Each of us has a shadow self, a part of us that we suppress and hide away from our conscious living. The shadow self is separate from our unconscious, but is a part of it.
We often behave and act in certain ways without realising what we’re doing or even saying, as our unconscious minds dictate most of our behaviour.
But, what is the shadow self and why do we need to work on it?
Psychiatrist Dr. Carl Jung described the shadow self as the “darker side of the personality,” containing all the negative human emotions such as rage, anger, jealousy, hate, greed, selfishness and desire for power.
Everyone has these traits within them, even the person who seems saintly and would never say a mean word to anyone. Yeah, even they have a shadow self too – but they probably work hard on it in their own way.
We all experience times when our shadow self emerges and comes to the surface. Times when we let our anger and emotions slip, we “fly off the handle” and show our darker side.
We’re told to suppress it, to ignore it, that’s it’s not nice or desirable.
Yet, we’re not told HOW to deal with it.
Mainstream religion uses prayer and faith in the Divine (God) to remove these “sinful” behaviour from us and to act more divinely.
This seems more like a form of abstinence and “hopeful wishing” which in turn seems to suppress the emotions and not work through them.
The Dark Goddess, Women & the Shadow Self
The Dark Goddess has been personified as the shadow self for millennia, as something that mankind should turn away from and suppress.
Her wild nature and darker side have been turned into something fearful, scary and evil (in the eyes of the mainstream faiths).
The aspects of the shadow self have been projected onto the dark goddess, and in turn, upon women as well as the personification.
Ancient goddesses such as Lilith portray what has been projected as the shadow self, which when expressed, has been cast away, shunned and expelled instead of recognized, acknowledged and healed.
Everyone has a shadow self and the personification of that shadow self can be seen as the Dark Goddess.
The mythologies of dark goddesses can relate to what we experience in our current and past lives.
Women may have a particular affinity and understanding, a connection to the Dark Goddess and the struggles that she has faced; the persecution, the denial, the suppression and feeling disregarded.
The Dark Goddess is often feared for its unknown exactly what she is capable of, only except that her wrath is unmistakable and we equate it to opening Pandora’s box.
Yet, our shadow self remains and we struggle to deal with it – but more often, we work to suppress it and ignore it.
If we choose to do shadow work, we can use the help of the Dark Goddess to help light the way such as with the torches of Hekate who helped Demeter find her daughter Persephone in the underworld.
As much as shadow work shouldn’t be taken lightly, neither should working with a dark goddess for any work (including shadow work).
Get to Know the Dark Goddess
If you choose to work with a dark goddess, like any other deity, take time to get to know the goddess before proceeding to do any work with them.
Research their legends and mythologies, their lineage, their pantheon, their culture and perhaps even explore a bit of the language from where they are from.
(But, don’t worry, you don’t have to become fluent or even know a lot, just maybe enough to recognize the language or know what it is.)
Next, spend time in meditation and prayer with the goddess and make daily offerings.
Find what offerings are usually made to that goddess or follow your intuition or psychic impressions about what the goddess you’re working with would prefer.
Create an altar or sacred space for your goddess with candles, crystals, images of the goddess, and anything that is sacred to her.
Spend time as often as you can to give attention and focus to the goddess.
Meditate with the goddess, speak to her and listen for any insight, wisdom or advice. The more you do so, you’ll develop a connection with her and see her influence more in your life.
After you feel comfortable enough and feel that you have an established relationship, you can begin working with the goddess (this goes for any deity and for any type of working.)
This can take a few weeks or even a few months until you feel ready. Remember, try not to rush the process.
The Dark Goddess & Shadow Work
Working with a dark goddess for shadow work can be helpful to allow you to go deeper into your psyche.
If you use tarot or another divination tool, you can combine it with your session with the dark goddess that you’re working with for the shadow work.
Ask your goddess and your cards or divination tool about what you should work on currently for shadow work.
If you don’t have divination methods, spend time in meditation or use automatic writing to find your answer.
After you have an answer, prepare to dig deeper.
You can use cards, divination tools, meditation to ask more questions, even if it’s just asking “why” to the answer you first received.
Have a journal for only shadow work which you can write a prayer or invocation to your goddess on the first page. This prayer or invocation can be used to begin each of your sessions.
Try to record as much as you can from each of your sessions. If you use tarot or oracle spreads, write them down in your journal to keep track of the prompts and answers.
If you spend time in meditation, try to write or record your session for any insight that may be received that you can review later.
When working a goddess during any working, such as shadow work or magickal workings, be sure to thank your goddess afterwards. Leave an offering if possible.
If you’d like to go deeper in your shadow work, there are a variety of resources if searched online for journal and tarot reading prompts to enhance your shadow work.
Shadow Work & Mental Health
Working with the Dark Goddess can be difficult for some people who have a history of mental health issues, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD or any physical or emotional trauma.
However, the Dark Goddess can be healing at the same time.
Yet, often this healing can come at a cost – like the saying, “it gets worse before it gets better.”
Shadow work can also be triggering for people who have mental health concerns as digging deeper into the unconscious and psyche can bring up painful memories and emotions.
Personally, the Dark Goddess represents healing when it comes to understanding my own mental health concerns.
For many, she can be reassuring that you’re not alone during the darkest times of your life (especially during times when you feel no one understands what you’re going through.)
However, when doing deep work with the Dark Goddess, shadow work should be done with care and caution.
Knowing your limits is important. You always have a say in what you want to uncover and what you want to leave alone.
Sometimes our minds will block us from uncovering something and sometimes our minds will block out a memory to save us the pain and agony.
Shadow work can also be about “making peace with our inner demons” so that they don’t overrule and control us.
Sometimes we have to bring healing to issues that never got resolved and therefore bring up anger, hatred and bitterness.
If you have mental health concerns or a history, take time to understand your own mental health.
Know your limits, what you’re OK with and not OK with, and set boundaries with yourself and the Goddess, on what you want to work on or don’t want to work on.
If there’s something you really can’t deal with and aren’t ready, set that intention. You have the right to do so.
The Dark Goddess & You
Working with the Dark Goddess is something that takes time to develop and understand, but the more you work with the Dark Goddess, you’ll begin to understand yourself better.
Shadow Work does that as well, so that you can understand why you act a certain way, say and do what you do. Can’t stand a certain behaviour in someone else? It may say more about you than them.
If you choose to work with the Dark Goddess in magickal practices and/or shadow work, and if you haven’t done so previously, take time to slowly enter into the dark, deep depths of these waters.
Dark Goddesses are known for creating chaos, so take caution when asking for their help.
Learn to be specific, but have boundaries and above all (as with any deity), show gratitude and respect to them.
As you do so, they will offer their wisdom and guidance.
Blessings to you on your spiritual journey.