Shadow Work, or Making Bright
People talk about shadow work rather frequently out there in pagan space, and there are quite a few attendant posts about how the gods and goddesses can be harsh, unforgiving, and cruel. But one thing that struck me as I was reading through all of this information is a person who said that shadow work isn’t always about darkness or our baser nature. For some of us it’s about accepting that we’re actually better than we imagine, worthy of love.
I wondered why, when so many people were writing about the gods lying to them and abusing them, that all I could feel was joy and love. Was I fooling myself? Maybe it was all wish fulfillment and the Name was just a construct of my imagination instead. Things didn’t seem hard enough, with those blog entries in mind. Of course then I thought about what it was like before I was medicated, and how tough love have never worked on me, and I began to wonder if we attract the Names who can offer us what we need most.
Some people need an ass kicking, but I need unconditional love so I can strive for more. I’m already invested in striving, but I won’t do it if I feel resentment. I’ve also suffered from disability, mental, physical, visible, and invisible, since I was a small child. That made the world seem washed out, unreal, cast in dull greys. For a long time I lived behind a pane of thick glass, unable to reach anyone else. Sometimes, I wasn’t even sure if the people I saw were real. My mind was stuffed full of negativity, persecution, paranoia, to the point where I felt like I would drown. I thought for a long time that I would never see thirty. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of amazing privileges too. But I have known abuse of all kinds. I’ve lost friends to drugs. I watched my closest friend die slowly, and another friend die suddenly. I’ve lived in poverty for my whole adult life.
I don’t tell you this because I’m hoping for pity or because i assume people who need to do more traditional shadow work haven’t experienced enough hardship, but because I want to illustrate how dark my life has already been. In fact, I think its been one long drawn out shadow session. This was what drew me to certain shamanic ideas, because I resonated so much with the deaths required in some traditions. I internalized so much bullshit through the years that now my actual ‘shadow’ work is more like making bright than it is enduring another death. Where was the light, the joy, the beauty? The ability to even appreciate those things, which I honestly did not fully possess before I was properly medicated? It took me twenty nine years to get to a place where my mind was quiet, empty, where there was space for Netjer, for the Tuatha.
I heard the Morrigan before, but that’s no surprise. She comes to those who are haunted. But my quiet beautiful Name couldn’t speak to me until I finally figured out whose icon I was carrying around. (I thought it was Isis. Nope! Also it’s not the most accurate statue, not in the least because there’s nothing on Her head) Now that She is here, all I feel is acceptance. That’s what I need, the same way people undergoing certain therapy need a perfectly accepting environment. That doesn’t mean I don’t have more hardships to endure, and it doesn’t mean I allow myself to commit offenses against Her. It just means I need a specific kind of support so I can do the shadow work, when it comes next, myself.
I’ve even considered petitioning Hathor (here’s some UPG for you: Some Names seem to want their traditional names, and some want their Greek names. Which is really confusing when the deities are related but want names from two different periods) for Her attention in light of this revelation. Even the Morrigan is showing me a different side of Her personality, so She reminds me of a rough around the edges favorite aunt instead of coming to me as an avatar of decay. Of course doubters might say I’m just influencing the constructs I’ve made for myself. I thought that too at one point because I was delusional before this. I worried that about gender identity as well, if I’d created that somehow. But now that I am actually being treated and medicated for delusional thinking among other things, the deities and the identity remain. The gods are real and I am Their devotee, and I’m starting to feel like I deserve Their regard.