Working With The Shadow Intentionally
Our darkness, our shadow parts, are mostly an undesirable topic, one that most choose to avoid.
Most people are good at speaking about their faults, personal issues and life problems, but this is not the same thing as willingly probing into your dark, murky, inner waters, your haunts, grief, fears and illusions. You may appear to be comfortable with your own darkness, and yet simultaneously, refuse to go deeper into it. In fact many people keep walking around and around the same darkness for years, lifetimes perhaps, with out making much change.
This refusal to go deep into your shadow parts and willingly face your deepest, darkest haunts and wounds, leaves you burdened with heavy loads that you never seem to be able to let go of or release. It's like blindly carrying an extra appendage with you. Oh how humans try to disguise this, cover it, deny its presence! And yet, this heavy, awkward limb is still attached, no matter how hard you try to pretend it doesn't exist.
Going into your shadows, requires a strong willingness, and a desire to go beyond your problems. It requires that you start asking "why is this happening to me?" over and over again. And then be courageous enough to seek the answers, the answers that are likely going to be painful, that will force you to change your life, that will expose your darkest secrets.
Just past the depth of your darkness, though, is the light. The gift. The gifts you so desperately seek. The gifts you long for are in fact hidden deep inside your shadow parts.
Most of humanity chooses to refuse their own darkness though, and deny that these parts of themselves are in fact alive within them. But just because one is unwilling to look at their own darkness, does not make it unreal, or keep it from controlling them. These shadow parts are still ruling your life whether you choose to face them or not.
Spiritual by-passing is a real concern and causing increasingly disastrous effects these days. The denial, negation or avoidance of one's shadow can be truly dire. The use of spiritual resources, tools and practices to negate the shadow, challenging emotions, old stories and one's personal mythology, is increasing in popularity. Affirmations, meditation, yoga, religious beliefs, even an addiction to connecting to the spirit world, rather then staying in one's body, are all common place spiritual-bypassing techniques that most people are completely oblivious of.
Whenever the darkness is not integrated and unified with the light, the effects will not be balanced or harmonious. The shadow always seeks the light and the light will always return to darkness. This is a Law of Nature- as they are one and the same. Ultimately, Rahu can not be denied, nor Ketu- his counterpart in karmic liberation. One's jyotish chart shows where the shadow is seeking light and how it will bring your awakening.
The blessing of your courageous efforts and your willingness, is finding that within the darkest and most disturbing parts of yourself, you will actually find the missing pieces you are desperately longing for; your whole and empowered life. If you are truly willing to courageously look into your own shadows you will undoubtedly find the very gifts you so desperately long to receive. Your shadows in fact hold the gifts you seek for wholeness, for your dharmic giving, your offerings to the world, and for a meaningful life.
As I continue to peel back the layers of my own shadow, my suffering, my darkness and my illusions, I find more and more pieces that affirm my dharmic gifts, and my offerings to the world. As I continue to face my grief, my struggles, pains and disappointments, I am finding more and more answers for my pain and illusions.
I’ve learned (and continue to learn), that when I quit resisting myself, there is immense awakening available to me. This comes through ideas, creativity, clarity, awareness, silence, peace and even joy. The moments when I release my grip, let go, and surrender, I find how much energy I’ve been using to resist my self, my own nature. This is my own resistance to my shadow parts and it takes immense energy to maintain this resistance.
We all have resistance. Finding the resistance within yourself and within your life, will point the way towards your own shadow parts. Remember that the energy you use to resist your own darkness takes incredible energy to maintain, and is a drain to the vital life force energy that could be put to good use elsewhere. Energy you could put into living your one precious life- actualizing your dreams, taking bold, fulfilling action steps!
We each have an attraction and repulsion dynamic within us; a push and a pull. This is expressed through the eleventh house of the Jyotish chart, the house of pluses and minuses. Aquarius is an expression of the 11th house and offers many of the same challenges and resources. This attraction repulsion dynamic is also the energy of Rahu, the north shadow node, as well as the role of Rahu and Ketu in our charts. Everyone has this drive, a pull towards what you want, which is also very intimately intertwined with what you are resisting or refusing in your life and in yourself simultaneously.
