Marie Kondo is someone whom I absolutely adore. She’s a former Shinto priestess and her Netflix show is amazing, particularly because she’s bringing awareness of animism to people in America, who wouldn’t normally think about talking to the Spirit of Place or viewing objects as entities. Researching Marie’s history, I realized she is the perfect example of how I will illustrate how Shadow work should be approached from a Jungian & Witchcraft point of view.
One of the biggest questions with Shadow Work that I receive is how to repurpose and reintegrate the Shadow once it’s identified. The goal in both is to repurpose the Shadow in a way that is beneficial so that it works with you and not against you. The goal isn’t to fight the Shadow, but to reintegrate it in a healthy manner. The goal also isn’t to ignore or silence the Shadow aspect of ourselves, as that’s how the aspect becomes Shadow instead of part of our conscious personality. The goal is always wholeness.
“…this integration [of the shadow] cannot take place and be put to a useful purpose unless one can admit the tendencies bound up with the shadow and allow them some measure of realization – tempered, of course, with the necessary criticism. This leads to disobedience and self-disgust, but also to self- reliance, without which individuation is unthinkable.”
– Carl Jung
Psychology & Western Religion
When Marie was little she would obsessively clean and throw old things out, whether it was hers or her parents or not. She felt overwhelmed by the chaos of the world and this obsessive cleaning and minimalism helped her feel a bit more in control. She would also stay in during recess and after school to clean up the classroom because it gave her anxiety. This behavior made her antisocial with severe social anxiety and disconnected her from other people. This aspect of herself totally took over her life, to the point of having a nervous breakdown and blacking out and falling to the ground when coming home to see her room in severe disarray. This is the Shadow completely out of control.
“Sometimes, [Shadow] aspects manifest in people’s lives in unexpected or even inexplicable ways. For example, someone stuck in the depths of addiction may be suffering from unresolved Shadow elements around worthlessness, fear of success, fear of failure, abandonment, etc. Those elements can be considered the core issues. They then manifest in compensatory behaviors intended to relieve the struggle around their repression, meaning outward behaviors, such as lying, cheating, isolation, substance abuse, angry outbursts, control moves, etc. Such behaviors are ways in which the shadow makes itself known because the person has not come into balance with it through careful and constructive investigation. In this way, we can see that many manifestations of the shadow through behavior are actually tied to deeper complexes within the mind that are unresolved or unaddressed. Almost always, they point to a fear of some sort, or multiple fears wedded together.”
– Sarah Lynne Bowman, Ph.D.
Integrating The Shadow Self
Marie Kondo made one little shift to her Shadow that helped her integrate it in a healthy manner. This one little shift helped change her life and that of countless others. She took this part of her that was compulsive about throwing things out and shifted the focus on figuring out what to keep. It’s still the same aspect of her that was controlling her unconsciously, but this time she was deciding to give that aspect of herself a different and more healthy task. Instead of focusing on throwing out what was making her anxious, she shifted it to looking for which objects brought her joy.
This lead to her creating a cleaning consultation business. This part of her which isolated herself from others and was purely anxiety based has led her to fly around the world and bringing her closer to other people, helping transform their lives and discovering what brings them joy. This is the perfect example of how Shadow work can transform our lives and that of others when done properly. Finding these little shifts to make in our Shadow isn’t easy, which is one of many reasons why despite being difficult work, is necessary and transformative.