The shadow is the block which separates us most effectively from the divine voice.
Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 544-546
Shadow work sounds scary and deep and dark and mysterious but its not, and it is at the same time. Shadow Work is the act of consciously diving into your own soul and looking at your flaws and wounds with naked honesty. It's learning to love and accept all of yourself without reservation, scars, warts and all. It's a journey that will last your lifetime, sometimes its hard, but its always rewarding and healing.
All it takes to start this journey is a pen and paper and the resolve to be entirely honest with yourself. A box of tissues comes in handy too. I started this journey nearly two years ago and every day I feel that I grow a little more, and heal a little more. Taking the time to sit and write every day has helped me to look back at past hurts and traumas and work on healing the wounds that came with them. It has taught me to embrace my scars not as flaws but as beautiful reminders of survival. It has given me a safe space to scream my frustrations and angers and express my feelings and know that no one will be hurt or offended by it.
So what do I do? Every morning when I first get up, I put the kettle on and then sit down with two ordinary composition books. In the first one, I say thank you for three things in my life. They can be as simple as running water (Very thankful for that after our pipes froze for a day!) or taking a breath that morning. Through to things much deeper and more personal. No matter what is happening in my life, there is always something I can be thankful for.
The second book is my journal. I write three pages (nearly) every morning. Two of those pages are just simple chatter, talking about things that happened the day before. Some of it is future plans and bright ideas. If these are important they are added to my planner. For the last page I look to my cards, either my Enchanted Map oracle deck, or my Dreams of Gaia tarot and I ask them a question. The resulting card drawn never fails to shed light on things for me and help me to learn, heal and move on.
I have limits I set around my writing, this stops me from going from exploring things to ego stroking and self justification. Three pages, no more, and it should be no less, but sometimes I'm lazy. And just one deep question a day. More than that and I find I am not actually processing the answers. No one, not even me, ever reads my journal. It's a space for processing and letting go, not for holding memories.
If you have a Tarot or Oracle deck (any deck at all) Try asking them a question each day and write about the answer you get.
Some questions you could ask are:
- What tools do I already have?
- What do I fear?
- What does my inner child want to say to me?
- Where am I holding myself back?
- What do I need to know right now
- How do I deal with change?
- What changes do I invite?
- What habits do I release?
- What steps have I already taken?
- What are the next steps?
- What comforts me if I fail?
I encourage you to try journaling for yourself for a month and see what happens. This is often the start of an exciting journey into wholeness and healing. It’s perfectly normal to start out with pen and paper and then want to dive deeper with the help of an experienced counselor. Wherever the path takes you, know that you are always supported by your spirit guides and the Divine.