What you desperately long for and desire is the core of your shadow work and points the way to all the pieces of your darkness. What you deeply long for is seeking you in other words. And it's hidden beneath your shadows. This shadow, and working with one's darkness in order to awaken, is the juxtaposition of Rahu (shadow) and Ketu (light) in ones Jyotish chart, and why Rahu is both darkness and compulsions, as well as desires and insatiable needs. Let Rahu drive you towards your own wholeness. Let him show you what you long for, what you need the most in this life, and let him also show you what you are resisting simultaneously.
Wherever Rahu sits in your jyotish chart (the house, the sign, the planets he interacts with, the nakshatra he resides in etc.) points directly to the main theme of your personal life story. Rahu and Ketu are quite literally karma points and they show you why you have incarnated into this body, into this life, and what you are here to learn. The dance of shadow and light, Rahu and Ketu, fully express your ability and your willingness to grow and awaken in this life time. Will you continue to resist your shadows, your darkness (Rahu)? Or will the compulsion to emerge from the illusions be strong enough to force your awakening and crack you open (Ketu)?
The power within the shadow is two fold. When you resist your darkness, you refuse and resist the healing and the medicine that your life has to offer. You are essentially refusing and resisting awakening to your most essential gifts. These gifts always reveal your dharma, your life purpose, your reason for being alive, and thus there is an immense reward for your efforts- if you choose to take on the task fully. However, it is not the path of ease, numbness, ignorance and denial. In order to awaken, you must invite in your shadow parts, continue to go deeper into your darkness in unending cycles, to dive for pearls of truth tirelessly- as though your life depends on it. It does.
This is why aligning with one's dharma, one's true reason for being alive, is not for everyone, and is in fact evasive for most people. For those who thrive on transformation though, the gifts are unending and continue to unfold. Artists, healers, and those here to share wisdom with the world, thrive on these cycles of transformation, change and growth. For us, our most vital task is embarking on consistent cycles of confronting and identifying our shadows and yet not get addicted to these cycles of pain, struggle, and torture. For those consistently working with their own shadows rigorously, remember to work with and to heal the vow that says "I am broken and will remain so."
The shadows after all, hold your most potent power, and the wisdom you need for your life and your cycles of death and rebirth. The skill then becomes not just the willingness to go into your shadow, your darkness, but to also know when to let go of it, to release and shift into something new. Some will never walk into their shadows and bravely peel back the layers of their suffering and pain. For those willing to do this courageous work, you must also remember how to come up for air, to take a breath, to dance with both the darkness and the light, to heal and overcome the vow of brokenness, while continuing to bravely dance with your shadows cyclically.
Clients who come to me are walking this fine edge of wanting to awaken; there is a desire to know what their life means and how to overcome their biggest obstacles- and yet simultaneously there is a strong fear to look. This is the attraction/repulsion dynamic at play, a true expression of Rahu driving us towards answers, yet fearful of what we will find once we get there.
As I continue to work with the shadow more and more in my own self development process, and also in my work with clients, I am becoming acutely aware of the reality that fear is really all part of the grande illusion of the shadow. Perhaps Carl Jung put it best, "If there is a fear of falling, the only safety consists in deliberately jumping."
Rahu and Ketu: The Gifts of The Shadows
Rahu and Ketu are not planets at all, they are mathematical points on either side of the Moon with rather significant implications on our Self experience. The Moon is arguably the most influential part of the chart- indicating our experiences within the womb and our relationship with mother, as well as our inner nature. The Moon is our guide for emotional well being and our connection to our intuitive self. In fact, the Moon is so important to our life experience, the relationship the nodes have with the Moon indicates their impact on our emotional well being- among other things. Rahu and Ketu, the Moon and the rest of the chart, all create our own unique stories, mythologies and individual karmic dramas. Read more about the importance of the Moon.
The nodes, as Rahu and Ketu are referred to, are mischievous in nature. They present our karmas to us in this incarnation. Without them, and their very valuable life lessons, we would not have incarnated into a human body. They are essential to this lila, this play of life, that we are involved with in this dimension. Both Rahu and Ketu have their own unique array of offerings, but because they are shadow "planets" they often evade prediction. Their nature is to deceive, mystify, to be illusive, and to blind us from our true nature. They represent forces that can't be seen and are the parts of ourselves that go unnoticed and unrecognized. When, and if, the shadow or veil of illusion is removed, and we do see what has been hidden from us, it is often extremely painful. Rahu and Ketu request that we ask ourselves: What am I not seeing or what am I not willing to see? What am I clinging to and unable to let go of?
