Lessons in Magick: How to Dance with Your Shadow

Howard Schatz

Image: Howard Schatz

“I embrace my shadow self. Shadows give depth and dimension to my life. I believe in embracing my duality, in learning to let darkness and light, peacefully co-exist, as illumination.”

Jaeda DeWalt

This post is going to be a follow-up, and in this piece I will give tips on how to incorporate, or integrate your Shadow Self into your whole. As usual when I write pieces like this I want to make it clear that I am not an expert, I am simply giving tips that have helped me personally on my path. If you try something and it doesn’t work, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing it wrong, it means that you may need to try a different method or approach.

We are all different; we learn, see, and perceive everything differently. So it should come as no surprise that personal evolution and growth on our Magickal path will be experienced differently, too.

If something I say here resonates with you, awesome, take it and allow it to help you on your path; leave the rest. You are, after all, establishing your personal Philosophy. I fully believe in breaking barriers, not sticking to labels or fitting into boxes; I think we should take pieces from many different paths and Pantheons and quite literally, form our own. Of course LHP practitioners have things in common, but when it comes down to ritual, ceremony, worship or the choice of non-worship, we are very, very different. That’s how it should be, this one-way mentality that has been the driving force behind the brainwashing of religion seems to be seeping its way into our community and it isn’t only ironic, it’s painful to watch.

I stated in one of my recent blogs that I was happy to see such a variety and abundance of articles on the Shadow Self lately and I am happy to see those articles, but a lot of them want to romanticize the Shadow and others want to completely over dramatize and it’s like, can we find a middle ground here?

The term Shadow, or Shadow Self is very popular among Esoteric and Occult circles; both RHP and LHP. I believe that a lot of us relate to the Shadow for two reasons: we either see that duality is essential or we are of the Shadows and that’s our natural state.

I believe that I am the latter, and as much as I try and strive for overall duality, it doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards for me. I seem to be all about polarity; simply one or the other, but never both at the same time. As hard as it is to integrate the Shadow into the whole, I think it may be harder to live as a Shadow. It feels like sometimes I have no identity other than this darkness that at times consumes me.

I have stated in previous posts that Carl Jung first came up with the term and Jungian Psychology is based off of his Archetypes—Shadow and Persona, Anima and Animus being the top 4 that all the others seem to branch off of. This is how I look at it any ways; it seems to help keep them all straight in my mind.

So how DO you integrate the Shadow into the whole? Well, first let me say that too much Shadow (either ignoring it or ignoring the light) can harm you spiritually, mentally and physically. Not enough Shadow will cause you to be unbalanced, vibrate too high, and you can become a doormat or dumping ground for others; sometimes we aren’t even aware it’s happening.

A big issue I see a lot of people having is that they (myself included) put Empathy and their (our) Empathic abilities above all else and it seems to rule how we live. I find myself constantly at odds internally with the Luciferian and the Healer; both screaming for different desires.

This brings me to my first tip: Establishing Boundaries. This is something that I am currently struggling with, and that is why it’s at the top of my list. Our Shadow is where our strength comes from, it’s where our ability to say “NO!” and mean it comes from; it’s where all of our fierceness, and wild resides. Jung believed our Persona was who we strive to be, and that our Shadow is our “Dark side” but I have come to see it as, our Persona is who we want the world to see us as, and our Shadow is our true Self. In my case, at least.

Having Empathy means that we literally feel what others do, so saying no can be really hard for us because not only are we feeling that they need us, but we are feeling their anger and/or sadness when we say no.

We are healers and people naturally vibrate towards those that can help them, but we can’t help everyone.

Let me repeat that, we can’t help everyone.

I mean not only in the literal sense of we can’t help everyone, some people are passed the point of help but we literally can’t help everyone. If we continuously give and give and give, we will have nothing left for ourselves. How is the Healer supposed to Heal themselves if there is nothing left?

I am a wounded Healer, but I am not willing to take on any more wounds on the account of another. I have to do what is best for me, what is best for my current state of mind, and my current desires. I owe nobody anything and neither do you.

Lay your boundaries and stick to them.

Second tip: Accept your Shadow. This doesn’t mean you have to understand it or Master it, it means that you accept you have a dark side and are willing to work with it. The faster you run, the tighter its grip becomes—stop running!

We have to accept that Life and Magick are not all light and love, butterflies and rainbows and that is okay. When we understand this we then have to get down to the nitty gritty of our Soul and dive into the Abyss and be okay with what we find.

We have to accept that some days we are going to be angry for no apparent reason, we have to accept that we are going to want revenge on those who cross us, we are going to hate, loathe and dislike people with all of our being; we have to accept all of this and more and still be able to look ourselves in the mirror.

