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Journal

Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Tag: shadow work

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.

Pandora in Leo

Katie Gordon

Artist: Odilon Redon ca. 1914

Artist: Odilon Redon ca. 1914

I am Pandora. 
I tried closing the jar once it was open,
but couldn't. 
I can't take it back,
and don't want to.
And, I wouldn't even if I could.

Those ills are gifts to humanity.
That darkness brings wisdom, deep love, 
compassion,
grief,
ecstasy,
joy,
art,
such beauty.

That box of darkness
gifts us with the full spectrum
of what it means to be human.
Blood, love, desire, soul, fate.

Darkness is our life blood.

Fuck all you thought you knew.
Fuck your comfort, your togetherness, your perfection.
Fuck your purity, expectations, assumptions. 

Your Clear Heart matters.
Your authentic, messy voice matters.

Listen to Your Voice.
That of Soul, of Earth.
The voice of Red.

New Year :: the emergence of Light from Dark

Katie Gordon

This winter has been a time of deep introspection, exploration, and surrender for many of us. Becoming more acutely aware of old patterns, perspectives, and projections that no longer serve, and actually detract from, the path of Soul. One particularly powerful lesson of the last month for me has been in giving myself full permission to feel exactly what I'm feeling. Not trying to change, alter, redirect, invalidate or discount anything that comes up. And I'm noticing when I really allow myself to feel the full weight, it often shifts quite quickly. Not always, but often.

I used to deeply fear feeling the full heaviness, sadness, and darkness of whatever I was feeling because I worried I'd just keep sinking in. That it would never end unless I pulled myself out. That I would end up BEING whatever emotion it happened to be forever. This seems to be encouraged in many of our modern therapies. Reframing, redirecting, changing perspective, etc. Which I see the value in. But that approach also takes away so much power from our own souls in the way our inner Self teaches us sooooooooooo much via our feelings and our bodypsyche. 

What would it be like to love yourself so deeply and unconditionally, that you gave yourself full permission to feel and be with yourself in whatever feeling state happened to be showing up in the moment? What would that feel like? 

This time of year is full of words like "intentions," "resolutions," and "new beginnings." But as Marion Woodman writes in Dancing in the Flames"Intentionality in itself does not lead to an enlightened heart. It is better thought of as a way of giving meaning to experience. It is open to both conscious and unconscious information." Meaning, we need to be open to what is trying to come forth from our experience of life and not live by sheer power of will, which can often end up blocking what the unconscious is attempting to bring forth. There is an aspect of surrender in setting intentions for the year ahead. Surrendering to the deeper dimensions of our experience, surrendering to our dreams, to that which our souls are stretching toward.

The benefits of being lost

Katie Gordon

In surrendering to being lost, you discover that not only do you not know how to get where you wanted to go, you also are no longer sure of the soul-level rightness of that goal. You’re able to be chosen by new standards that come not from other people or your old identity but from the depths of your soul. You’re attentive to a new and much larger guidance system.

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Shadow work + embodying the Feminine

Katie Gordon

shadow work I don't know about y'all, but 2013 kicked my ass.  As I mentioned here, it was a hear of lots of shedding.  A couple weeks ago I began looking back at this last year, thinking about where I was at this time a year ago, what I had wanted to accomplish, where I thought I'd be by now.  My first reaction was to be hard on myself, to judge, to step back into the "not enough" mindset.  I briefly got caught up in the pushing, forcing, and do-ing masculine energy of trying to make things happen, believing that I needed to make up that lost time before the end of 2013.  And then I realized this year has been an IMMENSELY deep dive into everything I thought I was, every role I've played, the joys, the traumas, all the layers of "shoulds" and "have-to's".  I had to clear all of that before I could begin walking the path I knew I was meant for.

ouroborus2

Here's my crystalized lesson of 2013...

Every time I thought I had gotten to the essence of my soul, there was a whole new layer to work through, explore, and let go of.  A big theme for me this year was that of TRUST.  Mainly trusting myself.  Believing that I have all the knowledge I need to create the business, the life, and the relationships that I want for myself right now.  All I have to do is get out of my own way.  And the same goes for all of us.  So often we allow our shadow side, our own darkness, to keep us from being and doing what we really desire.  There's some part of our ego that says we don't deserve to have that life.  Or that we haven't worked hard enough or done enough.

This year I not only met my shadow side, but I sat, played, danced and fought with, and finally loved my shadow.  She had always been lurking off to the side and I had done a pretty good job of ignoring her.  Now I invited her out front and center, looked her square in the eye, and said "Okay, whatever's here, whatever lessons you have for me, I'm ready to face with compassion and an open heart."  And here's what I learned: Shadow work is INTENSE!  (Side note: it's going to be a major part of my upcoming group program)  It requires crazy amounts of courage and strength that I didn't know I had until now.  I got to finally learn what it meant to approach this inner work in a feminine, receptive, compassionate, and supportive strength.  And then I realized something huge...this is what I'm meant to teach other women.  So many of us have forgotten how to use our intuition, how to trust ourselves, how to ask for what we want, how to be gentle even as we're moving mountains.  We don't remember how to go inside, connect with our wildness and tap into that age-old wisdom that has been passed down through generations of mothers to their daughters in order to heal ourselves.  We don't realize that each of us have every answer inside of our soul.  We have insanely wise inner guides, angels, whatever you want to call them.  It's a process of relearning how to listen, how to trust, and align our actions with that inner wisdom.

I'm so grateful for the teachers and the time I had in 2013 who showed me, often against my own resistance, that the only way I could teach women how to honor themselves was by doing the deep work with my own wild soul, by acting from my intuition, and by embodying the sensual, earthy, and receptive feminine.  Don't get me wrong, there's always more work to do, more to learn, more to uncover and love about ourselves.  And I believe in cycles, in the ebb and flow, so now it's time to put this into practice.  To build the container that will allow me to bring this wisdom to my community of wild and graceful women in the form of lots of free content, group programs, and intensive one-on-one coaching.  I can't wait to better serve all of you now that I'm fully serving myself.  Happiest of new years to all of you...