LESSONS IN MAGICK: How Do I Do Shadow Work?

A lot of people talk about doing Shadow Work but they don’t explain how to do that. I’ve been doing Shadow Work since I was a teen, never realizing that’s what I was doing. I simply wanted to deconstruct things that I saw in myself that I knew weren’t healthy for me overall. Some I held onto longer than others as a crutch to protect myself until I was in a good place. Some I simply chose to never let go for whatever reason.

If you’re struggling with how to do Shadow Work, here are some prompts to start delving into yourself. Be 100% honest with yourself. It’s ok, no one will see this but you. But it’s important to really call yourself out on things. It’s the only way to get to where and who you want to be.

This is something I’m doing in order to be mentally and emotionally stronger to continue my path in La Regla de Ocha or as it’s commonly known, Santeria / Lukumi / IFA. I don’t want any internal things holding me back from where I will eventually be. External influence is one thing, internal influence is one you can work on intensely.

So here are the prompts. I wish you luck and healthy behaviors. Don’t be afraid of what you find within yourself. This is how to crack yourself open and remove that which doesn’t serve you well.

Shadow Work Prompts

* What are your triggers and what caused them?
* Is there anyone you hold a grudge against? If so, what is holding you back from letting go and moving on?
* Do you feel misunderstood? If yes, what misconceptions do people have of you?
* What do you dislike about yourself most?
* What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done and why did you do it?
* Are you happy with where you are in your life? Is there anything that you can do to improve it?
* Was your childhood negative or positive? Outline the most prominent memories that you have of your younger years.
* What is your relationship like with your family? Has your connection strengthened since you were a child or has it gotten worse?
* What are your parent’s best and worst personality traits? Do you see any of them within yourself?
* Who are you closest to in your life and do they positively reflect who you are? Are you holding on to people that don’t deserve your time and affections? Are you honestly happy in your relationships?
* Are you comfortable in your skin? If there is something that you would like to change about yourself, what is it and why?
* Do you lie to yourself to avoid addressing your fears?
* What characteristics and traits do you dislike in others?
* When are you hardest on yourself and why?
* What emotions do you tend to avoid?
* Do you enforce boundaries with others or are you the type to let people cross lines?
* How did you deal with trauma in the past and what do you do to combat it in the present?
* Are you 100% yourself around others? Do you put on a persona or mask to blend into the crowd? Do you know who you are?
* Do you forgive yourself when you have done something wrong? When you make mistakes can you move on from them or do they continue to hurt you?
* What are your toxic traits?
* Are you happy to be alone in your own company? Do you use other people to fill a void?
* Do you respond well to constructive criticism? Are you over-sensitive to any form of feedback?
* Do you allow yourself to be vulnerable in your romantic relationships? Do you put up walls around yourself and your partner or are you completely open?
* Do you accept yourself as you are?
* What is your deepest, darkest fear?
* Is there anyone in your life that you are competitive with? If yes, what caused this rivalry?
* Do you feel as though people respect you?
* What is your biggest regret and why?
* Do you have any unhealthy attachments or habits? What are you doing to curb them and why have you continued to entertain them?
* Do you practice self-care? Is there more that you could be doing for your wellbeing?


30 Shadow Work Prompts

Lessons in Magick: Possession vs. Oppression


Image: Caryn Drexl

“Be careful when you cast out your demons that you don’t throw away the best of yourself.”
Friedrich Nietzsche


The community seems to be divided when it comes to the topic of spiritual oppression and possession; there are those who absolutely believe in possession and oppression, then there are those who think it is nothing more than religious scare tactics, or our own fear manifesting; I fall somewhere in between.

I think that we should always approach situations in life, both mundane and Magickal, with a logical mindset.

When logic fails then we can begin to wander into the realm of the supernatural or more outlandish possibilities.

Some Witch’s stub their toe, lose their job, or get into one car accident and think it’s because another Witch has attacked them or some dramatic scenario that involves an entity has a vendetta and is out to “get them”.

