Shadow Work® Seminars, Incorporated

The Inner Sovereign Training: Four Trainings In One

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By Alyce Barry

A little-known fact about the Inner Sovereign Leadership Training: it's an initiation into all four archetypal energies on which the Shadow Work® Model is based — Magician, Sovereign, Lover and Warrior — with an emphasis on initiating you into the full blessing, power and majesty of your Sovereign energy.

In the words of Shadow Work® facilitator Dave McFarren — who will be on staff assisting lead facilitators Tom Daly and Jude Blitz at the Inner Sovereign Training to be held this June 10-13 near Washington, D.C. — "it's like doing four trainings in one."


The Inner Sovereign is "not like any other initiation I have experienced," says Jeff Baugher, who will also be on staff, as will his wife, Becky Schupbach. "The tone and energy," Jeff says, "the depth and heights, the seriousness and fun — it's just so unique. From all the personal growth experiences I've had over the past 20 years, this one was the high point, the most significant, and the most powerful."

Jeff describes what he took away from his own Inner Sovereign experience some years ago. "A very different sense of why I am on the earth," he says thoughtfully, "and a more powerful connection with the truth of my unique gifts. During one crucial process, I was able to separate out my real truth from the 'truth' I acquired while attending a religiously based school."

Jeff also saw two of his relationships change. After he and Becky took the training together, Jeff says, "Our relationship improved and became more interesting because the goals and direction of our life together started to rapidly evolve." He adds, "Also, my relationship with my daughter became much more balanced. I was able to start giving her more of the freedom she deserved because I was now giving myself more of the freedom that I deserved."

The Inner Sovereign Training is the rare initiation that a couple can attend together. "Sharing this work with Jeff," Becky says, "was very powerful, as we were given space for our own experience and the gift of witnessing the other's work."

Because a couple at the training shares not only emotional work but a voyage into Sovereign territory as well, Becky says, "the training invites each partner to connect with both their own mortality and their own divinity, so they can really live out loud."

Becky — who, like Jude Blitz, leads the sacred theatre known as Shadow Dance (originally created by Jude and Tom) in various workshop settings — adds that "the Inner Sovereign combines deep growth work and sacred play in a dynamic synthesis, reminding us that grief and joy are inseparable and mysteriously linked."

"Facilitating this work," Jude says, "provides me so many opportunities to simply delight in the presence, vitality and creative natures of the participants."


Because it is considered an advanced initiation, there is a brief screening process for those who wish to attend. Most of those attending the Inner Sovereign will have previously attended another initiation such as the ManKind Project's New Warrior Training Adventure, the Men's Leadership Alliance Art of Leadership Training Program or Spirit/Soul Camps, Woman Within, Women In Power, the Priestess Path, Woman Revealed, Crucible Work, or the equivalent.

As any initiation does, the Inner Sovereign takes you out of your daily life and into what is often called a "deep descent," supporting you as you drop safely into an emotional place where you can view both the dark and the golden aspects of your nature that remain in shadow, reintegrate those aspects, and bless and accept more of yourself.

Jeff Baugher sums it up this way. "When was the last time you spent an entire training designed to let you feel blessed for who you are, regardless of what you do or don't do?"

Two Certified Shadow Work® Facilitators — Rhonda Gaughan and Chrissy McFarren — will be taking June's training as participants in preparation for staffing future trainings with their respective spouses, John Gaughan and Dave McFarren, who have previously attended the Inner King Training and will be on staff.

In fact, the Gaughans, the McFarrens, and Jeff and Becky, have formed a team of six that will staff future trainings and be certified by Tom and Jude as Inner Sovereign Training leaders.

"The training brings me joy," Jude says, "with the supportive connections I have with co-facilitators and staff. We consciously work to make the training atmosphere for staff and facilitators also a Sovereign and blessing environment, and since the training is all about creating Sovereign support, we apply the same principles that we communicate to participants."

One thing Rhonda Gaughan likes about the Inner Sovereign Training is that it illuminates more aspects of leadership than problem-solving. "We focus so much on what's wrong, on what the problems are, on our wounds, and on working through all the old 'stuff.' It will be a welcome change to be a place of blessings and support and acknowledgment. The Inner Sovereign is a way to bless myself and my journey. I am looking forward to learning more about myself and about honoring and celebrating all of who I am."

