12 December 2013

Shadow Offerings

As I have said many times, the essence of shadow work is the act of accepting and integrating your own shadow.  Doing so makes you a stronger, more whole person with fewer chinks in your armor and more control over your self.  One mechanism for helping make such integration possible is to make regular offerings to your shadow.

The purpose of making an offering to your shadow is not to strengthen it, but to acknowledge it and to recognize its importance.  It's mostly about keeping your self-awareness sharp.  Taking a little extra time to think about and recognize your shadow will make you more comfortable with it, help you to recognize it in action in your life, and ease your working with it both spiritually and magickally. 

Oftentimes offerings are made in gratitude, but that can be a rather difficult emotion when it comes to the shadow.  Our shadows are often difficult to deal with and can cause us to do things that make our lives more difficult than they need to be.  Our shadows are often the catalyst for learning unpleasant life lessons, and it can be really difficult to be grateful for that.  However, those hard lessons are what shape us and help us grow, so we should be grateful for them - however uncomfortable they may be.  It's your choice on any given day whether you want to add the emotion of gratitude in your shadow offering.

My favorite thing to offer for this purpose is incense.  I like to get the highest quality resin sticks that I can find (like Mountain Natural's Palo Santo Resin Sticks) and use them.  Yes, I know actual resins on charcoal would be better but I find working with the charcoals to burn them to be a huge pain (you try keeping them fresh in the incredible dampness of the Pacific Northwest!) and if something is a pain I'm less likely to actually do it.  An offering of energy would certainly work too, but it would have to be very clearly tuned for shadow work.  I generally only do energy offerings when either a) I'm in a place where burning things isn't appropriate/allowed, or b) I have a very specific purpose I want to accomplish with my offering, like recognizing a particular thing that happened or an important lesson I've learned.  In the end, what you offer isn't nearly as important as the fact that you're offering something on a regular basis.

I like to do my shadow offerings once a week on a Saturday in the hour of Saturn.  As I am both a tech and lazy, I use an app on my phone (Planetary Hours) to determine when the hour of Saturn happens. If something particularly shadowy comes up during the week I might add in an extra offering here and there as necessary.

To perform the offering I light a black candle (sometimes it's a tea light or taper, sometimes it's a big fat pillar that I use over and over again - doesn't really matter) and light the incense from the candle, rather than from a match.  As the incense lights I like to say a short incantation that varies depending on the day.  It's usually something along the lines of:

This day I make an offering to the shadow;
May I always see the truth of the shadow in my life;
May I always absorb its teachings;
May I learn to integrate my shadow and be whole;
As I do will so mote it be.

 I find making these regular offerings to be strangely grounding.  The act of preemptively accepting whatever weirdness life may throw at me is oddly calming.  Maybe it's just appeasing my Virgo nature to always be prepared for anything ;)