Pastel Shadows

Sometimes I feel like I wander between worlds. I’m sensitive to and in some ways a part of many different subcultures, and yet feel like an outsider in some ways with all of them. Maybe that’s a typical human experience. Or just an Aquarian one.

Photo by graywacke/A Landing a Day

Photo by graywacke/A Landing a Day

This tendency to be a part of so many networks while at the same time on the outskirts has given me the opportunity to give myself permission to just be weird, have fun, and embrace how I learn how to use my ‘woo’ tools — or perhaps more respectfully, my consciousness-raising tools — in whatever way I want.

This means I’m often doing different practices on the train and the bus or over whiskey and with crayons and flash cards. I have a hearty respect for lineage and rules, but if I were to wait for the right structured learning mechanism to come along I’d never get anywhere. I figure a lot of things out myself, through studying and listening but also just through diving in and experiencing — and giving myself permission to play.

I was recently meeting with a group of lovely beings, all of whom are licensed therapists (myself being the exception to that rule), who use some kind of spiritual practices in our work with clients — whether that’s astrology or hypnotherapy or shamanic practices or art therapy. We meet to support each other, consult about clients, and often do some kind of experiential exercise.

This past week, we did an exercise one of the group members called word salad. She would read of an open-ended sentence, and then we spent three minutes letting words flow onto paper, with the only rule being that we couldn’t let our pens stop.

Three minutes is not a lot of time, but by the third round I was pretty well into the groove. The sentence was: “A part of my shadow that is coming into the light now is…” I immediately tapped into an image that I could see quite clearly in my mind’s eye, and feel pulsating in my abdomen. It was not pleasant, and after three minutes I was aware that I had tapped into my shadow, or a component of it, in a strong way.

My background is steeped in the Jungian tradition, and so when I refer to “shadow” I am very much referring to it in the Jungian sense. My little Jung for Beginners comic strip book defines ‘shadow’ as:

An unconscious part of the personality characterized by traits and attitudes, whether negative or positive, which the conscious ego tends to reject or ignore; the inferior part of the personality; sum of all personal and collective psychic elements which, because of their incompatibility with the chosen conscious attitude, are denied expression in life and therefore coalesce into a relatively autonomous “splinter personality” with contrary tendencies in the unconscious. The shadow behaves compensatorily to consciousness; hence its effects can be positive as well as negative. In dreams, the shadow figure is always of the same sex as the dreamer.

It’s important for me to note that my understanding also runs parallel to Jung’s discussions in that I believe that the shadow can never be removed, nor does it ever go away; there is, instead, an ethical imperative to acknowledge it and take creative responsibility for it. This means that a large part of my own shadow work has to do with becoming familiar with how my shadow or my shadow parts feel when they’re being triggered or constellated, so that I can recognize what is happening and use that energy constructively rather than flinging it out as projection.

Now, I’ll be honest: when it came to the part of the group activity when we were going to make some kind of art representing a portion of our word salad, I wanted to just breeze by the shadow stuff and go for the easier part — the image of an eagle soaring high up in the sky that had come earlier in the exercise. Partially because I was running out of time and partially because…well, I am a bit out of practice with the shadow work thing and also a bit weary. I began looking for images to make a quick collage, as I only had 20 minutes to get the project done.

Nothing was popping out at me, however, and my eye kept going to a box of nice, thick, multi-colored pieces of really good chalk. After a bit of back-and-forthing, I knew that I needed to use one of the dark grey pieces to put the shadow image onto paper. I went with the urge, smudging and smearing and externalizing the sensations the image conveyed onto the paper.

I then realized what a powerful image it was for me, and recognized that I didn’t really want to just leave it at that. But was also hesitant to just drop my long list of plans for the day to do some shadow work.

So I compromised with myself.

I wrote a line of three prayers that I made up on the spot around the border of the image, setting my intention for the work I plan to do with that part of myself; the last of which led up to the top of the page where I pasted magazine images of glowing hot air balloons and other balls of light to symbolize the merging of light and dark. Finally, I used deep blue, teal, purple and a little bit of orange to shade in the remaining white parts of the page, ensuring the shadow image was fully surrounded with a rainbow of solid, loving color.

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I giggled at myself as I wrapped up the process, because of the silliness, the simplicity, and also the knowledge of what a big chunk of really heavy work had just emerged.

