Shadows in the Dark

A contradictory title? If, like me, you’re currently ‘exploring’ the Underworld it may make more sense. My journey into the Underworld began in February, on the day my brother flew back to America. It was like some energy that had been stirred within when he arrived was suddenly unleashed by his departure. You see, in our family my brother is the trailblazer, the independent spirit who tries to shake us up and convince us to leave our safe cocoons. The Gods seem to be in agreement.

During this Underworld journey I have been in the dark about so many things. One after another old constructs, things and people I once held dear, and my safety net have been ripped away. While painful and sometimes terrifying in the empty potential they leave behind it has been my Shadow Self that has repeatedly reared its head.

Just when I feel I can catch my breath yet another dark, unlovable part of my Self arises, hungry for attention. Because I’ve pushed them down for so long, ignored or denied them, they have chosen very visible ways to make themselves known to me – most notably in communication with others.

While I like to believe I’m a good, honourable, ‘light’ individual I have had to face up to the fact that I can also – on occasion – be a darker, selfish, judgemental person. Not often, but boy have those Selves made themselves known in the last few weeks.

Yes, my Shadow Selves are having a field day,  rearing their heads like those whack-a-mole games you see at fairs or the pier.

I feel utterly annihilated. This goes beyond any inner work that has come up before. It’s been combined with grief over lost health and the life I wanted when I was 17 and got ill, grief for loved ones and my beloved cat, loss of trust and respect in a friendship that has now ended, failures in checking my ‘channel’ to Them causing major upheaval and damage in my devotional life, and a sense that nothing will ever be the same. It’s also combined with the upheaval of my Saturn return, where everything that no longer serves or holds me back is ripped away and I have to start living as a ‘proper grownup’. My old life – and that’s what it feels like – is gone.

Like Theseus in the dark of the labyrinth I am hanging on to Ariadne’s tenuous thread. The more I seek answers and struggle the further I sink. I have realised I need to stop looking for answers and explanations, and that I just need to let the process happen. It isn’t easy, and with fresh Shadow work coming up its hard not to just give in completely. 

One thing that is helping is Shadow integration work. I didn’t know until around a week ago how to work with the Shadows to help integrate them. I found this article and blog very useful as a starting point, and thanks to the suggestions of another blogger I am working my way through a couple of books for further help. This post came at just the right time, when I was feeling really lost. And this well-timed daily card reading popped up in my news feed an hour before I finished writing this post.

The good news is that I know – to some extent – I’m starting to make progress. There are better days, there are days when I can feel happy again. There are moments where I can feel that loving connection to my Beloved Deities slowly returning. There are moments of inspiration and enjoyment coming back. I’ve also been having dreams every so often where I’m rescuing or bringing home a cat, or cats. I worked out that these are parts of my Self coming back. So I know there’s progress, even if it feels so fleeting and can be hard to remember when I’m knocked flat by all of the emotional and soul-searching work I’m having to get through.
For anyone going through this here are a few things I have personally found helpful:

  • Try to accept these Shadows as a  part of who you can be, even if it’s only a very small part, and they’re not all of who you are.
  • Try to hold yourself in a place of compassion for the decisions you have made that led you to this point.
  • Take personal responsibility for your actions during this phase, but don’t use it as a stick to beat yourself with.
  • Try not to constantly struggle to find answers. Surrender to the process and let the answers come to you in time.
  • Keep a journal to write down your thoughts, fears and revelations. The Underworld journey can be a very personal one and it may not be right to share all of it.
  • Ask for support when you need it but don’t let others take over. This is your healing process.
  • Talk to your Deities, even if the ‘channel’ goes quiet or you can’t trust it. Pour your heart out to Them.
  • Engage in activities that nourish you, and make sure you take care of yourself. Be gentle with yourself!
  • Do things that make you feel good; just don’t fall back into old coping habits that might slow down the healing process.
  • Engage in a relaxation therapy or techniques – massage, yoga, tai chi, meditation or breathing exercises.
  • Cut out activities, TV programs and reading that drains you and makes you feel stressed.
  • Don’t make rash decisions – wait before making that phone call or making an important purchase, save that email as a draft instead of sending it straight away, and try not to react instantly to other peoples’ words.

