For many, October–and the whole autumn season, really–is about shadow work. But, what is the shadow and how does autumn lend itself to exploring it?
What is the “Shadow”?
In Jungian psychology, the shadow is an archetype composed of all the aspects of yourself that you’ve hidden behind your back, tucked out of sight, and disowned. In other words, your shadow is the darkness that trails behind you. It may consist of things like selfishness or vindictiveness, for example. Any truths about yourself (and the human collective) that are considered “negative”, or any traits that are discouraged by society are ultimately hidden away by the individual, forming the shadow.
An Overview of Shadow Work
To do “shadow work” is to bring those dark aspects of yourself into the light. It’s to acknowledge them, allow them to be, accept them, and ultimately integrate them into your conscious personality. Shadow work is about taking a plunge into your darkness, searching around sincerely, and resurfacing with a lost piece of yourself. What you find hidden in the depths of your unconscious can be polished into a gleaming piece of treasure.
Ways of doing this work are dependent on individual preference. Some common methods include:
- Journaling or freewriting
- Meditating with the intention of encountering the shadow
- Pathworking with certain tarot cards
- Working with a counselor
The Transitional Energy of Autumn
With the growing absence of the sun, autumn is when the surrounding land visibly begins the death process. Traditionally, autumn is the time of the harvest. It’s time to gather the Earth’s produce as she prepares to enter a period of sterility and stillness: winter. If winter represents death, autumn represents dying.
Autumn is the transitional period between warm, pulsating life (summer) and cold, still death (winter). That is what makes autumn such a magical time. It is neither here nor there, while also being both here and there. It is both life and death without being solidly either.
How does this energy lend itself to shadow work?
Well, as the surrounding Earth begins her procession into the darkness of winter, you can march along with her into your own darkness. Utilize the quieting of the Earth to turn inward. The seasonal shift can help create an internal stillness where you can explore troublesome areas.
Halloween and the Gift of Darkness
Halloween is a celebration of death and darkness–the collective shadow. We show much due reverence for the darker aspects during this time. Life’s own shadow is lurking around every corner during the Halloween season. For example: we go to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk and are greeted by tombstones and a headless horseman.
Since this energy is ubiquitous during October, some find it easier to slip into the mindset of doing personal shadow work. Many find the courage to tackle their own demons when the collective demons are brought into the light this way. Ultimately, this time of year is a reminder that we are all human with similar fears, challenges, and the same conclusive fate. Use your time wisely.