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.”
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.