18 March 2013

Ostara Shadow Work

It’s almost that time of year again, springtime.  Yay?  I honestly have very mixed feelings about spring.  On the one hand I love not freezing my ass off at the bus stop, on the other hand I’m not especially enamored of being soaking wet either.  Spring in Seattle is a rather soppy affair, with rather absurd amounts of rain, but less of the biting chill that accompanies it’s winter rains.  I love the occasionally dry (ok, less wet) Saturday for getting to early season hikes and getting back out into nature after the cold dark of winter.  I love witnessing the turn of the seasons and the Wheel of the Year.  But you know what I really don’t love?  Pastels.  I don’t like wearing them and I definitely don’t want them in my rituals.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Ostara.  The Vernal Equinox is full of potent energy for growth and new beginnings.  It’s a very hopeful time and shadow workers often need a good dose of hope more than most.  However, I’d rather gouge out my own eyes than attend a sparkly, shiny, “love and light” ritual.  So, naturally, I do things a little differently.  

This Ostara my ritual is going to be about balance and wholeness.  You can’t have light without dark and at the Vernal Equinox the day and night are of equal length - thus light and dark are symbolically of equal strength.  Instead of celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, I’m going to spend my Ostara recognizing both the parts of me that are light and the parts that are dark and what those things give me.  Shadow work is all about recognizing the less pleasant parts of yourself and integrating them, rather than cutting them off or hiding them away - about finding strength in wholeness.  Despite it’s occasionally sinister image, shadow work is actually a very hopeful practice.

My main working is going to involve meditating on some of my less pleasant features.  I’ll write down a list of things I don’t like about myself and try to narrow it down to one specific trait that I think is being the most trouble right now.  Once I’ve selected the one trait to focus on, I’ll burn the list of negative traits - it doesn’t do to dwell on them and there’s always going to be too much to tackle everything at once.  Then I’ll create a sigil to represent that one negative trait.  I’ll use a crayon to draw that symbol on a raw egg and then I’ll hard boil it.  (If I’m feeling like I really need to go the extra mile I might dye the shell black)  Then I’ll eat the egg to symbolize my recognition that my negative trait is a part of me and that I’m willing to work with it, rather than just blacklist it or try to remove it.  

There’s no banishing at Ostara, just gentle acceptance and willingness to grow.  Negative traits can be a problem, but they can also be teachers.  My avoiding a particular project might teach me that I need to solve an interpersonal problem with a teammate, or that I’m afraid of what will happen when the project is finished.  My shocking inability to get off my ass and go running (even though I really want to) teaches me that I’m still clinging to the image I had of myself a year ago (when I ran four times a week) and don’t want to be smacked in the face with how far I’ve fallen off the wagon.  It’s hard to look beyond what we don’t like about ourselves to really figure out why those things bother us so much.  Ostara is the time to be a bit more gentle with yourself and take baby steps.  We’ll save the more drastic measures for the waning half of the year.

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