Has anyone ever told you, “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Or, “I’m so disappointed in you.”
I suspect that all of us have experienced these words from others, heard those words emanate from our own mouths directed at others and most likely even had these thoughts about ourselves. And you don’t have to look very hard to see the energy of shame being wielded liberally across social media platforms, the news, in schools and workplaces and so on. This is seemingly a common part of the way we interact with each other.
Take a moment to feel the way these words land in the body. I know we all know how it feels.This energy of shame, this consciousness of shame, and to me feels very dense and very uncomfortable. Not a pleasant feeling at all.
Most often the story we tell ourselves around using shame is that it is an effective tool for initiating a change in the behavior of another and that using shame comes from a place of love, a place of desiring a change for the better as we see it.
For instance, a parent desiring a child to make better choices when they are perhaps choosing to do things that the parent doesn't like. Or when a child gets a low grade in school, or doesn’t get the gold star, we think that this is a way to encourage them to do better.
But the truth is, when you really shine a light on it, and I’m talking about the light of loving compassion, we can see that shame, however it manifests, comes from a place of fear.
Fear that the child is doing something that is not going to be acceptable by society, fear that they will not become successful adults or perhaps fear that they are doing something that will be unhealthy, or cause pain in some way to themselves or another. Whatever it is, in our desperation to change their behavior, their choices, we use the energy of shame.
I’ve been working with Black Eyed Susan this moon cycle and she’s been shining a light, (again a light of loving compassion) on this energy of shame, this deeply held notion of unworthiness, that we tend to perpetuate and embody far beyond childhood of course. And the way that I am understanding her message, the way that it is arising within me is that this is a “false” shadow.
I’ve done a lot of shadow work in my journey. A lot! And this is a nuance that I have not been aware of before. This idea of false shadows. But I do know all “light” is not the same so it makes sense that our conception of shadows aren’t either. These nuances are not always visible, but you can certainly feel the differences.
There is light that blinds and burns and there is light that illuminates and supports growth. Similarly, there is dark that frightens and inhibits and there is dark that nourishes and gestates creation.
Black Eyed Susan assists in sacred alchemy of shadow work.
Shadow work is the internal growth process of remembering who we truly are—the spiritual journey if you like—the journey of re-membering our pure loving Divine souls, remembering our light, and bringing it into physical form.
We all come into this world with loving open hearts—beautiful living souls filled with the purity and truth of who we are. We all know this. And yet somehow we all forget this truth as we engage in all the social and cultural systems that do not honor this truth.
False light abounds in our world and has for eons. For so long in fact that we can hardly recognize it as false light.
In my current understanding, false light is the light of external judgement and was probably seeded into the human experience through the ancient inverted notion of an external wrathful God and the untruth that we, as imperfect humans, are separate from Source. And have our egos ever latched on to this notion!
False light emanates from the deeply entrenched systems of competition founded in the principles of separation, scarcity and lack that form the barren foundations of our world where only a chosen few seem to be able to thrive.
These are the religious, cultural, political, financial and educational systems and institutions of the world that perpetuate the notion that we need experts or gurus or intermediaries of all manners in order to live a happy and fulfilling life...and afterlife!
False light perpetuates inequality, division, fear and suffering and has us seeking and tripping over ourselves and each other for gold stars that hold no real currency.
False light blinds us to the truth of who we are and disempowers us in our ability to embrace and recognize our own inner wisdom, our own inner knowing. It actually makes us fear our own dark, our shadows, so that we choose to not look and so we miss opportunities for real healing and growth.
This is wounded masculine energy, or consciousness, in action. It hijacks the dark and the sacred alchemy of shadow work which allows us to embody more and more of our truth.
And of course, false light cannot exist without false dark—the wounded feminine aspect.
False shadows, false dark, are projections created from false light.
False shadows are the seeds that have been planted within us and that are used to manipulate us.
False shadows are the beliefs, habits, stories that we carry about ourselves that are rooted in fear of external judgement, shame and victimhood. Aspects about ourselves that we also learn and embody from the moment we take our first breath.
Not smart. Not pretty. Not good enough. Bragger. Bossy. Boring.
False shadows are easily manipulated and exploited by others, even those that love you dearly and have loving intentions, since they are unconsciously operating from their own unrecognized false shadows.
Black Eyed Susan gently shines her nurturing, loving light on our true shadows which are simply the layers upon layers of who we are not. They are the aspects about the truth of who we are that are hidden in the dark and need to be remembered.
Light is here to help you grow. False light doesn't nurture strong healthy growth. Dark is here to help you rest and integrate. False dark keeps you in a constant state of fear.
Light, which is compassion and understanding and inspiration and forgiveness and unconditional love, illuminates these hidden aspects, ever so gently coaxing them out of the shadows, and into our awareness and triggering emotional and spiritual growth.
Shadow work then is the sacred alchemy of seeing all of ourselves as Divine and worthy of love. It is learning to use discernment to connect with our inner wisdom and remember what is true for us and what aligns with our purpose and path.
Shadow work is the sacred inner process of moving from a closed heart to an open heart and returning the Divine Feminine dark and Divine Masculine light to the material world.
And so we all get to choose.
Do you choose an open heart? Or do you choose to remain closed?
Do you choose life? Or do you fear life?
Recognizing and embodying our light AND our shadow, our incredible joy AND our incredible pain, is what it means to embrace the experience of embodied life itself. And all of it is required to crack open and expand our energetic hearts.
Growth is painful! Opening your heart hurts! It is no wonder so many fear life (and death!!)
When I connect with the Earth now I feel she is no longer willing or able to hold our collective trauma and fear and it doesn’t take much to see the physical manifestation of this truth up and in all of our faces.
It is also not hard to understand that the only way to heal this is to recognize how we each contribute to it. This is the deep shadow work that is called for now—to lovingly and compassionately and respectfully listen to and witness ourselves and each other, as we all cycle through all the highs and lows, the light and the dark, and learn how to remain centered in our individual truth which holds the entirety of who we truly are.
The golden petals of Black Eyed Susan shine the light of unconditional love deep into our shadows, to transform them like the ancient alchemists who used the metaphor of turning straw into gold as a model of transformation. Layer after layer of nuance and the gradients of yellow to orange to red and all the colors in-between… all of this must be done with kindness and grace using discernment not judgment. Shame doesn't serve.
We are all being called to engage in the sacred process of alchemizing our shame, our fear, our grief, our trauma, into nourishing soil in order to grow a new Earth rooted in love and unity.
And what an AMAZING opportunity it is to RECOGNIZE your own and our collective Divine Light!
Dig deeper with Black-Eyed Susan (RECOGNITION) here.
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Forget-Me-Not (AWARENESS) reminds us that life is far more than what we can perceive with our physical senses alone. She helps us to expand our present moment awareness and connect us with our imagination which, I am slowly realizing, is quite possibly the “sense” that we humans use the most! Except that we are not AWARE of it!
Nettle breaks down your ego. You can’t get too pushy with Nettle or she will sting! She humbles you. You have to move mindfully, with focused intention, and an open heart. And in your loving and tender and honest openness, she deeply nourishes and fortifies you—transforming you from the inside out.