“Shadow work is the path of the heart warrior” – Carl Jung
Here in the northern hemisphere, we are immersed in deep darkness. We’ve just finished with Halloween, originally known as All Hallow’s Evening, a time for honoring our ancestors and loved ones who have passed, as well as our own mortality. Ancient Northern European cultures called this celebration Samhain (pronounced “sau-wen”), In Nordic traditions, the season is honored as Winterfest.
In all cases, the holiday (“holy day”) honors and pays respect to the growing darkness of the season, marking the cross-quarter position of the sun: 15 degrees Scorpio corresponds with the mid-point between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice. The days have been getting shorter since mid-June, and we are entering the darkest time of the year.
On November 18th, the sun and moon came together at 26 degrees of Scorpio, conceiving a new lunar cycle through their sacred union. This is the time of the year in which we are supported on our journey into the underworld to face the parts of us that we hide, fear, or dislike. This is the shadow work that “shows us our own light”.
Scorpio, symbolized as a scorpion, encompasses such aspects of life as sex, death, and birth. It is also associated with debt, taxes and shared resources. How are all these things related? Intimacy. Intensity. Power, especially in relationship with others. And the surrender that allows transformation. These are the places that hold the most fear and therefore the most power, as well as the greatest potential for abuse.
The purpose of Scorpio, the eighth house, Pluto (Hades, god or goddess of the underworld, power) and Mars (god of war; will, action, desire) is facing into what we hide, and hide from, inside ourselves. The way through these parts of ourselves we don’t like is love. Through inquiry we find the unconscious drivers of our reactions. Through compassion we heal them.
The ancient Sumerian myth of Inanna, Queen of Heaven, tells this story of descent, compassion, and rebirth. In the story, Inanna must relinquish all her control in order to meet her darkest self, who kills her. She is reborn only after meeting the shadow with compassion and empathy.
In the formerly hidden gospel of Thomas, Christ lays out our Scorpio work:
“If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you;
If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
What is within us is both bright and dark. Hatred, rage and violence co-exist alongside love, compassion and tenderness. One can turn into it’s darker counterpart when it is unconscious, when we don’t ‘bring it forth.’
Our own power is often an aspect of ourselves from which we hide. Seeing others as more powerful than us is a strong signal this is true. What makes them seem more powerful? Where do we believe our lives are limited by someone else?
Another sign we don’t fully understand and claim our power is that we try to control aspects of our lives, or worse, other people’s lives. The shadow of power is control. Somewhere along the way, the two became confused. Using our ability to act in a manner that focuses on controlling ignores a basic spiritual law: we have the right to and responsibility for our actions, but not the results of those actions. We need to be aware of the consequences of what we do, yet without attaching ourselves to the outcomes.
We always have the ability to act with honor and respect, for ourselves and everyone and everything. We surrender our limited view of how we want things to turn out, and focus on acting with integrity and authenticity. Then, we trust.
One of the lessons of Scorpio and Pluto is the development of deep trust in life itself, as well as in ourselves. This is the crux of the lesson for most of us. Can we trust that when we look deeply within we can accept what we find with love? Can we trust that when we act out of the authenticity of our deepest selves we can live with the results?
In this dark season, it is time to find out how to trust. What we bring into the light, to consciousness, as Christ says, will save us.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Carl Jung
Take time to plumb your own depths through meditation or journaling;
Light a candle or offer a meal to your ancestors;
Sit still in the dark and simply listen;
Practice compassion for someone or something you don’t like, within or without;
Let yourself feel powerful, and
Practice deep trust in yourself and your true desires.