Making Peace with my Shadow

I was talking to a friend yesterday about the psychological shadow, and how I spend a lot of my time trying to make peace with mine. She wanted to know how exactly one goes about ‘making peace with their demons’, so to speak, and I realized then that I had never actually learned how to properly make peace with mine. I’ve learned to converse with it from time to time out of coping techniques I’ve had to build for myself, but I never once searched up how to properly face your shadow. So what did I do yesterday? I decided to research it.
Turns out that properly conversing with your shadow involves light meditation and imagery work. It’s actually a technique found in Shamanism. I decided that it had been a long time since I last meditated and did some imagery work, so I decided to do some this morning whilst I had the house to myself for a while. I found it ironic how whilst my family were going to church to commune with ‘God’, I was preparing to take a trip into the darkest recesses of my mind. 

Now I’m no master of meditation, and I don’t really do it that often, but I think I have the basic techniques down. Lay down comfortably, stop moving, count your breaths or repeat a mantra, control and slow your breathing down, quiet your mind, ect. As it was imagery work though I stopped counting my breaths after a few minutes when my mind was silent, although I kept an eye on the speed of my breathing. I had some dark ambient music on too, which I’ve found extremely useful for trips into the subconscious before.  

Also when I say ‘imagery work’ I have to just mention here that most of it is just impressions upon my mind until I’ve been in a meditative state long enough to actually see the images before me in a hypnogogia like state. Altogether I was meditating for about twenty-five minutes. I’ve found that time goes a lot faster in the mind, and sometimes it even feels like I’ve time traveled when I come out of it again. The mind truly is an amazing thing.  

I decided to write what I remember happening here as a record. I’m going to try writing it in story format rather than list what happened, but I will try my hardest not to embellish it too much. Without further ado:  

I closed my eyes and found myself in the midst of a marsh. There were bits of organic debris strewn around everywhere and the mud was thick beneath my feet. I raked my hands through the mud, trying to get a feel of the place. I looked up and I saw a setting sun. The sky was golden and it gave off a slight eerie vibe. I decided to start walking straight ahead, raking my hands through the mud a few more times along the way. After a while I came towards a large expanse of water that resembled an ocean. I looked out across it wondering where to go next, and I wondered if my shadow would show itself to me then. So I called for it across the water. Nothing happened. I was disappointed, but resolved to find another way. Suddenly the air above the water became misty and the next time I blinked and opened my eyes I found myself in cave.  

The cave was large and I could hear a ravine off to the far side. As I looked around, I noticed a woman floating by me. Then I noticed a man standing beside her. He had a knife in his hand and it was poised to strike at the woman. The woman’s eyes flew open and they were deep red, and at that moment I shouted at him to stop. I didn’t want her to die. I did almost succeed in getting him to stop, but ultimately he did not listen to me. The knife came down and as the blade struck her skin, a monster came out of the shadows behind them. It started towards me and I fell backwards trying to get away. In my effort to escape I fell down a small tunnel. I was worried that the monster would follow me, but he was too big to get down the tunnel.  

At the end of the tunnel I found myself in another, smaller cave. I stood up and saw that in front of me there was another tunnel leading out of it. There was a light at the end of this tunnel, but it felt ominous and I was suddenly too terrified to carry on with my journey. After what felt like an eternity however, I plucked up the courage and started slowly walking through the tunnel. As I walked through it it weirdly got darker, until I found myself in a partly lit room. There were torches hanging from the walls, and I saw a skeleton hanging beside one of the torches. It didn’t seem scary though, even when it stretched its hand out towards me. It caressed my cheek, and then fell lifeless again. I noticed there were other skeletons hanging on the walls, and wondered why there were all there, but before I could think of an answer I noticed that there was a light coming again from in front of me where the room led away into another place.  

I walked over to it cautiously and found myself looking down at a staircase. I went down it, wondering what was at the bottom. As I approached the bottom I noticed that the space above me was opening up. Finally I came to the last step and I found myself in another world. The sky was dark, omitting only a little starlight. Around me there were trees and bushes, and I realized I was in a forest. I could hear animals scurrying around me, and I felt lost. I got on my knees and started crying out for help. None came however, and I decided to get up and carry on walking. Not a far way off I came to the edge of a cliff. I didn’t know where to go next, and I didn’t want to turn back. I asked the wind what to do next, and it responded to me, telling me to jump off the cliff. So I did. 

I was falling for what felt like an eternity. I wasn’t afraid of what would happen once I hit the bottom, and once I hit the ground below I got up and brushed myself off. I expected to be bleeding at least, but I was absolutely fine. I looked around and found myself in a clearing in a yet another forest. Off to the side there was a woman staring off into the overgrowth. She was dressed in armor, and I made my way over to her. I asked her if it was dangerous in the forest. She told me that it was indeed. I then asked her how long she had been in this place. She replied that she had been stuck down here for fifty years. Before I had the chance to be surprised though she grabbed my arm and shushed me to be quiet. So I did. And all of a sudden my awareness returned to my body laying in my bed.  