Accepting these aspects of ourselves does not mean we become malicious people, it means that we are acknowledging this side of ourselves. Our actions dictate the type of person we are, not our thoughts.

Acceptance and Self-Awareness go hand in hand, and both are essential to integrating the Shadow Self.

When we accept we have a Shadow that is the first step on the path to knowing who we really are.

Third tip:  Create. Usually when we dive into our creative side we are able to see what our inner most thoughts, fears and desires are. This path of creativity can lead us into the Darker aspects because many Artists have heavy Shadows; creativity often comes with a heavy price: madness, chaos, solitude, introspection, introversion. All of which is part of my everyday life; blessed or cursed depends on perspective.

The creative medium does not matter, it can be woodwork, writing, painting, photography, graphic design, music composure, anything that allows the creative juices to flow and the mind wander will surely help the Shadow Self integrate into your overall being.

Fourth tip: Accept your Ego. This is a new lesson for me, and one that I was mind blown to have learned. For a long time, I believed that Ego itself was a poison and that there was no room for it on our path but I have now come to believe that if fed our Ego can become a great ally. The trick, of course, is don’t overfeed the Ego but Master it.

Just like our Shadow Self our Ego has great power, and is essential to our path and our growth. We cannot allow the Ego or the Shadow rule us or we venture into hostile and volatile territory where cockiness trumps confidence, and darkness becomes malice.

To acknowledge our Ego means that we are acknowledging our badassery, we are acknowledging our personal Power, we are acknowledging our Strength, but we are not considering ourselves to be Superior. This is the trick; this is always the trick.

We are Superior to no one, and nothing, but equal to all.

I hope my little words of wisdom help you hear the music and allow you to dance with your Shadow.

Tales From the Nightside: The Draconian Path

Dragon

Image: Sima Domke

“If the sky could dream, it would dream of dragons.”

Ilona Andrews

If you walk the Left Hand Path, either as a Theist or an Atheist, you have had encounters with the Dragon or Archetype. There are few things synonymous with our path but the Dragon, Serpent, Great Mighty Sea Beast (all one in the same, really) seem to be the top contenders.

Whether it is a metaphorical process of death and rebirth as the Ouroboros (Uroboros) suggests, or the shedding of skin aka accepting change via the Serpent metaphor; the Dragon is the epitome of what it means to walk this path.

Throughout history there have been depictions, stories, and great tales from the likes of Tiamat in Baylonian/Sumerian Mythology; Nidhogg (Nidhoggr) and Jormungondr in Norse Mythology; Leviathan and Her consort Behemoth in Hebrew mythology, though many suggest that Her origins are from the Canaanite Sea Beast, Lôtān or Litānu. Python in Greek Mythology; Apep in Egyptian Mythology, just to name a few. We then of course have the depiction of the Dragon as the Serpent who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.

I find it interesting that Leviathan is mentioned as a female in the Book of Enoch:

‘And that day will two monsters be parted, one monster, a female named Leviathan in order to dwell in the Abyss of the ocean over the fountains of water; and (the other), a male called Behemoth, which holds his chest in an invisible desert whose name is Dundayin, east of the garden of Eden.’

1 Enoch 60:7-8

I also find it interesting that Tiamat is described as “a primordial Goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the God of fresh water) to produce younger Gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.”

In all the other stories the Dragon is associated with strong masculine energy, and Satan but could it be that the Dragon really is a female? Only a female can birth beings into creation, and if we adopt the ideology that we come from the great Void aka the Womb of the Dragon, it surely must be a She.

Before I get into that, let me first explain what it means to walk the path of the Dragon.

Like the serpent is sure to coil, our path is sure to be crooked; there is nothing that is going to be handed to us, and answers will not come easily. This is not a path for the faint of heart, or those who seek instant gratification. The Left Hand Path is a path of battling self, going against the status quo; this is a path of searching, of pain, and endless leaps into the Abyss where we go to molt, shed our skin, and come out a better version of ourselves– a stronger, more aware, and enlightened version.

The Dragon shows us how to be an element of our own, and reminds us of the Chaos that was necessary for our birth. Not only did a star have to die for us to come into existence but the act of sex, the moment of orgasm, the very second when the sperm meets the egg, are all moments of sheer Chaos: beautiful, Divine, creation.

The Dragon is an unforgiving force but one of freedom, and individuality; She grants us permission to be exactly who we were created to be.

The Dragon is in all of us because we all come from Her Womb, but children or not, Her natural instinct is undeniable, She will devour us all the same. We must face our own inner Dragon, or surely the Beast’s true nature will turn on us.

