Shadow work

Forest path

The passage below is from Chapter 2 of Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. When I read books that touch me, I highlight certain words, and then pick a card for each word that I feel needs to explored. One can do this with any book, any keyword. In this instance I have written down some of the questions I asked, but I don’t always ask a question; sometimes I just draw a card for the keyword.

One of the least discussed issues of individuation is that as you shine the light into the dark of your psyche as strongly as you can, the shadows, where the light is not, grow even darker. So when we illuminate some part of the psyche, there is a resultant deeper dark to contend with. This dark cannot be let alone. The key, the questions, cannot be hidden or forgotten. They must be asked. They must be answered.

The deepest work is usually the darkest. A brave woman, a wisening woman, will develop the poorest psychic land, for if she builds only on the best land of her psyche, she will have for a view the least of what she is. So do not be afraid to investigate the worst. It only guarantees increase of soul power.”

So these are the questions I asked, but one can rearrange and add or subtract to suit their own exploration of shadow work.

1. What part of the psyche am I exploring (illuminating)?

2. What shadows does it contain?

3. What is the key?

4. Advice on what I need to do to develop the psychic land

I used to walk through that forest path in the photo above, on my way home. In the day it was serene, calm, healing. Coming home at night though, that was a different story. I think it’s no coincidence that I had to face my worst night-time fears (alone/dark/forest) at a time I was exploring the shadows of my inner life.


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