Baron Samedi asked me to write this…

It’s been a strange year for me. Multiple psychic attacks have hit me, to the point where people with no sensitivity coming into my house can tell what’s going on. I’m experienced. I protect myself well. I have for the most part maintained good relationships in my current community, so this is all old stuff – really old.

The stuff coming at me is almost all about my past. People I haven’t seen or spoken to in years, decades even, are now sending me as much negativity as they can muster. Dwelling on why, or whether I’m really that awful, doesn’t do much.

It’s easy to see why people might be so triggered: I say no a lot. I say “hey, there’s my boundary.” I say “You’ve taken enough of my mental energy and mental health and now I’m taking myself back and I’m going home.” I say, “I am not allowing your perceptions to define reality, and I am expecting you to manage your own feelings.” A lot of people don’t like this. They really don’t like hearing “I can’t control how you perceive me.”

This breaks with what’s expected of women a lot. I don’t stop to make people feel better when they’re trying to control me. “No” is not ever followed with (or preceded by) “sorry.”  I don’t think your emotional care should be the job of a person you’re trying to make feel bad. I don’t try to make people feel bad, but sometimes it happens, and if making them feel bad doesn’t help anything, I do try to conciliate that because I do value the people in my life that give me love and respect.

People reacting badly to me – a puzzle to the well-balanced people that get to know me well – has always been part of my life. For whatever reason, I serve as a spiritual scapegoat. I am the mirror that shows you your shadow. But if you don’t understand what seeing me shows you, reactions tend to lean towards “attack the image I don’t like reflecting back to me until it reflects back what I want.” Of course, a mirror can’t do that – it can’t change what it reflects. This is an extension of an age old problem: many people try to live up to an image of themselves that they project, rather than relaxing and being with who they really are.

In one recent cleanup that is consuming my time and my life, the Baron appeared. I am not initiated into Voudon or such ancestral paths, and I don’t at this time have any plans to. Once in awhile, a loa or Orisha pops in and has messages to relay or work to do, and I try to treat them with respect while maintaining proper boundaries. Sometimes the spirits called by people working against me show up and want to negotiate because they disagree with the work but will do it anyway. They don’t judge – it’s all part of our karmic lessons – but they too have some sense of fairness. Mr. Saturday happened to find himself in that position, and had allowed things to go on, but refused to take things to the conclusion that had been requested of him. I’m taking some hits on the chin we both know I don’t deserve, and while he’s contractually bound to make a few of them, he stopped his part of it under a few conditions that we agreed to:

  1. I give him an offering of fruit.
  2. I set a cut and clear on a person who is a nexus in this situation.
  3. I write this essay, here, pointing out the simple way to spot your own shadows.

I had not before heard of loa assigning homework, especially not “write an essay” but I suppose they see some value in modern discipline methods, too.

He has also asked me to add that I have terrible taste in cigars but he likes my avocado soup, but he could use more tabasco.

I could likely write about every controversial incident in my life, and how I saw the shadows of others come out, and how they brought out mine. I have decried the way people take their feelings for facts for ages now – while admittedly my own PTSD has made emotional engagement difficult, I do still opine that people are expecting others to manage their emotions by conciliating them rather than learning how to deal with unhappy thoughts properly (and seeking mental health treatment when appropriate). These experiences, however, is why I describe myself as being filled with both light and shadow, rather than saying I am a “love and light” person.

The gist of shadow finding is simple: it’s in your reactions.

When you see certain things, you react, often without thinking. If you see a fat person (fat is not a pejorative, I am a fat positivity activist) do you think, “Gross? But for the grace of God? I pity them?” I choose fat because I am fat. Fat people bring out incredible shadows. Apply this exercise to a homeless person. Now pick an obvious homeless person, with bad shoes, covered in filth, and possibly high. Pick apart those reactions one by one and you will have captured your shadow.

Look at the things that disgust you, enrage you, hurt you – and ask WHY. The first step of shadow mastery is to pause, look at your reactions, and trace them to their roots.

The second step in learning your shadows is to accept them as they are. The core of shadows, the judgments, the criticisms, are part of you for a positive reason. They become toxic only when you refuse to see them, and refuse them to put them to work for you in a conscious way. Witchcraft is not a practice where you try to become as perfect as Jesus. It is a practice where, with self awareness, you become the most wholly yourself as you can be. You might still be fat. You might still be terrible at balancing the checkbook. You might still grind your teeth whenever your mother-in-law calls. The point of all that is you know WHY you grind your teeth, that you are at peace with your body however it is, or that you know you’re bad at balancing the checkbook because you were traumatized by timed tests so now you get a little extra help from a partner when you do it.