Now that I have said my piece, let me give you some information for your reading pleasure.

For Jung the Dragon is “the personification of Sulphur and is by far the male element. Since the dragon is said to impregnate himself by swallowing his tail, then the tail is the male organ and the mouth is the female organ.  The winged dragon represents personal obstacles that must be overcome to insure a more-perfect being; thus, leading to the saying: “You conquer the dragon or he will conquer you.”  We see that Jung did, certainly, inspire awareness of the connections between modern psychology and ancient spiritual practice.  Some credit the Chinese as the inventors of dragon. The origins of dragon lore are a matter of some debate. It is known that at least as far back as 300 BCE, some bones of prehistoric animals were labeled as coming from dragons. In Christianity the dragon is generally a symbol of evil, a demon or the devil. The most famous Christian legend is that of St. George slaying the dragon. “

If you notice how the Sulphur symbol (pictured) resembles the male sex organ. The Ouroboros (also pictured) as noted above is said to impregnate himself by swallowing his own tail. We know this metaphor today to be the idea of life/death/rebirth, repeat.

Fun Fact: The word Ouroboros comes from Oura meaning “tail” and boros meaning “eating”, thus “he who eats the tail”. Some translations have noted it to mean “tail devourer”.

Leviathan Ouroboros

Jung not only associated the Dragon with the collective unconscious, creation itself and overcoming obstacles, he associated it with the Hero Archetype, and the need to rescue the Feminine:

“In the fight with the dragon the hero battles the regressive forces of the unconscious which threaten to swallow the individuating ego. The forces, personified in figures like Circe, Kali, medusa, sea serpents, Minotaur, or Gorgon, represent the Terrible side of the Great Mother. The Hero may voluntarily submit to being swallowed by the monster, or to a conscious descent into Hades so as to vanquish the forces of darkness. This mortifying descent into the abyss, the sea, the dark cave, or the underworld in order to be reborn to a new identity expresses the symbolism of the night-sea journey through the uterine belly of the monster. It is a fundamental theme in mythology the world over — that of death and rebirth. All initiatory rituals involve this basic archetypal pattern through which the old order and early infantile attachments must die and a more mature and productive life be born in their place.

“The mythological goal of the dragon fight is almost always the virgin, the captive, or more generally, the ‘treasure hard to attain.’ This image of the vulnerable, beautiful, and enchanting woman, guarded by and captive of a menacing monster gives us a picture of the inner core of the personality and its surrounding defenses. The hero’s task is to rescue the maiden from the grasp of the monster and, ultimately, to marry her and establish his kingdom with her. This dragon fight and liberation of the captive is the archetypal pattern that can guide us through those major transitional passages in our personal development where a rebirth or reorientation of consciousness is indicated. The captive represents the ‘new’ element whose liberation makes all further development possible.

“In response to the call the hero undertakes a journey, usually a dangerous journey to an unknown region full of both promise and danger. Often the journey is a descent. Sometimes, as with Jonah, Aeneas, Christ, and Psyche, it is a descent into the depths — the sea, the underworld, or Hades itself. Always there is a perilous crossing. Sometimes the faintheartedness of the hero is balanced by the appearance of guardians or helpful animals that enable the hero to perform the superhuman task that cannot be accomplished unaided. These helpful forces are representatives of the psychic totality that supports the ego in its struggle. They bear witness to the fact that the essential function of the hero myth is the development of the individual’s true personality.”

Regardless of how you view the Dragon, or what experiences you have had, it is clear that the Dragon in all Her forms has made a mark in history among every culture, and that is something that cannot be denied. Her story has been demonized, but we owe everything to Her primordial Chaos; the great Void, the Womb of Darkness, the Great Mother Herself.

For we are nothing without Her.

“I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves. Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

In Nomine Draconis!

Sources, and Further Resources:

http://stottilien.com/2012/06/03/the-symbol-of-serpent-and-dragon-an-jungian-view/

http://www.cgjungny.org/d/d_mythpsyche.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan

http://www.crystalinks.com/ouroboros.html

http://www.tokenrock.com/explain-ouroboros-70.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiamat

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apep

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Python_(mythology)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B6rmungandr

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%AD%C3%B0h%C3%B6ggr

The Collective Conscious vs. The Collective Unconscious

Edmond Yang

 

Image: Edmond Yang

“Our hearts resonate at the same frequency as the earth and the universe. Therefore, we are all valuable instruments in the orchestration of the world and its harmony. We must always be aware of the vibrations we emit individually and collectively. Always be in command of your music. Only you can control and shape its tone. If life throws you a few bad notes or vibrations, don’t let them interrupt or alter your song.”

