December, 2018

Excerpted from:

19-Days of Illuminated Darkness

Day Three

The Light Within the Shadow of the Winter Solstice

For most of us the turning of the Greater Wheel to the Winter Solstice (Yule) is one of welcoming the return of the Light of

renewal and strength, the promise of increasingly longer hours of daylight and anticipation of warmer weather and a more outer world focused time. This change is subtle in physical form as this is also when the cold of the Winter (Northern Hemisphere) will remain for a few months more prompting us to retreat indoors as the early arrival of evening’s darkness envelopes and calls us into the warmth and light of home.

Each year, I do my work of Self, both within my Tradition (The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel) and personally to call forth this return of Light. And, I also find myself retreating more deeply into the shadows and taking refuge in its landscape of shadow; being intuitively drawn towards the deeper work of spiritual quickening, I think of this as the energy of the Hermit Key of the Tarot and my time to move into the darkened areas of my own inner landscape so that I may welcome and bring forth the Greater Light within. This is also the time of relying on my Shadow self to provide the necessary absence of light to guide me through those darkened paths in a constructive and informed way.

In all spiritual practice, the thought of the physical being holding the Inner Flame of Spirit or The Divine Spark of Light is offered up as a basic concept. The language may differ. The way in which this Inner Light presents itself and interacts with conscious awareness may have different ideology. And, the tools and methods used to quicken its energy may be worlds apart in intent and function, but the premise remains the same. In the space of our dark nature lay a light that is luminescent and brilliant that may be called upon to enliven and transform our spiritual and mundane pursuits. If we take it a step further, this transformation is the direct result of collaboration and embracing the dark and the light natures of our consciousness and using each as support and spiritual catalyst of the other.

This dark nature that I am referring to also has many names, functions and philosophies attached to it. I will simply call it the Shadow (Self) . There is an inherent polarity in all things and this Shadow is that polarized image of our Light nature. I am intentionally not using words that are negative in connotation for the Shadow, because it is not anymore a negative aspect of our being than the Light filled self is. Both are states of being that are subject to all the permutations and scales of intensity and impact that any other state of being is. In reality, if we did not have the antithesis or opposite of something, how could we ever enjoy and fully embrace the thing that is being opposed? So, how can this Shadow state be used during the waxing of the Light and engaged to work co-creatively upon those parts of myself I Will to quicken and prime in alignment with the increasing state of light?

The time of the Solstices allows for a deeper awareness and exploration of what impact we have in this world and how we may use the information we learn about ourselves to move in appropriate and fulfilling ways. It is the time of disequilibrium to bring about the eventual balance that is actualized at the Equinoxes. Neither of these energies are about everything being measured and being exactly the same amount of something on each pan of the scale. Rather, they are the states of balance that are dynamic in nature, moving and flowing one to the other and arriving at an informed state of equilibrium at some point of the process. It is again about the process of polarities and the allowance of a void or lesser amount of one thing, so that it may be filled and quickened by its opposite. There is also the component of sacrifice within these thoughts in that we must willingly acknowledge that something must be given up to make room for that which would be drawn in.

This is the battle of the Holly and the Oak Kings, as each gives way to the other and also resists the relinquishing to the other of its power. One holds the promise of the growing Light and the other the refuge of the increasing Darkness. And, although they are one in the same, in order that the cycles may continue and a newly formed energy can be birthed into being, one must relinquish a parcel of its power to be subsumed into the other; temporary imbalance as brothers become enemies and in the final act, become allies in the process of transformation. The Light of the Oak King birthed from the darkening and lessening of the Holly King.

We call forth to the return of the Light-filled Oak King and celebrate the waxing of the Light half of the year. But, in order for that light to shine in its fullest way, we must also embrace and celebrate the remaining vestiges of the darkness of the Holly King. The darkness of the months that persist of winter’s cold. The darkness that becomes the expanding shadow as the sun shines increasingly longer and brighter around us. And, the darkness that we can retreat into to find those hidden sparks that yearn to be nurtured and brought to the full light of day.

As the weather remains or becomes even colder, the natural inclination is to seek out the warmth and coziness of home. And, so I retreat into the welcoming warmth of my home and settle in ready to study, meditate and reveal more of myself to myself. I embrace the early evening darkness as a cloak that I step into so I can more fully appreciate the sun’s light of day. I move within both physically, settling into home and family and spiritually as I dig deeper into the recesses of my own nature. I seek out and call to the inner spark within and stand ready to embrace also the Shadow of my nature as it rises to the surface, revealed by that light.

