As I’ve mentioned before, I do a lot of shadow work. In order to do shadow work effectively you have to see and understand yourself very clearly. Sound simple enough right? Not so much.
These days people are not encouraged to examine themselves deeply, if at all. We breeze through our days playing a part: the student, the grunt, the boss, the teacher, the wife, etc. How often during your day do you batten yourself down so that the real you isn’t exposed? Do you do it because it keeps you safe, because you think who you are in unacceptable, because it would crack your mask? Living masked day in and day out can make it very difficult to see oneself clearly. Wear those masks long enough and sooner or later you’ll start to forget the person you really are and then you’ll be nothing but the hollow mask of the character you play. Shadow work breaks through the lies, most especially the ones you tell yourself.
Here is a bit of shadow magick to help you to see yourself truthfully.
You’ll need: a black candle, insight oil,* a small mirror (hand mirror or compacts work beautifully), incense if desired (I prefer Dragon’s Blood or a Frankincense and Myrrh blend), and writing paper and pen (use your magickal journal if you have one).
Perform this ritual at night in a quiet, private place. This is most effective during the waning and dark moon.
Gather your materials, shut the door, close the drapes, turn off your cell phone, and turn down the lights. Sit comfortably on the floor (or on a chair at a table) with your materials in front of you.
Take a few minutes to simply breathe and let go of the stresses of the day. If you find that your mind has difficulty pushing away the thoughts of the day, then perhaps you need to deal with them before performing this ritual.
Light the incense if you’re using any. Anoint your third eye with a drop of the insight oil. Think for a few minutes about why you want to see yourself more clearly. Think about what you hope to gain. Think about what challenges you expect it to present. Are you really willing to see yourself without bias, warts and all? Take some time to write down these thoughts until you feel that you really understand why you’re doing this.
Anoint the black candle with the insight oil and light the candle. Take the mirror and pass it just above the candle flame (just far enough out that the heat doesn’t hurt your fingers). Envision the heat and light of the flame passing into the mirror, cleansing its energy and empowering it. If you’re using incense, pass the mirror through the smoke or the incense while envisioning the smoke imparting its energy to the mirror.
Hold the mirror to your third eye and either think or say out loud: “I will see myself clearly. I will see who and what I really am. Show me my strength. Show me my weakness. Show me all that I am. Show me joy and sorrow, pride and folly, success and failure. I see clearly. I see who and what I really am.”
Look in the mirror. Look at yourself, really look at yourself. Look beyond the face you present to others, look beyond your flesh. Look deeply into your own eyes. See the kernel of “you” that lives deep within your soul. What do you see?
Take a few minutes to write down what you see. Write down your strengths, your weaknesses, everything. Who is the person that lives deep inside your true heart? What in your life needs to change in order for that person to thrive?
You may find this easy or difficult. If it’s difficult don’t worry, you’re on the right track. If it’s easy either you’re a near bodhisattva or you just aren’t ready to see what lies below - that’s ok too. Shadow magick only works when you’re ready for it to work, so it’s ok to put it aside and come back later.
When you feel you’ve seen all of yourself that you’re able to process turn over the mirror and say: “Thank-you for showing me my deeper self.”
If it’s short enough, let the candle continue to burn – snuff it out if it isn’t (the candle can be reused the next time you do this). Stand up and turn on the lights. Allow yourself a few minutes to process the experience.
* To make insight oil grind 1 tsp each of dried mugwort, sage, and yarrow into a fine powder. Mix with 3 tbs of jojoba oil in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Let steep for 3-4 weeks. Strain and it’s ready to use. For the most potent oil make this on the dark moon and let it steep until the next dark moon.