19 October 2014

Shadow Magick and the Ooky Spooky

I love October.  I love Halloween.  I love Samhain.  I love Dia de los Muertos.  I love autumn and all its glorious accoutrement.  But you know what I don’t love?  I don’t love when people come up to me and say, “Oh, you do shadow magick?  I’m not really into all the spooky stuff.”  That’s when I facepalm so hard that my hand goes through my forehead and comes out the back of my brain stem.  *sigh*  So let me tell you a little bit about shadow magick and the “spooky stuff.”

Yes, I personally like the spooky stuff.  No, that has nothing whatsoever to do with my shadow magick.  In fact, my shadow working are probably the least “ooky spooky” of any workings I do.  Shadow magick, in its many forms, is about the process of magickally integrating the shadow or using that integrated shadow as a mechanism in other magickal workings.  It is serious work either way.  If a particular practitioner happens to like using spooky regalia in their shadow magick that’s their business, but it’s just not the way I do things.  

So let me be very clear about this: shadow magick does not equal gothcraft.  Gothcraft is just regular witchcraft with skull covered drapes done while listening to dark music. (There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact I rather enjoy it.)  Shadow magick is magick specifically involving the psychological shadow - the aspects of our personality that aren’t considered viable for public presentation.  They are totally different things.

Also, shadow magick is not evil or unethical.  A lot of people hear the word “shadow” and immediately associated it with “the darkness,” “evil,” or other things they consider unsavory.  The shadow is not evil.  Yes, our shadow contains bits of ourselves that we don’t like very much and yes those bits can be dangerous, but that doesn’t make them evil.  A huge part of shadow work is learning how to look at those oh so unsavory parts of ourselves and not see them as “evil” or “bad.”  The shadow is not evil, it’s just different and a little intimidating.  

Shadow magick is a discipline like any other, it can be wielded ethically or unethically by its practitioners as they see fit.  However, by its very nature it is more difficult to use shadow magick balefully than other forms of magick for two reasons.  One, you have to be extremely proficient in order to use shadow magick for anything other than the integration of the shadow (never really a bad thing).  Two, once you’ve reached the level of proficiency where you could use shadow magick to do harm you’ll be so integrated and balanced that you will rarely want to.  Shadow work makes people healthier psychologically and generally more stable and self-aware, this does not generally incline people to violence or harm towards others.  I’d be much more concerned about the holier than thou types than shadow workers any day.

Further, shadow magick does not equal the left hand path.  I don’t happen to practice the left hand path so I can’t really say much about it.  As I understand it, the left hand path is the practice of magick with a more personal approach to morality and ethics, often less strict than other forms of magick, and with greater emphasis on serving the self rather than the community at large.  While this is a rather interesting path, it really has nothing to do with shadow magick.  As I said earlier, shadow magick is a tool that can be wielded by practitioners of any path, it is not a path in and of itself.  

So yeah, shadow magick is not “ooky spooky.”  Don’t get me wrong, I have a deep and unabated love for the ooky spooky going back to my embarrassing teenage goth years.  It’s just that the ooky spooky has absolutely nothing to do with shadow magick.  So please, for the sake of my poor head, when someone makes a flippant comment about shadow magick being evil, set that person straight.  

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