I forgot about the image for a spell until two days later when I awoke from a series of intensely disturbing dreams in which a sociopathic-feeling, cold, calculating female was enacting horrible things on the other residents of the dream. As I walked to the train that morning, I was reflecting on the dream and the fact that I had felt like a zombie for the previous two days, when all of a sudden the image came back into my mind.

Suddenly my dull, exhausted affect and pretty horrendous dreams made more sense. I also recognized that regardless of the causes for my exhausted state, I’d made a plan to do further work with what had emerged and needed to stick to it.

The shadow work thing is not for everyone. I’m fascinated by it, however, and have regularly gained a wealth of benefits from diving in when and as I’m able — or sometimes because I am thrown in head first by life and seem to have no choice. This work is part of my own spiritual path. And during those times when I’m able to incorporate play and a sense of whimsy, I feel fortunate; because that is not always the case.

One thing is for sure, however: I will be investing in a nice set of chalk pastels. That stuff gets the job done.

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About Amanda Moreno

Amanda is an astrologer, soul worker and paradigm buster based in Seattle. Her adventures in these forms of ‘practical woo’ are geared towards helping people to heal themselves and the world. She can be found in the virtual world at

13 thoughts on “Pastel Shadows

  1. pam

    Great piece Amanda!

    (sorry for yesterday!)

    This afternoon (repeating a little of what you say above Amanda) I realised that others’ views even sincerely given, are not necessarily true for me, and in fact at this point everything requires reassessment to see if it is true or not (Hedgewitch for example is not me if it ever was, just ordinary basic humanity). (If anyone in this community has ‘aided’ me then thank you!).

    My Dad died about the time Lizzie lost her Mum – I would have said but it didn’t seem the time. I am at 6s and 7s I see.

    1. Amanda Moreno Post author

      Hi Pam ~ I don’t tend to view any of this stuff as absolute. The Jungian way of looking at dreams is only one, and I dare say that Jung himself would probably say something like “yes, same-sex figures are always shadow…unless they’re not.” Gender binaries can be helpful or harmful.

      In my own practice, I find that same-sex dream figures that are super charged in the negative way are usually shadow, but that’s not always true. I’ve had several dream characters who were male who led me to understand bits of my shadow as well. As you said above — everything requires reassessment to see if it rings true for you or not.

      1. pam

        thank you! I just read this over at Willow’s web astro and found it (the whole article) so helpful too.

        …This New Moon indicates a string of emotional shocks and electric realizations throughout the following lunar month that must be metabolized as we move beyond old stepping stones and comfort zones in ways we may not have previously imagined.

        We’re initiating some pretty radical changes over the next 28 days that will rattle some cages and break down some old barriers – including our own. Surge onward! Forge ahead!

        This Uranian New Moon in Aries is the official entrance into new life, new energy, and new vigour – and this may come from unexpected sources over the next 28 days.

        The Uranian influence indicates the possibility of some radical growth, changes, and re-direction as we come into contact with structural deficits that simply cannot be tolerated or shouldered any longer. This Aries New Moon triggers the Uranus in Aries – Pluto in Capricorn square, just as Mercury in Aries did March 30 – 31, and the insights we gain as we move through the New Moon portal indicate that there’s no going back to old forms, old structures, or old ways. These have simply had their day.

        For those who do not know astrology (and even for many who do), the upcoming lunar month could kick off identity crises as well as a certain degree of anxiety as old forms, old desires, old directions, and old versions of self break down and start to shift.

        Change is required – quite radical change in many cases – and with the personal planets in Aries, it’s coming from us personally. There is no pattern to follow or leader to emulate. We are the driving force, no one else. It is our personal direction and re-direction that spur the necessary changes within the collective scene.

        The Aries New Moon is disposited (strongly influenced) by Mars, which is currently stationing retrograde at 8 degrees Sagittarius (April 17). You can read more about the Mars retrograde in this patron article: Mars Retrograde 2016: A Re-Direction of Passions

        We are entering a fresh, new two-year goal cycle. A new personal direction is about to unfold – aligned more closely with our own personal truth – and this new direction strongly colours the next two years of our lives, at the very least.

        This Aries New Moon is the very, very beginning of this new chapter, of these new goals and drives. It’s the gateway, and we’re about to take our first steps on new ground.

        Take these new steps with courage and boldness. Put a little swagger in your step. Ooze a little machismo (sure, both men and women!). Don’t look back, and don’t second guess the need for change. It’s right there in the astrology. This Uranus and Pluto-charged New Moon is dripping with potency and potential. Blaze on, friends!