Sometimes bad shit just happens. I don’t believe in coincidence but I do believe in accidents and chance, both of which are entirely out of our control.

And, yes, sometimes a Spirit is pissed off and wreaking havoc; sometimes another Witch has hexed or cursed us; sometimes we curse ourselves.

A full blown spiritual possession as the Church or Hollywood describes it is not common.

I do believe in spiritual possession because not only have I seen it, I was a victim of it.

I don’t believe that a possession happens on accident or regularly; the person either opened themselves up, some form of Malefica was performed, a haunted object was involved, haunted or active land was disturbed etc.

Spiritual Possessions don’t “just happen”—it always connects to something bigger in the person’s life.

When bending the laws of nature to our will, and peaking beyond the veil we all risk ourselves to the negative affects of Magick.

Spiritual possession is the takeover of the mind and/or body by an outside force; an entirely separate entity from the host.

The goal (in most cases) being complete takeover of the Soul and unconscious mind.

The source of the Possession can come from many different places and contrary to popular belief, it’s rarely demonic in nature.

Ancestral, Land, and Familiar Spirits are some common offenders.

Spiritual oppression does not usually involve a takeover of the mind and/or body; in many cases, it appears as a string of “bad luck”, stagnation or blockages in life (work, relationships, Spiritual path, etc), becoming accident prone, a quick onset of health issues with no cause, sleep paralysis, and Aura leaks to name a few.

Unlike a possession, a Spiritual oppression is not always from an outside source and can be our Shadow Self, or even a fragmented piece of ourselves trying to get our attention.

Like possessions, oppressions can be caused by Ancestral or Familiar Spirits of whom we have, in one way or another displeased.

So, WHY do Possessions and Oppressions happen?

Well, as mentioned above it can be the very Spirits that we work with, either routinely or just once, and in some way, we have angered them, not paid our debts, or didn’t follow through with our word.

Other Sources can be, bringing a haunted object into the home or coming in direct contact with a haunted object and an attachment/transfer occurs; Magick has been cast against you or Magick cast by you backfired; displeasing Land Spirits (this can be Elementals but also human Spirits who stake claim to a piece of property that you are inhabiting).

There are obviously plenty of other examples of why possessions and oppressions happen, this is an abbreviated list.

In cases where the Shadow Self is involved the events can become traumatic, even violent and the symptoms can manifest as anything from an intense flu to psychosis; when the Shadow wants to be heard, and seen, there is not much we can do to ignore it.

HOW do you know if you are a victim of a Possession or Oppression?

This is tricky to answer because there are *so many* manifestations but some that I have witnessed personally and never seen talked about are:

Lapses in Memory, or blackouts during the day that are accompanied by erratic behavior

Impulsive behavior and/or acting out of character

Vivid night terrors where you question what is real and what is not

A string of bad luck, negative energy and thoughts

Loss of people you love; arguments, fallouts, seclusion

Loss of desire to engage in activities you otherwise truly enjoy

Inability to connect with your Spirits or the other side

Inability to use or connect to your Divination tools

(Disclaimer: In the event of a drastic change in mental and/or physical health please seek the advice of a healthcare professional. Do not under any circumstance jump to the conclusion that something is supernatural in nature before you have ruled out the medical.)

It is necessary to take precautionary measures when dealing with the Occult and Magick; this does not mean that you fear what you work with or yourself, it means that you understand what it is you are doing and calling upon.

Each Witch has their own way to practice, whether it is calling on guardian Spirits to stand watch, casting a circle of protection, or using crystals, talismans and other enchanted objects; protection should be our top priority.

Awareness of Self should be second on our list; the better we know ourselves the more likely we are to realize when something isn’t right.

Finally, trusting our tribe; this is important because the people closest to us will be the first ones to notice any change in behavior or strange happenings.

Nobody is above being a victim of possession or oppression so it’s of the upmost importance that we are prepared to deal with anything that comes our way.

It’s the definition of naïve to think we go through our Magickal life and personal Alchemical transformation with no scars or damage done; the wounds, pain, and demons are our greatest lessons and teachers.

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. 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.