Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shadow Work, I: A Series of Little Deaths

I know I have talked about shadow work before (here) but I have done so much of it and learned so much FROM it in recent months, I feel a series has become necessary, and needed. Shadow work, in my sight, also remains misunderstood in the greater woo-woo community.

So I give you part 1 of the Shadow Work posts: A Series of Little Deaths.

This post is about the philosophy of shadow work.

What I have learned in the past few years of my life, which is when I began paying attention and I "woke up" to the astral, is Life seems to be nothing but a series of little Deaths.

They are little as in small, so many of us don't notice. You keep on chugging through the worst of everything, and there are ups and downs, but rarely do you look backwards and contemplate the series of graves you're leaving behind on your path of chugging forward.

It happens when you love and lose and it really affected you and you can't eat for a month. It happens when you lose someone to death that you really cared about. It happens when you lose a pet, or a family member to something other than death. It might happen when you have a health scare, and nothing actually happens. It might happen when you missed hitting that kid at the intersection by millimeters, because you weren't paying attention. It may even happen when you wake up and somehow you can't remember where you end and someone else begins, and it's terrifying.

We are dying all the time, and the deaths are not the same, nor the same intensity, for everybody. It's pretty much always painful, even when it's sorely needed. You KNEW you had to end that relationship, but it hurt anyway. You KNEW your family member was losing a fight with their health, but it hurt to let go all the same. It's easier to buck up and keep moving forward and get over it than it is to sit with the self you're in the process of burying and hug it and let it cry.

We're told it's bad to wallow for a long time in feelings or depression or normal human reactions to loss. 

This is worse in situations that are considered 'commonplace' or like 'regular life things'. We're told to get over it, it's not a big deal, it was just a break-up, it was just a move, it was just a job loss, just a best friend that hurt you deeply, not like it was a REAL event. Not like somebody died, or something.

Somebody did. YOU did. But maybe it wasn't visible to them.

"Small" things can affect us greatly. And if you acknowledge that you have the right to feel like you're dying because of an "insignificant" life event, because it was significant to YOU, then you are on the right track.

That's what shadow work is for.

It's terrifying to wake up and realize you've lost pieces of yourself. There are stages of grief, they say, but they don't tell you the last stage is dying yourself. Acceptance, they say. Acceptance often means admitting you will never be the person you were before, again. 

You'll be similar, yeah. Still "you" at the core. But something is gone, now, that wasn't gone before, and you will heal and you will come out stronger, but not the same. And that's not a bad thing, but more of an acknowledgement. At the end of your Work you will look back and you will not understand, recognize, "be" that same self anymore. You will wave to each other on opposite ends of the path, and turn and walk away. You will feel like that self is a stranger, because the transformative process of your little death, and your work to go through it, and then eventually build a little headstone and say farewell to that self, has divorced you from it. Put you outside your body, unable to feel, see, and think that way again. 

The Work puts you on the outside the same way having astral awareness does. Shadow work gives you vivid, and sudden, and constant self-awareness. You will know the deepest parts of yourself, and guide those parts by the hand through your inevitable walk into the void and out the other side. And when you are on that other side, you will not look back, and you will know the work is done.

You won't realize you've completed the work until days, months, years later. You'll realize suddenly, as you're drinking some tea and smiling to yourself in Winter, that you haven't thought about Him in 6 weeks. That the things that friend did were really shitty and you will never, ever let someone treat you that way again, because you're worth so much more, and suddenly you actually BELIEVE that you are. 

When you are on the other side, the shadow work will be worth it, because you'll forget why you had to do it to begin with. 

And the You that comes out will be a hundred times better than the you you began with, even if it doesn't feel like that now. It will.



  1. Thank you. This is something that I needed to read, and I look forward to the rest of the series.

  2. Lovely perspective. You put such a hard topic down so eloquently! A series of little deaths is a wonderful way to word it. Also "little death" is a slang term for orgasm in Italian....thought you'd find that intersting...

  3. What a lovely read. I certainly look forward to reading the rest of the series!


  4. As usual, this post made me ponder my situation as well. Maybe I'll make a blog post out of it.

  5. I always have to remember that this feeling of discomfort during shadow work is part of the process. I have to let it unfold and not try to hide with sleep, TV, or food. Thank you for the reminder you have such a wonderful way of describing this.