As I walk into the darkest depths, illuminated
I know I put you here, out in the dark
I embrace you, as I would a friend or lover
These shadows, were always part of me
And as they are illuminated, I become whole
Again, like I once was.
I recently wrote about shadow work on the Witches Circle Amino, and since I wanted to share my related rituals and spreads here I thought it wise to give you all a little introduction to it.
I highly recommend you read the sources and articles at the end of this post as they’ve been both very good reads in my opinion and give some really good tips as to how you can approach it. I’ll share a ritual later this week in time for the dark moon for those interested to try one of my ritual approaches.
I’m also very curious to see how you use shadow work in your practice or how it is different from my own. Or if it’s new to you what do you think of this concept? Let me know in the comments!
How I view shadow work specifically can be different from your view of it. Although the basic understanding may be the same, there’s a lot of different ways to do it and thus you may have already tried it out without realising. My way of doing shadow work often involves scrying (any type of divination actually), mirror magic, journeying, automatic writing, (crystal) meditation… There’s probably even more but you get the idea.
Now I want to say real quick, this isn’t light and fluffy stuff. I often refer to it as my personal therapy because it is heavy and difficult to tackle your shadows head-on especially when they are connected to trauma.
My understanding of shadow work is that when utilising this type of craft, you actively work to embrace and accept the darker parts of the self, usually referred to as shadows hence the name. When we embrace these darker aspects we grow as a person both mentally and spiritually. It’s essentially a better and stronger version of yourself. Why you should want to do this is because these aspects when hidden/repressed can express themselves negatively in our lives. They can influence our relationship with ourselves, our surroundings and they can be the cause of certain mental illnesses and addictions as well.
Shadows are actually a thing in the psychological field as well. Carl Jung is one of the people well known for it. Now I’m not saying if you have shadow bits of yourself you instantly have mental illnesses or anything. We all have our shadows. All I’m saying is that they can have a serious influence on our lives so it can be very rewarding to look into them using shadow work.
If you are very mentally unstable I wouldn’t recommend doing shadow work without a proper support system in place or seeing a therapist regularly. Shadow work isn’t a fix-all solution to your problems either. While it can be very liberating in a lot of ways it’s also very confrontational. I do think if there are things in life holding you back that shadow work can be a big help overcoming it but as I said, it’s not gonna fix it, it may just be a little easier. If you want to do it but are afraid of possible heavy emotions coming up then please make sure you have proper support in place if you need it. I care for my readers, so that’s why I’m specifically stating this.
Scott Jeffrey wrote in his article on shadow work: “Exploring your shadow can lead to greater authenticity, creativity, energy, and personal awakening. This introspective process is essential for reaching mature adulthood (which is rarer than most think). ” I agree with this statement purely because when we embrace our shadows we embrace all of yourself. It helps us become whole and releases blockages.
Shadow work isn’t always pretty, but it is rewarding and often even necessary.
These shadows are everything we don’t like about ourselves. Things we find negative, bad, unacceptable, shameful. Everything that doesn’t fit what we would call our ideal self is a shadow. Anything your environment or society doesn’t like can become a shadow. You can imagine that list grows quite fast, especially in this day and age where social media is at a height of influence and we don’t want to express those negativities, we even may go out of our way not to show them. We get triggered over simple things that have shadowy roots. We can’t get rid of these shadow parts of us no matter how hard we try, so we suppress them. That’s the issue and that’s why shadow work is as important and challenging as it is.
Anger, selfishness, greed, bold behaviour, playfulness, expressiveness, rebellious, spontaneity, silence, withdrawal, drama, sensitivity, emotions, knowledge, power, openness, a certain body image/ ethnicity/ style, indecisiveness, certain hobbies or interests, femininity, masculinity…
The list goes on. These are things a lot of us have learned are bad in certain settings and thus we hide them away inside ourselves. You get called a know-it-all for simply being interested in something. People feel bad for expressing things about their feminine/masculine bodies because society says it’s bad. Boys feel like they can’t be sensitive or emotional because of their environment. Maybe someone stops being expressive since it’s seen as too much, and someone else is scolded for not being expressive enough. These can be minor issues, and they can also turn into major issues over time.
Because we hide our shadows they become unconscious expressions, something we no longer control. This causes them to express themselves anyway and perhaps cause more damage than when we are aware and accepting that these shadows are a part of us.
Supporting Moon Energy
The Dark Moon is one of those special times when the moon naturally supports working with the darker parts of ourselves as she is hidden. It’s the ultimate time to face it and release the baggage attached to it. The dark moon is the point of 0% illumination, you can read more about it here.
The moon in Scorpio is also a great time to do shadow work. Scorpio is the sign of deep and intense emotional transformation and we can use this energy in a supporting way for our shadow work. Because that’s what we are doing during this type of work.