Suzy Kassem

 

Since I have started writing I have had the honor of meeting and crossing paths with many beautiful souls. I have also been blessed with some priceless career and life advice from some amazing people.

The first piece of advice was given to me via an email conversation with Peter and Alkistis of Scarlet Imprint. I had reached out to them with some questions about writing, and publishing, as I very much respect their knowledge, and professionalism in regards to their Craft. They told me to stay passionate, stay hungry, and to take over the online world; they also told me to take my time because they see too many talented writers want to be published too soon. Finishing off the e-mail with, “it seems your heart is in the right place for this.”

To get that email a little over a year ago, while just beginning my true path was profound and surreal.

The second piece of advice was given to me by a few fellow writers on a fb page I follow, they told me to write 2,000 words per day, even if they are a jumbled mess of nothing; force yourself to write, they insisted. So, I do. Every day. I force myself to bleed.

The third piece of advice was given to me by a mentor, someone I look up to very much, he told me to write about things I am not comfortable with. He told me to step outside of my box, never to be stuck in one genre or rhythm; he said that if I end up getting stuck and finding my rhythm the artist will die, the muse will lose authenticity. His words haunt me when I notice any sense of repetitiveness in my writing, which is often, I mean, I do have my own style.

I hope not to get stuck, I hope to be able to take my style, my sass and apply it to whatever topic it is I am discussing. Some days I am better at this than others, let’s hope today is one of the good days.

I get requests all the time for blogs, and I keep a list in my notebook; it’s my go to when I want to challenge my skill, my mind, my thought process, and my ability to explain things in a manner that is articulate but simple and with depth and soul. I want people to feel my passion when they read my words.

One of the main topics that is requested is the collective conscious, and unconscious. I am a huge fan of Jung, and to even attempt to explain this makes me nervous.

The collective unconscious is defined as follows:

“In Jungian psychology, a part of the unconscious mind, shared by a society, a people, or all humankind, that is the product of ancestral experience.”

One could then draw the conclusion that Jung was referring to what most of us know as the Akashic Records. It seems his theory is based on both the individual and collective, focusing primarily on the individual though; whereas the Akashic Records is a library for the collective, and much harder to access levels of individual information.

If you have ever been to the Akashic Records via Astral Travel or guided meditation, then you will understand what I am talking about; to those who have not experienced this, I will perhaps write a future post about accessing them, and what they are.

The collective conscious is defined as:

“Collective conscious or collective conscience (French conscience collective) is the set of shared beliefs, ideas and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society. The term was introduced by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his Division of Labour in Society in 1893.”

“The French word conscience can be translated into English as “conscious” or “conscience” (conscience morale), or even “perception” or “awareness”, and commentators and translators of Durkheim disagree on which is most appropriate, or whether the translation should depend on the context. Some prefer to treat the word ‘conscience’ as an untranslatable foreign word or technical term, without its normal English meaning. In general, it does not refer to the specifically moral conscience, but to a shared understanding of social norms.”

“As for “collective”, Durkheim makes clear that he is not reifying or hypostasizing this concept; for him, it is “collective” simply in the sense that it is common to many individuals; social fact.”

Collective consciousness in Durkheimian social theory

“Durkheim used the term in his books The Division of Labour in Society (1893), Rules of the Sociological Method (1895), Suicide (1897), and The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912). In The Division of Labour, Durkheim argued that in traditional/primitive societies (those based around clan, family or tribal relationships) totemic religion played an important role in uniting members through the creation of a common consciousness (conscience collective in the original French). In societies of this type, the contents of an individual’s consciousness are largely shared in common with all other members of their society, creating a mechanical solidarity through mutual likeness.”

“The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or creative consciousness.”

—Emile Durkheim

“In Suicide, Durkheim developed the concept of anomie to refer to the social rather than individual causes of suicide. This relates to the concept of collective consciousness as if there is a lack of integration or solidarity in society then suicide rates will be higher.”

To put this in simpler terms, the collective unconscious refers to each individual, and the knowledge we inherently carry with us via our ancestral bonds; basically every memory, every thought, every feeling, every, everything that has ever occurred exists in this “database” and we can tap into it.

I guess I could even go further and say that some of our instinct, or intuition could very well be coming from the collective unconscious, and perhaps it is not us entirely who are making those decisions based on “our gut” but rather, the unconscious becoming conscious. Or is that what instinct really is, and I am just now figuring it out?

The collective conscious can be compared to herd mentality, and how the thoughts of united groups of people create, effect, and change ‘reality’. One could also compare the collective conscious with organized religion because dealing with the collective conscious, the individual is lost and the social structure (hierarchy) or herd is formed.

