Victories blog banner

Shadow FAQs

Frequently asked questions

What is the Shadow Weekend?

The Shadow Weekend is a weekend retreat program of Victories for Men. The Shadow Weekend is considered “the next step” in advancing a man’s personal growth after he has completed either the Breakthrough or Wisdom Years retreats or has attended other comparable intensive men’s programs.

By attending the Shadow Weekend, each man will strive to do something deeply challenging: to discover parts of himself that have been exiled into a place of inner unknowing. While unknown from our everyday awareness, Shadow Parts  of us persist and continue to unconsciously influence our behavior and interpersonal relationships. When these unknown parts come forward seeking expression and acknowledgment, we (and those we love) can feel bewildered, overpowered, confused and scared by what is happening in us, or what we find ourselves doing. We can judge it as sinister, or even evil. 

The discoveries made on the Shadow Weekend allow each man to have more conscious connection to parts inside of him that have been operating behind the scenes.  This new awareness and relationship to what was unknown will help the man become more whole, more integrated and more available to healthy interpersonal relationships.

Why should I attend the Shadow Weekend?

By attending the Shadow Weekend, each man will discover the ongoing and “undiscovered” parts of himself. These parts persist and continue to unconsciously influence a man’s behavior and their interpersonal relationships. The discoveries made on the Shadow Weekend will allow each man to have more conscious control over his behavior; behavior that can be destructive to himself or to the significant people in his life. This new awareness will help the man become more whole, more integrated and much “safer” in his interpersonal relationships. It then allows the man to cherish his own unique qualities and be able to express himself more fully through these; not being clouded by his “shadow” in his daily interactions.

What are some of the benefits I can expect from my participation?

Our hope is that each participant will experience a release of new found energy: a new freeing up, a new internal explosion of resolve. There is also a new awareness of the many unknown and untapped inner resources that have been dormant within him; a sense that he is more conscious and better able to relate in healthy and constructive ways with aspects of himself that had previously felt dark, confusing and sometimes even destructive to him and the significant others in his life. Ultimately, the man becomes more whole and conscious of himself. He will be able to live more fully from his unique and competent self — his inner “Gold.”

What is meant by “Shadow” work?

A little psychological background: The Shadow Weekend is conceptually based on the work of Carl Jung, author of “The Persona and the Shadow.”  The Persona represents the face each one of us knows and with which we consciously identify; The Shadow is the other face (or faces) which are kept unknowingly inside of us.  

During the weekend, each man strives to discover what lies in his own particular Shadow,  and to consciously acknowledge, befriend and relate to what is unknown inside of him. However, the most remarkable outcome of the Shadow Weekend is finding and embracing the “Gold” that lies deeply buried within Shadow

What about confidentiality?

Confidentially is the cornerstone of the Shadow Weekend. All men attending the weekend – participants and staff – are asked to sign a confidentiality agreement affirming that they will not disclose the statements or experiences of another man. Participants are always free to discuss their own feelings, insights, experiences, etc. with whomever they choose. The leadership team is obligated to maintain confidentiality except in the case of an imminent threat of harm to self or others. The agreement also contains an acknowledgement that the structure and components of the training are the property of Victories for Men and may not be copied or used without written permission.

Who is eligible to attend the Shadow Weekend?

Any man who has graduated from either the BreakThrough Weekend or the Wisdom Years Weekend is eligible to attend. In addition, any man who has attended other comparable intensive men’s programs is eligible to attend, though a pre-screening conversation would be requested. There is also the possibility of a man to attend who has been recommended by his therapist.

Where does the Shadow Weekend fit in with the other Victories programs?

The Shadow Weekend retreat is a natural ‘next step’ on a man’s personal growth journey after attending The BreakThrough, Wisdom Years or equivalent program. A man will build upon the foundation of these programs with a mixture of personal and group exercises that will lead to a deeper understanding of the interplay and tension between ‘Persona’ and ‘Shadow.’ This is multiplied with the man’s own appreciation of the restorative power of his “Divine Child.” These understandings lead to a holistic acceptance, and this acceptance leads to integration, healing and a sense of wholeness.

