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The Power of Shadow Work

I posted this in my newsletter this weekend, but wanted to share it here with you as well . . .

Have you ever had goals that were HUGE, but all of your efforts felt so small? No matter what you did, you just couldn't seem to break through?

Sometimes we may lack knowledge to achieve our goals. In that instance, it's an easy fix. I've had students come take classes and start healing practices within 1 month, simply because they were energetically clear as a whistle and all they lacked was practical knowledge and application.

Other times we do all of the right things, but because of limiting beliefs, unconscious toxic habits, or patterns we're not fully even aware, we get stuck. Others try to point out what's stopping us, but we argue against all of the possibilities because we can't even see the mis-alignment.

It's a funky feeling. It feels like there's no way out.

And this is exactly why I LOVE Shadow Work.


Shadow work is the healing work that allows us to look at the parts of our unconscious, unseen parts of ourselves. These are parts we've rejected, or that cause us to feel shame and negativity. We may not think of these shadows day to day, but they come up when we start new enterprises or set new challenges that shift our patterns.

Our shadows are not bad in themselves, but when light is shed on them, we can feel bad about who we are. As a result, we may act out defensively and create even more harm as we try to protect ourselves from feeling bad.

When we do shadow work, we are directly facing those feelings and allowing ourselves to feel everything as those feelings and old beliefs move out.

I know that sounds mighty uncomfortable, but the level of powerful transformation that comes from shadow work is phenomenal.

Shadow work can happen through many different channels and with many tools. Tarot cards, Reiki, therapy, meditation, yoga, journalling, ritual, and relationships are all tools that we can use to help face and integrate our shadows.

Sometimes people think they're haunted by ghosts, entities, or chorded ex-lovers, when in reality they are being weighed down by their own unconscious material--their shadows.


The term takes its more modern roots from the phrase "shadow self," which was coined by Carl Jung. When we engage in shadow work, we heal and bring back into balance, parts of ourselves that we have repressed or negated.

I learned about shadow work when I was young, from more ancient sources, such as Goddess Inanna's descent to the underworld, or Persephone's abduction and the grief of Demeter, the mother and goddess of grains. I'm sure old stories like these are where Jung got is award winning "stuff" as well. Historically, there are goddesses of many myths and cultures who teach us how to work with our shadows.

In 6th grade I wrote a script and performed a play on the myth of Eros & Psyche. In one part of the original story, the young Psyche is tasked with counting and sorting spilled seeds in order to meet with her love, the God Eros, once more. Although she initially views this as a punishment, it's in the spirit of deep wisdom that the goddess Aphrodite has her do this work. Picking up tiny seeds from the ground, piece by piece, forces her to reflect and reconcile the activity of her mind and busy ego. Each one of her thoughts is like a seed that must be put it its proper place. Often when we begin the deep, painstaking work of sorting ourselves out, the universe will send us even more support.

As a priestess of Ancient Egyptian mysteries I was taught a worldview that we have multiple, integrated sheaths to our body as we know it. Each of these are full templates of the body, in their own unique. The shadow, khaibit, is an entire body we hold that takes work to integrate into consciousness. But it also has power. It is one of the ways that we can astral travel very quickly, and often how we dream. The priestess learns to work with her shadows as allies, rather than running from aspects of herself. What are you actively running from in your life?


The truth is, shadow work is available ALL around us. It's really a matter of learning how to see what we're consciously choosing NOT to see. This time of year is very powerful for illuminating shadows, and learning to dance with them.

Halloween, is an agreed-upon time of the year to indulge in all of the parts of ourselves we may otherwise suppress or ignore. We give ourselves space to dress up in costumes that reflect some part of our inner psyche, or some fun fascination. We party, taste the sweetness of life, and allow ourselves to feel the discomfort of fear, and of the unknown. We even celebrate it.

Witches are beacons of light for the uncomfortable societal truths we like to ignore. They illuminate what is unjust, unclear, or out of integrity with earth, and with our soul truths. Classic stories involving witches show them as catalysts for healing and transformation. Witches fight against bossy ego-based social conditioning, by remaining aligned with the earth, seasonal cycles, and celestial tides. This makes them very powerful because they aren't beholden to other people, but it's also why witches have often been persecuted and demonized by organized religion and governing societies.


Students who take Reiki with me sometimes say, "I want to go deeper into my wounds and trauma. This isn't deep enough for me!"

I often reply:

"Reiki IS shadow work. It feels loving and nurturing, but it lays a foundation for shadow healing by showing us how to transmute energy within our system. It bypasses the ego-based process. It changes how our minds function, and although it begins as a soft journey, the more you actively engage with all aspects of the teachings, the more you will ride right into the heart of your shadows. Most people cherry-pick what they enjoy in Reiki, abandoning a regular practice, so they never get this far."

You see, we need a firm tether in order to go deeper in our shadow work. That TETHER can either be a therapist or trusted friend, or a very strong energetic healing container. The lessons of Reiki 1 & 2 prepare us for engaging with the hidden aspects of our selves.

By cultivating a daily practice, we create the strong neural pathways necessary for mental stability in the face of the unknown. We create a well of safety as we delve into deeper shadows. Without that footwork--or a personal guide like a therapist or shaman--we can becomes easily overwhelmed, disoriented, and lost.

Or even worse, in my opinion, we become stuck in a trauma story and feel victimized by the entire world around us. That's an easy fix.... Begin cultivating your daily light work practice to set that tether for shadow work. Yes, everyday.

The process of Hatsurei-Ho as taught in Reiki 1 Training, is your daily practice. This specific practice clears chords, re-establishes boundaries, moves energy, calms your mind and teaches you how to actively self-reflect. The most challenging part is to do it everyday.

Self-reflection is a main ingredient of shadow work. You must be willing to sit with your most uncomfortable truths. You must be willing to admit to yourself what you'd never say out loud, and what you feel most deeply. Willingness opens a door for actual self-realization.

When we do our Reiki self-practice, we naturally bring in a lot of light. That helps to protect your energy field as you naturally really in the shadow work.

In essence, if you want to do Shadow Work, begin with your self-Reiki practice every day. Shadows live in the quiet corners of your mind. They like to come out in huge displays when we're expanding our light. The more you learn to spend time in those quiet corners, the easier your path becomes.

If you'd like to learn more about Reiki energy healing and how it can support you in shadow work, feel free to shoot me a message and ask me, "Does Reiki really help with Shadow Work?" Let's talk! Message me HERE.




DAILEY LITTLE is a healing practitioner, transformational life coach, ordained Priestess, and teacher who founded Healing Heart Reiki to help others navigate life with joy. She offers private sessions, and teaches classes in healing and mindset from a magical peaceful corner of the world in Northern California. For more info see:

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