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Journal

Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Shadow-walking: An exercise in trust

Katie Gordon

I've been writing again. In part because I love it (and sometimes hate it) and in part because I've realized when I give voice to the shadows within, I also give voice to the light. Words are the most fundamental way I expose myself. Which is, of course, why it often feels terrifying. But my jaw has been aching. Dark, earthy, serpentine Lilith has been feeling snarly and demanding to be heard. So I sat down this morning, and this is what came out...

Photo credit unknown

Photo credit unknown

Cracking open is beautiful and painful. I've been doing my best to be with and witness it all. To really examine my triggers and emotions from a heart-centered, soft place because that is the only way I know of to reclaim disowned pieces of my Self. To see my critical thoughts as simply that: thoughts. Not identities. Not truths. More as questions. To see my shadows as just another aspect of my human experience. Not something to fix or heal or change. But to sit with and listen to.

And what is it to really sit with my shadows rather than avoid, fight, argue with, condemn, change, or ignore them? What does it feel like in my body? Because I know intimately what it feels like to ignore them. Even to tell them to fuck off. It feels like deep, seething anger. Like tension in my neck, jaw, and the back of my heart. It feels like bone-deep hurt. 

But inviting them in? It feels like a soft wave of grief that comes in, floods my being, and then subsides. Like the tide. It feels like tender vulnerability, those moments that hurt until I can share it and share my darkness out loud with someone and hear them tell me they love me FOR that darkness and not in spite of it. 

Roberto Ferri

Roberto Ferri

A dear friend, soul sister and fellow wild mystic articulated a truth to me. That we can't make ourselves heal or be ready to heal or force things to come up to be healed when we want them to. They come when they have space. Often spontaneously. Unexpected. We can tell those shadows and ourselves all we want that we're ready and willing to do the work. But I really see more and more that it's not up to us (our egos). It comes when our soul is ready. When we've actually done the ground work, the gritty hard stuff. When we've prepared the earth of our bodies and hearts, and the soil of our psyche is fertile for the healing and opening to occur. Our minds don't get to decide. 

And so I've just been sitting with the questions. The feelings. The fear of, "after I've sat with and felt it, then what?" The unknown. The thing most of us are afraid of. That we won't know what to do next or how to clear what comes up when we ask the questions. One word keeps coming up over and over again when I ask the questions. 

Trust.

Trust that the healing happens when we ARE open. Trust that the words and answers come when they're needed and when they're ready. Trust that it's not all for nothing. Trust that our bodies and hearts DO heal. That our highest expression of humanness and soulful embodiment in this earth body is as a healed, whole person. Trust that if I keep digging deeper, uncovering more and more of my own wounds and allowing them to be exposed and held and loved that I'll eventually reach my answers and that I won't just keep uncovering hurts, but that I'll uncover treasures and light and divine grace within. 

This trust is guiding me in reclaiming my shadows, those beautifully hidden and rejected parts of me. Those parts I see mirrored in those around me. The most challenging relationships and the deepest emotional triggers. The sensations that flash for just a moment before I used to shove them back down. What would it be like to let them be seen for just a moment longer? And then another moment? And another? My breath tethering me to this world while I explore my own inner Underworld? It feels like a cracking open. As if all the armor, all of the scars are breaking apart and falling away and I'm being revealed.