Surviving Shadow Work Lesson Two: Focusing, Finding and Applying the Needed Medicines

Learning and Community

A

lright Miracles, shadow

Today we are going to work in a very particular way with the area of shadow that you identified for yourself after reading yesterday’s lesson.

As I wrote there, the biggest challenge around engaging in shadow work is getting stuck in the psychic underworld, never ascending, never returning to life here and now.

I believe this is such a challenge for the age-old reason that any journey can be perilous – distraction. For when we plumb our depths and experience the underbelly of our thoughts, feelings, actions, and beliefs we often find much more than we bargained for.
We may have started our journey with one area of shadow in mind and find ourselves months or even years later so far off course that we couldn’t tell you what we were trying to do in the first place. In some traditions, this is referred to as being fairy-led and there are many stories that deal with the theme: from the Biblical tale of Lot’s wife to the ancient myth of Orpheus, to the classical work of Dante. In all cases, the protagonists deal with the very real possibility that in their foray into the Underworld (where our shadows reside) we run the risk of getting stuck and never ascending.

Which brings us to the question of how one avoids falling into the trap of distraction and making the actual ascent back into the world here and now. The answer is simple: stay focused, find the needed medicine, and apply it immediately.

Let’s break this down into three steps with the help of a hypothetical story. This is a true story from one of my clients who gave me permission to share, the name has been changed for obvious reasons.

Amy dreams of public speaking. She has had offers to go and speak in front of crowds and lead gatherings because her work is popular and known. But Amy does not like to be in the spotlight AT ALL. Not because she is shy – she isn’t – but because she is very comfortable with people’s eyes on her. Amy came to me to have some divination on this situation and also to do some liminal work around it – she realized that some shadowy reason was at the root of her resistance to being seen and wanted more insight on it.

We worked together and this is what she found:
Amy realized that the shadow she was dealing with concerned her dad. He would come home from work every day tired and angry and looking for someone to take it out on. Since she was very tiny Amy learned to hide, in her bedroom, among her stuffed animals, to avoid his wrath.

This brings us to Step One: Stay Focused.
Amy did not need to do a lot of work to discover the deep cause of her discomfort with the spotlight. A little divination, a little liminal work, and she knew what the situation was. At this point Amy had a choice: she could continue with the shadow work by seeking to understand WHY her father was the way he was OR she could deal with the issue at hand – her discomfort with being seen. You can see how tempting it is to take it further, to get just a little more information, but you can also see how that journey takes us farther away from the goal – which was to support Amy in public speaking and being seen by people. Amy wisely chose to deal with the issue at hand. She knew what her shadow was, now what?

Step Two: Find the Needed Medicine.
Amy had mentioned that she always hid among her stuffed animals. A little more divination and a few questions later, we had determined that one stuffed animal, in particular, a lion, had really made her feel especially safe and secure. This was ONE medicine that resonated with her situation and addressed her shadow with potency. From there it was obvious what needed to happen. We were ready to move to Step Three: Apply It Immediately.

Now we did have a moment where we had to get creative because Amy’s little lion was long gone…and a grown woman probably couldn’t take a stuff lion on stage with her! But, we did discover that there are tiny stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes, many that attach to a key chain. Amy found a lion she loved, I loaded it up magically for her, and she attached it to her key chain. She takes it everywhere with her and guess what? She also does lots of public speaking now. Amy had a successful encounter with one of her shadows because she stayed focused, found the needed medicine, and applied it immediately.

You can do this as well: go back to the shadow you wrote about in the last lesson. Think and feel into it and try to recollect what medicines supported you when it was an active force in your life. There may be several such medicines but most likely, one will stand out. Then ask yourself: how can I apply for this medicine today and immediately?

In our final lesson, we are going to talk about what happens next, after the medicine has been applied.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Creating Ceremony Lesson Two: And Now You Wait…

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles, wait

We are continuing our week-long teaching on Creating Ceremony. Now we turn to Lesson Two – let’s do this!

Have you ever had the experience of creating a ceremony, casting a spell or laying down an enchantment only to discover that despite your best efforts, attention to detail, and hardcore organization the work falls flat on its face?

Maybe it doesn’t deliver the goal you were hoping for. Maybe it doesn’t result in anything at all. Or maybe it concludes in a tangled web of unintended consequences that have you hiding your head under a pillow.

