“The shadow is the unconscious and disowned parts of our personality that the ego fails to see, acknowledge, and accept. It is any aspect of ourselves that is not exposed to the light of our consciousness.” – Carl Jung
The shadow can be viewed as the hidden parts of ourselves that we have repressed over time, for one reason or the other, shoved into the darkness. Shadow work is the practice of discovering those repressed truths so that we may better understand ourselves and the ways in which we can improve as individuals. Once we become aware of those hidden truths, we can work towards healing and obtaining a balance of our inner light and dark. Because we are unaware of it and cannot see it clearly, the subconscious mind is often called the “shadow”, whereas the conscious mind is seen and acknowledged so it is called the “light”.
The topic of shadow work is quite controversial for many people. Some psychologists, life coaches, and spiritual teachers will tell you that it will improve your well being, while others will say that seeking darkness will harbor more darkness. If the latter is your belief, then this article is not for you. Focusing on the light will not make the dark go away, but rather it will encourage repression – this instills stagnancy and one can never hope to improve in such a state. Find your shadows, make peace with them, and take control of your Self. Don’t stress too much about what you might find. Change is necessary for growth and improvement. Shadows are created because we push them away and hide them within, and although we may think “out of sight, out of mind”, these darknesses still affect every aspect of our lives – we’re just unaware of them.
Shadow work can help us to let go of pestering thoughts and unhealthy patterns that cause disturbances in our lives, as well as strengthening the relationship we have with others and ourselves. It can release past trauma and triggers and help to heal emotional wounds. Shadow work, when done constantly, will transform us into better and more emotionally stable versions of ourselves. If you struggle with internal conflict and mental instability, shadow work can be the answer for you.
*This article is in no way meant to serve as medical advice. If you have existing mental troubles, you should seek professional help*
Where to Start with Shadow Work
The first step is being willing to start. Once you have acknowledged that there are parts of yourself you need to change, the rest is pretty simple. Some would advise you keep a shadow work journal in which you’ll take notes of what you’ve discovered and then actively seek to improve upon those things. This journal can be written in, drawn in, bulleted – basically any form of record which you find to be most helpful. Even if you choose not to keep track on paper, you should still be aware of your findings and the places where improvement is needed. The key is to do it actively and purposefully.
Some questions to ask yourself as you start your journey:
“What causes this problem?”
“What do I believe is the root of it?”
“How can I change this part of myself for the better?”
Remember that many aspects of ourselves are rooted in childhood, especially the negative ones. If you begin to recall experiences you had repressed, it’s important not to turn away from them. Go at your own pace if you must, but be sure to address them, accept them, and make peace with them. This is how we heal, how we improve, and how we grow.
- Use your triggers, they are messages and an invitation to dive deeper into your unconscious.
- Be aware of the shadow and observe without judgment
- Negative habits which hinder growth can be released with acknowledgement
- Make peace so you can find peace
- Love yourself
One of the many tools you can use on your journey to self improvement through shadow work is crystals. They can provide guidance, comfort, and healing through their energy which helps to balance our own. Different crystals may help in different ways. Here are some top choices for shadow work with crystals.
Obsidian is a mirror to the soul. Different types of obsidian will provide different types of insight, depending on which parts of yourself you’d like to work on. Consider snowflake obsidian, gold sheen obsidian, rainbow obsidian, apache tear obsidian, mahogany obsidian, peacock obsidian, or smoky obsidian. The best choice when starting shadow work is Black Obsidian. Often used for scrying and divination purposes, black obsidian gently reveals truths which otherwise would have remained hidden. This crystal for shadow work provides insight into the repressed parts of ourselves through the act of meditation. It is especially helpful in ancestral work and past life recall. It reveals inner truth and will show you who you really are. Gaze into the surface of the crystal and you will see yourself. Literally and figuratively.
