After you have learned to identify the voice of a Siren — that is, to know when a shadow character at the table has taken over the seat of power — you can begin to listen for a voice of the Self, the ruler of the kingdom. At first, this voice speaks in an almost inaudible whisper. It may feel like a soft, gentle nudge, or it can be seen in the mind's eye as a fleeting image.

We like to think of it as a radio station that plays celestial music, a higher frequency that's accessible but difficult to find. You will know, however, when you reach it because it sounds so right. At first, fiddling with the dial, you may only catch the voice of the Self for a few seconds. It can be difficult to hear it above the din; a shadow character may say that you do not deserve something, or you will be punished, or no one will listen. The Self, on the other hand, may speak with authority, but it is not denigrating to you or to others. It offers guidance and an intuitive sense of right action.

The consequences of not listening to the Self are high: You may feel anxious, unworthy, diminished, moody, or out of balance as you continue to obey a shadow character. Using the defenses and the shields, you may try to anesthetize the pain. Instead, we prescribe a little shadow-work:

• Meet the shadow: identify a self-sabotaging behavior and the nanosecond in which the character takes over, silencing the voice of the Self.

• Try to detect the early warning signs: an image of the character, as well as the bodily sensations and repetitive thoughts that accompany it.

• Romance the shadow: tie yourself to the mast and witness the difficult feelings rather than obey them.

• Trace the roots of the shadow character in your personal history and family patterns.

• Trace the archetypal sources of the character, including the underlying story it is trying to tell.

• Explore your choice: ask yourself which options are available and how can you respond with more authenticity, as well as more compassion for the other person.

• Observe your resistances: if you choose not to respond differently, be aware of both the internal and external consequences of your choice.

• If you choose to respond in a new way, realign with the voice of the Self and feel revitalized as the shadow character recedes.

As you practice listening to the shadow characters and tying yourself to the mast, you may focus in on the voice of the Self and begin to hear it more frequently. You get it, then lose it, perhaps projecting it onto a lover or spiritual teacher. Then you can reclaim it again, until you finally lock on. Gradually, you can distinguish the signal from the noise, the voice of the Self whispering below the clatter of the knights. And as you realign with it and the shadow charcter moves backstage, you become more self-directed and self-accepting. As you begin to trust the wisdom of the Self, you will have the compass you need to sail north on stormy seas.

Connie Zweig, Steve Wolf in Romancing the Shadow: A Guide to Soul Work for a Vital, Authentic Life