We are, undoubtably, the greatest source of our own frustrations; our worst possible nemesis made flesh. If you’ve ever felt paranoid or persecuted, know that whatever others may be doing to you, you have been doing much worse to yourself for far longer.
No one can sabotage you like your shadow self. You will never find a more cunning and elusive adversary. Your shadow know your weaknesses well and preys on these vulnerabilities at the worst of times.
As magicians we are very concerned with agency and expressing our will upon the world and we put a great deal of effort into this pursuit. Secretly, however, our own Tyler Durden (the self-destructive imaginary friend from Fight Club) works against us while we’re unconscious of our actions.
Our shadow shows its face to everyone but us. Eventually, we become aware of the awful truth by the mounting chaos it creates in our lives: There is no Tyler. There is no one to blame but ourselves and we are creating our own chaos and misfortune. Hard as we might work, pray, or enchant, no lasting good can come to us while we’re unconsciously sabotaging our best efforts.
We do this by selling ourselves short, by showing our asses -through weakness and insecurity- and by allowing fear to dictate our future. We do it by trading agency and purpose for convenience and stability. We do it by projecting onto others the things we hate about ourselves. We do it by returning to old, bad habits, feeling sorry for ourselves, clinging to the past, and comparing ourselves to others. We build defenses around traumas, clinging to them like badges of honor while driving everyone away. We sabotage our potential and show the very worst of ourselves to all those around us while hiding it from ourselves.
It is much easier to move ahead, make progress, find love, success, fortune, glory, and get our magic to work, if we face (and heal) the things we hate about ourselves, the things that scare us, offend us, and embarrass us about ourselves. It’s unpleasant work, and hard on the ego, but a necessary process to go through if you want any sort of success on the magical path.
The bottom line is: You’re likely fucking yourself up in all kinds of ways you’re completely unaware of, in your mundane as well as your magical life.
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How To Stop Fucking Yourself Up
The short answer is: deal with your shadow. But that’s easier said than done because there’s a lot involved, you can only do so much at once, and because you can’t see your own shadow.
However, there are some tried-and-true techniques which can help you learn to stop fucking yourself up and get you started on your healing journey. And after that point, you’ll probably be ready to engage a professional healer (shaman, energy worker, hypnotist, counsellor, etc.) to assist you in spotting and attending to your shadow at a deeper level.
In the meantime, here are a collection of energetic best practices which will help you start to unwind yourself from your stories and reveal a path to healing and transformation:
ABC: Always Be Clearing
Energy gets stuck in your energetic field like gunk that clogs your car engine’s oil filter, impedes its operation, and degrades its longterm performance (health). The same happens to us when we have unhealed psychic wounds. Despite the invisible nature of the injury, the effects of these wounds manifest in our physical lives with profound effect. The solution, because absolutely everyone, everywhere, has trauma and energetic wounds to heal, is to Always Be Clearing.
Recalling that no amount of hard work or magic can overcome self-critical thoughts and acting in weakness, it is essential to also have a regular praxis of energetic hygiene. Self-administered, or performed by a healer, regular chakra clearings are a must. Salt baths (or ocean swims) cleanse your field and smudging / suffumigation clears your space. Meditations clear the mind and ritual devotion cleanses the spirit.
Let It Go, Let It Burn
We tend to cling to every hurt, every wound, and to withdraw into ourselves when emotionally or psychically injured. Though it usually makes sense in the moment, these wounds will never heal when the related energy is stuck in this state. Instead it festers into negative behavior patterns, self-limiting beliefs, and toxifies our perception of the world around us. And, over time, these issues manifest into more serious conditions.
Holding onto our pain only further damages us and it is far better to simply let these hurts go, one by one. The process works like this: recognize how you’ve changed because of these wounds (for better or worse), accept that you must release them to receive healing, and set your intention to do so with a suitable ceremony.
Dig into your memory, searching for all the times when you’ve felt the same body sensations you experience when you’re dealing with each issue. If you feel a tightness in your throat when you talk to your father and that same tightness when your boss is giving you a hard time, for example, recognize that these experiences are connected in your body-mind and stored as a blueprint in your field of potential that will attract more of these types of experiences in your future.
Fire is the ideal metaphor for quickly transmuting old issues, bad habits, generational curses, unfortunate soul contracts, and the like. Associate objects to each of the issues you want to release and offer them to the fire with a prayer to Pachamama / Gaia / Mother Earth. Repeat this ritual over several days and you’ll observe remarkable changes in your psyche around these issues and, quite probably, a reduction or removal of related physical symptoms.