In meditation, I allow my breath to slow and deepen into the darkness and move along the paths of my own creation that I have tended to in the previous months in preparation for this time of going within. These paths are often mired with the thorns and treacherous roots of inertness, illusory thoughts and judgments that I have used as the trappings of who I am in the world. My Shadow has nurtured each and knows the weakness and strength of each because in this space of darkness what is revealed is often seen more clearly in its true form than in the blinding light.
When I finally relax and surrender into the wisdom of my Shadow the first striking of the match of greater light is drawn across the rough surface of my resistance, and the resistance is transformed into the tiny sparks that ignite the part of myself that is receptive and waiting.

In accord with the energy of Yule, I allow the weakening resistance of my Holly King to be replaced with a renewed sense of purpose and the strength of my Oak King. My Shadow self is resistant to being brought forward, knowing that bits of it will be released in sacrifice and other parts will be transformed so that its darker nature can work co-creatively with the strength of my light self. I call to the Oak King that he may bless and enliven both aspects of myself as we move forward into the new year in anticipation of what can be seeded at the Spring Equinox; and accepting the knowledge that his wisdom will be transformed as the Shadow begins to strengthen its work at the Summer Solstice and the rising once again of the Holly King.

At those points when the darkness seems pervasive and overwhelming and the light is barely visible I am reminded that without the necessary shade to prevent the seedling from drying and withering from an overabundance of the light’s unfiltered rays, the beauty of new growth and radiant and healthy flower will not come to fruition.

May the blessings of the growing Light and the wisdom of the Dark create the quickened space for a prosperous, enlightened and informed Yule.


About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):


The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars



The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon



The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon



A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord


Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions


The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings


The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF


The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World


Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion


A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year


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


Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

The Bad Witch’s Guide

November, 2018


The Bad Witch’s Guide to Shadow Work


(Photo by Christian Holzinger on Unsplash)


For about the last two months I have spent a lot of time going within and working on my spirit. Some of it has been a choice, some has been circumstances. My health (physically) has been very poor since about July and while I am no longer bleeding nearly to death regularly I felt I needed to find my strength in body and spirit.

I have done a lot of yoga. A lot of meditation, usually every day, sometimes twice a day, and while drawing in the light around me my shadow would not be still. Darkness has a bad rap. It is often mistaken as evil. Rejected and defiled. Repressed and denied, this is the animal within. Animals are not generally evil. Neither is the shadow.

When I started looking at this place, the in-conscious (unconscious doesn’t give it enough credit), in my early 20’s I found it as the wolf. The singer of bones. The true wild. It is that gut animal instinct and for most of us it dwells within our shadow. If I gave it space and respect it spoke to me. It was wise and knowing with strong instincts that are annoying never wrong no matter how much I try and think around them! It kept me alive. Yet this was not some soft puppy. It was the desire to bite which hurt me. Run from the unknown and dig into things I didn’t want to know.

It was never about trying to control the wolf. The wolf is wild and that is how it should be. It was about listening to it, bringing it forward in my mind and analysing why I was feeling this way. The wolf brought me gifts I didn’t understand. Usually dead things from my past. A memory, good or bad. A feeling, usually something sad because I bury the shit out of those!

In slowly accepting my wild-self, that part of the shadow self, I began to go deeper still. Yet I was afraid. I was right to be. For deep in my darkness was a dragon. A dragon made of fire and destruction. A dragon that I could really feel writhe within my gut when riled. This is not a metaphor when that part of me was “woken” my guts would squirm as though something wriggling around in there. A dragon that terrified me. It was scary this beast ripping out of my being and me losing control. Uncontrolled violence and wrath. I locked it down, I repressed it hard. I refused to listen, I even hated it.

It took years of journey work. Years of looking trying to understand. I remember exactly when I met the dragon. I only went to a Dark Moon circle once and as I journeyed I joined a group of female dancers dressed all in red, whom danced covered in sharp blades and barbs. I joined the dance with them and I was cut a few times, we all were. Afterwards in a tent of red drape we compared scars as dancers do, laughing and smiling. Still I was to go deeper. Down, down. Deeper into the caves. At first the caves were cold and water dripped everywhere. Then they became warmer and dryer. There was no light. None at all. Yet I knew the way and there in the dark was a huge faintly glowing red dragon. It was asleep coiled up. Just breathing. It was beautiful. Like copper. I reached out my hand and it was warm and smooth. An eye fluttered open. The voice was like thunder, the deepest sound but gentle. This was new to me.

