Last year, someone I barely knew made a statement that she believed I have done a lot of shadow work. I wasn’t sure of what exactly she meant because I never really considered the work on my inner self as the shadow self. I wasn’t sure if I should be insulted or complimented. What did she mean? Was she saying I’ve done dark and manipulative magick?
I often prefer the views of Carl Jung when it comes to human Psychology. It seems that Carl Jung’s assessment of the shadow self is that hidden self. You know, the part that we keep to ourselves and often from ourselves. It can be negative since we as human beings have both positive and negative, strengths and weaknesses in the very nature of our being.
Sometimes, the darkness within our Shadow self is often mostly negative but it can be good or positive too. This is especially true with someone who has low self-esteem for reasons only known to them. So, based on this premise, I would have to say as a witch I have done a great deal of Shadow work for myself. I have done a lot of “soul searching”. I have dug deep down into the dark reaches of my inner self and have discovered things about me.
Shadow work is neither good nor bad. The shadow self is neither good nor bad. It is part of the whole. We all have our dark side. When we think about it, we can suppress certain feelings that can be considered negative, such as anger, resentment, sadness, hopelessness, despair, Hate and other not so good feelings. We may feel that these emotions are dark, bad, or undesirable.
When we experience personal growth, we often look at that shadow self. We look at those “dark feelings”. We have to look at them, feel them, acknowledge them, experience them, so we can accept them and move on to transform them. I am currently practicing some shadow work in my life. The deep dark shadows of the past that are attached to feelings I have in the present that I would like to change as I head into my future.
To answer my own personal question from a year ago, is shadow work something bad? No, it is something good because it is how we experience personal inner growth. That is how witches transform into powerful men and women. That is how we take control of our own lives. Life is what we perceive it to be. It is our own unique perception that is influenced not only by our open and public self but mostly by our hidden self that hides in the dark recesses of minds, our spirits, and our very being.
It isn’t always easy to look at the less desirable part of ourselves. The part we want to hide. I know I used to hide some pretty good parts of me because I thought self-confidence would be perceived as arrogant. If I cared about myself, well, then, I would be perceived as selfish and conceited. I hid my anger, sadness and resentment for a long time. I suppressed those feelings and denied my shadow self. I struggled and strived so hard to be perfect that I couldn’t accept the less perfect side of myself. I denied the less desirable side. I denied my dark side.
I had a counselor, yes I went through some counseling. She told me I need to feel anger, I need to allow myself to imagine or to desire justice. To do that would mean I would have to accept that I have a dark side. That I have feelings or desires that are negative. She told me it is healthy to have a dark side. It is healthy to be less than perfect.
Shadow work is part of being a witch. It is how we transform from the loose canon, helpless, out of control, powerless, the perpetual victim and into the wise, more self-controlled, self-empowered, healthy individual we call a witch. Yes, I am back to the whole Witch heal thyself again. But Personal healing is how we transform. When we have a problem, we can resolve it, not by walking up to someone and punching their lights out with a hex but with wit, self-control, carefully considered responses, yes, with magick help.
I often use the power of prayer. I pray a lot. It is one way I send out my desires into the Universe to manifest change.
One of the things I don’t usually discuss is when I was young, before I discovered witchcraft, I attempted to commit suicide. After I recovered, I was asked, why do you want to die? I considered those words and realized, I didn’t really want to die. I didn’t really want my life to end. What I truly desired was for my life to change and I felt powerless to change it.
So, as I close here in my thoughts on Shadow self, If there is anything I want to tell the world the most that is the most important is this. Look into those dark recesses of your mind. Go slowly, but look at it. Know it is part of who you are. Accept the parts of yourself that you can not change, allow yourself to transform the parts that don’t serve you. Remember, there is balance in both Darkness and light. Balance is good, You possess the power within you to transform you and your life. Work in the shadows, get to know yourself and learn how to use your power…for positive transformation. Change yourself and the world changes around you.