No doubt you have had this experience. I talk to folks every day who go through this, and I have experienced it myself. It is super common. I call it a ceremony slip. (As if your ceremony slips on a banana peel. Oops!)

Ceremony slip is also easily avoidable because usually, this occurs for one simple reason: we aren’t willing to wait and pay attention.

Here you are. At this point, you have already learned to banish (and maybe had a good cry along the way). You are ready to get started formally on creating a ceremony for a specific need or purpose, a need or desire to change within and without.

Now, most books and teachings will tell you that the next step is to state your purpose, make your prayer, and/or write your petition. Declare your intention!

But, in my experience and in my own learnings that is NOT the next step. That is what results in dead, flat, ceremonies that don’t change a thing.

For truly effective ceremonies that don’t fall flat, the next step is actually to wait and watch.

What I’m talking about here is active waiting, not passive, twiddle-your-thumbs waiting. Through your banishing, you have opened the door and cleared the way. Now you need to take the time to see who and what presents itself to you.

You are looking and listening for communiques from the Otherworld and your Holy Helpers (that’s the name I use to describe spirit allies, guardians, and guides). By looking and listening with care, you are entering into deep communion.

This communion can show up in a huge variety of ways. Some of the experiences reported to me include:

  • Dreams
  • Seemingly random coincidences that are strangely connected
  • Finding specific talismans or omens during my daily business
  • Communications from Ancestors and my beloved Dead
  • Friends reaching out with an essential piece of information
  • Opportunities that just magically show up
  • Direct vision and communication with specific Holy Helpers
  • Employing divination to gain clarity and refinement

Listening, watching and waiting is the part of the creation process that takes the most time. It may take one day or several. The process may take two weeks before you have the information you need to move ahead. Sometimes it takes longer. Some ceremonies are weeks, months, or years in the making.

Because waiting actively is the part of ceremony making that takes the most time, waiting is also the part that people tend to skip over. Traditional societies understood that planning and creating a significant ceremony will take multiple days, weeks, or years. It is a process that cannot be rushed, controlled, or plotted out directly on the calendar.

Those creating and participating in a ceremony understand that after initial banishing work, they need to find a way to enter into communion with the what we call the Otherworld. At that point, we are out of ordinary time and in that space of time-out-of-mind that C.S. Lewis describes so beautifully.

Cinderella’s version of this is waiting for the Fairy Godmother to come. She doesn’t know what is going to happen. She doesn’t know that *anything* will happen. But she has banished, and now she waits. In many versions of the tale she grows closer to the natural world at this time, often the first step in communion with the Otherworld. She does not state her desires until after the Fairy Godmother has arrived.

This is crucial because once you have stated your goal or desire, once you have made your petition, the ceremony is in full swing. Before you have struck any matches, made any songs, or done any magic, the ceremony is hot and going because your request, your desire, your prayer has been made.

The question upon which success now turns is…was it made correctly? Did you ask for what you really want? Did you petition for what you actually need?

When we wait and commune with the Otherworld we find that we often receive critical pieces of information and insights that allow us to refine our desires, goals, and intentions, so that our ceremony really does address what we need it to address. Succeeding in this, we can avoid those awful ceremony slips, and the change we create is actually the change we want.

So go ahead and let yourself wait…Fairy Godmothers show up on their own schedule, but they do show up!

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Full Moon in Libra: Open Horizons

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

I am often asked about power. What is it? Who has it? How can we get it? Why do we give it away? Is it even something that can be given away? Why do people take it? What does right relationship with it look and feel like? And, most poignantly of all, what if I don’t have any?

Power gets a lot of air time. More than one excellent coach or teacher talks about standing in your power, claiming your power, and naming your powers. Superpowers have migrated from the comic book stands and pages of graphic novels into self-development circles, and I even teach a year-long course that looks at how stories and sacred arts put us into touch with our native powers. Power certainly gets around.

And yet, for all of that, it is still a very confusing topic that often feels raw and tender and alien, as if power is a special substance that belongs to someone else but not really to you or to me. There seems to be an epidemic feeling of powerlessness in our personal and collective lives.

For this month’s full moon in Libra, we look at the power of open horizons. For many of us, at some point in life – or even at most points in life – the horizon does not feel open and the way does not feel clear. We each carry a lineage, a lineage heavy with feelings, thoughts and experiences that tell us that the way is closed – that is, that we cannot do it, no matter how hard we try and no matter how good we are, and that it is not going to work out in the end. Or, that even if it does work out in the end, it isn’t really going to make a difference anyway.