Go Looking For Trouble
There’s always more to work on. If it’s not painfully obvious what aspect of your shadow needs to be excavated, sifted through, and processed, then do a little divination, as a treat. Talking to the cards, or some other form of sortilege, is a great way to get an external perspective on your situation. Remember that we’re usually completely unaware of our shadow so it’s not as straightforward as you might think to catch a glimpse of it at work in your life.
Tarot, in particular, is only too happy to provide uncensored (brutally honest) feedback on what aspect of your life most needs attention. Larger spreads and tableaus (3×3 or 5×5 squares) are particularly effective since they contain more visual metaphor and, in the case of the tableaus, more ways for the cards to “interact” (up, down, left, right, and diagonally).
“Read like the Devil”, as tarot reader and author Camelia Elias would say, meaning read harshly on yourself to adjust for your own generously positive natural bias. Ask hard questions, like:
“What aspect of myself would I most benefit from changing?”
“In what ways do I deceive myself?”
“What aspect of me is causing the most pain to myself and others?”
Of course, there’s no better way to get perspective on your shadow than through the eyes of a trained counsellor or healer. The parts of yourself you unconsciously hide from yourself are plainly visible to anyone trained in discernment (schedule a shamanic session with me).
Acts Of Reciprocity Bring Us Into Coherence
The things we do that harm ourselves and others, even unconsciously, separate us from that divine awareness of our universal interconnectedness. Every wound we heal brings us that much closer to God (and Goddess). And since it is interconnectedness that we lose through our traumas, the work of healing is reintegrating the fractured and isolated aspects of ourselves, bringing them into coherence with our larger selves.
We accomplish this by removing the trapped energy / old behavior pattern, releasing it ritually, and filling the resulting void with awareness of this divine interconnectedness.
Engaging with the more-than-human community we’re a part of, and recognizing the forces of Nature which make life possible, places you in the context of a living, regenerative universe of collaboration instead of a cold, isolated, and dead one built on competition and predation.
Acts of reciprocity reenforce the coherence of this web of relationality, and our place within it -which is exceptionally healing.
Getting Over Yourself Is Healing
The universal truth embedded in every healing journey is that life is not about you -you are about life. You desire life’s elusive opportunity to experience beauty, wonder, and excitement, not the other way around. Life is experiential and we are merely participant-observers, co-creators, within the context of our small roles and perspectives. Getting over yourself is healing because it allows you to find meaning in life that extends beyond your own, finite existence.
The most healing acts are those that we perform in service of others; other people, other living beings, other spirits, and in veneration of life herself, of Pachamama (Mother Earth).
Heal the world to heal yourself (and remember that it’s not “fix the world”, it’s “heal”). Find your place in the communal experience of healing by recognizing that it is not all about you, your trauma, your pain, or your happiness. Accept the responsibility to heal all trauma, all pain, and to create more joy in the world for all to experience and your own healing will come.
Facing Your Shadow
Moving towards coherence and right relationship with the living collective of the universe is healing in itself but coherence also makes it possible to see your shadow or, at least, spot its chaotic wake –how to feel its bad vibrations reverberating in your life.
Coherence allows us to return to stillness in body and mind (and stillness in spirit follows suit). Even the smallest disturbances can be seen rippling across this stillness; every tremor forms a wave which can be tracked back to its source. The key is maintaining this placid temperament throughout the tumultuous experience of life. This is why we must Always Be Clearing. The shadow is invisible in the interference of too many ripples in the stillness of our mental state.
It’s elusive, this shadow. We must be clear minded to hunt for it, employing tricks and traps to pin it down. Tarot, and other forms of sortilege, are our bloodhounds in this hunt and energy workers, shamans, hypnotists, counsellors, and the like, provide support in reintegrating the broken parts of ourselves we find.
Connectedness is the eventual state of healing we’re trying to obtain, whether we recognize it consciously or not. Separation, in any of its expressions, is the cause of psychic illness, or dis-ease, which programs the body’s energy field, your “field of possibility”, with toxic and deadly potential. Eventually, this will manifest as some illness or chronic pain in the body, and a dissociative, self-isolating, state of mind.
Becoming misaligned in the body, mind, and spirit in this manner is dangerous to our health and well-being, it attracts further negativity into our lives, and fractures our identity into competing and self-destructive parts which coalesce into a shadow self that is constantly working against us.
Reconnecting through acts of collaboration with the more-than-human collective around us, healing ourselves, and trading self-obsession for the service of others, brings us into coherence and allows stillness of mind. In this stillness we can track, trap, and transmute negative and stagnant energy, and release it from our field; thereby gaining access to our full potential.
Simply put, for magicians, this means wasting a lot less energy on ineffective spells and gaining a profoundly clearer internal state from which to manifest our desires.
Featured Image: Mirror by OrangeSavannah