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Walking Into The Shadow

*Disclaimer – In this blog where I am writing about the concept of the shadow originally formulated and created by Dr. Carl Gustav Jung. This is writing about the importance of integration of all non-ordinary states not glorifying darkness, depression or the likes of anything that is considered a representation of a mental illness. Rather, I believe the shadow is an energy source that everyone needs to acknowledge.

I love the light. I am in deep admiration with love leading. Yet, I won’t be anything without my shadow. The darkness that sometimes lingers both on the surface and just below it has provided me fruitful information on how to manage, deal and live practically in this world. It is something to consider… Love is the answers yet without suffering can love have a place at the table? Ok I know. Fuck Ryan really all you got is one gentle tender thought on love and right back into the shit? Yes, and so the tale of the vital need to love yourself not just in fantasy or utopia filled energy,

but also in the grief and shadow too.

Tender Is The Shadow

Walk in the water The shadow’s come I hear you coming I raise my bowl We walk together in this harsh land I hear you coming time to show my hand, show my hand Oh light the blackness Dark my days I made a promise I'm not going to break We walk together in this desolate land I hear them coming time to show our hand

Oh source, oh source That look in your eyes Call down the shadow Let the medicine be taken

Oh doctor, doctor The night’s devotee Call down your vengeance Let the visions come and Bullets fly The chips are down Your time is up Ace on the table And one in the cup Up in the mountains I feel its eyes The dark is rising Let the light die

Bring me to the bed

Let me lay in velvet slumber

I am ready for it to take hold I raise my hand I lower my eyes Hands raised to heaven I am ready to die Cold arms around me A buzz in my veins The moth alights And you’re cursing my name

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Oh light the shadow Dark my days I made a promise I'm not going to break We walk together in this harsh land I hear you coming time to show our hand

Show our hand

Oh my shadow how I owe you everything.

-Ryan Westrum

This is not depression, this is the fucking shadow.

My gratitude for the love warriors, the souls saviors and the mermaids frolicking in the water flipping their hair back and forth; truly I admire and respect your path. And before I give too much credit I have to remind all of us that it is perfectly ok to be in the dark too, to feel the pain, and to grieve in all that it means to you. Own your darkness, own your shadow.

What does it mean to own your shadow?

Exploring your shadow can take many ways.

What are you open too?

Place form on your shadow

One of the most comforting ways to explore your shadow is through a gentle abundance of all the things; such as your five senses, or music, candles, an environment and ultimately inviting the darkness - lots of darkness (think angstie teenager). Set the mood. By giving yourself ample space to explore your psyche you are able to swim in your shadow. Plus, with things like a specific music playlist you are specifically placing “form on your shadow time”.

Don’t Be Numb To It

By allowing yourself to feel it all is the most beautiful way to access your truth in the moment. Don’t rush your shadow time. Now my Beatles, Grateful Dead hippie freak inside me isn’t getting lost or forgotten here… What I am suggesting is a feeling, living the integrated way for a moment or two… Whom am I kidding – ugh I said whom – a good 30 to 40 minutes a week is perfect! (That’s a fucking prescription).

Give yourself the grace to feel it and not runaway from it. And in the end it doesn’t matter, but my reminder is to remember. It’s ok and super important to set some anchors to get out of the darkness. Getting back to music – don’t get lost in the shadow. Specifically, find “escape routes out of the shadow”.

Know How Much Darkness You Can Handle

This is so delicate and oh ever so tricky. One minute you are engulfed in a beautiful connection to understanding the rhyme of your light and dark phase like the moon and the next you are lost in a Jim Morrison tragedy – and that’s if you think he was tragic.

See where I am going with this, my point is working intentionally with your shadow, it’s beneficial to know your limits and then push them. By this I mean start with a prescribed “synthetic” walk into your darkness. This can look and feel like staying in bed on a dark raining autumn night or simply putting on a Mazy Starr song on repeat. Yes, I just aged myself. Be calculated when you are learning and leaning into your shadow.

The Master of the Shadow

In a brief tangent you are all to familiar with me, I am saying shadow, not darkness, not depression, not suicide, not self-hatred; rather, I am saying shadow. And who better to know the shadow than Carl Gustav Jung. The Red Book is a lovingly inscribed and illustrated account of a deep inner journey into the heart of god, spirituality, mythology, and primarily the depths that Jung called the Shadow. Within only a few pages I was struck by many synchronicities - (another term coined by Jung) of his love affair with the darkness and importance of the other side of oneself. The Shadow.

I leave you with the idea that working with the shadow does not leave you always in the light. But incorporating shadow might help you become more real, more solid, and more able to embody all that exists.

Dr. Ryan Westrum is a clinical psychologist that is the author of The Psychedelics Integration Handbook and creator of the podcast The Psychedelics Psychologist. Never hesitate to reach out to ask anything about all things psychedelics. In the meantime be safe and be gentle.


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