Most of all recognise that no one is perfect, and that while those dark parts of you are within you they are not all of who you are. You have the choice to find a more positive way to ‘own’ and integrate these parts of your Self. You have the choice to decide who you want to be going forward.

Devotional tips for those with chronic illnesses and limited energy

For those of us with limited energy reserves or physical capabilities it can sometimes be difficult to do devotions. So I thought I’d share a few things that have helped in my own practice.

  • Have some sort of visible ritual calendar so you don’t forget important dates. If your calendar has large enough daily sections write the dates on in a different colour to normal entries. A wipe-board is also useful for this purpose, especially if you want to write notes of supplies or ideas for rituals and prayers. If you have to be in bed a lot have this where you can see it clearly.p1050753
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do the devotions! Just talk to Them, apologise for not being able to do the devotions, but tell Them that you still honour and love Them.
  • Say good morning and goodnight to Them. It’s a simple greeting but brings Them into your daily life even if you’re not able to do devotions.
  • Usually cleansing of some sort is appropriate when entering the sacred space of the shrine or devotional area. If you don’t have the energy to wash, or the focus to mentally cleanse, make up an aura spray for that purpose. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just water and some salt in a spray bottle is a good start. You can add more ingredients if you wish to. Use before devotions or when you want to talk to Them about anything specific or important.
  • If you can manage nothing else try to put a glass of water out for Them. It is a basic offering but shows you’re committed and making an effort.

p1050782
Continue reading

Nature’s bounty: dried berries experiment

Our garden is filled with so many beautiful plants and trees, but my heart was captured this Autumn by our Hawthorns. They live at the very top, acting as a boundary between us and the field behind.
In folklore lone Hawthorns are said to be connected to Fairies. They have white flowers and red berries, and anything red and white was often linked to the Fair Folk. Animals like cattle and hounds with red and white markings were associated with them. Hawthorns were often used as field boundaries, like ours, and so can have a protective element. Because of the white summer blossom they are also referred to as Whitethorns. Ours do have thorns but not many. Perhaps they’re friendlier and don’t feel threatened.

hawthorn_03 Continue reading

Valentine’s Day Food For Norse Deities

In my previous post I listed a few ideas of how to connect with the Deities on Valentine’s Day. One of these was through the medium of food, so here are a few suggestions of my own. Some may seem fairly obvious, but others are a play on attributes, words, or just a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun. I wanted them to be items you could just quickly nip to the shops and find, although obviously this depends on your location, your local shops and country.
Don’t take them too seriously, and I apologise especially to Tyr, and any of his followers for the crisps recommendation – I just couldn’t resist. Hopefully He and you will forgive me!

Continue reading

Freyr and the Boar

While watching Countryfile in December 2015 I was fascinated by a report on boars in the Forest of Dean. Years ago some escaped from enclosures and have now colonised the woods. There is some debate about whether wild boars should be reintroduced to certain areas of Britain.
It made me think of Freyr’s boar Gullinbursti. Boars are tenacious creatures, hardy and good at foraging for food; quite a fitting companion for a God whose grain and bounty has to keep people going during the lean Winter months.
If you are devoted to Freyr, or wish to work closely with him, perhaps looking into conservation or reintroduction of the wild boar will be appreciated.

Countryfile episode: The Peaks – December 13th 2015

Samhain: Darkness, Light and Remembrance

This morning I dreamed I caused a solar eclipse purely by willing it. It seems an appropriate symbol for Samhain – the nights are growing darker quicker, and daylight hours are becoming shorter and ever more precious.
In Norse mythology the wolves Hati and Skol consumed the sun and moon, leaving the worlds in darkness. There are times when we all stumble in the dark, times when we feel our light ahead is blocked off by some unknown force; nothing seems to go to plan.         Continue reading