03 October 2011

Shadow Magick - Integrating the Shadow

Welcome to October – my favorite month of the year.  I love nothing better than to sit in my library with a cup of hot mulled cider while listening to the autumn wind, watching the rain hit my patio.  This time of year sets all my magickal senses on overdrive and pushes me to new dark magicks.  One of the things I’ve been working on of late, and seems immanently appropriate, is a meditation for integrating the shadow and I’d like to share it with you.

What does it mean to integrate the shadow?  As I’ve talked about before, the shadow is one’s own dark side – not evil, but dark.  It’s the bits of selfishness, pettiness, ignorance, arrogance, and the like that you’re not so proud of.  Everyone’s got a shadow and one of the things that separate the good from the great is how much someone owns his or her shadow.  Good people know they have a shadow and do their best to suppress, ignore, and generally pretend it doesn’t exist.  Great people get to know their shadow and actually make friends with it, turning their weaknesses into strengths – that’s integrating the shadow.

Integrating the shadow is not easy and it’s not something that can be done all at once.  In fact, it is the work of a lifetime.  We’re all constantly growing and changing, and our shadow changes with us.  The only way I’ve found to effectively integrate my shadow is to do it in small chunks.  Find a small thing about yourself that you identify as being part of your shadow, something about yourself that makes you uncomfortable.  It can be something small, like getting unreasonably annoyed when you miss a green light, or something large, like not being able to trust anyone, as long as it’s something you’re not really ok with.  (If it’s something that makes other people uncomfortable but you’re totally ok with it’s not a part of your shadow, it’s just a part of you.)

The first time I ever integrated a bit of my shadow was during a meditation many years ago.  For as long as I can remember I’ve always been fascinated with magick, the occult, death, and monsters.  Unfortunately, I was raised to believe these things were not the sort of thing a young lady should spend her time thinking about.  Basically I was taught that everything I now relish was pretty much evil.  This denial led me to put all those lovely dark fascinations firmly into the realm of the shadow.  My original plan had been for the meditation to take me into the underworld so that I could get a better look at my shadow and to lock it down even further.  My shadow had other plans for me that night.  It rather ran away with me.

The meditation began, as planned, with me standing in a large cave before the gates of the underworld.  As I stepped through the gate I felt some of the most incredible searing pain I’ve ever felt in my life (I hadn’t realized then just how real astral travel can be) and I realized that the gate wasn’t a simple gate, but a tunnel about 20 feet long with another gate at the other side.  I had to literally drag myself across the floor of the tunnel, blind with pain, until I got to the gate that led to the other side.  When I finally got to the other side I was immediately seized by a dark figure who began to beat me.  We fought.  It hurt.  A lot.  The more I fought the worse things got.  Finally, rather than trying to block the blows I shifted the fight from the physical to the magickal.  I began to feed off the dark figure’s energy.  I fed off the darkness and became one with it.  As I fed the pull between me and the dark figure got stronger and stronger until I actually consumed the dark figure, like Kali eating a demon.  What I had just done was integrate a part of my shadow, without even knowing it.

So here is a meditation to take you through a slightly tamer version of that experience:

Integrating the Shadow - Meditation

You may want to do this meditation inside a protective circle.  Sit or lie comfortably and close your eyes.  Take a few deep breaths and relax.

You are standing in a dimly lit room in front of a very large mirror.  It stretches from the ground to above your head and is wide enough that your outstretched arms can’t reach the sides.  This mirror shows you your shadow self.  Look at yourself in the mirror.  It’s you, but it’s not you.  This is your shadow, a bit darker, more sly, perhaps with an edge of cruelty in its eyes.

As you look at yourself you notice the mirror’s surface begin to ripple like wind blown water.  Your reflection winks at you and steps back, a hand beckoning you to come through.  Carefully, you step through the cold surface of the mirror and into the mists.

Your shadow reflection is standing just in front of you.  It’s you, but it’s not you.  Your shadow looks you in the eye and you can see that it knows you.  It knows all your secrets and hidden thoughts.  It’s made of those secrets, the bits of yourself that you would hide from the world.  Your shadow doesn’t like being caged on the other side of the mirror.  What would happen if you let a bit of your shadow out into the light?  Do you really know?  Are you afraid to find out?

Your shadow reaches out and grasps your wrist, hard.  You feel it’s fingers digging into your arm, deeper and deeper, until you cannot tell where your wrist ends and its fingers begin.  You look down and see that your shadow is beginning to fade into your flesh.  You have a choice, pull away now and only have a small piece of your shadow flow into your waking self or close your eyes and embrace your shadow- taking in all that you can.  The choice is yours.

*pause to allow the shadow to integrate as much as possible*

When you open your eyes your shadow is gone.  You can feel the lingering energy of its presence, but it is nowhere to be seen.  When you’re ready step back through the mirror, more whole than when you came through.  Take a moment to feel the difference.  When you’re ready, open your eyes.

1 comment:

  1. This is a lovely article and summation of Shadow work. I've spent years integrating my Shadow, and I have no regrets. I call him Astor, and he has become a constant presence in my life and a character in my creative work.