The Self within the Shadow ~ Seeking Wisdom in the Dark

The Powers That Be speak to me in themes.  The same topics come up, the same conversations occur over and over within a month or so, and I eventually realize that I’m being sent a very specific message through the repetition.

Today I’m thinking about power and integration, the way wholeness translates to deeper roots and fuller understanding.  Orion Foxwood has a saying I like (he has many sayings I like, but this one is relevant right now): “You can’t curse the roots and bless the fruits.”  The parts of us that run deepest into the darkness are at the center of our very best and brightest moments.  And I’m realizing that I have once again turned my face away from some of my shadows in the hopes that I will not have to bleed on the sharp edges there.

It’s so easy to flinch when we look into the past; to walk the halls of memory, and choose only the brightly-lit rooms.  Gazing on ourselves when we struggled, when we were weak, when we made the wrong choice, when we gave in…for me, looking into those spaces calls up feelings of shame, embarrassment and disappointment.  Why wasn’t I stronger?  How did I miss the warning signs?  Why did I let these things happen to myself?

And yet…..

And yet.

The trait that I value above all others?  It’s compassion. I value it because I worked hard to develop it in myself.  It did not come naturally, or did not come in enough quantity naturally. And I do not think my compassion would run so deeply if I did not know the metallic taste of self-hatred, if I did not gaze upon parts of my life with regret.  I prize the empathy my struggles won me.  So I must stop cursing my roots.

I joke that I had a decade-long detour – a marriage that took me away from my Self, my Center and my Calling.  I call it The Dark Times, or the Shadow Years, or a whole host of clever-avoidance-nicknames that allow me not to look too closely in that direction.  I drew a hard line when I left that abusive world – I tell people that I nuked my life from orbit.  When telemarketers call for me under my married name, I tell them that Irene Jericho is dead.  Of course she is.  I killed her myself.

…and then I hung her head on the wall…

The thing is, that’s utter nonsense.  I didn’t kill her.  She’s right here, typing this blog.  The desperate, frightened, lonely woman who tried so hard to be loved, who compromised herself terribly in pursuit of connection….she’s right here.  Underneath and within my new skin cells, the same heart beats.  These, too, are my roots.

A dear Shaman friend had a message for me recently.  With my permission, she journeyed on my behalf, and returned carrying wisdom: the deeper power that I’m reaching for right now does not lie before me.  She saw that connection spiraling away into my past, into a shadowy space with a big ‘Do Not Enter’ sign hanging on it.  As soon as I saw her message, I knew she was right.

Sometimes it’s good to draw a hard line, to shut the door and never lay eyes on the monsters behind it again.  For some of us, it’s the only way forward.

But sometimes that padlocked door only needs to exist until you’re strong enough to open it.  Strong enough to walk back into the shadow with your sovereignty shining, the blade of your authenticity sharp.  I’m coming up on five years free.  Five years of black feathers, warm skin, love, laughter and expanding magick.  Five years of healing, five years of growing new ways to Be in this world, five years of returning to my sacred Self, five years of Beloved Community loving me back into my Truth.

It’s time to crack the door open a little.  There is a meditation I used to do when lying in savasana.  The idea for it first came to me during a yoga practice that happened to occur on my birthday.  I haven’t returned to that meditation in years, simply because I was not yet willing to put my arms around the Me who got so lost, so burned, so hurt.

Today, I am ready to hear what my whole Self has to say – the roots, the fruits, and every bud, branch and blossom along the way.  If you’re ready to hear your own voice as well, I invite you to join me for this journey.


‘Wisdom of Ages’ by Autumn Skye

Integration Meditation

Give yourself a good 15 minutes to half an hour when you will not be disturbed.  You might put some tissues within reaching distance.  Have journaling supplies nearby.

Settle into a comfortable position for meditation and close your eyes.  Begin to relax your body, crown to toes, and count yourself down to a light meditative state (I recommend the technique from Christopher Pencsak’s Inner Temple of Witchcraft).

Visualize a Safe Space forming around you.  This can be a place you remember from your past, or one you have created in your journeys. No harm can come to you in this space, and you are in complete control of everything that happens here.  Visualize yourself standing in that safe space.

Now, see a familiar figure walking toward you – you know their gait, the set of their shoulders, the shape of their head perfectly.  It’s you, exactly one year ago from this moment.  Open your arms to your past self, and draw you into an embrace.  Listen for anything that version of you has to say. As you stand arm in arm with your Self from one year ago, another figure approaches, equally recognizable, yet subtly different.  Your Self from two years past joins you.  Wrap your arms around this Self as well, and hold them steadily with you, listening to any messages.

More figures approach, all so very known.  Three years ago, four, five….the gathering of arms, hands, gentle touches, familiar faces continues to grow.  Words are spoken, memories and lessons, regrets and joys.  Once the adults are all present, let the children come.  They race toward you – the adult they dreamed of being one day.  You gaze into your teenage eyes.  You scoop up your seven year old self, spinning around to play Airplane.  One of you is suddenly holding your toddler self.  And into your arms, tiny and bright with life and potential, you find yourself cradling the baby that you were on your very first day.

Spend time with this incredible gathering.  Look at all the faces that dwell inside you, and let your love pour out to them.  See the journey that they took and forgive the stumbles, knowing that your path, for all its meandering, brought you to this moment.  This moment together, with all of you, as one whole Being.

When you are ready, one by one, let each Self embrace you and dissolve into you.  Eventually, find yourself standing as a single figure once more, by yourself, but never alone.

Return to consensus reality gently.  Count yourself back up, breathe your way into your body, and find some easy movements to help you reintegrate.


Write down your experiences.  Remember that what we experience in meditative and journeying states tends to slip away quickly once we return to the physical world.  The sooner you write down your experience, the better.

Then, take it easy on yourself for the rest of the day or evening.

Dementor repellent? Good enough for me.

A blog is only ever one little light along the way.  A meditation is just a step in a particular direction.  I know I have some unpacking to do, some deep listening to do, some integration to do.  But today I begin to reclaim the Power that dwells within the shadow of my Lost Years.  What are you reclaiming?  What power will you draw up out of the darkness?

As ever, I’m here if you want to bounce some ideas around, another traveler along the Winding Path.

Journey well, my friend.


2 Replies to “The Self within the Shadow ~ Seeking Wisdom in the Dark”

  1. Well. Big sigh. Your post, for me, is dark and a little scary yet absolutely beautiful AND has found me at a pivotal time in my own healing and I’ll take it as a sign that I’m on the right path. 💜 Thank you.

    1. *hugs* I know that cracking open the past isn’t for everyone, at least not right now. I definitely wasn’t in a space where I could begin to look in that direction until recently. And that’s totally okay. Heal at your pace <3

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