The shadow side of our nature is one often kept hidden, even from ourselves. It is the side of us that society often frowns upon. It is the side of us that usually generates feelings of fear, disgust or anger.
As such, we keep it buried, locked away in the hope it will disappear and never return.
But that is not what the shadow is there for. Our shadow is a part of who we are. It is a fundamental essence of us, as crucial and essential as the light within us. To repress either our light or our dark sides means we can never fully become who we are meant to be.
A shadow that is repressed can take on monstrous tendencies. Rather than die away, it grows. Often, it grows in negativity as even the shadow experiences the pain of neglect. It may not be the most beautiful side of who we are, but it deserves our care and attention just as much.
The shadow is a reminder to us that we are imperfect as human beings. We did not come here to show the world how perfect we are. We came here to learn. We came here to accept that humans are not perfect and we possess flaws and weaknesses.
It is society and its judgement that has produced an unrealistic expectation of what human beings should be. It demands that we show our best face to everyone and that we feel shame for the sides of ourselves that are not so … impressive.
But all emotions must have a home to go to. When we repress or ignore our shadow side, it inevitably grows. In some instances, it grows beyond our control and then it exerts powerful influence over us, sometimes without us even knowing. A side of us becomes twisted, untamed and uncontrollable.
Astrologically-speaking, the sign of Scorpio, the asteroid Lilith, the planet Pluto and the 8th house all deal with the shadow side. People with strong Scorpio in their chart or planets in the 8th house will feel compelled towards their shadow side, as well as the shadow of others.
Read this next: Are You a Plutonian?
The thing is, everything we are on the inside manifests in the external world. A shadow that is repressed or ignored will find a way to manifest itself in the world.
As they say, everything starts from within. The world around us is merely a reflection of who we are.
How Do We Know it is the Shadow?
The shadow is different for everyone. Ultimately, only the individual can face their own shadow. A shadow is not often immediately apparent upon meeting someone or knowing them for a few weeks or months. People put their best face forward when meeting someone for the first time.
Some people can hide and repress their shadow from others for years. But you will come to know someone’s shadow side as it is the side of them which is not truly who they are.
Here is an example. A woman gets into a relationship with a man. She has been single for some time after a string of failed relationships. This woman is beautiful, smart, funny, successful, compassionate. She has so many good qualities, it’s almost too good to be true!
Over time, the man starts to notice things about her which were not clear at first. When they were out one day, for example, an attractive woman walked past and the man happened to glance at her. His girlfriend went quiet but minutes later exploded at him, screaming that he was attracted to this stranger and telling him the relationship was over.
This is an example of her shadow side. The morbid jealousy that exists within this woman was triggered. It was as if she was a completely different person. When she calmed down, she acknowledged the extremity of her reaction, claiming that in past relationships she had been cheated on and now she suffered from paranoia every time a woman appeared on the scene.
To her credit, she was aware of her shadow side. There are many, however, who are unaware of theirs. But if you want to know what it is, keep a close eye on when you feel negative emotions and what triggers them.
A shadow is often a combination of what we are born with, our experiences, genetic makeup, astrological makeup, and karmic influence. In short, who we are and yet not who we are. Our true selves are love, light and harmony. Our shadow is there for a reason – to bring us closer to our true selves. Hence why it must be integrated with our light.
How to Deal With Our Shadow Side
Shadow work is not often planned. Your soul knows exactly who you are and it knows what to do to help you integrate your shadow with your true self.
The best thing you can do when it comes to shadow work is follow your intuition. Human relationships are often the best way for us to learn more about our shadow side. Our partner shows us a mirror reflection of who we are. We cannot, for example, fall in love with someone unless they are mirroring who we are.
The things we hate in others are also the aspects we hate about ourselves. The things we love about others are also aspects we love about ourselves.
Shadow work is complicated and deeply enlightening. It is never straightforward. There is no rule book or guide book. But the following methods can help you explore your shadow side further:
Keeping a shadow diary can help you understand your shadow side at a deeper level. Take note of when you feel angry, annoyed, anxious, upset, jealous, or any negative emotion that arises within you. The more you input your experiences, the more you will find patterns and begin to learn more about yourself.
Read the Works of Carl Jung
The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote extensively about the shadow side and his profound works and quotes have been read by millions all over the world. For an in-depth understanding of the shadow, read up on some of his works.
One of his most famous quotes is:
“The shadow is a living part of the personality and therefore wants to live with it in some form. It cannot be argued out of existence or rationalised into harmlessness. The problem is exceedingly difficult, because it not only challenges the whole man, but reminds him at the same time of his helplessness and ineffectuality.”
Oracle decks can be a fantastic way to connect to your shadow side. Divination is one way for your unconscious mind to talk to you – this is where Oracle and Tarot come in so handy. You could ask an Oracle deck, ‘Tell me more about my shadow’ and lay out three cards. Take time to meditate on the cards and write in your shadow journal what springs to mind. You may be amazed at the information that comes to light. Remember, the unconscious mind is called unconscious for a reason.
Our consciousness does not acknowledge it. But it possesses an unlimited stream of information about ourselves. Sometimes it is just a question of tapping into it. Dreams are one way. Deep meditation is another. Oracle and Tarot decks are also wonderful tools for this.
Read this next: How to Choose a Tarot Card to Guide You Through the Day
Embrace Your Shadow
Remember, the shadow is not there to hurt or destroy you. It is a part of who you are and it wishes to be a part of your life. But when it is repressed or ignored, it runs the risk of becoming harmful in some way.
Every evil that exists in this world is a manifestation of shadow sides that have not been acknowledged and integrated by the individual. This world is a mirror of human beings. What is inside us, we project into the world.
When we choose to take an honest look at who we are, when we truly accept ourselves as flawed beings and acknowledge the shadow side within us, we get closer and closer to who we truly are. The complexity associated with this integration of light and dark is a part of life. We may not always get it right, but we should be kind to ourselves and acknowledge that we are only human. To err is human – to forgive, divine.
The wheel of life goes round and round and our shadow turns with it. It will do everything in its power to gain our attention. The kindest thing we can do for ourselves and others is to give it the attention it needs; to understand that the shadow is not who we are, but it is a part of who we are, and we have a duty to take care of every part of ourselves – even our shadow.
Related article: What is the Aura and What Colour is Your Aura?