(Now this is going to sound weird but this legit happened, and actually come to think of it I’ve had a similar experience before.) Wondering why I was no longer in my subconscious, I tried to center and then enter my mind again, but as I did I felt an overwhelming dark presence standing over me. It was a shadow. I hadn’t actually expected to be outside my mind when meeting it. But I was absolutely petrified. I had to literally fight with myself to not open my eyes and look around to make sure there was nothing there. It was scary as fuck. Then I felt it lean over me. My already extreme levels of fear doubled and I thought at one point that maybe demons do exist. I created a mental barrier, by swathing myself in white light as the Wiccans do, and mentally spoke to the presence. I told it it could only enter if it wasn’t out to harm me. I then mentally equipped myself with a knife and told it that I would use it if necessary. I prepared myself to strike as it leaned in closer, but weirdly the closer it got the less afraid I felt.  

Finally its face was level with mine and I looked into its eyes. At first I saw nothing but the deepest black, but the further in I looked, the clearer they got, until I could see into the shadow’s soul. It was pure innocence. All my fears dissipated. I told it that it was really a nice person, but no one could see that past the dark vibe it gave off. It agreed with me and added that it felt misunderstood and lonely for that exact reason. And that was when I realized I was talking to myself. It affirmed what I was thinking and went on to tell me that he was a part of me whose existence I had long since ignored. It then told me to quieten my mind and relay what I could hear. I couldn’t hear anything though.  

Next thing I knew I was standing above my own body, knife in hand, stabbing myself over and over again. I then felt other more distant shadowy presences by me. The other shadow I had been talking to came and told me that it would protect me. It told me not to worry. My awareness returned to my body then, and the shadow grabbed a hold of my hand and merged into me. As it was doing this, my awareness fell back into the depths of my mind. I found myself in a void. I heard a voice call out to me from the depths of my mind and I replied. I had a conversation with the voice, although it was fairly lengthy and I don’t remember much of what we were talking about. I remember arguing a bit.  

At one point I found myself standing inside the Colosseum. It was empty and it looked as if it hadn’t been maintained in over a millennium. The walls were crumbling and the color was faded from them. And then the voice I had been speaking to told me that this was its home. It was trapped in here without choice, left to decay within the walls. Then all a sudden I found myself in the ground, under a large tree. There were roots all around me forming a type of prison. I was trapped within them. The voice then said that the part of the tree above ground represented my consciousness, and the part below ground, represented my subconscious and the part of me that was currently talking to me. It was an ironic analogy showing how my subconscious is the foundation of my very being, and yet I keep it locked up there against its own will.  

I returned to the void and carried on talking with the voice. After a while I told it that it seemed too nice. I told it that I wanted to see the darker parts of my mind. After asking this, a trapdoor opened up below me and I fell through it and into the heavens. I was floating in midair, looking up at tall colorful houses on a midsummers day. I felt confused. All of a sudden I was transported to the inside of one of the houses. I found myself in a kitchen, leaning against a cabinet top. I looked down and saw a brown Labrador wagging its tail happily at something. I followed its gaze and saw a man cooking a cake. Then all of a sudden the man grabbed the wooden rolling pin it had been using and started beating the dog over the head with it. He carried this act out until the dog was dead. Whilst all this was happening I stood there in a mixture of horror and fascination at what I was seeing.  

Then all of a sudden I found myself upstairs in one of the bedrooms. I stood in front of a cupboard that I felt was so full of darkness it was practically leaking. In front of the cupboard was a white barrier that was supposed to keep the doors shut and the darkness in, but it wasn’t strong enough and the doors flew open before me. I stepped back quickly and an obnoxious woman came tumbling out. She smiled cruelly and pushed me across the room, teasing horribly all the while that I was worthless. I fell back against the wall and she trapped me there, wondering aloud at what awful things she would want to do to me just for the sake of her amusement. I suddenly remembered that it was my mind and that I had the right to be in control, and I told her so. I then grabbed a hold of her and flipped us around so I was the one trapping her against the wall, but I was shaking with fear. She submitted fairly easily but carried on smirking knowing full well that I wasn’t strong enough to resist her if she absolutely wanted to hurt me.  

At that point I heard my family’s car pull into the drive way in real life and realized that I had to return to consciousness. Still with that obnoxious smirk on her face she pointed out that it looked like I had to go back. Shakily I agreed and told her I would be back at some point to settle things. I then let myself slowly back up to consciousness.  

Let’s just say my reaction after coming out of that trance was, ‘what the fuck’. 

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