We are in a day and age where we get upset by the wrong things, or by the right things in the worng way, and we have confused feeling upset with being virtuous. This is all part of that shadow of living up to a projected image instead of relaxing into ourselves.  That projected image is the first shadow to break. It is letting someone be wrong on the Internet. It is saying, “perhaps today I don’t have to  prove anything.”  It is looking at that voice of adequacy and measurement and “can I take him?” and telling it to sit down and shut up. It is seeing that homeless person, accepting that today you just don’t have it in you to give, and wishing that person a good and prosperous day.

Pagan witches aren’t out to be Christlike. They are out to be witch-like, and that wisdom begins with knowing the self, and if not loving it, releasing it from the judgment that we pretend makes it holy.

This next paragraph is not from me, but from him. I am onboard with his meaning but feel discomfort in how he expresses it because I don’t want to diss anyone’s religion or school of thought:

Mr. Saturday is telling me that he wants me to share this (what little I remember of our initial conversation) because he wants people to start thinking more before they curse. They’re throwing energy but they’re not learning. If you don’t learn, you just keep doing the same thing over and over, trying to live up to that imaginary person in your head. He says you’re witches, so don’t be Christian. Be wise.

He then asked me to add for myself that I’ve got no problem with Jesus, and no fault to the Catholics, but we need to be who we really are and break up with all this stuff telling us who we’re supposed to be or we’ll never stop throwing s___ around.

As for me…I’ll be fine. But some of y’all…please try to calm the fuck down. You haven’t seen me in years and I don’t affect your lives. I’m mad, but not vengeful, and I know who the one of you that’s terrified is…and I really hope you work out why you felt like you needed to do what you did, because that’s not my job to heal that wound.

About the Author

Diana Rajchel lives at the western edge of San Francisco, where sea creatures and hippies meet, breed, and glower at gentrification. From this liminal place she runs the Emperor Norton Pagan Social, writes about magic, herbs, and human quirks, and looks to both sidewalk and sky for wisdom. She is the author of Divorcing a Real Witch, the Mabon and Samhain installments of the Llewellyn Sabbat essentials series, and a title on Urban Magic to be released by Llewellyn in 2018.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this post! I have been brushing up on Shadow Work in the context of Jungian psychotherapy more than the psychospiritual or pagan spiritworker adaptation of it. It was a surprise to me that so many early Jungians…seemed to believe that witchcraft was possible, but also cultivated a general opinion of the practice of it being a (dangerously effective) distraction from inner personal development and individuation. Curses are an act of blame, and however justified one can make the placement of blame, by nature it solves and resolves nothing and is the antithesis of growth.

    With confusing being upset with virtue, I have tried to relax into the benefit of the doubt, if not the sympathy, with that the focus of the attacker’s attention is usually what the matter really is, and nobody acts upset without reason to be upset—maybe taking a hit can help the attacker get it out of their system, burn out and come to consider their feelings and the situation with more clarity and balance…But I have unfortunately also not been able to hold spaces for that, and witnessed denial of the personal agency that an attacker actually wields, sort of “virtue signaling” justifications for interpersonal boundary violations (with the expectation that those be considered extenuating circumstances), weaponized vulnerability, and even a sense of performativity. It has been a challenge to stand firm with individual boundaries against that latter manifestation of psychological projection and Shadow. It’s been disheartening to find out how so few people have truly earned that the issue of focus is what the matter truly is, let alone whether the solution they demand is a need for the betterment rather than an abuse of power.

    And then the metaphysics of it. I would wish that if the aggressive/harmful subtle energy or whatever, were truly alien to any aspect of the target, or truly stemmed from personal deception on some level or some way…then the energies shouldn’t make any mark, or the entities enlisted to carry out such a misguided curse shouldn’t be bound to it, as the lies to oneself should naturally block a witch’s power—To be sure, I believe you, that there is evidently from this a level and method by which metaphysical power can be abused. So it is good that these beings would negotiate when something simply isn’t right, and I personally take heart in that this case at least as much wise conduct as that might be expected.

    I am sorry that you’ve suffered such cosmically impactful demands from someone else’s petty selfishness, still. I commend your stance, and wish you as much fortitude and resolution as you want.

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