I asked “what are you?”

I am your pain.”

I began to weep. My fear melted and I realised this beast, this part of myself, had been consuming my pain all my life. That there had been so much especially as a child I didn’t understand I had created this to deal with all the things I was unequipped to understand. Now I understood. That the dragon was like my wolf. A teacher if I listen. A friend if I needed it.

Working in your shadow is a place within The Dreaming. It is both real and metaphor. You might not have wolves or dragons. You might have lions or “demons”. Yet the demons we make are no less real for us making them. They are often woven from our instincts, good and bad and our worst parts. The parts we reject from our Light.

They are our addictions, our vices. Our rages and pain. Our deep grief and sorrow. Yet if we come to them gently and listen they can bring such healing. That is not to say you allow them to indulge. You listen to when, to why, to the triggers. You understand, maybe even speak about it and let the urge go.

When both my parents died within six months of each other and I was cut out of the family by my sister I was devastated in a way I couldn’t comprehend. Being a witch and bi-sexual is just not okay with her. I remember sitting at the dinner table with the real and distinct urge to burn a path of destruction between myself and my sister. Not a metaphorical one. I mean kill and burn everything and everyone I met until I reached her and let fire take her too. It was odd and specific and I simply spoke about it and ate my dinner. A few month later I discovered it was a common tactic by a long dead ancestor (Grace O’Malley) to destroy traitors that way. I gave voice to my shadow, my pain but I did not give into it.

As Samhain comes and then the deeper dark of the year it is an excellent time to look within at the things moving around in our shadows. It is a daunting task, and one often sorely neglected by many magickal practitioners.


Simple Shadow Ritual

You will need:

A mirror

Patchouli oil

Candles/soft lighting

Bay laurel leaves

Yarrow (dried)

Frankincense resin

Heat proof container and charcoal to safely burn your herbs.

Notebook or journal.

Soft blankets (get comfy this might take a while).


Prepare your space as you would usually. Anoint your forehead and heart with the patchouli oil.

I humbly come to my Shadow’s Gate.

I come to learn not to hate.

I come to see, I come to hear.

Open the Gate as I draw near.

Touch the edge of the mirror with your dominant finger used to anoint yourself in a deosil direction. Keep the light to a minimum but use enough to be safe. Light your charcoal in your cauldron or censor. First adding the yarrow, then the bay, then the frankincense.

Cleanse your body in the smoke and prepare yourself to sit and stare with the mirror. Visualise your “gate” and begin to unlock it. This might take some time. There may be stairs or even just darkness. You may have to “jump”. Your darkness will not be the same as anyone else’s. When you are ready focus on your own face in the mirror. Say:

I see you. I am listening.

You may or may not “see” anything. You might. We spend a lot of time locking this energy away, it may take a long time to open it again. Write what you see in you notebook.

Re-anointing the mirror in a widdershins direction and drawing a banishing pentagram on the glass should you feel the need.

Humbly I came to my Shadow’s Gate.

I came to learn not to hate.

I came to see, I came to hear.

The Gate is Closed I leave you here.

Dissolve your sacred space as you would usually. If you wanted to evoke particular Deities during your opening rites please make sure to thank them appropriately afterwards.

Change as a Natural Part of Life

February, 2018

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

-George Bernard Shaw


In his CBC interview, historian Chris Kutarna argues that we are currently in the middle of a renaissance and a natural part of this is an element of disruption. Many of us live with a belief that things should stay the same. We stay locked into the nostalgic memories of times when we felt we understood life and how it works. The only truth I know is that life is always changing; it must adapt to grow. Because we are a part of nature, this is true for humans too. In the natural world, though seasons follow roughly the same pattern year after year, there are constant evolutionary changes happening at the DNA level to ensure that we can survive and thrive through the ages.

