Shadow Work and Hauntings from Within
Every person is a balance of darkness and light. We are all both good and evil. We all have within us the ability to do great good, as well as the potential to commit acts of horrific evil. Darkness is part of our nature, and no matter how civilized we are or how much we try to hide it or pretend it does not exist, a reservoir of dark primal urges and instincts resides in the hidden regions of our souls. It is something we cannot escape from. This shadow will never leave. In fact, the more we deny the darkness, the stronger it becomes.
It has been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. This statement speaks of the shadow of the human soul and how it can control us when it is not confronted. It might be with the good intention to be our best selves that we repress our darkness, but then we allow that darkness to grow unchecked. The darkness that exists in our hearts and minds never leaves, and when we deny it and repress it, this darkness can influence us from the shadows, compelling us to acts against our conscious desires. Many of us try to conceal it. Some succeed, but others become puppets of their inner shadows.
The Shadow of the Soul
We all have a shadow side to our soul. We all have sides of ourselves that we wish to conceal, sides that we wish no one would see. Carl Jung, the father of analytical psychology, extensively explored the concept of the shadow. He believed that the shadow is everything outside the conscious mind, and that it can be both positive and negative. Those of us who walk the Left Hand Path agree with this statement. What resides in our subconscious, our shadow, is both bad and good. Within our depths, we may hide murderers, torturers, psychopaths and every kind of villain. There are also elements of beauty and profound creativity; many of us hide our deep passions and creative genius in our shadows. Facing your shadow can be incredibly disturbing and incredibly terrifying, but the more you understand it, the more control you have over yourself.
In our subconscious minds, we also have patterns and beliefs that we have been inundated with since birth. These patterns and beliefs also control us, dictating our actions and carrying us forward. Many of our patterns and beliefs are beneficial; some are even essential for our survival. Others though, are the result of painful experiences, and those patterns and beliefs are limiting and destructive. They can act negatively on the mind, creating monsters inside of us that yearn to guide us back to the pain that created them. When these monsters are allowed to become too powerful, they can cause an individual more severe problems, including experiences that resemble hauntings. So when an individual is tormented by a presence or energy force that seems to be outside of themselves, it might be that the presence is projected from within.
We all have monsters within our shadows; we all have an inner serial killer there, along with whatever parts of ourselves we deny and keep hidden. Many people are taught that if they ignore their shadow, it will go away. However, that is not the case at all. For you see, when the shadow is repressed in the mind, it gains power; and that power acts on and controls the individual from those dark places. Many p
eople who deny their shadow are often the most influenced and controlled by it. Manipulative people often teach us to ignore our shadows because those who have large shadows are easy to control and sway.
One of the main goals for those like myself, who walk darker spiritual paths, is to face their shadows. We regularly delve into the realm of the subconscious mind and are faced with the darkness of our souls. We have to face all the horrors we are capable of, all the thoughts that we wish to conceal, and all the shame that we yearn to hide. The more we unlock what is contained in the shadow, the more control we have over the mind and what resides there. Sometimes the people who commit the worst atrocities are hiding, even from themselves, behind a virtuous shield and are at the mercy of their subconscious. They act from a pious place and do not even realize that they are being puppeted by repressed energies in the shadow mind. The individuals who embrace the shadow, who seek to understand it and walk with it, are the ones who have the most control. They have the most autonomy, and they have the strongest core essence of self. They are not easily swayed by external energies, and they have a strong and balanced understanding of who they are, both their lightness and darkness. These individual have usually engaged in what we call Shadow Work.
Shadow Work is the child of the brilliant work of the late but brilliant Carl Jung. His theories on Shadow Work have paved the way for a lot of what we on the Left Hand Path embrace. His work gives a unique and insightful perspective of the mind and a map for those who wish to explore the shadow and understand its nature.
“Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the backer and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.”
~ Carl Jung
Shadow Work is very powerful and very challenging, and in some cases, it is also very necessary. It involves deep mental work, shifting the attention to the subconscious in order to face the aspects of the self that are hidden from the conscious mind. It allows someone to face the repressed pains that disturb them and prevent those pains from working against them. This might be the distant voice of a relative who once told you that you were a failure, a voice that sabotages you by reminding you daily that you are nothing, that you are no good. That voice is the result of energy that did not come from you but from the selfish beliefs of a relative who had now business telling you such things. But part of you believed it and remembers it still. The shame caused by those words pushed them into the subconscious mind where they festered and grew; and in your weakest hour, they whisper that you are a failure. We all have these voices in our head that tell us cruel things. Some are just passing thoughts we can shove away; others sadden us and can direct the course of our lives; and some still can develop into a most nefarious force. They can rise and become a monster of their own, something that we call a thought form.
Sometimes, when a person seems to be haunted and have trouble with dark spirits, it is not external spirits around them that are causing problems, but shadows in their own mind, created from shame or repressed essence of their own soul, screaming to be heard. A thought form is an energy that has been given life through constant obsession and focus. The more energy you give to something, the stronger it gets, and sometimes the thoughts that we obsess about end up taking a life of their own and become a voice that haunts us and plagues us from the shadow of our mind. Thought forms can even project from the subconscious mind and torment their victim, seeming like an external entity.
