There are times in life when it feels like the universe has it out for you. It feels like they’ve kicked you in the face and thrown you into the fire with seemingly no way out or anyone around to help. You feel like you’re both drowning and burning alive and the pressure of it all feels like too much.
That’s happened to all of us, and it happens regardless of how much preparation you feel that you might have under your belt. No matter how mentally, emotionally, or spiritually prepared you might be. We are all human, and we all face challenges in our lives.
I went through this in my own life. I’m going to speak my truth here without giving too many details on the situation or the individuals involved. I’m not throwing a pity party here, but just for context, I made a decision a few years ago that gave my power away to someone else and led me down a dark pathway of emotional and mental abuse from a loved one.
I sacrificed my own desires, goals, and happiness for the sake of the relationship, and it only led me to feeling trapped and helpless. Funny thing was – I’d been through it before in my younger years with an immediate family member, yet I didn’t see it coming.
Fast forward to the end of last year – I, for reasons I can’t really explain (or maybe I can, but that’s for another day), found my inner strength to get myself out of that situation. I found myself free, no longer bound by giving my power over to another person, yet I found myself in a whole new world of challenges. Many of them were dealing with my own mental and emotional issues, both related to the relationship and not. I faced financial struggles and couldn’t seem to get out of them, no matter how I tried. I also found myself facing newly arisen issues from my younger years that I thought were long forgotten.
And then it dawned on me, though not without signs and messages from the universe, that it came down to facing my Shadow. My fears, my doubts, and my self loathing. I hated myself – my physical appearance, and all of the little things I blamed myself for doing wrong.
The self talk in my head, only amplified by a mental illness, was a constant, torturous reminder of how terrible a person I was, despite how much logic told me that was untrue. All of this predated the recent events in the last few years. All of this that had built up through my life and allowed free rein.
Up until this point of my newly faced challenges, I had tried spells, often times with what I thought was full intent and the right amount of will, that had failed miserably. And this was the point where I thought the universe had it out for me. I’d been through so much – finally free – just to be kicked down again.
And then I realized that no amount of spellwork, prayers or petitions to the gods, or my own complaints, would get me to where I wanted to be. Not without facing the true root of the issue.
You think you’ve faced your Shadow, but then it finds new ways to present itself. It becomes an expert at things that perhaps you thought weren’t an issue anymore, masking them behind falsehoods.
But there comes a point when you simply have to look your Shadow in the face and say “no more”. There is no denying he doesn’t exist, and trying to suppress him only makes him more powerful. And unfortunately, and some may disagree with me here, not dealing with the root of the issue means that the weeds are going to re-grow again and again. So what happens there? You’ve got to deal with it.
Acknowledging that he is a part of you isn’t an easy task. The universe kept trying to tell me, again through a number of signs and messages, that I needed to feel my feelings. It came through 3 different individuals, none of whom know each other. It’s easy to try and suppress your feelings – because they feel ugly, and can often bring up a lot of painful memories.
However, facing them, allowing those feelings to come up, and acknowledging their presence, is a key step to healing. I can’t tell you how to do that, because I think that it’s a highly personal thing, but I can tell you that it needs to be done in order to fully come to terms with your shadow. Be patient with yourself, but do the work. Cyndi Brannen does a lot of great work on healing in her courses on witchcraft.
Sovereignty is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days, but I think it’s an important word to embrace and live in today’s world. It’s so easy to give your power away to someone else – someone who may simply need a favor, but you end up going a step (or twelve) further. It may be conscious or something you do subconsciously, but ultimately, it just wears away at you until you can’t take it anymore. Giving your power to someone else robs you of your own, and not only that, gives that individual the opportunity to attempt to seize control of said power.
One key of being a witch, should you be a practitioner of witchcraft, is transformation. It’s a responsibility to walk the path that leads you to the darker parts of yourself, to face them, and to heal from them – or, at the very least, learn how to work alongside them. You can’t simply be rid of your Shadow forever, but you can learn his patterns, behaviors, and tricks to better deal with him in the future as he arises.
Not all who practice witchcraft incorporate deities, but in my own personal practice, I do. In some cases, it’s Hecate. In many cases it’s Anubis. I’ve written previously about how Anubis fits in as a deity of transformation.
If a part of witchcraft includes transformation, then we have a responsibility to live up to that charge. Take the reins of your life in your hand. Work through the fears and feelings that come up. And I am a firm believer in establishing a daily practice. I think it gives you something to focus on, while developing yourself and your connection to your practice (and/or deities and spirits that you might work with, should you incorporate them into your daily practice). And most importantly: be patient with yourself, but do the work.
Take control of your life. You got this. Own your sovereignty. Live it.