Chrissy McFarren points out the rarity of spending four days immersed in the realm of the Sovereign, which is offered by no other training. "And I'm particularly excited about working in co-ed containers," she adds.

That the training is open to both genders is central to its history.


The Inner Sovereign Training was developed in the mid-1990s by four friends: Cliff Barry, Tom Daly, Jude Blitz and Mary Ellen Whalen.

The four friends had two primary purposes: first, to offer an advanced initiation similar to the Inner King Training for both women and men. (The Inner King Training had been founded several years earlier by a group of five men that included Tom and Cliff, and today Tom and Dmitri Bilgere are the ones in charge.) And second, to create more opportunities for the four of them to work together despite their busy schedules.

Many people find that opening yourself up to have your deep issues witnessed and accepted by a group of others is inherently healing. When that group contains both men and women, it is all the more so, particularly for those who have in the past held fear about attending workshops that include the opposite sex.

In recent years, not many Inner Sovereign Trainings have been scheduled, in part because it is a challenging workshop to run, requiring four lead facilitators plus a good-sized support staff, and a large location with several unusual requirements.

Regardless of the number of trainings given, the Inner Sovereign's distinction as one of the most powerful trainings offered has never dimmed, and its uniqueness has never been rivaled.


Jeff Baugher remembers a favorite moment during the Inner Sovereign. "One evening, the participants were given control of the container. We collectively created the funniest, most over-the-top ensemble performance I have ever witnessed or participated in. It helped me to understand something deep about the Sovereign's 'bigness,' about the shadow that corresponds to that bigness, and one extremely fun way of owning that shadow in a group."

Jeff sees the Inner Sovereign making an impact on the world. "This work is so unique, and so rare in our culture. I think I am personally at a point where I can successfully guide the container's energy in a healthy way — and I would not have said that five years ago.

"The chance to step into the power of the Sovereign energy of the Inner Sovereign is pulling me like a magnet. In my opinion, men in our culture are starved for healthy Sovereign."

"The collective experience at my Inner Sovereign," Jeff adds, "was so powerful that about ten of us decided to continue meeting after the Training was over. Inspired by what we learned about ourselves and our leadership, we met periodically for two years and created get-togethers that expanded on our initial experience. I was blessed with seeing emerging aspects of the others (and myself) that were truly magnificent. I would not trade that experience for anything!"

(Alyce's note: I took the Inner Sovereign myself in the spring of 1999 in Massachusetts and was astounded by the change it made in me. At the time I hungered to see myself as a leader but found that hard to picture or imagine. The training satisfied my hunger with a new certainty that I was already becoming the leader I'd always wanted to be. I unfortunately can't share my favorite memories, as they occurred during portions of the training that are kept secret from novitiates in order to protect the training's power as an initiation.)


Dave McFarren attended the Inner King in 2004 and describes it as "the most moving training I've ever taken. ... It left me feeling raw, open, contemplative, drained, charged and excited. It was a perfect mixture of cognitive learning and deep emotional work, with some good old-fashioned fun thrown in for good measure."

"Also, the food was great!" he adds, a theme echoed by many people who compare the Inner Sovereign with other residential workshops. There's a secret about the food that we regrettably can't reveal without spoiling some of the fun.

As an initiation into Sovereign energy, the Inner Sovereign Training (like the Inner King) isn't about depriving yourself: the food is good, and you get plenty of sleep.


For more on Jude Blitz and Tom Daly, visit Jude Blitz's page and Tom and Jude's Living Arts Foundation website.

For more on the three couples staffing, visit Dave and Chrissy McFarren's page, Jeff Baugher and Becky Schupbach's page, Rhonda Gaughan's page, and John and Rhonda's website.

For more on the Inner King Training, visit Tom Daly's Inner King page, Dmitri Bilgere's page, and The Inner King website.


Alyce Barry is a Certified Shadow Work® Group Facilitator and Coach in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She is the author of Practically Shameless, which has been on's Bestseller list of books about Jungian psychology for more than a year. The book is available in paperback and on audio CD. Read more about Alyce.

This article originally appeared in our free email newsletter in 2009. To subscribe, visit our subscription page.

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