The dark side of life is often viewed as something to be feared. But what if the dark side could be used to our own empowerment? This is the idea behind shadow work in witchcraft. Shadow work is a practice that can be used to access the hidden parts of ourselves – the aspects that we usually keep hidden. By working with the shadow, we can learn more about ourselves and how to use our power for positive change. Let's discuss the basics of shadow work and how you can get started on your own journey!
What is Shadow Work and what is the Shadow?
Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist who coined the term "the shadow" in reference to the hidden aspects of our personality. The shadow is made up of the parts of ourselves that we tend not to acknowledge. This can include our fears, desires, and secrets. We usually suppress these aspects of ourselves because we think they are bad or wrong. But the truth is, they are simply a part of who we are. By working with the shadow, we can learn to accept all parts of ourselves – both the light and the dark.
Shadow work is about more than just self-acceptance; it's also about personal growth and transformation. By facing our fears and learning from our mistakes, we can become better people. We not only face our shadow, but elements like our Ego and our True Self. The Ego is the part of us that is concerned with our image and how others see us. The True Self is the part of us that is our authentic self – the person we are meant to be.
When we do shadow work, we journey into the depths of our being to find these hidden aspects of ourselves. This can be a challenging and uncomfortable process, but it is also a rewarding one. By facing our shadow, we can learn more about who we are.
We can also use our shadow work to help others. When we understand the shadow, we can see how it affects the world around us. We can then use our knowledge to make positive change in the world, using our power for good.
How does this help our witchcraft practice?
Witchcraft as a practice affects not just us as humans, but our loved ones, our environment and our planet. The effects of potent spells can be game changing, but what if our spells are not manifesting the way we want them to? What if the impact we are having on others isn't our intention, but we weren't concise (or hadn't the awareness beforehand) in our manifestation? This is where our personal shadow work comes in to help ensure that we are using our power for good.
When we do shadow work, we are taking a close look at the parts of ourselves that we usually keep hidden. By understanding our shadows, we can learn to control them. We can then use this knowledge to create positive change in the world. This is complementary to the energy we use in magick.
What will happen to our magick if we are more self-aware, more empowered and feel in control of our situations? The results will be more potent and concise magick because we are clear in our intentions. Our impact on others and the world around us will be even more positive and longer lasting!
Shadow work basics and prompts
Something I feel compelled to share is that shadow work is not easy, it's hard work, and to start it from a place when you're not feeling so secure in life may highlight some difficulties for you. Always ensure you are in a safe place when you start shadow work, and that you have a support network you can easily access when and if you need it. Your witchcraft practice should never cause you harm. If you're not in the right place at the moment to start shadow work, bookmark this page for later.
The first step is to become aware of your shadow. This can be done through journaling, meditation, and dream work. Start by paying attention to your dreams and nightmares. These can be clues about what is going on in your shadow self. You can also journal about your thoughts and feelings. So how else do you get started with shadow work? Here are a few basics to get you started:
- Start by journaling about your fears and secrets. This will help you to identify the parts of yourself that you need to work on.
- Identify your triggers. What makes you feel angry, scared, or sad? These are usually signs that something is going on in your shadow self.
- Talk to someone who understands shadow work. A therapist or counselor can be a great resource for this type of work.
- When we are uncomfortable, especially during these deep introspective dives, at times we fidget or seek sensory comfort. You may even find symbols that you can bless to help guide you through the discomfort. Labyrinth-style patterns for years have been used for similar methods of meditation and grounding, so of course we are going to recommend our Strophalos of Hekate collection as a ring or necklace.
Here are some journal prompts for you regarding basic shadow work, and I hope these help you as the start of your shadow work.
- What are some things you're afraid to tell people?
- What do you keep hidden from others?
- What do you think other people see when they look at you?
- What are some secrets you keep from yourself?
- What are the secrets that you are keeping right now?
- Why don't you want to share them with a trusted confidant?
- How do you act differently around different people?
- What are you afraid of?
- What makes you feel ashamed of yourself?
- What makes you feel angry, scared, or sad?
Further recommended work
Explore our Shadow Work Collection
As you start your shadow work journey, keep a diary of any differences in your mood as well as your spellwork variances. Emotions are energy and can greatly affect the outcome of our spellwork. If you notice any changes, take some time to look at what might have caused them.
In addition to this, I also recommend some further reading on the shadow self. Below are a few books you can pick up from a library or bookstore that I think would be beneficial for further exploration:
“The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious” by Carl Jung
“Meeting the Shadow” by Connie Zweig
“Shadow Work Journal” by Victoria Stevens
Doing shadow work is a lifelong journey, but it is so worth it. As you start to understand your shadow self, you will also start to understand the world around you better. You will be able to use your power for good and make a positive impact on the world.
If you have any questions about shadow work or would like to share your own experiences, please feel free to leave a comment below. Until next time xoxWritten by Lizzie Burgess from backyardbanshee.com where you can find free tools, free resources and divination services for personal and professional spiritual development.