“It was night in some unknown place, and I was making slow and painful headway against a mighty wind. Dense fog was flying along everywhere. I had my hands cupped around a tiny light which threatened to go out at any moment. Everything depended on my keeping this little light alive. Suddenly I had the feeling that something was coming up behind me. I looked back and saw a gigantic black figure following me. But at the same moment I was conscious, in spite of my terror, that I must keep my little light going through night and wind, regardless of all dangers. When I awoke I realized at once that the figure was… my own shadow on the swirling mists, brought into being by the little light I was carrying. I knew, too, that this little light was my consciousness, the only light I have. My own understanding is the sole treasure I possess, and the greatest. Though infinitely small and fragile in comparison with the powers of darkness, it is still a light, my only light.”
I heard this quote recently by Carl Jung which is about a dream he had when he was a student. As I understand it he realises that the looming shadow behind is only the parts of him his conscious mind (the light) tries to ignore. Thus the light being small, the shadow looms fantastical around him.
It reminded me of Sparrowhawk from the Wizard of Earthsea series by Ursula Le Guin. In a youthful prank at school he allows a powerful demon in the form of a shadow to escape into his world. He knows that if the demon is allowed to catch up with him he will be possessed and his world threatened by the combined power of his and the demons skills. He discovers the only way to save everything he holds dear is to confront the demon with its true name and to accept it.
I like the idea that the more of these unacceptable bits of yourself you are conscious of (that you accept), the brighter the flame burns and the smaller the shadows chasing you are. You can never really escape the shadows, even at midday we caste them, but in knowing ourselves and being honest with our weaknesses and desires, the less they will haunt us.