Shadow Work: The Benefits of Visiting Your Dark Side
My year card for 2016 is The Moon (What’s a year card? Head over to my post about it and find out yours.), which is about visiting the dark recesses of the mind, and coming to terms with the past. So I am anticipating a lot of work with my shadow this coming year. And I thought this would be an excellent time to discuss what the Shadow is and what exactly it means when people refer to Shadow work.
Your shadow encompasses all parts of yourself you do not want to acknowledge. These are the things you would rather dump into the deepest darkest wastelands of your mind, build a wall and never look at again. They are often held in the form of memories, traumatic experiences and impulses, and they come accompanied with feeling of shame, anger or disgust. Shadow elements often have their roots in childhood, but not always. They can be directed towards the self or others.
Sometimes you may not even know these shadow memories, thoughts and feelings still exist within you because they have been pushed to a part of your brain that isn’t conscious—the unconscious. When this happens, shadow elements often appear as disturbing people, places and events in dreams and nightmares. Sometimes they will haunt you and appear over and over again. Other ways they can reveal themselves without you realizing it is through irrational fears, mood swings, and even slips of the tongue.
Working with your shadow means inviting these disagreeable parts of you forward. And why would you want to do that when you hate them so much? Because like it or not, everyone has a dark side, and surprisingly, the more you integrate your dark side into your personality and experience, the less power and hold it will have on you.
As an example, say you are having a reoccurring nightmare about cockroaches crawling all over your body (and you aren’t dealing with a cockroach infestation in waking life), shadow work would mean uncovering what those cockroaches represent for you, giving that feeling or memory expression, and figuring out how you can gain acceptance and compassion over that part of you. Even maybe, discovering what you can learn from it. If you are able to do this, the nightmares cease and you can sleep peacefully again.
When we are able to have compassion towards ourselves—all parts of ourselves—we are able to move forward unencumbered, free, confident and fully expressed. The tarot card that comes after The Moon in the major arcana is The Sun, which is that joyful, full and honest expression of your very being. This also means that until you visit and own your dark side, you will not be ready to truly shine.
There are several different ways to work with your shadow, but tarot and dream work are two of the most effective and accessible ways. Through a tarot card reading with me, we will uncover the hidden aspects that want to come forward and need expression. You will also learn how you can integrate, make sense of or heal from those feelings or experiences, and what you can expect if you do. Learn more about tarot reading packages and prices.