It’s Halloween/Samhain time – the time of year we proudly take out what we call our Shadow side and put it on display. We love to delight ourselves with horror movies, ghost stories, and all kinds magickal goings on.

However, have you ever really looked at what we call our “Shadow Self”?

It’s actually a side to our Self that can allow for the most growth when productively observed!

There are many explanations and studies of the Shadow Self, from different perspectives, but simply stated, it’s the part of our Self – whether personality traits, emotions, thoughts – that we find difficult to accept, and/or we disown entirely, but can’t let go of. Psychologist Carl Jung believed the Shadow holds repressed thoughts and feelings – not as “bad” or “good,” but just repressed. Jung believed that positive traits could be held in the shadow if those parts of ourselves were invalidated, ridiculed, or minimized by others, leading us to repress those parts of ourselves.

Our Shadow is simply the part of ourselves that we don’t wish to be. Whether because it is unacceptable to society, our community, or ourselves, it includes the aspects of ourselves that we cast off in order to maintain a certain persona. However, what we REALLY do instead of “casting” the Shadow off is put it in the closet and bury it all deeper into our unconscious; subsequently, it directs our behavior from there, feeding off our energy. For that reason, Jung and many modern schools of psychology emphasize the importance of recognizing the Shadow, which most often shows up via projection, and integrating it into our Self. While many people consciously strive for goodness or admirable morality, Shadow work values the quest for integration and full self-awareness.

“Until you make the unconscious, conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it Fate” -Carl Jung

Every part of our Self that we don’t want to show to other people and ourselves is a heavy load in our system. Just like rocks influence the flow of a river, so do hidden personal aspects influence our well-being. If we have a lot of anger stored that we’ve never released, we’ll often feel irritated quite easily, but won’t be able to channel the feelings into a constructive direction. We might swallow it and force the anger back inside where it’ll be a time bomb, exploding at an unexpected (and often inconvenient) moment. When we learn to express all the repressed anger in a safe space, we release that bomb in a way that doesn’t harm anyone, including ourselves. We can learn to let go of anger at the moment it arises, or use it in a constructive way. Just as much as this works for anger, we can use it for grief, fear and other emotions as well.

Two of the biggest emotions that we allow to hold us back in life are shame and guilt. There are many things that we believe we’re not supposed to feel or like. What happens when we realize there’s nothing to feeling shame or guilt about… what kind of freedom does THAT provide? Of course there are things in life that we would have done differently if we had the chance; we can appreciate those as learning moments. Shame and guilt are energies that bring us down and make us feel small.

With that kind of exploration, Jung believed that we could successfully incorporate and work through these repressed thoughts and feelings and experience greater internal peace rather than being unconsciously driven by Shadow Self needs and feelings (like we normally are).

Shadow work is some of the most important work in wellness and well being… but it’s often the most resisted part of our health and consciousness.

BDSM, when done in love and trust, is a FABULOUS way to take the Shadow out, dust it off, and immerse ourselves in exploring it in a “safe space”… with support, pleasure, and fun!

BDSM, sexuality (and enjoyment of it), pain, and pleasure have long been considered taboo and “bad” by many cultures and belief systems… even though it provides our power of pure creation here on the Earth plane! However, we often learn from many directions that sex should be hidden and is “dirty” – aka “bad.” This makes our sexuality a place where we can find a lot of shame, guilt, and a deep well of hidden emotions. It’s often been passed down that all of these things are to be repressed… which in turn become part of our Shadow self. Thus, a lot of our repressed self becomes intertwined with our sexuality, when we accept sexuality in the same manner. In BDSM, when we bring it out, unencumbered, not in shame but in celebration of love and connectedness, we tend to be able to look at and resolve formerly rejected parts of our Self that we otherwise might have kept repressed – and might have unconsciously driven us.

In D/s play, both the Dominant and the submissive – when done in an equal power exchange – can do an incredible job of pushing each other into and through the Shadow, in different ways. In the brain, it’s been shown that pathways for aversion and pleasure are overlapping – fear and excitement/arousal follow the same chemical pathway in the brain…  and the boundary between pleasure and pain is blurry. In situations that often provide sustained discomfort, we can adapt to turn pain into a source of pleasure… which in turn becomes a turn-on (or kink). (And then there’s subspace, too…)

Likewise, when we play out some deep sexual fantasies in a “safe” and supportive environment, we can look behind what caused those fantasies, how and why we might love it so much in playing those fantasies out.

While it’s generally still somewhat “taboo” and not much discussed, recent research from the Netherlands found BDSM practitioners to be “less neurotic, more extraverted, more open to new experiences, more conscientious, less rejection sensitive, and had higher subjective well-being” compared to the general public that did not partake in “kink” activities.

Since Kink and I started playing with BDSM between us, within our marriage, I’ve discovered hidden parts of myself I’d not ever consciously knew existed… and I’ve come to truly be in love with those parts of me; they’re so saturated, so deeply intense and beautiful! I’d already done extensive conscious Shadow work before Kink and I started exploring BDSM in our marriage, so I was surprised there was so much left. It turned out to be quite the level up… and this sexual exploration together has brought me to some incredible insights and evolution to my Self!

This week, the week of Halloween/Samhain, make sure to take some time to sit in gratitude to exploring your Shadow Self. If you haven’t done it that much, look at some of the things you haven’t considered before… what deeply hidden sexual desire, what fantasy (ies) do you still have that you’ve not let come to the surface? Are you in a relationship where you can trust and truly communicate these things with each other? When Kink and I started, and we started communicating at a completely new level; passing fantasies about which I’d long forgotten came back to the surface, eager to be looked at, considered, discussed, and consciously seen for what they were and what they represented. So, while playing some out, I’ve been able to feel into it, allow the pleasure (and the pain sometimes), and not only accept that part of me, but LOVE it… and then see what’s behind THAT in my consciousness and what I can do as my next step!

We can absolutely give ourselves the opportunity to look directly at the Shadow when we let it come out to play in a pleasurable and desired sexual situation that’s sane, safe, and consensual, until it’s no longer forbidden and has power over you in other parts of your consciousness… it can be surprising how much growth can come out of it when we take the NEXT STEP to see what lies underneath, free of judgment and only with self-love.





~ Consciousness


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