The Shadow King, The invisible force that holds women back. By Sidra Stone. An Author’s Guild BackinPrint.com. iUniverse.com inc. 1997, 2000.
Who’s driving your life? Are you aware of underlying reasons for your decisions, or maybe you have conflicting emotions, feeling you “ought not to speak up” or you were afraid to state your opinion. How do you make a choice for your next best action?
Does your decision, your emotional attachment, or your action arises from an authoritative inner voice?
Sidra Stone’s enlightening and comprehensive guide for women who have always suspected and those of you who haven’t – that someone else is in the driver’s seat and it’s not you. The quote on the first flyleaf states, “For women who have put aside their own wisdom, deferred to others, and waited for permission to speak” Do your ears perk-up on reading this? Does the fog clear for a moment? However, let’s be clear. Stone’s book is not about man-bashing. in fact, it is inclusive of all human process, and is an enlightening resource for men at the same time she is writing to her women audience.
The first section of the book walks the reader through the steps to identify an inner voice. Stone helps the reader through the process of defining and noticing their own unique inner patriarchal voice. She clarifies and compassionately describes how womens power, sexuality, relationship roles, and emotions are unconsciously influenced by this very compelling inner voice. She calls this voice The Shadow King.
Each of us has a Shadow King that echoes thousands of years of patriarchal beliefs. Our choice is first to decide to become aware and second to detach from identifying yourself with this and other internal forces. This does not mean bury them, ignore them, but rather, Stone makes clear that the goal is to make choices from a position of awareness. Multi-tasking the inner messages is a position Stone calls the Aware Ego.
Using personal stories, Stone makes The Shadow King an easy read. I believe it is one of the best “I get it!” life changing approaches to living a meaningful life. It supports choice and change based on awareness and consciousness. We can begin to trust ourselves and to know that we have rich internal resources that go beyond one voice of authority. Paradoxically, choice results in greater congruency and authority.
Fortunately, the book does not end with how to identify the Shadow King. Stone explores ways a woman can discern many different and powerful inner parts, including the Matriarch (often squared off with the Shadow King), the lover, and the nurturing healer, all contributing to a fully present self.
Stone recommends engaging in an alchemical processes that include dreams, ritual, reflection, and acceptance of that shadowy King part of every woman, the one that rules our decisions and the external projected Shadow King. The inner voice based on patriarchal beliefs has held primacy as it dictates womens identity and at the same time smothers valid parts that present incredibly useful information. Stone reminds us that the process of discovering this inner voice and creating an alliance between the Shadow King and all of our inner voices becomes a self-actualizing unifying process. The famous writer, Virginia Wolf is known for her concept of “a room of one’s own.” It occurs to me that it is here in this room of your own, that all the parts of you meet, work it out, and through decision and action you can become “all of you.
Stone’s work goes beyond a “how-to” book. Even though she wrote The Shadow King over a decade ago, her words have a significant influence and offer thoughtful support. She encourages the unique qualities of each woman. She highlights inner balance and movement toward unity, which can support a women’s powerful, effective, and a dynamic participation in family and community. When a woman embraces all of her aspects including the duality of the Matriarch and the Shadow King, she creates a loving awareness of choices and action. While this process takes courage (and yes, fear), relationships with men can become more rewarding. Above all, following Stone’s process of listening to our inner resources and voices gives meaning to a life well lived.