Link to previous prompts: http://ppwwmm.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/cauldroneers-bos-prompts.html
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Prompt 22. Sunday 29th April 2018 - The 22nd prompt will be.. Shadow Work / Self Love
Following the success of the last 2 blogs regarding getting you practicing magick by – “Breaking the fear of practicing & writing your own workings.” and also “Magickal Housekeeping And Everyday Practical Magick.” Both aimed at newer practitioners especially those still in the closet. Today’s blog is about ‘Shadow Work’, a term which most people shy away from as it sounds dark possibly even evil and not this airy fairy “light” magick everyone seeks to attain to be “good”. Well I’m here to tell you you’re wrong (and a little bit right)..! Today’s blog is open to the world it’s not necessarily Witchy or Pagan based at all but leans more towards mental health! - I’m striving to prove that even the most mundane of people do magickal acts without even realising like that morning ritual of a brew or their get home after work routine. Mental health is no joke and hopefully we can touch on some points here to help improve everyone’s path in life.. And raise awareness. Everyone has been through something and it's those something we're looking to explore starting here today!!
First of all what is the shadow? Well the Shadow is the 'dark side' of our personalities, our character, ourselves even our personas (that we put on as a show for others). It's those primal primitive instincts and negative emotions and reactions. It is our very core self that we suppress into the darker corners of our inner selves.
What is Shadow Work? It’s basically us looking at those deeper darker aspects of ourselves in order to understand ourselves and perhaps evolve and improve ourselves on all levels including mentally and physically. It is literally looking at those parts of us we have buried deep down, locked away in the back of our minds, that be push down, suppress and burry all being brought out into the light and being exposed and explored, being unpicked and unravelled to really see if we can get a better handle on what makes us tick, what drives us, what is that darker side of our character that we hide away (almost like we’re Dr.Jekyll and we’re looking at the Mr.Hyde parts of ourselves or in some cases vice versa).
Shadow Working is usually done in the darker aspects of the year typically mid-late Autumn (Fall) through to early Spring time; although of course it can be practiced all year round. In fact I prefer to do it mid-late Spring through to early Autumn (Fall) simply because the sun helps keeps me positive and balanced and is the light when I try to cope with the dark.
So how is it we even have a darker self? Well this inner self that's hiding in the shadows of our very being is caused by suppressed thoughts, emotions, actions.. Most of us dwell upon being seen in the most positive light and so our personalities, our interests, hobbies, self-image, the things we do and say etc.. We craved to be well liked and respected even loved and desired! We have learnt that society prefers the most beautiful, the perfect and well-loved forms and so we take all the negative aspects and hide them away.. We cover our imperfections with makeup, body flattering clothing, locked journals, secrets behind closed doors.. We suppress the bad as we’ve always been taught from birth the difference between right and wrong and it's those wrong parts that we hide in our shadows that eat away at us. We were taught certain behaviours are not acceptable nor tolerated such as crying or throwing a tantrum because you can’t get your own way being met with a firm hand to the backside or weeks of being grounded in our rooms with no niceties which we want so we learn not to cry or throw tantrums even though we want too. – On this note I'm definitely not saying to go out and murder some people, rape, steal, or do other unspeakable things or act of terrorism. What I'm saying is to explore why you feel you want to do those things to relieve yourself of them, get a better understanding of why you think and feel those things in the first place so that you can deal with and defeat them and overcome those feelings not just burry them inside ourselves. Shadow work is also what can be explored through various forms of counselling and therapies, with trusted friends/family or alone by ourselves. Thought it's important to note that you shouldn’t go into this lightly or jump in with both feet to the very deepest parts alone. Everyone has their own demons and you need to be able to be in control so as not to endanger yourself and/or others.
However if done correctly it's nothing to be feared!! Exploring your shadow can lead to a much better fulfilled life of self-worth, wellbeing, creativity, energy, happiness, personal awakening, personal power and development.. It can truly open our eyes to see who our friends are and the people who don't add value to our lives (ie the people who leech off of you and just take). It can open your eyes to understand anger issues, depression, anxiety, other suppressed emotions, feelings and values. It can help you to be the best you on all levels. But it’s not some miracle that’s going to fix years of torture, torment, negativity, depression, medical conditions especially in mental health but it will help you on the road to recovery..
Speaking of the dangers though.. In some cases the shadow part lashes out consciously or subconsciously which then leads to people who do more wrong because they don’t know how to control or can no longer continue to suppress and that’s when the bad things happen. This is when you get those over all bad eggs. Throughout history when you look at every serial killer, psycho or sociopath the majority of them when you look at their past clearly have a tormented history. Even those who had it all: perfect parents, friends, money it was not enough! And in some circumstances was even the cause of their downfall being that one day they just snapped. Or some psychotic break is made which is when we delve into schizophrenia and other psychological takeovers. – So while exploration can be dangerous it could be equally or more so dangerous not to explore those hidden depths. Which again brings us back to the Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde situation where Jekyll being the well-respected Doctor who was all round good but couldn’t control the Hyde aspect who was definitely not ‘good’ or lived up to Jekyll’s idealistic morals.