Labradorite is a stone of transformation and change which balances and illuminates inner truth. In Norse mythology, it represents the Bifrost bridge which connects Midgard to Asgard (the earth to the heavens), giving symbolism to the stone of connecting the physical with the spiritual planes. It is said that as you gaze at its flashes of blue and green, the stone will reveal secrets that further deepen our understanding of ourselves. Labradorite illuminates repressed memories and emotions while dispelling fear and anxiety from the subconscious. It is an excellent crystal for shadow work as it aids in self-reflection and introspection, helping to understand the motives and causes behind our negative thoughts and actions. Working with labradorite can shed light on behavioral issues which are rooted deeply in the shadow, helping to rectify them.
Selenite is best known as one of the master healers which clear and cleanse negative energy that rises to the surface during shadow work. It assists to cut cords with people, places, feelings, and actions which no longer serve your highest purpose. It is a great choice for forming spiritual connections and receiving messages from the divine as well as your spirit guides. Finding and exploring the higher self is essential for any beginner of shadow work. Selenite is a fantastic reminder that you hold the light within, especially when traveling the dark recesses of your shadow self. It is great for cleansing your mind and your space, both before and after shadow work.
Black Tourmaline is a dispeller of negative energy, thoughts, and emotions. It alleviates anger, anxiety and fear which may arise when exploring the shadow self. Black tourmaline grounds and protects by absorbing negativity and anything which may be harmful to your progression in shadow work, as it is closely connected to the lower chakras.
Rose quartz is the stone of universal love which opens the heart chakra to better give and receive love. It is a stone of harmony and compassion which promotes understanding of others as well of oneself. It comforts and nurtures, like a balm to the soul, especially in times of distress or discomfort, like when you’re doing shadow work. A calming stone which releases stress, anxiety and fear, its best attribute is self-love.
Moonstone is another stone of comfort which harmonizes the emotional body with the mental state. It is energetically supportive and is great for anyone who is uncomfortable with change. Moonstone is the stone of new beginnings which presents opportunities for growth and helps ease the transition. It is a crystal of feminine empowerment, but is a great choice for anyone looking for a spiritual rebirth.
LIFE PURPOSE CRYSTALS
Celestite opens your spiritual path and helps to form a connection between yourself and the spiritual realm to better receive the guidance you need on this new path. It provides wisdom, insight, and inner peace while elevating the spirit.
Apophyllite works alongside the soul star chakra and helps with soul retrieval. As it opens the higher chakras, it makes one more receptive to spiritual guidance and assists in the exploration of the higher self. Apophyllite promotes rebirth, spiritual growth, and enlightenment.
Natural citrine (not dyed citrine) works with the solar plexus chakra to help you find your inner willpower in times of difficulty. It is a powerful cleanser and a booster of vibrations to lend energy when you need it the most. Citrine inspires creativity and helps to clear mental clutter.
Blue kyanite is a rare crystal which vibrates so powerfully that it hardly ever requires cleansing, but instead helps to cleanse the mind. It aligns the chakras to provide energetic balance and promotes psychic communication on all levels. Blue kyanite is a stone of clarity which helps us to see endless possibilities in any situation.
Crystals to help identify problems and find solutions
Peacock Ore releases energy blockages as it cleanses and aligns all the chakras.
Golden Healer Quartz raises energetic vibrations to clear energetic blockages while tapping into the universal life force.
*Moldavite is a powerful crystal for change and transformation, but it is not recommended for shadow work as it can bring some of the darkness back to surface after it has been released. While it can provide you with a hefty push in the right direction, it can also turn your life upside down and chaos can ensue. It is best to avoid this crystal when beginning shadow work.
Crystals for Shadow Work can be used in a multitude of ways, but one of the best methods is through meditation. When you sit with yourself, hold a crystal in each hand. Or if you prefer to lie down, place them at various parts of your body depending on the type of healing you’d like to receive. Keep them in an area where you journal or set them up on an altar. If candles are your thing, create a grid. Crystal pendulums are also a great way to get insight. Check our article on which crystal should I choose for my pendulum. You can also incorporate crystals into your oracle or tarot reading. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way, just use your intuition and keep the end goal in mind. Shadow work is a constant practice and we’re never done growing.