In order to understand the nature of Rahu and Ketu, it helps to have a little background on how they came to be. In Vedic lore, Rahu (north node) and Ketu (south node) came into being during the famous story of the churning of the ocean of milk (the Milky Way). As the devas (gods) were creating this great churning, amrita, the nectar of immortality arose (think churning milk into butter). The devas, however, needed the asuras (demons) to help them with this task and they had to work together to get the job done. As the immortal nectar was created and obtained from this "great churning", Vishnu made certain that it was only given to the devas. However, one asura named Svarbhanu, outsmarted Vishnu and the other devas. He disguised himself as a deva and got in line to have a drop of the sacred nectar given to him. The story goes that he hid between the Sun and the Moon so no one would notice him.
Just as Vishnu poured a drop of nectar into Svarbhanu's mouth, the Sun and Moon recognized that he was actually an asura! Vishnu chopped him in half, but it was too late. A drop of the immortal nectar was already in his mouth! Thus the two halves, Rahu and Ketu were born. The head of the asura who ingested the immortal nectar became Rahu and the lower half, the body of the asura, became Ketu. Rahu and Ketu are the head and tail of the demon, often referred to as the serpent. A lunar eclipse is connected to Rahu- this happens when he tries to eat the Moon, but it falls right out of him. Ketu is connected to the Solar eclipse.
This epic story is truly metaphoric on so many levels of life. It expresses the interplay of light and dark and how interdependent they both are on each other. These two facets of life are of course alive and well within our own nature and thus the play of shadow and light becomes our dance in life as well.
Rahu is the head of the serpent and has an insatiable appetite for the material world (his cravings for obtaining the nectar) and intoxicants of all kinds. He brings shock and the dark side of life and he can bring sudden changes, upheavals, even quick boons. Where Saturn brings sorrow, sadness and grief- the natural darkness that is life- Rahu brings an intensified demented version of this darkness; he manipulates and obscures everything he touches. Addictions and confusion are Rahu's domain as well as disturbances and trauma. He does not allow us to think clearly and brings deceit and dishonesty with him. That said, there are worldly benefits that come with him as well. He can give money, profits and excesses from the material world. He loves the foreign and unusual, which can offer great learning and awareness as a result. Enjoyable and exotic travels can also come with Rahu. Professions that require lying, cheating and stealing (politicians for example) will get benefits from Rahu.
Where Rahu may give, Ketu takes away, and is responsible for "cutting the ties that bind us to the material world". If we are attached to it, Ketu can and will cut those attachments loose- eventually. That is his job- to help us realize intimately the impermanence of this life. He is highly spiritual and not interested in the material realms at all. He will either grant access to spiritual advancement or deny it; Ketu is connected to Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Since Ketu is just a body (no head) he literally has no mind. He can either show madness and complete craziness like schizophrenia, or certain zen states of no-mind which are more spiritual in experience. Ketu is a moksha planet, connected to liberation, letting go and deep surrender. Rahu and Ketu are always seven houses away from each other. They are always looking directly at each other, thus, whatever Rahu gives, Ketu will be sure to take it away.
The nodes are always moving against the direction of the other planets, in retrograde fashion. All the planets retrograde periodically (except for Sun and Moon) and when they do, they are said to be acting like Rahu and Ketu as a result. Our cravings, desires and fears are all connected to Rahu and Ketu. They instigate our pains, sorrows and drive us to take actions or no actions. They are our shadowed sides and will indicate what we are moving towards and away from in this life time. Thanks to Rahu and Ketu, we are guaranteed to grow in this life, but it may not be the enjoyable kind of growth.
Rahu in Cancer & Ketu in Capricorn
Minutes after midnight (MDT) on August 18th, Rahu moves to Cancer and Ketu shifts to Capricorn for the coming 1.5 years- until March 7th, 2019. This transit requires a deep emotional dive. Learning how to navigate the emotional body and becoming more emotionally literate in the cycle to come will be essential. Working with the shadow side of feelings and using them as resources, rather than suppressing them, will be vital at this time. For some the by-passing will intensify until it is intolerable. For those who are consciously ready to deepen nourishment in their life, there will be a natural gravitation to leaning in, listening and honoring feelings and emotional body wisdom. Are you showing up? Are you listening within? Or are you by-passing the emotional body intelligence that lives within you.