This past year, we’ve seen really massive shifts in the collective conscious of humans. The “Me Too” movement saw countless women and men coming forward with stories of sexual abuse, demanding an end to this type of violence in the world, for example. We saw things some of us never thought we’d see as a response to a shift in the world political climate this year. Some of these things brought out the shadowy part of the collective unconscious. While some people dismayed, I saw it as an opportunity to heal these shadow aspects of our species. After all, it is hard to heal something that hasn’t even been acknowledged. Bringing the shadow into plain view, though sometimes harrowing, can be a huge gift. Gael Carter and Marilyn Keffer speak about this in their guide to ceremony “Shamanic Ceremonies for a Changing World:”

“Some people like to focus only on their light aspects. Others pay more attention to the dark or ‘shadow’ aspects of self – those things that they have not yet healed. But the key for your self-growth and transformation is to attend to both your light and your shadow in a balanced way and to reconcile your shadow side, knowing that self-importance and self-pity are your greatest enemies and they can be vanquished.”



The psychologist Carl Jung popularized the idea of the shadow, the unconscious part of our psyches that we disown for various reasons. Sometimes this is because we don’t like those aspects of ourselves or then those qualities of ourselves are not validated in the culture we grow up in. If we don’t dig up those unconscious pieces, they often wreak havoc on our lives. If we don’t want them running the show, we have to go in and look at the lightest of our light (which many people also disown) and the darkest of our dark with compassion and ruthlessness at the same time–kindness for our humanity and decisiveness when it comes to changing our harmful patterns of behaviour, thoughts, and actions. Luckily, shamanic practice offers us tools in the way of drum journeys, working with totem animals, and ceremony to help us find those patterns and transform them.

In her landmark book, “Natural Born Shamans,” Imelda Almqvist speaks about the role that consciousness plays in healing wounding from the past: “I…teach the children ways of doing shadow work and how doing this heals all of our human relationships. This way, we learn that every story is ultimately one perspective, one point of view. At any given time we are free to choose another point of view. Choosing a different point of view will create a different story. Every story…can shape-shift…from a wounded or distorted perception to a healthier [one].” Many people see this as a type of revisionist practice where we change our histories at whim. However, what is to say that the way we interpreted these experiences in our past is the correct or best way? In every experience, we can choose to pull the power and victory we had from it. This does not negate the negatives that happened to us, but it does put us back in the driver’s seat in our lives. Sometimes, we need to stand up for ourselves and bring awareness to wrongs from the past in order to heal.

As a shamanic practitioner, I’ve learned that conflict is a natural part of life. In his book, “Lightningbolt,” Hyemeyhosts Storm speaks of the way the ancient Mayans saw confrontation: as one of the twenty Great Teachers of Life. Confrontation is not equivalent to aggression right out of the gate; it is about meeting an energy to bring a new awareness to a problem or issue. Confrontation has taught me to open up to inner truths and allow other perspectives in too. It’s taught me how to navigate conflict to come to a win-win for both sides. It’s also taught me to stand up for what is just. I’ve also learned that sometimes, win-wins cannot be found. Sometimes, people would rather hold a grudge than find a way to transform a situation. But even in those instances, I can still find a way to win inside of myself. I value that I have the ability to be all in and I have a high level of devotion to people, places, issues, and philosophies that I care about. I don’t give up easily. That, for me, is a win and a part of my light aspect that I honour.

This universal energy of chaos that we are in can be harnessed to promote transformation and change. I’ve had friends and family tell me that I’ve changed with that not-so-positive tone in their voices. I’ve had people admonish me for breaking implicit societal rules to favour my own health and sanity instead. Choices I’ve made to change harmful patterns in my own life inevitably cause ripples in the lives of those around me. Not everyone has been happy about those changes, but the truth is that I would be a shell of a person if I hadn’t been brave enough to make them. I refuse to live like a hostage to other peoples’ judgements of me. I’ve learned that I cannot change other peoples’ perspectives, but I can change my own. I can confront my own shadow continuously and shift the narratives I am telling myself about something.

In this time of sweeping changes, we can each learn to adapt, grow, and shapeshift out of old skin. Trying to control the arch of energy “out there” is futile. Becoming masters of our own inner worlds is the only thing we have full control over. We will make many mistakes along the way and things will most certainly not go the way we’d hoped or planned, but this is not a bad thing. We are all here to learn and grow. In 2018, my wish is that each of us can surrender to co-creating our lives with Spirit’s guidance. May we know ourselves so well that we can transform our shadows on a dime when called to. May we manifest the kind of world that can sustain life for many years to come.