        There is an electric immediacy to the proceedings for the following 28-day lunar cycle. We’re very much in the current moment, responding to any surprises, shocks, changes, or general upheavals with warrior-like focus and bravery.

        It’s time to forge into new territory on multiple fronts. The iron is hot, so strike away!

        Look to the house where 18 Aries falls and the house where 8 Sagittarius falls in your natal chart to get a feel for this powerful “fresh start portal” that is opening in your life. The activities and themes of those two houses are connected now. You are looking to align those areas a little more closely with your own personal identity, with who you really are right now, right in this unfolding moment. You’re looking to make those areas a little more “you.”

        The Sun in Aries forms a trine to Saturn in Sagittarius on April 5 (10:09 a.m.), as Venus ingresses Aries and Mercury ingresses Taurus.

        The Sun will then square Pluto at 17 degrees Capricorn on April 6 (2:13 pm.), indicating the potential for experiences with hierarchical, structural hell that force us to make new moves.

        The Sun and Moon come together in conjunction at 18 degrees Aries on April 7, marking the New Moon at 5:24 a.m., which triggers the Uranus-Pluto square. Shake, rattle, and roll!

        The Sun forms the exact conjunction to Uranus at 20 degrees Aries on April 9 (3:27 p.m.).

  2. pam

    (12th and 8th house for me)

    (8th house… In keeping with the transforming nature of this house, rituals are highlighted. Every group has its own way of peering in and looking deep into the soul and the past, if only to get a sense of what we truly are. What quality will our rituals take on? Exalted states or metamorphoses? What secrets do we keep and why? How we manage our interactions, relationships and rituals is important to the Eighth House — will we be honest, effective and responsible? Will the riches generated by our relationships benefit the group (company, humankind) as a whole? Our legacies are key to this house: how we conduct ourselves now, and how that will play out for all time.)

    In the way that you can put yourself in the way of beauty I find it is possible to put yourself in the way of stones. I have discovered this by chance and over time. This year our dog would tremble all night and get up and lie down, all night long, until it drove us all mad. We couldn’t think what to do – nothing appeased him, we couldn’t understand why he was like that – I now realise it was probably dad’s kitten who is very compatible with him pisces goat to his taurus horse and he felt she had taken the number one spot. She needed a certain amount of surveying and help being small.

    Finally I put a series of stones under him – carnelian and ruby and chlorite (fluorite? I tend to confuse the two and can’t find love is in the earth by melody to check) to grid him and ‘jump out’ any negative energy/darkness and keep it away afterwards. Citrine to clear away darkness, botswana agate to counter depression, two other ruby composites which aid a sense of autonomous self, topaz to filter any intention and send it back in a usable and appropriate form, herkeimer diamond to guide the soul and for second chances, the love stone (bright purple pink), and black tourmaline. After 5 minutes or so he started to stop trembling and finally fell asleep on the stones. I repeated this for several nights until he stopped trembling completely.

    I used these same stones on myself yesterday (except the herkeimer which I no longer have) through all the chakras, until I felt at ease again. There are some ‘young’ oak trees who I like, but through them I am sometimes aware of the huge old oak a mile or so away. I asked the stones also to put out there, repair (in an appropriate way) of any damage/darkness I might have caused by what I said.

    I couldn’t judge and it seemed best to err on the side of too much effort than too little.

      1. pam

        Thank youAmanda

        I was comforted too (on looking at the charts at serennu) – natal Lilith conjunct 12 house (obviously!) and Icarus sextile (over reaching or fear of overreaching?), and natal moon at 8+ Libra so emotionally hit by Sag 8. But! also conjunct the 12 house Astraea and Altjira and flanking Lilith that is the healing work isn’t it.

        1. pam

          And this from another thread? the comment is from Dragonwyst:

          ‘My Icarus is at 18 Aquarius – 6th House. I have a fondness for Icarus. There’s a thin line between being an asteroid and a comet. The asteroid that takes the leap or is nudged and starts moving becomes a comet. There was a night a while back when I was struggling to fall asleep, so instead of worrying about sleep I let my mind wander, and ended up thinking about being a comet…

          This night I dream of a life
          when I flew through the jewelled mysteries of dark
          far, far out to the end of the invisible tie
          that would draw me
          back to the light of my sun,
          to swing around her voluptuous blaze,
          her winds electrifying the stream of glory in my wake.
          This night I dream of that sweet timeless life
          ellipsing through the dark

          It is noteworthy that if a comet crashes into a planet, it might be one of those cataclysmic moments that ignite life…Icarus is full of potential!’

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