By now you’re probably on the fence torn between wanting to explore that inner self, the inner child, those suppressed memories and feelings to become a better all-round person and also not wanting to become some psycho killer, rapist, narcissists, depressed loser, suicidal maniac..
So let’s look at some of the benefits of doing Shadow Work. Improved mental and physical health and wellbeing - accepting ourselves inc' ache, scares, weight, love handles, limp, hunch etc etc.. It's all a part of you and if people can't accept that of you they're not real friends or people you should strive to keep in your life. Speaking of.. It also improves your relationships.. You're able to not envy others and be your own person and in turn strive to achieve as opposed to that living in everyone else's shadow of never being as good as or better than X person. In turn this true self-confidence will win you better relationships. And also help you see that even those perfect people are suppressing a lot within their inner shadows. Plus dealing with your issues helps you all round. You're able to truly know yourself and your passions the things you like and be able to do them as opposed to that fear that was holding you back. So untimely more self-confidence and able to be your own person and not live up to other people’s expectations or even criticisms.. The list of positivity is endless..
Regardless of how magickal or mundane you are doing the following will greatly improve your Shadow Working experience:
1. Center yourself, it's important before engaging in shadow work be be well balanced and centered. With a positive outlook - which is one of the reasons I prefer to work in the summer times as the light literally helps to pull me out of the dark. Being calm, open minded and in a neutral or safe space literally and figuratively. Sometimes prior knowledge in Mindfulness is helpful here too alongside meditation and/or grounding in order to be centered and balanced.
2. True awareness is important as it is important to know the difference between who you are NOW and what you feel and who you were and what you felt. It's important to be aware as we look at self-reflection to remain outside and observe than to get pulled back in to those emotions, feeling, thoughts, behaviours and actions.
3. Have respectful empathy for yourself and self-compassion as you're going to be digging up some deep dark emotions; some of which may be a little harder to forgive or accept than others but it's important to show yourself the compassion and kindness to keep positive while dealing with these negative emotions. Accept that you're only human.
4. Will power and courage to accept and deal with what was in order to improve and change what is. It's often very uncomfortable looking at who we were regardless of if you're looking at the abused child, yobful youth, bolshy teenager, young delinquent, misguided young adult, that snobby rich kid, the school bully or one being bullied, that anxious vulnerable child, the shy bookworm, or the person you were yesterday! Reality is it might not actually be as pretty as you think!
5. Honesty and realism. If you go into this thinking you don't need to change you're perfect the way you are and you had an amazing life. Maybe this isn't for you.. If you're seriously truly happy then perhaps the skeletons in your closet and demons under your bed are perhaps best left alone; at least for now. But if you truly want to improve your life no matter who you are or where you're at then being honest and real with yourself is very important. - Own your shit!
6. The actual practice of Shadow Work. It's important to write everything down, in fact some of the best practices are to just write and write and write until your hand bleeds - write everything and anything; don't think just do. Then read back and highlight or underline anything you feel that stands out. - I know for a fact there's some YouTube prompt videos out there which may help if you struggle with this exercise. But record everything in writing. Or read over some of them journal and make notes on anything you feel you want to revisit. Don't try unpicking the deepest darkest manifestations start on the outside with the little things. Other exercises may be to mind map thoughts and triggers write them down on paper. Or create a moodboard of images you feel represent those things lurking in your shadows.
7. Detach! Sometimes it's important to detach yourself from these aspects so you can truly deal with them. Think of it more of you're helping a friend with their problems.. What would you say to them? Now apply this to yourself.. Sometimes it's simply easier to deal if we detach ourself but remember we have to reattach ourselves in order to progress after process.
This blog post particularly hasn't been aimed at the witchy/pagan community persay. However I found this practice to be helpful to us all. It's something I encourage everyone to do. For more information an amazing magickal UK YouTuber who talks about shadow work a lot is Kelly-Ann Maddox.
Yes the title of this blog also mentions self love, well if you haven't got that from the shadow working part then I thought I'd inject (here) some information on why we would practice self love!!
Self-love is important aspect but one a lot of us find very hard to do. Through Shadow Workings this can be achieved but it can also be achieved in many other ways including to just decide to be confident, love yourself and strive to only have the best. I'm not necessarily talking about having better material things, job, skills or education than the person next to you but to strive to have those things not to be better than anyone other than yourself. It's a long and difficult road for some (especially those like myself that struggle with depression, anxieties and/or medical impairments) but it's not impossible. I look at some amazing people in the witchy and mundane communities who use their downfalls as their unique positivities to enrich their lives and love themselves. You'll no doubt at some point in your life hear people say "How can you expect someone to love you if you don't love yourself first?"
So these are some of the parting food for thought I pass onto you. Next week is the conclusion to this Book of Shadows blog prompts series. At this time I am considering bringing this series back come winter-ish time however anything can happen between now and then so I make no promises.
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Sunday April 29th's BoS Prompts Part 1 Conclusion.