In magical practice, thought forms can be created through ritual, and depending on the skill of the magician, they can become incredibly powerful and influential. Such thought forms are created with a specific intent by a skilled magician who directs and crafts the energies. However, in other situations, these thought forms are created by the dark places of one’s subconscious mind. When these thought forms are given too much power, they end up becoming a monster with one specific purpose. That purpose is to continue the pattern of the original program that created them, tormenting the person whose shadow gave them life.
Many of the sides that people hide are merely parts of their personality that they are ashamed of, usually parts of their conscious that they have been told are wrong and bad. This can manifest in a very interesting inner problem. Sides of ourselves that, in the past, had been nothing more than whispers in the backs of our minds, end up becoming malicious thought forms. Thought forms carry out the will of the beliefs that originally created them, which unfortunately, in this case, is usually one caused the conscious mind anguish. I have seen many hauntings in which the spirit in question is nothing more than a projection from the individual’s subconscious. We call this type of powerful thought form an Internal Haunting, and it is incredibly destructive and challenging to deal with.
One difficulty is that most people will never go into their subconscious; most people will never face their shadow side. That means the energies in the shadow go unchecked. They are undiscovered, so they remain unchallenged. Troubling thoughts and spiritual voices that are heard from external forces can be challenged more easily than ones that come from within. A healthy mind and a healthy individual who has a healthy understanding of themselves can challenge these thoughts and they can challenge thoughts and feelings that come from their shadow. But when someone has repressed thoughts and repressed shame, these voices can be tormetuous, and manifest as ones greatest fears. As the individual hears these voices over and over again, the voices become more powerful. Eventually, they become a monstrous thought form. As the thought form grows, the victim becomes weakened and helpless in the face of this internal monster that has direct access to their mind and their energies.
A second challenge, is that the techniques used to tackle External Hauntings don’t work well for Internal Hauntings. When we encounter a situation where someone is haunted by external negative forces, we usually teach the victim about the spiritual foundation. In spiritual foundation work, one learns to use universal energies and spiritual mind power to craft energies that will protect them from invading entities. We will then also teach them to ward their space so that they can claim it back and remove any malicious forces. Another strategy we implement is using banishment rituals to remove the destructive entity and free the victim from its grasp. With External Hauntings, these techniques work, they work very well, and we are able to free the individual from their unseen tormenter. The victim take back their power and their space. Unfortunately, in situations where the haunting is from an internal shadow thought form, none of these strategies work, and the haunting thought form is able to bypass all of the victim’s energetic defences. It can be extremely frustrating to deal with such a situation, especially if the individual is convinced that the projection plaguing them is an external entity. A serious issue we run into when handling Internal Hauntings is that in order to begin any healing work, the victim first has to accept that the entity is actually projected from inside of them. That can be incredibly challenging, especially if the sufferer knows nothing of Shadow Work.
The next trouble we run into is that the tactics for resolving Internal Hauntings are often heavily rooted in psychological practices, which means that unless one has a degree for practicing clinical psychology, one must be very careful. For safety and ethical purposes, we have to make sure that, in these situations, we never cross with medical practices, and that we keep all our interventions of a strictly spiritual nature. Someone who has credentials in hypnosis can use it to assist with uncovering what is happening in the subconscious mind. Other practices, such as the dark journey of the soul and shamanic rituals, can assist with that exploration. But it is extremely important that if there are any medical treatments being administered, none of our spiritual interventions interfere with the medical treatments in any way.
There are spiritual practices that can guide a person into their subconscious mind and help them to face their dark facets, but first the individual must be open to these practices. The practitioner who is administering these meditations must be also be experienced, for many times, when the sufferer meets the original thought that created the malicious thought form, there is pain and resistance, and the sufferer can get violent and destructive. Those of us who have dealt with severe hauntings know that this can happen with External Hauntings, too; if the victim becomes possessed there is always the potential for harm. When someone with an Internal Haunting faces what they tried to bury in the darkness of their soul, the result can resemble a possession.
Healing practices for Internal Hauntings can be violent and very intense at times, but once the shadow has surfaced, the victim can let go of the torturous thought form and can then begin to heal. There may be many layers to this. In one of the most challenging cases that I worked on, the individual would experience full on possessions caused by a thought form who would torment them and try to beat them down. The thought form arose from layers of abuse and harmful beliefs from childhood, and it was very challenging to help this person navigate the labyrinth of their subconscious.
The turning point came when the sufferer came to believe they were a good and worthy person. Malevolent inner thoughts convince us to give up our power; they try to program us to believe that we deserve to be tortured, that we deserve to be punished. Even if we do not consciously believe those things, the thoughts can still hold sway; in fact, the more hidden thought creates the more powerful thought form. Like with most hauntings, once the individual realizes their worth and claims their own spiritual power, they are able to remove the harmful energies and free themselves from the pain it caused.
It is true that at times we are our own worst enemies. The greatest obstacle we have to face is the power of our own minds, and sometimes a mind rises as a dark opponent who is bent on our destruction. Remember your own power, and also remember to pay heed to your shadows. They can be your greatest enemy, but by knowing them and siding with them, they can become your greatest ally. It all comes down to you.
~Priestess Akelta Wilde
Jung, C.G. (1969). Psychology and Religion: West and East. In Collected Works of C.G. Jung (Vol 11) (2nd ed.). H. Read, M. Fordham, & G. Adler (Eds.), (Trans. R. F. C. Hull). New York, NY: Princeton UP. (Original work published 1958).