Facing The Shadows

This morning my thoughts were on the diverse “New Age” groups I participated in while I was beginning to explore my spiritual roots. It’s been twelve years since I have actively participated in most spiritual groups. The exceptions for me are Don Oscar Miro Quesada’s Wednesday night gatherings online and Renee Baribeau’s Wind Work, but I don’t define these two shamanic leaders as “New Age.” Those two leaders have come up through indigenous American (Indian) spiritual traditions – Lakota and Peruvian Pachakuti. The reason is that most of those groups are so keen to talk about positivity and light, but their resonance when any hot button touches Shadow Work is critical, judgmental, and distancing. For this reason I do not belong to any such “New Age” agendas.

I was, however, a participant in the Gurdjieff Work for a number of years. I was with Ann Kelly’s group in Honesdale, PA from 1987-1989, the year she passed. Later I met Donald Petacchi almost on my rural doorstep in Hobart, NY, and I studied with him off and on between 1996 and 2003. Don knew a lot about the Enneagram and how it fit the octave of music. What he taught me was nothing like I have glanced at in these books on personality or gardening with the Enneagram.

Gurdjieff was a controversial character even in his time. He knew that to create discord in people was the way to help them grow a soul.

Shadow Work is about turning to face yourself in whatever way you are discomfited, without projection and without blame. You have to begin with an understanding that you are part of any relationship you belong to, and consequently, what you experience from that relationship can teach you something about yourself. Abusive relationships will teach you about fear, hatred, survival, and even a kind of subservience that you get into to save your life. Kinder relationships will teach you about love, caring, friendship, and the nuances of giving and reciprocity. We learn about life through relationship. There are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, uncles, aunts, cousins, the school bullies, heroes, warriors, grifters, saints and sinners. We take away as much as we put into it.

I’ve been doing a lot of Shadow Work this week as I care for my mate. He’s bordering on dementia. His body functions almost like that of a toddler. He’s healing up from pneumonia. It’s been a very hard week. We have been gracious with one another. I have screamed at him that I cannot take care of him and had more than one hard crying session, and he says he finds no fault with me. I have been kind during the times his control of body functions escapes him. These times are messy. Nobody wants to talk about end of life or elder care. These times get hushed up at home. This is why I am talking about it.

I have seen the depths of my own light and my own darkness and I am owning both. The crowning jewel during these hard times is knowing I am doing the best I can, even if my efforts seem piss poor. Somehow I rise up and down the Tree of Life that is in me from depression to joy, to anger and despair, and then to greet the morning in Nature with all the feeling of ecstasy I experience in the presence of the Gods. I invite Them in, and my prayers are answered. Today I needed clarity and balance to tackle what lies before me in the day, and so it is.

Published by susanofthenorth

Susan Hintz Epstein is an author, Rune diviner, healer, non-academic scholar, and former Methodist Lay Speaker who was called by the Runes in 2013. The time since then has been a serpentine shedding of one skin for another, as Susan's spiritual practice with the Runes and the World Tree, Yggdrasil, deepened. Susan keeps company with the Norns and other like-minded women.

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