Look at your jyotish chart and notice where Rahu and Ketu are now transiting. Rahu will be in Cancer (#4) and Ketu is moving through Capricorn (#10). What themes emerge from the houses they are moving through? What will you be compelled to move towards (Rahu)? What will you be releasing and cutting attachments with (Ketu)? Use this to help you identify their positions.
Cancer is ruled by water and Rahu's transit through the sign of the crab requires a new awareness of your inner waters. Learning how to trust yourself in new ways surfaces in this cycle. Working with fear of your emotions and your reactions to fear will be essential. Rahu compels one to look more closely, though usually due to force, discomfort, challenges or fears and anxieties. He is the North Shadow Node which drives obsessions, darkness, illusion and delusion. With out him, however, you would not be able to awaken from your karmic burdens, nor evolve in this life time. He supports one's awakening as you lean into your shadow, your own darkness. In your natal chart, he will tell you what is compelling you in this life time- in order for your greatest awakening. What illusions must you awaken from? What traumas are keeping you stuck, lost and confused?
This cycle of Rahu in Cancer supports awakening through emotional body intelligence. Lean closer to your feelings, emotions and inner waves. Track your cycles and the wisdom of your inner waters. Notice where you resist your emotions and make yourself wrong or bad for feeling what you feel. Your emotions are not the problem, but the mental body illusions are likely causing you to suffer. Break the cycle between overly thinking and resisting as well as avoiding your emotions. It's time to befriend your feelings and work with more emotional body literacy. Understanding your emotional body intelligence supports increased creativity and self expression. Gather new resources and skills to support this process of creative and artistic expression. Upgrade your offerings and artistic practices.
Ketu traversing Capricorn in the coming 19 months requires dharmic awakening. Challenges come with misalignment or refusal to make dharmic changes and choices. The South Shadow Node will not allow resistance any longer. Face your fear and illusions- that which is keeping you from your power and purpose- or feel your pain and struggles intensify. Will you be willing to crack open your illusions and challenges, in order to awaken, heal and grow? Balance begins to arrive for those who seek stability and grounding, as well as movement and change. Find your offering and allow yourself to flourish and shine. The southern trauma node requires that you lean into your fears, anxieties and denial. Where are you pushing and forcing for outcomes that don't serve you or nourish you completely? This is a powerful time of transformation and awakening. Put into practice your biggest dreams and desires. Don't play small. Ask for what you truly want and take action to make it happen. Your consistent action steps pay off with time and continual effort.
August 18th, 2017 to April 27th, 2018: Rahu in Ashlesha Nakshatra
This is a time of releasing, shedding and confronting illusions, deceptions and mental body stories that keep you in lack. Use resources with a solid legacy, rather than new, unreliable sources. The older the knowledge the more trust worthy it will be. Don't get caught up in quick fixes or spiritual by-passing. Lean closer to your shadow and get familiar with how it shows up. How do you respond to your fear, uncertainty and confusion? How does this impact your choices? Ashlesha is ruled by Sarpa, a serpent that can awaken you from illusions and deceptions, but often by intensifying the same. Be mindful of deceptions, cheating and excess shadow at this time. Are you in right-relationship with your integrity? Are you being honest with your self and others? Be clear, stay focused and don't neglect your health or spiritual practices.
August 18th, 2017 to December 21st, 2017: Ketu in Dhanishta Nakshatra
Ketu in Dhanishta nakshatra supports your awakening, your desire to rise and shine, to be seen, heard and recognized. Are you taking action steps to step into your power and purpose more fully? Where are you playing small and not utilizing your life light? The Vasu Devas rule this domain of Capricorn and they are responsible for bringing light and shining to those touched by their jyoti (light). They support manifestation on the material plane of existence- especially through dharmic deeds. Those who desire wealth on all levels of life, worship the Vasu Devas. Dhanishta brings wealth and prosperity through desires manifesting into form but you must understand how the mechanics of creation work. This requires being in alignment with your creative intelligence. What needs more awareness and light in order for you to get clarity and certainty? Where are you refusing to see the truth of your own wisdom? What parts of you are stuck in the dark and refusing to see the light? Where do you need to get brutally honest with yourself, in order to release, transform, heal and change? Release what is no longer serving you so you have space for more nourishment and abundance. Step boldly towards your passion, purpose and life offering!
