For many in the Pagan community, Imbolc is upon us. Imbolc is the spoke of the Wheel of the Year when we acknowledge the return of the light. In many parts of the world the earth has begun to stir. Tiny shoots are breaking through the soil and reaching towards the strengthening sun, casting tiny shadows upon the earth. We too, are stretching, awakening, beginning to look forward to the longer days and shorter nights. This is the time of new beginnings and of giving birth to new ideas. With the light returning our minds stir and stretch, sloughing off the hibernation mode of deep winter. It is during this time of growing illumination when we may find ourselves seeing our own shadows.
While the world shakes off its slumber, we work to clear away the sleep from our psyches. The mind fogs of winter start to clear and we find ourselves looking forward to planting the seeds of new ideas and goals. Yet we find that there are shadows lurking in the liminal. We catch glimpses of the dark, unwanted parts of ourselves we wish to ignore and hide. Deep inside the spaces between the burgeoning light and winter’s darkness the shadows await our acknowledgement. Until we do we cannot move forward, cannot grow as enlightened beings. But what are the shadows? Where do they come from and what can we do about them?
Seeing our Shadows for what they are.
The shadows are our roots of pain, anger, guilt, resentment, and doubt, the things we least like about ourselves. They are the things we don’t wish see so we ignore them. hide them. We relegate them to the shadows where they lurk, popping out at the most inopportune moments. But they don’t stay down for long, manifesting themselves as fear, paranoia, mistrust and hate. What we must do is see our shadows as the roots of who we are and what we shall become, not as some hideous beast to lock away. When we take the time to step inside ourselves and flick on the light we allow ourselves to see our shadows for what they are, our allies. Then, and only then, can we begin to grow again.
How do we go about seeing our shadows? What does it take to make them our friend and ally? Time, meditation, introspection and quite often, a good therapist or counselor. Your shadows have been there a long time. They are not going to reveal themselves in a day, or two, or even a year. As witches and magickal practitioners we know that facing our shadows is a life-long process. As one shadow fades into the light another may take its place. Only with diligence, commitment and the help of others will the shadows give us their names. Once identified we can summon them, grab hold and embrace them, allowing for reintegration and healing. Tamed, a shadow changes from nemesis to ally, becoming our assistant in planting the seeds of renewal.
Facing our Shadows
All of us have to make the conscious choice to meet our shadows head on, to face our fears. It is not easy seeing our own shadows. It can be very uncomfortable and often downright nasty. But unlike Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, seeing our shadows will not prognosticate six more weeks of a winter in our souls. Quite the contrary, facing our shadows allows the light in and spring to return. By uncovering the roots of our struggles, cleaning away the old soil and tending to them, we have made viable what once lay dormant. When we allow the light to show us our worse, we can put a name to it and see it as an ally, a friend. Now, we can begin to plant those roots where they belong, in the light of our being.
Our shadows, no longer a threat, become tamed, a helpmate. That which was shadow ceases to exist as such. Transmuted, integrated, they now become a vital part of who we are, working with us instead of fighting against us. As the Sun continues to grow in strength so shall you, warmed by the knowledge that you have survived another winter of the soul. Your shadows dispelled, you can now move forward, sowing the seeds of possibilities along your way (read more about possibilities here).
During this season of renewal, beginnings, and the waxing light, make a choice to find yourself, face those bits and pieces of yourself that need tending to. Take a deep breath, reach inside yourself, flick on the switch and search for those shadows. At times the work will be difficult, sweaty and gritty, but the benefits are worth the fight. When your spring does arrive, all that you’ve sown, planted and nurtured will dispel the shadows, allowing room for change and possibilities to blossom.