugging through therapy to an apparently successful end, I was discouraged. I wondered what I could do for her that her doctors had not been able to do.
Philene had always been physically fragile, in spite of careful attention to diet and exercise and excursions into various healing meditations. When she appeared for this new try at therapy she was even more fragile, and her fright over her condition was not helping. During the first session I explored thoroughly what had been going on in her life. Work, before she terminated, had had its frustrations, but they seemed more the result than the cause of the problem. Her marriage to a young professor was stable. He gave her as much support as he could, but he was frightened too. Her most obvious frustration was that not only had she not been able to become pregnant but no baby had become available for adoption until a few days before, when a child in another part of the country that was about to be born three months prematurely had been offered to her and her husband The decision as to whether to accept this child was accentuating her distress.
In the second session I used what I considered a safe and effective imaging technique. Without taking her into an altered state through any particular relaxing process I told her simply to become her arms and have them talk and say why they were in such pain. Another approach would have been to ask her to go back where the pain started, but she looked so fragile that I wanted to avoid regression work for the time being. My caution was to no avail, for she became agitated and began crying out and sobbing.
Ph: There’s a lot of red and they’re gone! There’s blood everywhere, a field of blood. I see the back-end of horses and men with metal on them. Everything’s gone. (Screaming, her body rigid).
Joyce cried and said her arms are gone! (Waving her own arms up and down). Mary’s going up and down—her legs are gone!
I sat quiet in the face of this agitation; glad there was no one else in the office that early in the morning and suggested to Philene that this was another lifetime: it was not taking place now and she could step outside it and become an observer. At this, Philene began to speak more quietly and described the situation. She lived with her two daughters, nine and twelve, in a village a long time ago. While her husband was away with the other men of the village pillaging, marauding soldiers swept down on her village and started killing everyone. They tied Joyce by her arms to the back of a horse and dragged her until her arms were pulled out of the sockets. They cut Mary’s legs off above the knees and carried her along on horseback so that she appeared to be bobbing. Both girls died. We explored the situation until Philene was able to move from the role of observer back to that of participant and work through the devastating experience.
Therapist: Both your daughters have been killed. Let’s meet them and see how they’re getting along. Do you see them?
Ph: Yes, they’re here.
Therapist: Ask them if they have clung to you through lifetimes since then.
Ph: They say they don’t know where they are. They miss me and want to be with me and don’t know why I never hear them.
We told the girls that they were dead, explained how they died, and told them that it wasn’t helpful either for them or for Philene to keep trying to stay with her. They seemed relieved when we said we would help them to the Light. I had Philene work with me to image healing on their physical bodies, just in case that might make a difference for them in future lifetimes. Then we called their Guides and I called my own to help, and we said goodbye and watched them go to the Light.
Philene emerged from this experience calm and radiant. We talked briefly about the baby offered her for adoption, and I suggested to her that she did not have to choose a child with problems now—she finally really did have a choice—though I would support her in whatever decision she made.
She called me a few days later to say that she and her husband had decided against the adoption. Meanwhile, within a few days the pains in her arms and legs had disappeared. Her physician decided that she had experienced a spontaneous remission from severe bursitis.
Synchronistically, the next week she was offered another baby by a mother of several healthy children who had become pregnant from a one-night experience. The baby, a boy, turned out to be healthy and attractive, and the adoption went smoothly. I have kept in touch with Philene for two years, and the pains in her arms and legs have not returned. Her chief problem is the pressure many young mothers feel when they have under-estimated the amount of work involved in rearing for an infant.
Several other possible healing agents must be considered. In the case of Ursula, the resolution of her anger, which often causes illness by release of lipid fatty acids, may very well have been healing to her body, though the speed of the remission was surprising. Transpersonal concepts postulate that we exist in an energy field which contains the past as well as the present. Healing is a transformation of this field effected through various modalities. Reynolds (1986) and Mehl (1986) suggest that in therapy the healing takes place in the energy field between the patient and the therapist, and what is said and done is adjunctive. The therapist’s ability to change the state of energy with the assistance of powerful metaphors must be considered a viable if not well understood hypothesis.
Related to this is the concept of synchronicity described by Jue in Volume I, Number 1 of this Journal. When the field of energy in which a patient is contained is transformed, broader fields open up, and appropriate experiences can come through which were shut out before. According to Jue, it is experiences of synchronicity that validate or manifest transformation in the personality. If this is a valid hypothesis, we could understand Philene’s almost immediate opportunity to adopt an appropriate baby as a resultant of the opening up of her field to this possibility by the release of the shadowing.
Finally, it must be pointed out that shadowing, if it is a valid concept, does not just happen. The person who is shadowed has in some way given the invitation or opened himself to the experience. Ursula and her sister were bound to each other by a pervasive anger, perhaps experienced in other lifetimes, though it was not necessary to go into these since we exist in a field that can be entered for transformation on many levels, and this lifetime proved to be sufficient. Philene, also, invited the shadowing by her extreme grief over the sudden and brutal death of her past-life daughters, whom she could not save. Both patient and entity must be ready to give up the attachment, which is done through genuine non-attached love and compassion Love turns out to be the consistent transforming agent, and the task of the therapist seems to be to help the patient open to this.
Chaplin, Annabel. The Bright Light of Death. Marina del Rey: Book Graphics, 1977.
Jue, Ronald Wong. “Past-Life Therapy: Assumptions, Stages, and Progress,” in The Journal of Regression Therapy, Volume 1 Number 1, Spring 1986.
Mehl, Lewis E. Mind and Matter: A Healing Approach to Chronic illness. Berkeley, CA: Mind-Body Press, 1986.
Reynolds, Edward. “Humanistic Considerations in Regression Therapy,” in The Journal of Regression Therapy. Volume I, Number 2, Fall 1986.