As the Wheel turns here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days will grow shorter, and darkness will blanket the land. The trees will shed the leaves that no longer serve and we, too, will begin to retreat indoors and focus more inward. The Principle of Polarity from the Kybalion teaches us that everything is dual and has its opposites. Without the darkness, we would not experience light. I invite you to ebb and flow in synchronicity with the evolving Wheel of the Year. How can you, like the trees, shed the leaves that no longer serve you? How can you embrace the changing season and face the darkness?
There is great power and opportunity for transformation in darkness and diving deep into the self through life-changing Shadow Work. Shadow Work is the practice of shining a light into the darkness of ourselves. It is a practice of healing, self-growth, and self-awareness through self-exploration and discovery. It is an act of becoming conscious, integrated, and feeling authentically whole.
Hearing the terms, “The Shadow,” “Shadow Self,” or “Shadow Work,” can seem scary, intimidating, or too dark to face, however, Swiss psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, Carl Jung, describes the shadow as the hidden part of our human psyche that hasn’t been captured by the light of our consciousness and has been forbidden from surfacing in our visible life. The Shadow represents the unknown, the unseen, or the forbidden negative and positive aspects of Self but it is equally part of who we are and should not be shamed or repressed. Some aspects can be integrated/embraced whereas some can be processed and healed. Emotions, instincts, weaknesses, impulses, desires, embarrassing fears, memories, beliefs, behaviors, repressed ideas, and experiences are just some of what can be found within the Shadow.
We as humans are made up of both light and dark aspects. After all, we are human. We are part of the Universe. We are one with the All and therefore, it is also important to become one with ourselves. Not only does it help us get through our lives more easily and more at peace, but our majick is stronger. When we keep subconsciously or consciously shoving things down into our Shadow, eventually, it will become too much to bear, and it will surface whether we are ready or not. The Shadow Self is formed at birth through conditioning and programming whether from parental, social, societal, political, or religious influences.
Here are some signs that it is time to focus on Shadow Work:
- Your emotional state is altered, uncontrollable, or darker than usual.
- You feel emotionally, mentally, or spiritually blocked, stuck, or trapped.
- You are experiencing self-doubt or a lack of confidence (also you may be denying yourself the pleasures of pursuing your talents, dreams, or passions)
- You find yourself doing things without realizing why you are doing them (it’s a sign your subconscious mind is in control)
- You are easily triggered and become a different person as a result
Shadow Work is also important after a major life event or trauma, if you are embarking on a new path or area of spirituality, and/or if you have unresolved conflicts/problems that need healing, acceptance, or forgiveness. Avoiding Shadow Work can create a disconnection from our true selves and can become dangerous. When we suppress, deny, or shame any part of ourselves and cast it off into the darkness of the Shadow, it does not go away or disappear. Every emotion, every trait, every aspect remains a part of us as it fades into our subconscious. We cannot “will it” away. Denial is dangerous. When we continue these behaviors and thought processes against ourselves, we expand the Shadow and it will continue to absorb and grow.
When the Shadow begins to grow or surface in your everyday life, it can be seen in the form of triggers, projection, and/or patterns. A trigger is a subconscious reaction surfacing in the conscious world to an experience, emotion, or situation. Pay attention and discover your triggers because they are a way to show you where your wounds are and what needs to be dealt with or processed. A trigger is a cry for help from our inner selves and a reminder of a past trauma (no matter how big or small). Projection is the act of projecting your inner issues onto others such as anger, guilt, shame, etc., When we lash out at a loved one (or even a stranger) for behaviors we do not like, it is often a reflection of what we do not like in ourselves. It can be viewed as a double standard or hypocrisy. Sometimes, projection can be manifested through bullying, narcissism, or passive aggressiveness. Patterns or repetition is when the shadow starts to surface in your life. One day you may be fine and the next, you are emotional, “overreacting,” or frequently being affected by triggers. The Shadow will continue to “follow” close behind and will try to emerge every chance it gets. Something will keep showing up in whichever way it chooses until you finally break the cycle and face it and work through it.
Living a positive life means living an authentic life that is self-aware and integrated. If we want change in our outer world, we must start with our inner world. When we do not embrace our authenticity and face our Shadow, our majick is less effective. Our intuition is not as sharp and our connection to energies is weakened. Not only could our judgement become cloudy during spell work or ritual, we also become more vulnerable to psychic attacks. Our reactions may be too extreme resulting in performing majickal works or spells that could have been avoided or should have been avoided. We may experience “blocks” or “crossed conditions” which could affect our manifestations and spell work.
There are many methods of Shadow Work but these are the top 9:
- Recognition and awareness
- Dream Analysis
- Majick Ritual
- Inner Child Work
It is recommended to utilize several methods for the best results. For beginners and seasoned witches alike, journaling is always an excellent choice! Finding your inner truth and authenticity is the most rewarding experience! Dig deep, face the Shadow, and profoundly change your life! I wish you many blessings and peace during these darker months of introspection.