In my last post, I promised to describe a ritual which my family does about the Jungian Shadow. We've done this ritual in the past at the summer solstice, but it can be done at any time.
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People fear snakes, and run from spiders. When we see these particular animals, we shrink in fear. Certain types of animals make our skin crawl. These animals are the “creepy crawly” ones or the ones we only see at night like owls. The ones that we feel the queasiest about are the animals that are the most alien or radically different from us.
Animals that elicit such a strong response from us are our Shadow Animals. These animals represent the part of our inner landscape that we want to keep in perpetual darkness. Shadow Animals are the manifestations of the unacceptable aspects of ourselves. They hold the aspects of ourselves that we dislike. Since many people feel uncomfortable in embracing their dark side, fear of certain animals is one way to keep it at bay. Hence, we invest our dark qualities in spiders and snakes.
What do Shadow Animals do? They give us permission to love the unacceptable parts of ourselves. When we work with Them, we take back our lost power to forgive ourselves. Once we embrace our Shadow Animals, we will be reunited with these missing parts of our being. They show us that our most hated, feared, and shameful qualities are actually our keys to living the life of our dreams. Shadow Animals call you to make peace with yourself.
In my last post, I described Neo-Paganism as a modern-day mystery religion. Historically, initiates into the mystery religions experienced a ritual death and rebirth. Some Neo-Pagan rituals follow this format. The idea is that we die to our old selves and awaken to a new, more expansive Self. In Jungian terms, the Self is the wholeness of our many disparate selves, conscious and unconscious. But to encounter the Self, we must let our old selves, our egos, die. This is a psychological death, but no less significant than physical death from the perspective of the ego. For the ego, the experience can be as painful as dying physically, and some people would prefer physical death....
As indicated in the introduction to this blog above, I discovered Jungianism and Neo-Paganism at the same time, through the writings of Vivianne Crowley, Margot Adler, and Starhawk, and the two have remained intertwined for me ever since. In fact, the first Pagan writing I ever read was an essay by Wiccan priestess and Jungian psychologist, Vivianne Crowley entitled, "Wicca as a Modern-Day Mystery Religion", in Graham Harvey and Charlotte Hardman's Paganism Today (1994). Wouter Hanegraaf has written that Vivianne Crowley’s Jungian perspective “is so strong that readers might be forgiven for concluding that Wicca is little more than a religious and ritual translation of Jungian psychology.” And, in fact, that is exactly what I believed. Even after realizing that that Paganism is far more diverse than I had originally thought, Crowley's vision of Wicca has continued to influence me....
It was spring, finally. The Westerosi-esque winter had finally departed, but on the first beautiful day NYC had in 2014, my partner and I were not frolicking in the park like the sane people, but wading through a "Hoarders" meets "Chernobyl Diaries" landscape: a scent memory that surfaces and spins at inconvenient moments like the little rainbow-wheel on a frozen Mac. Two friends donned homemade haz-mat suits made of shower caps and black plastic bags from the liquor store while our roommate followed us through the putrid maze, dabbing a "apartment-claiming" spell she'd whipped together made of vinegar and a dab of her own urine. She's never done a lot of spellwork before, but frankly, the New York Real Estate race will make a Witch out of anyone.
'I'm going to write about this, and I'll wish I were joking,' I thought as I watched the teenager from down the hall roll around on the linoleum in the hall, groaning, "I CAN'T! IT SMELLS TOO MUCH! I CAN'T!"
Our neighbor had been evicted and she abandoned 23 frightened, malnourished cats in a two-bedroom apartment stacked so high with years of garbage, walking through the halls required a weird little dance I'd only performed in Twister, before. Through a series of frustrating events, my partner and I ended up as wardens of the kitties. By the time we got into the apartment, the little ones had been alone for at least three days and there were no signs that they had any food or water during that time.
When the 8 of Swords comes up in a reading, it usually means that your predicament is a product of your own making or imagination. You have confined yourself to the degree that you are unable to free yourself or even see a way out. In the Anna K version of this card, we see a woman looking at herself in a mirror but she is not seeing her true reflection, she is seeing something else entirely. Her mirrored self is blindfolded and wrapped up in a material that is in both her current world and her mirrored world. In the mirror, she is surrounded by swords with a small path in front of her while outside of the mirror she holds a sword in her hand. Since the swords represent thoughts, the mirrored self suggests that she surrounded by her thoughts, allowing them to confine her while the self on the outside of the mirror has more control of her thoughts since the sword is in her hand. Could it be that she seeing that she is doing it to herself?...