There are several moon apps and websites available to keep track of the moon and signs so if that’s something you’re interested in it may be worth to find one that works for you. Just note that the Dark moon is 90% of the time mentioned as being a New moon which is a different thing entirely.
Things to try
There are many ways to do shadow work so I thought I’d briefly mention a few of my favourite things.
Shadow List – Writing lists with your shadows are very personal and challenging but when you identify the shadows it’s easier to work with them. For every shadow part of you, you can also write a light part of you to balance it out. Sometimes the bad things are joined with good things. For example, perfectionism can both help out and limit you.
Automatic writing – Automatic writing is where you let your subconscious mind free to write what’s going on there. It can show you hidden thoughts, feelings or other messages and when focusing on a specific thing can help you process it in a different way. It’s important during this that you try not to control the writing or necessarily try to write neatly. Just let it al go as it flows.
Scrying – Scrying is the art of gazing at a reflective surface in order to spark visions, and is considered a divination tool. During scrying, you can focus on a shadow you want to work with and see what it has to tell you. My fav tools are a fossil bowl for water and an obsidian mirror for mirror scrying.
Meditation Journey – A meditation journey where you travel to the deepest darkest part of yourself to reconnect with lost parts of yourself can be very confronting but also very relieving. I’ll be sharing a ritual later that could be considered a meditation journey.
Mirror Chat – This Chat with Me ritual that I’ve shared before, is a mirror magic ritual where you chat with your subconscious self. With this, you can try to talk to hidden parts of yourself and try to understand them more in order to accept them.
Crystals for Shadowwork
As an aspiring crystal healer as well as someone who uses a lot of crystals in her daily life and craft I thought I’d include a variety of crystals that you can use during this type of work. I put them in order of effectivity from my personal experience. Some may work better for you than others, that’s okay. The crystals I picked for this mostly focus on releasing blockages, insight and balance. You could say grounding crystals work great as well, but they felt out of place when it comes to this specifically in my opinion. I tried to stay away from softer energy crystals because they can actually limit your progress doing shadow work, as we naturally avoid nasty feelings and sometimes all we need is a good hard reality check.
When picking a crystal it’s good to look at what you really need, be it a hard reality check etc, or whatever your shadow relates to, be it insecurities or past lives etc. Chakra’s can be a good thing to look into when working with crystals but not necessary. Let your intuition guide you.
Obsidian – any type but black is best
Obsidian is a volcanic glass and appears in many varieties. While these varieties all have different properties they all have the same basic properties namely to reflect negativity back at the sender or to show the user blockages present in order to deal with them head-on. This can be intense if you have traumas that are being presented. My personal favourites are Black Obsidian for its pure natural force. Midnight Lace Obsidian is great for moving through the layers of these blockages and Spiderweb is great when it’s related to past lives.
Moonstone – preferably black/grey
Moonstone doesn’t actually come from the moon but is from the same crystal family as Labradorite called Feldspar. Moonstone is a great crystal to work with lunar energies but also for receiving insight into the inner subconscious self and working with feminine related issues. Black moonstone is especially great for shadow work as it has similar properties to the Dark Moon.
Chrysocolla is connected to the throat and heart chakra and helps balance what’s going on here. It helps you truly feel and express what going on so you can deal with it with a little more peace of mind.
a crystal made of azurite and often contains bits of pyrite. It’s connected to the third eye chakra and can help grand insight in a structured manner. It’s great for overpowering the shadows in an accepting manner. It also can help you clear up shadows from past lives that still influences us in this life.
Kyanite works on the third eye and heart chakra and can give you insight into the layers of your fears. the layered structure helps you dive deeper into the layers of yourself. When it opens your third eye you can receive a lot of insight at once, which can be overwhelming but it’s not a constant property of the stone. When you’ve worked with it more than once it should calm down significantly and flow more fluidly.
Clear Quartz – points specifically
Clear quartz is a popular choice purely because it can direct energy in a very controlled way, and can be programmed to do so for nearly anything. I say points specifically because the crystal structure will support that directionally oriented property. It’s often put under the crown chakra but could function as a substitute for any of them
Opal Quartz/Girasol – points specifically
First of all, in case you google it, this is not the same as Opalite/Opaline. Opal quartz is a quartz structure containing aluminium which gives it a somewhat foggy opal-like shine. Girasol helps you transform whatever is not in balance and helps process emotional imbalance and negative blockages. It’s a crown chakra stone but it reminds me of clear quarts balance and direction with an obsidian undertone in the emotional trauma clearing area.
Rose Quartz – not by itself
Rose quartz is a crystal of self-love and acceptance and can help you out during the process of accepting your shadows. I wouldn’t recommend it on its own as I stated earlier it may be too soft and hold you back. It is however great when paired with one of the above or AFTER doing shadow work so I did include it here.
Sources & pages on the topic