Tapping into the collective unconscious is something that many people wish to do, but the more I study the whole idea, the more I have to wonder if we are not already tapped into this energy source, just calling it by other names, every name, any name, when it really has no name.

We are everything, and nothing, remember? Therefore, our levels of consciousness are, too.

We are limitless, boundless, infinite.

I am going to link you to some resources, some were used as reference points in this piece, and some can be for further exploration.

http://www.carl-jung.net/collective_unconscious.html

http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Collective+consciousness

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/collective+unconscious

I am mad that Wikipedia actually got this right, because usually I dismiss everything on there:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_unconscious

Brace yourselves for this one, it gets a little crazy towards the end:

http://thegreaterpicture.com/collective-consciousness.html

Lesson from the Light

Tomaas

Image: TOMAAS

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

Brené Brown


I had taken yesterday off mostly because the group kept me really busy, and rather entertained, but also because I needed to do some things for myself; those things included stopping at my local Witch shop to get some supplies and crystals; I don’t often go up to the shop (it is about 30 minutes from me) but yesterday I had a calling to go, and so by myself I went.

That was a huge deal for me, to go by myself, and then to add to the hugeness of it all, I stopped at the craft store on my way home to get some jewelry supplies. It was a day for me, a day doing things that make me and my Soul happy, who cares if wire, glass viles, herbs and rocks are what make me content.

I even broke two toes on my way out the door yesterday, I taped them together, put closed toed ballet flats on, and made myself go. Obviously not the wisest decision I ever made, but man was I so proud of myself for this little accomplishment. I often get so caught up focusing on the big accomplishments and goals that I completely miss the everyday small milestones I hit.

Before I had left there were a few comments going back and forth in the group about the Shadow self (which influenced my Jung post on NR last night) and how one needs to face it, accept it, and incorporate it into the whole, or we lose out on a big part of this experience.

It was also mentioned how the shadow self can become violent, and can endanger your wellbeing, and sometimes others if not addressed. If you try to repress it, and it is ready to rise there will be a major internal conflict that is sure to boil over at some point.

In the car ride, which besides the shower is where I do some of my best thinking, I started pondering my own journey with my shadow self, and it hit me, it hit me hard…I have always had my shadow, but never my light.

I push the light away like the plague. It is almost like kryptonite to me, it makes me feel weak to be happy and carefree. I wonder what Jung would say? I wonder what Freud would say? What trigger, or moment in life caused such a fucked up mentality?

I have always been like this, looking back at childhood pictures (and there aren’t many) I notice I was always scowling; now at such a young age, with my flawless alabaster skin have a deep set crease line directly in the center of my eyebrows. I am proud of that “scowl line”—I prefer to call it my thinking line.

I am always lost in thought, always have been.

No matter what the cause though, no matter the trigger and if it is from this life or previous ones, a collection of all even, this is my current reality. I am not some miserable person though, I laugh, and crack jokes; people often say to me, “I didn’t expect you to be so funny.” I don’t know how to take that, so I smile and say thank you.

I admit I am moody, I change day to day, hour to hour, a ticking bomb most times but to know that about me is to love me because that IS me. I feel that being me, and my authentic Self, shouldn’t affect my happiness, and at times the lack of light does. Obviously.

I mean this quite literally, too, I push the light of love, joy, happiness, peace, spontaneity, lighthearted fun– I don’t ever let myself have fun! I take the world so seriously, too seriously, and I always, always have.

I blame some of it on the fact that I am awake and aware, so it is hard to see “glitter and rainbows” but the fact is, no matter how dark life gets (and mine has been very, very dark at times) there is always beauty, joy, fulfillment etc. in SOME aspect, it may not be perfect, it may not be a smooth ride, but if you look close enough the light is always there, waiting to be acknowledged. Once you tap into the light it multiplies, it grows, it’s an all-consuming presence, which is probably why it scares me so much.

I sometimes equate my darkness, my shadow to my badassery, a hang up I have, I guess.

I fear the light, to be honest, and when I find myself getting caught up or lost in those “light moments in life” I switch it off, put my defenses up, and reject the feeling. If the situation involves someone else, I will pick a fight so that they can’t love me, so that they can’t give me that feeling of (insert emotion here).

Major fucking self-realization.

I can’t change who I am, but I can become more aware and be mindful of those moments when they come because they are ever fleeting. I have to let the light in, or I am an unbalanced, incomplete being.

My mind, heart and soul heavy with shadow remind me daily that this mortal coil dies every second, so it is of the utmost importance to live every moment.

A lesson I need to put into practice.