There are so many ways to see and experience Shadow Work, but first we will go into what it means in a broader context.
Shadow Work is identifying all the parts of a person and integrating them in to create the whole/true self. These parts may be openly acknowledged and known or they may be hidden, wounded, etc. In many cases there is a great amount of fear associated with allowing these parts to come forward initially. The above artwork is a great representation of uncovering and integrating the shadow.
In Shamanism, all parts of oneself that have not been acknowledged or healed within self are part of our shadow self. When we experience trauma personally or ancestrally, those parts that separate from our core self during the traumatic event join our shadow self. The goal of Shamanic practice is to bring those shadow parts and those core parts into alignment (integration). Shadow work is it's own type of Ceremony and may be conducted individually or within a group.
The majority, if not all, adult humans have several different aspects to their state of being before they begin doing Shadow Work. First, they have the persona that they created in order to survive their childhood. Sometimes that persona is never fully put down and they live their entire life behind something of a mask. For a simplified example, one that is all too common at that, let's say that said person was frequently hit by their parent as punishment. In order to avoid being physically hurt by their parent (a child would view this as having their life in danger), they became very quiet and subdued. Seen and not heard. In this case, the person is now living for the persona they created and not for their true self. This could lead to many emotional challenges, but often it is some variation of depression and lack of fulfillment in life with multiple other layers of trauma coping mixed in.
Another side of this is about all the aspects of that person that were pushed to the back of their internal closet as a result of creating this persona. Perhaps a quiet child would not be playful or adventurous. Therefor these traits are viewed as "bad" or "unsafe" and are not exercised or acknowledged. This person as an adult may not speak out for themselves in their career, be able to connect with their children in a playful manner or may even develop a phobia about being in social situations. These closeted personality traits would not re-emerge until they have been identified, accepted, healed and integrated into the whole.
The final layer of Shadow Work, which is closely intermingled with the two previously listed, are the masculine and feminine traits. These are also established from a place of traditional trauma as well as social conditioning (a different form of trauma). If you are out of balance in one of these energies, you would display the toxic characteristics of that masculine or feminine energy. Below is one of my favorite lists on the topic. It is not absolute, but it gives you a better idea of the ways in which an imbalance presents itself.
Healthy Feminine is...
Intuitive, Receptive, Magnetic, Connection, Flexibility, Flow, Surrender, Fertility, Softness, Healing, Open ,Trusting, Creative, Supportive, Empathetic, Compassionate, Boundaries
Unhealthy Feminine is..
Insecure, Needy, Co-dependant, Manipulative, Inauthentic, Over-emotional, Victim, Too Allowing, Hyper Sensitive, Waiting for Things to Happen, Rejections of Practicality or Rational Logic, Fantasy Driven, Fear of Conflict, Disempowerment Around Others, Fear of Being Egotistical, Excessively Validating or Seeking Validation, Unresolved Pain or Fear Towards Masculine
Healthy Masculine is...
Deeply Present, Doesn't Judge, Supportive, Has Discipline, Focused, Logical, Confident, Protective, Honest, Accountable, Has Integrity, Humble, Boundaries, Offers Stability & Security, Responsible, Strength, Directions, Clarity, Action, Practicality, Grounded, Courageous, Adventurous, Earthy
Unhealthy Masculine is...
Alpha=Winner, Domination, Force, Abuse of Power, Falsely Relaying Accomplishments, Extreme Rationalism, Rejections of Intuition or Receptivity, Fear of Intimacy or Rejection of Intimacy, Separation Driven, Competition Driven, Fear of Being Seen as Weak, Fear of Emotions, Unresolved Pain or Fear towards Feminine, Controlling, Aggressive, Abusive, Withdraws, Avoids, Unstable
Often a part of following the Shamanic path, especially after we have sat in Ceremony with a potent Sacrament such as Mushrooms, is that we are called to engage in a Shadow Work Ceremony. Currently, Eric is our primary Shadow Work Facilitator. He offers private and group Shadow Work Ceremony opportunities.