Monday, April 29, 2013

The Danger of Losing Touch: Shadow Work

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Hello, blog. Today I come to you...different. Not-the-same.

I am here to talk about the danger of losing touch. Not with your blog, or your friends, or your anything, but yourself. Not your practice; this goes deeper than that.

This is the ultimate goal of shadow work: to restore the "self", whatever form that is for you, and in whatever way you feel it needs to be restored. When we talk about soul-shards leaving and soul-shatter, we're talking at the base level about a loss of self. How that happens, and why, is another discussion. You just need to know it happened to me, and I thought I had done the Work, and I was Better, and I Wasn't, and that was the best possible thing to happen to me.

I have talked before about how I am two-minded. One half of me is intellectual, is "airy", spends time reading about heavy topics and likes chilling out with ideas. I like to pretend, sometimes, that that's the only half. And I pretend that's the only half and then I act surprised when I turn around and realize I feel empty and lost and I can't honestly explain what I'm feeling because it feels like "nothing". It feels cold. Because at the heart, I have this tendency to sweep my other half under the rug.

The other half is the messy one. The Witch. The Spirit-Walker. The Half-Animal. The one with all the feelings, the good and the bad, the ANGER, the righteousness. The ecstatic visions and the journey and the death rites and the throwing yourself down in the dirt, the mud, and howling like an animal and ripping flesh from bone with sharp claws. She's all wearing the skulls of animals and losing yourself to the night, losing molecule by molecule until you and Night lose track of what is what and you become each other and that's the true fulfillment.

Today I have been reminded that an intellectual practice is not one I can sustain alone. As much as I like to think of myself as this rational, reserved Spirit-Walker--I'm NOT. And I can't pretend I am. And the worst part is I wasn't even aware I had shut that other part of me off, again, until I did the Work and I lit the sacred incense and I poured my shit out on the ground in front of my Underworld betters and said "I'm sorry. Help me." I didn't understand why my facet, the one who guards my heart space, slapped me across the face and told me "You can't keep doing this." I didn't understand and that hurt her worse than anything; the blindness more than the action.

She meant I can't bury this huge portion of my practice. Half of my practice is airy and purity and intellectual--but the other half is human-and-animal, blood and guts and ruin and strong-eats-weak and all of the laws of nature. It's the crashing waves and the thunder and the lightning and all of that in the breath-the-blood of my human body. And that doesn't make it "bad" or "something I don't want to deal with". And at the core, I want to know WHY I keep doing this, so I can stop.

As much as I do offerings and write about deities and Spirits and whatever, it doesn't Fulfill. It doesn't suffice. It feels like eating a feast in an illusion, and the more you eat the more you're confused because you don't feel any fuller. You don't feel like you've eaten at all.

That messy side, the Underworld Side, the Animal--she is the food. She is the hunger and she is the feast all at once. I can read and write about the Work all I want, I can pretend I'm scientific and hard-nosed and academic and what-have-you, but I'm sitting at an empty banquet table wondering why I'm so hungry. I NEED that side of my practice like I need breath and water and food. And it's really sad that I keep realizing and forgetting this.

So this post is about the ultimate goal of shadow work: acceptance.

It's easier to accept things that happen to you and outsider things. It's really fucking hard to accept you are not who you say/think/believe you are. You might realize it, but it takes a while to set in. For me, I think it's finally setting in. I can't promise I'll never lose touch again, just that when I do, I will remember this working, and this moment, and I will hold it tight to me like a flame, and I will stop jumping off the cliff and killing half my soul for the sake of an idea.

This is a promise.


  1. I love this description. I can relate to it so strongly. It's taken me years to realise that I can't choose to be earthy and practical, or to decide to be intellectual, or spiritual.

    Instead I've found that my real path is to fulfil all of these aspects. it calls for a lot of hard work and a grand belief in what I can be.

    It's good to know that others are also faced with this challenge.

  2. Much of what you said about your primal side resonates so intensely with me. I know I need to do more work with that side of me, particularly on the astral - both my soul and my gods require it of me to be truly fulfilled.


  3. My guess as to why, is that there are different parts of the self, and that for the best of reasons you've lived mostly in one part, and are now hearing the call to explore the others. I began living in my intellect early on because that's what was safe, and have found ways to safely explore the many other parts of me. Some resources: Shadow Work Basics (, the Women In Power retreat (, my book "Practically Shameless." You write beautifully and with a lot of power, it's my belief that what you want will come to you.

  4. Forgot to add, "Women Who Run with the Wolves" by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, which contains lots of stories about women finding their primal nature.

  5. I have mulled over this for many, many years. This is the first time I have ever read something akin to it from someone else. Well done, and I thank you.