You can find all sorts of definitions of what shadow work is on the internet. I’ve never formally even read what those definitions are because I’ve lived the shadow. I generally prefer not to regurgitate things I’ve read elsewhere. I believe all true teaching and knowledge is through life experience and can’t truly be learned by reading theory. To know the shadow you must taste it.
My definition of shadow work is many but primarily it’s:
- Finding that which is hidden within you and that can’t be seen by the naked eye
- Accepting and loving the dark, “evil”, unwanted, undesirable or “unacceptable” parts of yourself
- De-programming from societal and familial conditioning/false belief systems
- Trauma and inner child work
Accepting Your Evil
It’s bringing light, or awareness, to the darkness within you. Every one of us is both good and evil. In fact, the more self-righteous a person is, the more they may be dark. I can say the same for myself. I have been a relatively self-righteous person my whole life. I always strived to be honest, nice and do right. Now this can be a result of actually being a nice person, which I feel I am. It can also be the result of learned lessons from past lives of being evil. I have seen in past-life sessions that I’ve been bad, done bad things, been evil. There is a story behind every tale of evil just the same as there is behind every story of righteousness. Sometimes things just are evil because they are. Sometimes things are evil because they were traumatized or brutalized, abused and so they became evil. We are all a deep product of our early childhood experiences. The sweetest people you know could have been serial killers in past lives. None of it is even relevant. Good and evil just are and in the grand scheme of the universe, there must be dark for there to be light. When source created itself and it broke off into fractals, it gave free will to its creation. Free will to choose to be whatever it wanted to be. Free will to be evil or bad. And that has resulted in universal laws like karma, which dictate that whatever you do to the other, will happen back to you. I’ve seen this in sessions where someone was a serial killer in one life and became a serial killer’s victim in another. It is so real. The person who saw that they were a serial killer saw that they were broken by the time they were a baby from extreme abuse so it created a killer. Seeing these types of things in sessions has allowed me to have a much greater empathy for darkness and evil. I’m not saying I love evil people. But I know, I see, that for every cause there is an effect. People don’t just become evil usually. I don’t believe that’s their true state. They usually are made that way by people before them. Sometimes beings lose their way on their own and seek power over others. In the seeking of that power, they become evil and are willing to control, manipulate and ultimately glee in the suffering of others. We all have the capability to be anything. Whether in this life or another. There is a wide range of possibilities for being. Nothing would know itself if it did not know both dark and light. If the universe was just pure light, we wouldn’t even be aware of ourselves because there would be nothing to compare it to. Without yang there cannot be yin and vice versa. I encourage people to love and accept their evil so they can truly know themselves. I love to see my evil self in past lives. I love to re-integrate that aspect of myself because when I remember, it allows me to stop judging. Not only do i integrate deep emotions that make me more whole and complete and one, but I can stop being so self-righteous and judging others when I see that I myself am not perfect. We all struggle with so much judgment of others. It’s a human disease.
I’ve seen people really struggle to come to terms with their darkness. There’s a difference between feeding darkness and integrating it. Integrating darkness is seeing it, feeling it, bringing it to light. Becoming conscious of it. And processing it. Perhaps expressing that darkness in the safety of your own bedroom screaming into a pillow. Perhaps looking into your eyes in the mirror, and becoming that monster within you until you see him and he recognizes you, and you recognize him, and then suddenly your eyes soften and you cry because you’ve rejected him for so long. I have done that before. I’ve had moments of unbearable rage where I sat in front of my mirror, growled and become my evil self. And told myself I hate you, I hate you so much and I saw myself become something different before me in that mirror. My eyes changed and I broke my mirror (an ikea cheapie but nonetheless lol). And as soon as I fully expressed my rage, something interesting happened. I became aware of who I really was. I found my wounded warrior.
