Original Art by CShepard - www.cshepardarts.com
At the beginning of this journey, we are gestating, awaiting the invitation into our Shadow's realms, where we are immersed in the depths of our soul's darkest woundings, witnessing the pain, dis-ease, subversions, limitations, restrictions, and on and on. A time of inward focus is upon us, as well as a time for healing from deep within our most intimate darkness.
I designed and created this sacred practice, a series of ritualized journeys exploring the depths of my feminine-based shadow-wounds and women's secret healing mysteries, out of necessity over 20 years ago. My inspiration was the shining possibility of healing ancestral patterns in myself, so as to learn from the lives of those who came before me, for improving my life and the lives of those around me. The necessity being to save my sanity after enduring a resurfacing of my deepest fears as they were coming alive before my eyes.
With each completion of this seasonally attuned course-work, I am always surprised and delighted by the gratifying results, and by the pure love, I find for myself and the women joining me in this encounter. Every time we circle together, we celebrate together, we who are courageously learning a new way of relating, discovering a new way to dance with our Shadow Soul.
It was at the once-in-a-lifetime turning point of a century during that initial time of creation. I witnessed my life becoming a fierce, whirling hurricane of chaos and pain. I knew the unhealthy patterns of my female ancestors were being repeated in my own life. I could feel them, my grandmothers, calling out to me in their wisdom and torment from the abyss within my soul.
In a powerful visionary meditation, I saw myself standing in the eye of this raging storm that was my life. I could no longer ignore this fact.
all the change, I was in the process of ritually reclaiming my personal power. After moving 600 miles away from my close-knit family, the only home I had known until now, leaving a long-term relationship, and ending the vision of my life that I had nurtured for decades, I was lost and found at the same time. At that moment I was filled with anguish, heartbreak, and purpose.
All one's attention is demanded for this birth of a new beginning. The next steps slowly unfold, one-by-one. The awakening of an unfamiliar perception is stimulating a sense of adventure and discovery. There is also a sense of uncertainty, discomfort, and the excitement of the unknown keeping company with our fears.
There is risk and there is sacrifice present in addition to the rising tide of energies with the Shadow's resurrection and recognition. The act of identifying our limitations, our hidden obsessions, our most malodorous shit, involves the recognition of what we are gaining from the intimate revelations of the taboos of our Shadow Wounds; the unending sorrow, searing agony, the gaping holes of unworthiness, all of it, and we earnestly begin diving 'Into our Depths' with conscious intention.
Through visceral meditative focus and the ritualized act of giving the Shadow Soul a sacred and confidential container where it is appreciated fully and completely, we are offered an opportunity to surrender to the healing power that is inherent in the intentional reclaiming of this energy. It can then provide a safe breakthrough, a fresh way to proceed, unburdened from the hold these wounds have on us going forward.
A powerful, devoted, and unwavering compassion for the seemingly overwhelming negativity found within our Shadow is required for this integration to lead to our evolutionary transformation. The blame, shame, discontent, devaluing, inadequacies, we contain are no longer in control of our lives. Does that mean we are out of control? Do we require a temporary loss of control to find the keys to our own prison, I wonder?
Once we are able to fully comprehend specifically what the twisted gifts, the secret benefits are that we are receiving from keeping these perversions from actively sabotaging us, we are then freed from that unrecognized bondage. No longer slaves to the wounds within, we are now on the way to becoming the mystresses of our own destiny, empowered from the wisdom of and the capability to "Know Thyself" more wholly than ever before. The keys were there, hidden in the shadows, the entire time.
During this blessedly divine working, in the northern hemisphere, are experiencing the sun's waning light, and the questions, musings, and random thoughts that arise from within our Shadow Souls prepare us for our self-generative healing to effectively restore us to our full vitality. It readies us for when the light begins to wax again. September is the time for gathering the last of the harvests and this pilgrimage celebrates the death, the ending within the beginnings. Something that we, in our western culture, have lost touch with and are now suffering the consequences.
This contemplative act of digging through our inner refuse piles engages our whole being, even if we are unaware of its powers to do so. Now is the time to CREATE from the garbage we have mined from our adventures in the depths. Be playful, welcoming, and encouraging as the creativity within is released with joyful ceremony.
This is the most important part of this process. Have fun! Throw out your doubts. Trust in your innate creativity and draw the images that come to mind. Or start a garden, engineer a new invention, write a book, poetry or music, sing the songs of the Shadow's wounds. Make something, anything as a symbol to honor this life-affirming rite of passage. Build an altar to this sacred healing practice with the revelations from this encounter and reap the gifts of this sacramental offering to your Shadow Soul's return.
Inviting the creative expression into the curative process gives us the momentum, the power to heal ourselves of these seeming curses, transforming them into benedictions. It allows our psyche's depths to be illuminated with compassion and acceptance, even as our bodies and souls are restored to a state of wholeness. Traversing this path with a group allows us all to go farther than what is possible if we remain solitary travelers.
Something must be given in return for what is received. Remembering this and making it a devotion while working with the Inner Shadow and its sacred presence in our lives strengthens the relationship within ourselves. It brings integration and the offerings of this dark inner work out of our private realms and into the light of our consciousness.
Our souls are fed by this affirmation and validation. When we are allowed to recognize our Darkness, we give ourselves permission to be unbound from its hold on us, to be free of our addictions for sustaining its existence as it is. It creates a different way to perceive our ShadowSouls. A healthier shift is made possible and we gain the power to act differently, able and willing to take the steps to move forward into the radiant Light of our best lives yet to be.
What do the obsessions, the most twisted distortions, the darkest, kinkiest secrets we are holding within our Shadow's wounds offer us in return for its existence, I wonder? What are you getting from these dark, tempting, seductive and tantalizing gifts? It must be something powerful to keep us in place.
It's something to consider, as our harvest blessings are being reaped while the nights stretch, longer and longer before us, beckoning us from the shadows of our depths. <3
Written by C.Shepard ~ Artist/Consultant/Instructor