embracing shadow self

The Dark Night of the Soul

October, 2017

 

 

 

The concept of the Dark Night of the Soul is one that is experienced at specific times during the work of those on a spiritual Path.  It is described as a state of utter loneliness, despair and the sense that the Divine has forsaken you. It is a moment that stands the test of true “faith” for in that hour of disconnect the realization of separateness and the intense yearning for union with the Divine are brought to the forefront of the experience.  This descent into a type of abyss is what serves to strengthen the resolve and conviction of the human and releases the vestiges of ego and personality that do not serve well the spiritual nature.

A Lesser form of this test of faith and spiritual strength can occur when we initiate the work of the coalescing the energies of mind and heart as a way to shatter the faulty foundations of our “ivory towers” or preconceived notions of what spiritual and magickal practice are and our individual power in those settings.  The intensity of energetic response that occurs when pure mind and informed heart struggle to collaborate and become co-creators in creating a more enlightened state of being tests the seekers entire system of beliefs and understandings.  Overwhelming darkness, depression, doubt and inertia are the natural byproducts until surrender to the process reveals the greater light of our true magickal nature in its most illumined and enlightened form.

Embracing the Shadow Self

To continue this stream of thought and in keeping with the refinement of energies and forces as we move forward on our path, we see these dynamics held within the “hidden path” of our own shadow/dark nature.  It is on this path that a Dark Night of the Soul is replicated at a Higher Level of refinement and offers up test once again of the faith and accumulated knowledge that has been worked upon as result of gathering together the courage to release and cut away what no longer serves in a manner that is both merciful and just in its selection. This is the call to the final surrender of personality and ego to enter the place of communion with the Higher Mind and the resultant creative outpour that is infused and informed by our Higher Selves in dialogue with Divinity. It is at this juncture that the shadow or darker nature of the self is met and aligned with its polarity of Light.

This surrender to the dark nature held within is a means of opening to the greater Light. And, this great light is ultimately the way of illumination on ascent through a state of balance and integration of the parts of Self, which culminates in union with the brilliance of the Divine. The pain of this endurance is at once physical, spiritual and mental and it is at the point of the darkest hour when the darkness seems most pervasive that the ultimate reflection of our Higher Nature illuminated by the brilliance of Deity that points the way.

Facing the Shadow

At some point along a spiritual path we must also encounter what is often called the “shadow self”.  This is an important milestone towards forward movement, and it is at that juncture that we have come upon the divergent path that offers choice of either embrace or retreat. So, what exactly is this shadow self?

According to Carl Jung, there are within the human experience and consciousness several highly specialized archetypes that define the human psychological experience. These archetypes are closely linked to our physical nature and are often brought to the surface through the varied preconditioned responses that we have gathered from our environment of both instinctual and mental learning. These become the patterns that play out in our lives in a continuous thread until some upheaval of either a conscious or unconscious level brings out what has lain hidden within our psyche.

This often plays out in the form of projection; or seeing the negative traits in others we encounter that are actually in resonance to those same qualities within ourselves, albeit latent and for the most part unacknowledged at a conscious level.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Beginning shadow work can be a bit like going down the rabbit hole.  It is not the most comfortable process and what may be lurking at the base of that unknown can be daunting. Ultimately, it can be one of the most rewarding types of work. Many times what you thought to be true for yourself will be challenged and tested as you reveal some of the underlying reasons for the way in which you move through life.  We all wish to be seen in a positive light and the work of exploring our shadow self can provide clues and greater understanding of those qualities we wish to enhance and accentuate, those that we hold in reserve for the appropriate times and those that serve no useful purpose in this lifetime other than the fact that we are now more aware of those characteristics in a way that is informed. Additionally, this is a journey that only you can make with only your own resources, experiences and inner knowing as guides.

The Mirror of SELF

To confront a person with his own shadow is to show him his own light… Carl G. Jung ..

As the quote above beautifully states, embracing those parts of yourself that are not usually brought into the light of day can, nonetheless, open the doorway to the greater light that ever burns within our being.  If we think in terms of polarity and synthesis than we must acknowledge that the darkness only appears dark because we know of the polarity of light.  Each gives validation, support and energy to the other in an, albeit transparent, way. Each, relying on the other’s existence to support and enhance the expression and work of its own existence. This becomes the point of synthesis and understanding that within this process  of give and take, each must contain a portion of the other within itself as they move through their dance of cohesion and balance.

The Midnight Sun

If we hold these principles as viable occurrences within a natural order of being, then we could also say that in the darkest night the sun is still brilliantly shining whether we can see it from the perspective we are aligned with.  But, with a shift of geographical coordinates, we move into its light and what was night becomes day.

This concept is useful when approaching our darker nature. Despite what we may find lurking in the darkened corners of our personality, there is still shining that inner light that connects us with our higher state of being. When we learn to accept, acknowledge and embrace those parts of ourselves that we consider unlovable or undesirable we open to having conversation with those aspects and strengthen the potential to modify, change or completely transform that energy.

The nature of the work and the feelings and sensations that are often brought to the surface are not easily dealt with on your own; regardless of your own personal level of experience. To set foot within the scope of these energies is arduous and often painful and could do damage to the psyche if not approached slowly, carefully and with the utmost of respect. It is best to do a little research first rather than diving right into this type of work as it can dredge up past memories and experiences that may cause unproductive discomfort. Be gentle with yourself and approach this work slowly and with reverence, affirming the best results for your highest good.

And, as with each spiritual endeavor, always be mindful that the greatest journey we take is that which is the path leading back to ourselves as beings of Dark and Light that will return us to our Divine nature.

Next Month a Pathworking to meet the Shadow Self and becoming the Hermit

Excerpted in part from: The Inner Chamber: Volume Two- poetry of the Spheres (Qabalah). R.Fennelly

 

 

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About the Author:

 

 

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author. She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

 

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

 

 

Her books are available on Amazon or website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Facebook and on Instagram