What sets the Shadow Weekend apart from other weekend experiences?

The Shadow Weekend is predicated on helping each man to go deeply into himself and to find the other “half” of himself. In contrast to other Victories retreats, the Shadow Weekend is a much more individual and silent journey into the inner Shadow self. Although many of the activities occur in a large group setting, it is more internal, with less interaction: Each man is on his own specific journey to discover his own unique Shadow.

What is the ultimate outcome of the Shadow Weekend for the man?

Through the processes of the Shadow Weekend each man finds his “Shadow” as an essential and beneficial part of himself, not his enemy, and befriends “him.” This then allows each man to discover and lay claim to his “golden shadow” (his Divine Child Archetype) which has lain hidden deep with his shadows. Each man comes to experience his inner wholeness and obtains the tools to begin to construct a “management agreement” between himself—his “Persona” and his newly revealed “Shadows” so that he can become proficient in balancing all of his inner psychic forces. This allows his “golden shadow” to shine through. The ultimate outcome is each man’s personal empowerment through his increased larger awareness of his total self.

What about post-weekend follow up meetings?

After attending the Shadow Weekend, there is a post weekend Celebration to honor all the participants on the following Thursday after the weekend. After this Victories’ recognition the men take their “Shadow and Gold work” experience back to their own personal growth group to share and to infuse their respective groups with new found energy and focus. A one-day reunion for weekend participants is scheduled approximately 6 months after the Shadow Weekend to reinforce and solidify the insights each man found on the weekend.

I’ve heard that nudity is required on this weekend. Is this true?

No. While It is true that body awareness, expression, and sensation are key doorways to discovering what is hidden inside of us, we have found that nudity is not required for this exploration.

What is the symbol of the Shadow Weekend?

The Mandorla (Mandorla PDF)  is an ancient symbol of two overlapping circles: one white (“The Persona”) and the other black (“The Shadow”). Where these two circles overlap is an almond shaped area (mandorla) — golden in color: therein lies the “Gold” of the Shadow Weekend. 

Robert A. Johnson, a Jungian Analyst says of the Mandorla: “Our own healing proceeds from that overlaps of what we call good and evil, light and dark. It is not that the light element alone does the healing; the place where light and dark begin to touch is where miracles arise. This middle place is a mandorla.”

Who is on Staff?

The three main leaders of the weekend were extensively trained by Paul Kachoris, MD and Kevin Fitzpatrick, MSW, LCSW, who originally created the weekend. The current leaders have led numerous Breakthrough and Shadow Weekends for well over 20+ years. All Shadow Weekend staff are men who have experienced the Shadow Weekend themselves and have returned to staff and to contribute to this weekend program.

What is the weekend schedule?

The weekend begins on Friday evening at 7:00 pm and ends approximately at 2:30 pm on Sunday afternoon. Over the course of the weekend participants are led through an eight stage process designed to help them uncover and relate to what has been in their own Shadow  The eight stages consist of large group, dyads (groups of two or three), and individualized work. All the processes are structured to help each man, stage by stage, encounter his Shadow, understand it and finally to befriend it and discover his “gold” that has been lying hidden beneath his Shadow.

What are some of the past participants comments about their Shadow Weekend experience?

“I got what I came for”, “100% effective”, “rich”, “aha!”, “powerful”, “enlightening”, “transformative”, “moving”, “revealing”, “clarifying”, “forceful”, “profound”, “overwhelming”, “intense”, “discovery”, “unsettling”, “momentous”, “moving”, “dark”, “wow”, “Ke-rang! Pow!”, “awesome”, “different”, “fulfilling”, “blessing”, “surprising”, “focus.”

These authentically expressed words reveal the magnitude of each man’s enthusiasm in being able to see, face, embrace and begin to own his own “shadow” and to claim his “Divine Child: gold”—the undiscovered parts of himself.

And finally...

“Jung’s investigation of the shadow explores those parts of ourselves which we have split off but which continue to play a role in our choices and behaviors.  This Shadow Weekend will help you begin to lift some of that material from the realm of theory to the embodied conduct of daily life.”

James Hollis, Jungian Analyst and author.

Want to help us reach more men and communities?