My warrior who was so filled with fear and rage and so afraid. I went and laid down and began speaking to him. He was a native american man, with a long black braid behind him, short in stature. He laid down, broken and battered. He told me how he hated fighting and how he wanted to just cook and clean! Now this totally took me by surprise but this was my past-life self that was so tired of being a fierce warrior and who wanted to be a househusband. Can’t make this stuff up. He was tired of war and tired of fighting, so weary. To my surprise my two-year old inner child showed up without prompting, and she knelt beside him. She cuddled with him and began performing healing on him. It was one of my most profound healing moments. When you face your shadow and darkness, you may find a wounded warrior, a child within, that just wants to be loved. My self was transformed after that moment. This warrior had been lost within me for eternity. He had been lost to me by me continuing to deny him. By me shoving him down. Once I saw him, truly saw him, he transformed in front of me. Inner resources from the inner planes showed up to support him and perform healing on him. This is the true purpose of shadow work. It’s to see yourself. It’s to see all the parts of you that you’ve rejected, and to love them all, no matter how evil, dark or imperfect they may be. I can’t always easily find these parts. Sometimes they just come to me. I find them mostly in sessions or through deep self exploration. Journaling could be a good way to find them. I love meeting them. I love meeting my darkness. I love to love every part of my being, no matter how evil. I have seen myself as pure evil in past lives. I accepted it. I look forward to getting to know them when I get the chance. This is the definition of pure love. A big reason why the world has so many problems is because we continually deny these aspects of ourselves. The more you deny something, the more it has to act out to receive your love or attention. What if all of the evil in the universe was just the result of these pieces within us that we refused to see, love and accept? When you look at Greek mythology, the “Gods” expressed the full range of emotions. They expressed anger. Anger is so feared these days. We’ve denied a natural human emotion. And the results of all of that are everywhere around us. People commit crimes of passion, crimes of rage and evil. What if these people were simply taught to deny that part of themselves and that part is crying out for love and attention. What if that part will do anything to make itself known and seen including committing horrible crimes. I’ve seen this in my own work. The more you ignore some part of you, the more it festers and grows. Anger is a natural yet explosive emotion that must be felt and seen in a healthy way regularly, yet no one in this society accepts anger as an acceptable emotion. That is a crime against humanity.
Shadow work involves seeing, accepting, and ultimately loving all of the dark, evil, gross, ugly, or otherwise “unacceptable” or “unwanted” parts of ourselves. Not to be confused with acting upon in the external world. There’s a difference between loving a part of yourself that wants to do something bad and actually doing that bad thing. You can allow that part of yourself to do whatever it needs to do to express itself in your mind. This is part of the integration process and you can feel energy shifts and healing occurring by allowing that “character” to express himself safely and completely during a hypnosis session, for example. You can do it yourself in a deep meditation. Simply connect with that part of yourself. Punch a pillow to let out rage.
Bringing Light, or Consciousness, to Unconscious Thoughts, Patterns and Belief Systems
We all have lots of conditioning and programming. This comes from society, schools, family, friends. Our environment around us. Shadow work brings to light that which is unconscious so you can see yourself or better yet, see all the programming that is clearly not you. Becoming aware of ourselves and our deepest false belief systems, core wounds, and patterns is the key to healing them. I like EFT and Alchemical Hypnosis the best for identifying, integrating, and healing these unconscious belief systems (find out more about them in my article Shadow Work Tools). If you’re on a budget and want to start exploring, I like lonerwolf for tips and tricks on finding and discovering unconscious core wounds and belief systems. Ultimately, we want to clear out that which is not you. You weren’t created to feel ugly, unlovable or unworthy. Somewhere along the line you were taught that, programmed to think that, or something happened to you to create that false belief system within you.
This is a big one and probably doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Healing trauma helps us become more whole and emotionally healthy. When we experience trauma, our soul fractures off and parts of us leave our body and get “lost” at the scene of the trauma. You can use The Completion Process to find those lost parts of yourself and re-integrate them. You really want to use modalities that emphasize “soul retrieval” when working on your trauma. I love inner child work for trauma resolution. The two go hand in hand together and it can be argued that you can’t heal childhood trauma without involving the inner child in the process. I’ve personally seen the most self-transformation from inner child work. The Completion Process utilizes the inner child rescue as part of the process which is great. I also like Alchemical Hypnotherapy for inner child work as it involves inner child rescue.
Every person in the world has undergone some kind of trauma and has some kind of PTSD, no matter how good their childhood seemed. Trauma resolution really is the biggest aspect of shadow work because so many people in the world have experienced abuse or trauma of some kind.
The reason why I would identify trauma work as “shadow work” is because frequently there is much hidden beneath the surface that we don’t even know traumatizes us. Once you start doing inner landscape work you’ll see that there is so much hidden within you. There can be all sorts of things that happened to you, obvious or not, that are creating your present-day anxiety, depression or mental illness. Frequently people have no idea why they’re suffering so much. You can find the root cause of your suffering by using shadow work tools.