Matthew Pallamary, Dorchester, Massachusetts, native and author of fiction and non-fiction books on the South American indigenous perspective, examines healing from the collective shadow exemplified by the Boston Marathon bombings and managing the spirit of the “wolves within.”
Wolf’s Healing Advice For The Boston Bombings
By Matthew J. Pallamary
I grew up in the Dorchester section of Boston, where eight-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing lived. A couple of my friends live in his immediate neighborhood and know the family. I have two relatives who are Boston cops, as well as friends who have cops in their families who were directly involved with the manhunt for the murderers.
In my memoir Spirit Matters, I wrote about growing up in Dorchester, a tough Irish-Catholic neighborhood, and my subsequent journey from the jungle of inner city Boston to the real jungles of the Amazon where I found true spirituality in the ancient ways of our indigenous elders.
In my wild youth on the streets of Dorchester, I was faced with conflict and divisiveness on a daily basis. I was caught up in the madness of forced busing, not to mention the out and out racism of the sixties. I was nine years old when I had a knife pulled on me for the first time by a black kid. When I was fourteen I went to a mostly black junior high school and was chased out with baseball bats and two-by-fours when Martin Luther King was assassinated, simply because I was white. Aside from the racial conflicts there were fights, gang fights, shootings, knifings, and other forms of violence. My first friend died by drowning when I was nine. By the time I was fourteen, two had been shot to death, two stabbed, and one electrocuted. Death, often violent, is not uncommon in Dorchester.
A Boston Tragedy, Healing from the Shamanic Perspective
The tragic death of Martin Richard, a true innocent, was particularly poignant, not only in its senselessness, but in how close to home it hit in the hearts and minds of the world, the nation, and particularly those of us from Dorchester.
What good can come from the tragic, senseless, death of a sweet eight-year-old child? How can one small life, snuffed out so early have any meaning?
A primary concept within shamanic thought is the mastering of energy on all levels, meaning, physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and ultimately Cosmic, which is known as cultivating power on what is called The Power Path. Without going to the extremes of a “Pollyanna Perspective,” an apt application of this concept is to take something that appears to be totally against you, and turning it completely to your advantage, in essence overcoming the duality of the paradox and embracing the gift of power that it holds.
Galvanized by Martin’s death in the aftermath of the tragedy, the community of Dorchester and the city of Boston put their differences aside. In less than 24 hours word went out and thousands gathered in solidarity in Dorchester’s Garvey Park for a vigil in support for the stricken Richard family.
Later, when the Boston Police imposed a strict lockdown of the city to capture the murderers, Bostonians cooperated.
Certainly, the madness that came to fruition in the senseless maiming and murders of the Boston Marathon bombings, not to mention the daily atrocities of war and terrorism occurring everywhere else in the world, have all reflected aspects of the frustration and confusion of the collective as a whole – meaning our collective shadow. — Matthew J. Pallamary
Life Interconnected: An Indigenous Worldview
Though we often think of ourselves as isolated and separate in this modern age of the twenty-first century, ancient indigenous medicine men understood that everything is interconnected, including man, plants, animals, trees, and the planet. American Indians often referred to these other elemental entities as our brothers, and whether we realize it or not, when we hurt and disrespect them, we hurt and disrespect ourselves.
On an esoteric level, everything is connected within everything else in what modern physicists call a holographic manner. An interesting property of holograms is that if one is cut up into smaller pieces, each portion contains the image and the information of the whole. If you look at the Internet with this paradigm in mind, you will realize that it is in essence a huge multifaceted mirror of the collective consciousness of humanity. All of the information and imagery is contained everywhere in the part and in the whole. An interesting property of mirrors is that they often show us what we do not want to see and if the mirror is distorted, then so is the reflection.
In the new age of the twenty-first century we have Internet access with technological mirrors known as digital cameras, cell phones, tweets, and all manner of instantaneous communication, which in this case, helped bring the murderers to justice.
Bombings As A Collective Shadow
Literally on another front, many believe that our erratic weather patterns are a reflection of the turbulence going on within human consciousness. Certainly, the madness that came to fruition in the senseless maiming and murders of the Boston Marathon bombings, not to mention the daily atrocities of war and terrorism occurring everywhere else in the world, have all reflected aspects of the frustration and confusion of the collective as a whole – meaning our collective shadow.
If you acknowledge that we are all one, then each one of us is a mirror to each other in a holographic manner from the macrocosm of the collective, down to the microcosm of our individual sub-personalities that make up what we think of as “I”, but is in fact many. Some of our sub-personalities we like and constantly take them out and show them to the world. Others we don’t like, so we repress them, making them our shadow, which we don’t want to acknowledge, but as we have seen, it will find its way out.
Mirrors often show us what we do not want to see. If you have the ability and strength to be honest with yourself, and you desire to be a whole, integrated person, then the work lies in reintegrating our hidden shadow(s). Yet they aren’t called our shadows for nothing. They are cunning, elusive, and often would rather see the death of you than to be found out. They think that if they are discovered they will die, which contains a grain of truth because in order to be reborn, a death is necessary.
Most people deny their shadows, and the trick that the shadow plays, is to project itself onto others, trapping you in self-righteousness and judgment so that the waters are muddied, distorting the reflection from your mirror. If you can bear the reflection, you can gradually come to realize that what you strongly dislike and often hate in others, creates strong emotional reactions, because it is a reflection of that which you do not want to acknowledge or take responsibility for inside of you.
The View From the Mirror
It takes great courage to look at your self(s) in the glare of this mirror.
If you believe that we are all one, then the mirrors are there to reflect back from everywhere that you look. Any time you feel self righteous, judgmental and superior over another, you can be sure that you are seeing your shadow reflected back to you.
Take a good look at everyone who is in your life. Some of them are drawn to and support your darker unconscious nature and some are drawn to and reflect your lighter, more conscious side. Some of their sub-personalities are drawn to both the light and dark aspects of your many selves.
The coming together of the community of Dorchester in support of the Richard family and the unity of the city of Boston in their pursuit of the perpetrators is a prime example of the conscious coming together of the lighter, more conscious aspects of all involved. That’s what happens when we pay attention, meaning that is what happens when we cultivate higher awareness.
The Wolves Within
An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story.
“I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.
“But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.” He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
“But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.
“Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”
If anyone is interested in making a donation to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15, 2013, please visit:
There are many books written on the subject of the human shadow. In order to help you see clearly into the mirrors of your soul that surround you, so you can integrate yourself fully, two in particular are valuable guides; The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford, which gives a simplified overview of the dynamics of shadow work, and Transforming Your Dragons: How to Turn Fear Patterns into Personal Power, by José Stevens PhD.
©2013 Matthew J. Pallamary
Matthew J. Pallamary’s historical novel of first contact between shamans and Jesuits in 18th century South America, titled, Land Without Evil, published in hardcover by Charles Publishing, received a San Diego Book Award for mainstream fiction and was chosen as a Reading Group Choices selection. It has been adapted into a full-length stage and sky show by Austin’s Sky Candy and Agent Red, directed by Agent Red and Sky Candy co-founder and Artistic Director, Chelsea Laumen and is the subject of a PBS series, Arts in Context, that premiered nationally January 2013.