Over the years, these behaviors, thoughts and things are hidden—they are our shadows. But they also what makes us whole.
Carl Jung studied man’s shadow at length. His theory is that when we are not willing to embrace all of our psyche, we will end up splitting parts of ourselves off. These parts, if left unacknowledged in the unconscious, will manifest internally as harmful inner voices (the Inner Critic), or externally as projections, blaming the inner nastiness we avoid onto other individuals or groups of people. Because, you know, as long as we are blaming others, we aren’t taking responsibility for our own shadows.
Something else that most of us have tucked away in our shadow is our feelings about death, dying, and our own mortality. Whether we want to or not, there’s a deep need for us as humans to recognize the spiral of life, death, and rebirth.
So while the veil is thin and ghosts abound, I invite you to embrace your shadow. Attend to the part of you that never gets a look in. Do it safely, and creatively, do it with consciousness, without harming yourself or anyone else.
This spell puts a twist on “traditional” pumpkin carving by creating the face of your shadow self.
Perform the work on Halloween evening.
For this part of the spellwork, you will need a hollowed-out pumpkin (or an artificial one with the top cut off), carving tools, and a pen or sharpie marker.
Find a comfortable place to sit alone for a while. Turn off your phone, kiss your loved ones goodbye for a bit, and close the door.
Sit down and feel the ground beneath you, feel some deep breaths in your belly, and have a little check-in. How are you?
Run your mind back through the last week or two. Were there any points during that time when your shadow/inner critic made an appearance? Choose a moment.
Take yourself back to the memory and replay it. Where were you? Who was there? What was said? How were you feeling? Frightened? Angry? Passive-aggressive? Filled with hate, jealousy, sadness. You get the idea.
What were your shadow’s words in this moment? Replay the scenario and listen to your shadow as if it was a voice of another being, speaking about you (i.e. “You are…” “You’re not…” “You always…” “You should…” “You can’t…”). Choose a few shadow critic phrases and repeat them over and over in your shadow’s voice.
As you listen, notice which part of your body feels activated, this is where your shadow lives. Breathe into that part of you, keep repeating their phrases.
Now imagine your shadow as a creature that lives inside of you (not a person).
What’s it like? Does it have feathers, scales, claws, legs? How many legs? Wings? What’s its face like? What are its eyes like? How about its mouth? What size is it, and how is it sitting/standing? Look around. What is its home like? How does it move? Does it scuttle, slither, slide, fly? When it reaches its full height how big is it?
Releasing Your Shadow
For this part of the spellwork, you need:
1 white candle
Scented anointing oil (clove, cinnamon, any scent of your choice) mixed with olive oil.
Protection incense (sage, copal, sandalwood, sweet grass, cinnamon, evergreen)
Anoint your candle with the scented oil, then roll it the incense.
Light the candle in your pumpkin to signify the light inside that will guide you through the darkness, and that despite any darkness, you are pure light in your heart.
Release your shadow critic into the pumpkin. You can’t kill it (it’ll just come back in another form!).
Come back to the ground beneath you, come back to the breath in your body, back to the room you are in. Take a look around at the familiar surroundings, touch something soft, something warm, to bring you back to here and now.
Keep coming back to it, noticing your feelings each time. You may want to journal your changing thoughts and feelings. Your curiosity is a vehicle for change.
After 24 hours, you can make the choice to keep displaying your shadow or set it free, making sure you leave it in the light. Some people leave their shadow in Nature (tree, stream, a park). Some took theirs home and put them in their gardens, so they could watch them gradually de-compose. Follow your instinct, do what feels right. Be sure to dispose of your pumpkin and candle also, in case it contains remnants of your shadow.
Until next week, Blessed Be. And have fun decorating!