 These are not abstract ideas. They are stories about real people and lived experiences handed down parent to child, grandparent to grandchild, aunt to niece and nephew, cousin to cousin, brother to sister. They are the stories, many of them sad, many of them hopeless, many of them fatalistic, that form the warp and weft of our lives. They are the material and habits of mind and thinking that suck the wind out of your sails and the power right out of your blood.

And that is just the inheritance many of us receive. It does not touch upon the counterproductive – or even just plain bad – philosophies, ideas and relationships that we fall into and buy into all on our own!

Our first impulse may be to try to throw off all of these things weighing us down, to move forward without looking back. But the very curious thing we find is that the special power and meaning of open horizons unfolds within a deep relationship with its opposite.  We tend to think the opposite of an open horizon has something to do with stifling limitations.  But this is only one kind of opposite, the one that contradicts. There is another, and that is the one that complements or completes.  Usually we stop with the contradictory and don’t go on to consider the other side.  But the true complementary opposite of the open horizon is not that terribly powerless feeling of being limited, but is, rather, feeling at home in the world.

Let’s call it ‘homefulness’ for now – a full feeling of actually, for real, being at home. What is that really like? Now under some conditions the dwelling places we call by name “home” lack this feeling; but the feeling of true homefulness, of being at home, I think you will agree, is far from a painfully limiting indolence, or a trap, but is much closer to a joyful flourishing.  Think of one of those big beautiful trees you see around on occasion.

To bless the open horizons of our life, therefore, is also to bless our being truly at home in the world in some way, shape or form.

Now the real secret is that deep in the heart of our heavy lineages, the ones that stand in the way, somewhere this true sense of home resides. What is implied by the thickets of misunderstandings and bad ideas and bad actions – the ones that alienate us and others? It is, in truth, the very possibility of home, of feeling completely, utterly, wholly at home.

If you want to start at the beginning, and hone in on what creates an open horizon in the first place – if you want to discover the actual open horizon in your life – look to the feeling of being at home. Where is your true sense of being at home, of belonging?  Where do you actually locate it? If you can find that for yourself, then not very far away from this you will soon discover the freedom and potential that comes with an open horizon, the journeys yet to be traveled and those great discoveries yet to be made by you.

There is, moreover, a small magical act than can clear the road and open the way. It is a power, one that I consider native ground for every single one of us and it is this: our choice.

You get to choose. You get to choose your approach, your attitude, your priorities. You get to make a different choice if the ones you have been making are not working.

You can choose to tell the same sad stories or to tell a different set of stories, ones that work as good medicine strengthening heart, soul, mind, and body all together. If you do not have any happy stories in your family then look harder. If you still cannot find them then guess what? You can choose to create them, to write them, you can choose to live them.

Also too, you get to choose the teachings and the teachers and the learning that inform and color your own life. What ideas give you strength to stand and act with wisdom and courage and love? What teachings or teachers do not?

You get to choose what experiences you learn from and what experiences you choose to give value to and you also get to choose what experiences do not have the depth or weight to bear down upon you any longer. In short, you get to choose what you want to keep and what you would like to finally set down.

It has been said that our choices make us who we are and I find that to be true. But more than that, our choices reveal to us who we want to be, and our choices influence those around us too. If you are looking for a spiritual practice you could stop now: the choices you make every day and the way you live them is the practice that we have all signed up for.

Now to be clear: making a different choice does not mean that everything will always work out well in the end, or that you can avoid and escape the tough stuff that you are about to run headlong into. It is a power and like any real power it must be nourished, refined, and cultivated.

But that is the magic of an open horizon. The magic begins with the thrilling kiss of the unknown, and can lead to great mystery and wild adventure, or it can lead you to your true home, or to a little church in the mountains where just the right prayer can be prayed. The road is open and you get to choose how you want to travel it; how you want to show up in the world today, tomorrow, and every day after.

Divination Question for Full Moon in Libra

The power of choice and the open horizon that it creates is an especially appropriate theme for the Libra full moon since one of the great teachings of Libra with her balances and blindfolds is that our choices matte and that also, we make them every single day. So under the light of Luna in Libra, consider a situation that has been sticky and tricky for you. Then, with the divination tool you love best, try asking this question:

What would happen if I made a different choice?

Lunar love to each and every one of you!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.