CBC’s The Current: “What the Renaissance Can Teach Us About Our Disruptive Age”


About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to:


August, 2011

Shadow Ritual

What is your shadow? To answer this question we simply need to look within nature. Where there is good there is bad. Where there is light there is darkness. Where there is nurturing and growth there is cruelty and destruction. Your shadow is the embodiment of your negative energy. It is the whisper in your mind that says “Take it, no one is watching.” It is the voice that tells you you’re not good enough, it is your insecurities, your darkest secrets, every time you did the right thing but wondered just what it would feel like if you hadn’t. This is your shadow. And for this reason it’s dire to be in balance with your shadow as all of nature is symmetry, your own energy must reflect this same energy in order to find true peace, and balance.


After Litha the year begins to wane, and the nights grow shorter. It’s integral for the spirit to maintain balance. This calls you to look within and face your darker self, your shadow. To locate what part of your self is holding you back from your true potential and excel past it; to look your biggest fear for yourself in the eye and be at peace with it.

Colors: White, black, gray.

Herbs: Sage for cleansing, Myrrh for inner peace. (Myrrh also increases the power of any herbs its burned in conjunction with.)


8 White tea lights (four will represent your quarter points North, South, East, and West, and the other four will be for the intermediary points), a mirror or reflective object (black scrying mirror, regular hand mirror, a bowl of water) 2 white taper candles. Charcoal disks, and a burning plate.

*It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, with this seemingly simple ritual you’ll be doing just that, seeing into the eyes of your shadow. Don’t be afraid of what you see there, if you feel like crying; cry, laughing; laugh, Whatever your emotion release it naturally, do NOT hold anything inside, or be ashamed of what you see in any way. This ritual is intended to make you at peace with your shadow, it’s time to let go, and embrace all of who you are.*


Set up the altar to face the north, as this is the direction of silence, darkness, and reflection. Your altar should consist of an altar cloth in a neutral color preferably white, your reflective object in between your two white taper candles. Cast your circle as preferred and invoke the elements if desired. (I recommend doing this as working with your Shadow creates psychic vulnerability, and I always find the extra protection comforting when I’m doing a working.) Once your circle has been cast, and the elements have been invoked, lay your scrying apparatus (mirror, etc) face up on your altar. If you are using incense now would be the time to light it. I really recommend if possible burning on a charcoal disk, and wafting the smoke in your circle; as well as over your mirror. After you have cleansed the area It’s time to begin focusing on your intention: to connect/understand your shadow.

Close your eyes. While working your hands over your mirror say:

“A spirit as black as the night skies.

I see into the depths of your eyes.

From the deepest chasm of my soul.

I bring your fourth to make me whole.

So mote it be.”

You can repeat this chant as much as you like as you visualize your physical device becoming a spiritual window.

This ritual works best for me when I see my shadow as a replica of myself. After you’ve charged your mirror so close your eyes, while holding your mirror in your hands imagine a wall, a veil being shown to you. As the window gets thinner you see your shadow on the other side, as you move it moves, as you breath it breathes. The veil becomes thin enough to talk through. State your name to your shadow, and your purpose. After you have stated your purpose open your eyes, and begin to communicate with your shadow, as you stare into its eyes know that it’s only a piece of what makes up you. Ask your shadow a question. Understand why your darker self thinks the way it does. Talk about your insecurities, talk about your deepest secrets. But always remember no matter what happens let your emotions run freely. If you feel like crying cry, whatever it is that you’ve been holding inside release it, acknowledge that no one is perfect and we all have shadows. It’s time to be at peace with yours.

When you are done communicating and wish to return your shadow back into your spirit. Close your eyes and see the veil growing thicker. The portal you’ve created now closing. Say to your shadow:

“I release you back through time and space.

Back into the depths of my gaze.

Within my spirit you shall reside,

With peace in my heart you won’t hide.

As it is willed so shall it be.”

With your shadow released you can now ground and center. I suggest eating something natural and small, bread and juice works wonder after ritual! Thank the elements and close your circle.

Closing Thoughts: Though this ritual may seem very easy, you may be surprised as to what you find out about yourself. So much of our life we spend half awake never fully aware of who we truly are. It’s time to shed off the darkness, the unknown, and face even the unthinkable pieces of yourself to truly find peace, within your spirit.

Blessed Be.