PART 2 coming soon!
More transit and Nakshatra wisdom + Horoscopes will be posted shortly.
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~ Elemental Integration. By Swati*
New Moon is Monday morning at 06:39 am PST, while Moon is in Capricorn and Dhanishta Nakshatra. The coming waxing cycle is oriented towards expansion, while also supporting shining more brightly in the world through the support of the Vasu Devas. Resources, support and abundance can be delivered through alignment with right action, dharma and sharing one's talents and creative forces. Vas means "to shine" in Sanskrit. This nakshatra brings visibility through one's light (jyoti), but mostly through sharing this inner light with others.
Shine your light brightly in the coming days and use it as a resource for awakening in new ways. What lights you up, inspires and provokes a cheerfulness, brightness and sense of joy? Move towards these people, environments, projects and visions with possibility and a child-like sense of wonder. Spark playfulness, creative intelligence and a sense of thriving through the arts, movement and nature. Your creativity will be enhanced by meditation, alone time, extra time spent relaxing and in bed while also honoring your feminine energy through sacred pauses and a less is more approach. Target your energy effectively for maximum results. Notice where you are imbalanced and stuck in masculine-centric agendas. How can you balance both parts of your being more consciously? Harmonize the doing with being.
Both Sun and Moon receive drishti from Mars and Saturn at the time of the new Moon. Saturn rules Capricorn, offering stability, support, structure and a methodical, hard working nature. Mars is considered exalted in Capricorn, and his gaze provides a fierce tenacity and focused warrior spirit. Together, these planets inspire the Sun and Moon to find clarity, purpose and power for the coming cycle.
Use this waxing cycle to extend and reach beyond your normal range. Try new things, step into new territory and explore unknown landscapes- inner and outer. What new resources, support, guidance or tools do you need in order to accomplish this task of expansion? What is holding you back from stepping more boldly into life? Notice places of tension, tightness and contraction in the body. Identify stories that keep you locked into playing small and remaining stuck in old paradigms and characteristics. Track emotions that emerge as you test these foreign waters. Do fear, anxiety, resistance, avoidance or self sabotage stand in your way? Lean in closer and identify the challenge. As you move closer to this part of you shadow self, offer compassion and deep listening as an antidote. Your loving kindness is the missing medicine. Embrace the conflict with open arms.
Themes to work with for the coming weeks include expanding what you think is possible for yourself and your path, while finding new resources to support this task. It will be your creativity and how you use your potent inner wealth, that will determine your success. Do you suppress or resist your passion and creative powers? Or do you channel them effectively with clear actions that are aligned with your purpose? Don't waste your energy on tasks that are frivolous or mundane. Step into your full power and say yes to life!
What do those moments of empowerment feel like for you? The times when you feel alive, potent, energized and clear about your path?
Imagine a time when you felt strong, activated and positive about your choices and actions. Maybe you can recall a time recently when you felt like this, or maybe a memory of the past. Who or what helped you experience this feeling? Fully activate and enliven this sense of inner power and step into it.
Close your eyes and notice. Where do you feel this empowerment in your body? Use this power place in your body and let it to help you explore further.
1) Track this feeling of empowerment within your body. Where is it located? What does it feel like? Where does this feeling land in your body? Identify sensations that are arriving and what part of the body this is located in. Do any images, colors or shapes arrive? Can you gather any messages or insights? Stay here for a few minutes and fully arrive in this feeling.
2) Use your empowerment experience to create an image. Using craypas, paints, pencils or collage, to create an image of your inner empowerment. What does this feel like for you? What colors, shapes, textures arrive? Put this on paper. Create an image that expresses this feeling using colors, textures and shapes. Allow at least 20 minutes at for this empowerment image to emerge. Title your image.
3) Use your image to inspire a movement exploration. Let your body move in response to your image with an intention of "activating your feelings of empowerment". What sensations emerge for you during your dance? What awareness? What body parts feel enlivened? Allow at least 5 to 10 minutes for this movement exploration. I encourage you to extend this time frame as you recycle this process.
4) Harvesting. In your journal answer these questions:
I am, I want, I need, I sense, I feel, I imagine.
What am I opening to?
What am I closing to?
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