The Shadow Realm and the Wisdom of Hecate
Halloween is upon us again. It’s the time of ghosts, goblins, and shadowy figures. Sometimes they are of our own creation. They jump out and plague us when we least suspect.
Many of you know that I am fond of ancient Goddess archetypes. Their myths and legends have survived into contemporary times because they still hold kernels of truth and insight into human nature.
In the transpersonal psychology community, the underworld is a metaphor for the sub-conscious – that shadowy inner realm of our deepest thoughts, feelings, fears, and self-doubts. No one, not even the most accomplished, is free of this realm – for wherever we go, it goes with us.
We live in a culture, however, that avoids acknowledging uncomfortable feelings. There is a perception that to admit our feelings, especially those that concede that we are vulnerable, is an admission of weakness – that we just might be damaged goods!
Avoiding the vulnerability doesn’t serve you. When you push unwelcomed emotions underground, they frequently re-emerge with a vengeance. There is a saying, “What we resist, persists.” Have you experienced this? I have.
I am noticing a growing phenomenon in my practice. More and more clients (both men and women) are lamenting their feelings of unhappiness, depression, of feeling stuck, trapped, or burnt out. They complain that their performance at work is suffering, or their relationships aren’t working, or that they are in crisis. They simply know something is wrong, even if they can’t quite put a name on it. They just recognize that their life lacks joy, pleasure, passion, and love. It’s as if some shadowy figure has sucked the aliveness right out of their life.
Often, in the work that I do, I function as a modern day Hecate! I guide my clients into the shadowy realm of their inner thoughts and fears. We dig deep to uncover those core issues preventing them from living the life they want and deserve. Often, we reframe, release, or heal old beliefs, conditioning, and negative self-perceptions. A lot of this “old stuff” comes from childhood when, for a myriad of reasons, we were made to feel “not good enough.”
When I was child there were many times when I felt helpless, flawed, scared and vulnerable. I know I’m not the only one with these same childhood memories. If they aren’t healed, these memories can be triggered in adulthood showing up as anxiety, fears, doubts and insecurities. Childhood memories lurk in the shadows of our subconscious as the ghosts, goblins, and demons that keep us from experiencing the joy, passion and love we deserve.
It’s not fun working with these shadowy realms. But it can be enlightening and liberating when we learn to have compassion for our younger self who IN THE PAST may have been simply scared and vulnerable. Doing the inner work frees us so that we can deal with the adult challenges we face in the workplace or in our relationships.
How to do the Inner Work
When you find yourself triggered – you may either feel anxious, insecure, vulnerable, angry, or fearful – try taking a few quiet moments to ask yourself: when in the past did you have similar feelings? Take time to sort through your memories. I’m willing to bet a dollar that the source of your trigger is tied to something that happened to you in the past. Your memory could be recent, or could even take you back to childhood. Then observe your younger self in that memory. Was She or He equipped to adequately deal with that situation? I bet another dollar that you weren’t! This is quite probably the source of your anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, or insecurity.
Once you have identified the source of your trigger, try to find some compassion for your younger self. Remind yourself that at that time you just didn’t have the capacity to cope effectively. Give yourself a virtual hug. And remind yourself that today YOU are stronger, more knowledgeable and experienced, and have many more skills than YOU did in the past. This will help you realize that TODAY you have the capacity to cope and to find the solutions that you need for today’s challenges. Once you realize that NOW you are better equipped, then you will be able to face life’s challenges with much greater confidence and self-assurance.
The painful memories of your past are the source of your worst demons, goblins and ghosts. And with the help of Hecate you can travel into the shadow realm to seek your own healing.
If you lack enjoyment and passion, or feel frustrated, anxious or burnt-out, and are in need of help to transform your life, then contact Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 415-819-8769 to schedule a complementary 20-minute consultation and find out how you can live a more joyful and passionate life.