Shame as the unmerited experience of deep feelings of unworthiness is an unspoken problem in our individual lives and in our pagan, occult and witchcraft communities. Acknowledging it’s existence and power are the first steps on the way to banishing shame from witchcraft and our lives.
Let me begin by saying that shame does have a place in the lives of those who have done truly shameful things. I’m willing to bet that they aren’t reading this article. I’m talking about all of us who feel ashamed without any legitimate reason. I’m not writing about making mistakes and then feeling contrite, either. My focus is on the chronic experience of feeling ashamed for who we are and for things that were done to us. Shame is such a sneaky creature that we’re unlikely to even be aware that it is holding us prisoner. It’s time to acknowledge that shame is a pervasive problem in our witchcraft and lives. Only through direct confrontation with this part of our shadow can we truly banish it.
As Above, So Below
Recently I wrote about the pervasive problem of abuse within the pagan community and witch world. Shame is pervasive in these communities, keeping the mistreated silent and permitting the perpetrators to freely continue their abusive ways. What happens on this grand scale is reflected within many individuals. Paganism attracts those who have been disillusioned (or worse) by mainstream ways of being. Many escape religions where shame was the currency of control but bring these ideas with them. Shame has no place in paganism.
Then there are those who have been made to feel ashamed for their interests in witchcraft, the occult and paganism. Underneath of all this is often a history of trauma. We have so many wounded among us who carry a great deal of shame. While the initial escape from the abusive organizations and individuals often bring respite, without acknowledging their shame individuals often remain controlled by it. What happens on the individual level is therefore expressed in our communities as a whole. We need to confront shame at both these levels.
One of the things that psychopaths and other types of toxic witches are so great at is making us feel ashamed when there is absolutely no reason to. Shame whispers to us that it’s all our fault, that it happened because we are defective. It keeps us silent: everyone will think I’m an idiot or crazy if I speak up. No one will believe me. That’s shame talking. Shame is a specific type of fear that’s related to having our sense of self violated by others, including toxic witches and psychopaths, but it also is spread through societal views of what’s acceptable.
Shaking The Shame Tree
There’s also the way that shame is transmitted in families. When I shake my family tree, shame falls out. I must have been hit with one of those toxic apples right on my head when I was born. The impacts of the deep shame I’ve felt were widespread across my life. Shame has often prevented me from sharing who I am with others. When it comes to witchcraft, shame was intertwined with the reasons that I kept my practice secret for so long.
There are legitimate reasons for staying in the broom closet. Fear of losing my career was such for me. However, there was also this current of feeling that my natural abilities and interests in all things to do with witchcraft and spirituality was wrong because it was so important to me. It took me ages to work through this shame. It still creeps up on me like when I recently realized that shame was involved in an ongoing situation I was having with a group. Shame says, “you need to stay here. Who else would want you?” in addition to lying to us about the validity of our experience.
This is how shame keeps us in groups that mistreat us or are otherwise dysfunctional. The same process works when we put up with abusive leaders in our covens and groups. Toxic masculinity will persist as long as we are too ashamed to admit that it it does.
When we stay in any type of abusive relationship, shame plays a big role in keeping us there. Then there’s the shame involved in keeping quiet, either when we are victimized or stand silent while others are. Speaking out is not appropriate for everyone, but getting rid of the shame about the experience is. When we are triggered by another’s brave truth-telling, shame suggests that we failed by not speaking up or by not supporting the other while they were going through the abuse. If you are triggered by reading others’ stories, I urge you to examine how shame over your own experience might be involved.
Witchery For Banishing ShameThe first step in dealing with shame at the individual level is by acknowledging it’s presence. Works the same at the group level. Keeping silent about toxic witches among us casts the shame circle far and wide. It’s shadow spreads over all, rendering us questioning whether our version of Hekate is correct or not thinking we have a right to contribute to a discussion on dream interpretation. You have much to contribute. We need your voice, right now there’s too many loud mouths clogging up the dialogue, minimizing diversity in our conversations. Evidence of toxic masculinity and other types of shame spreading is everywhere these days. Speaking up is the first step. If you aren’t comfortable doing so, find ways of quiet resistance like not supporting individuals who’s behavior is shame-inducing in others.
Individual shame tells us we aren’t worthy of healthy interpersonal relationships, financial stability and achieving our dreams. There’s no way our spells to achieve these things will ever work as long as shame remains a dominant energy force in our lives. Healing work needs to explicitly address shame.
Getting real about shame rather than continuing to deny that we feel it. Healing is an ongoing process for which there is no quick fix. Consider adding an exploration of shame to your practice. If you are going to do a deep dive into shame, ensure that you are in a reasonable state of mind to do so. Shame work invites all manner of creatures that live in the darkest corners, so make certain you have protection wards in place on your body, mind and home. Once we acknowledge that shame is a thing, we can create spells using banishing correspondences to remove it’s power over us as individuals and in our groups. For organizations, group shame work might be in order.
Given the deep nature of shame banishing, energetic methods like Reiki can also help remove the toxicity from our minds and our bodies. Shame gets right into our tissue. It’s also in some of our DNA. Ancestral healing work may be necessary for your family and can also be required in groups where there has been much toxicity.
Starting by acknowledging your shame is the first step, following this with a deep exploration and then releasing of the pain of the shame. Simple rituals can help activate our healing from shame, such as the one below. Work with the energy of the waning moon for help with banishing your shame. Elemental workings for releasing it can also be very helpful. Turn to your deities and guides for support.
I wish you great healing through banishing shame. I highly recommend Dr. Brené Brown’s excellent work on shame healing, such as this video.
Yours in Witchery,
Here are some of my blogs about healing: