Learning to Love the Shadow

Hel, Norse Goddess of the Underworld

“As we strive to become more aware of ourselves, we have to see more of ourselves, and this includes more of our shadow.” – Caroline Myss

We all have light and dark aspects about ourselves. This sacred duality is what makes us who we are. In order to truly know, love and accept ourselves, we must also learn to know, love and accept our shadow self. Shadow does not mean “evil” or “bad”. It can be the parts of ourselves that we do not necessarily like but is part of who we are nonetheless. Things like jealousy, anxiety, fearful thinking, insecurity, neediness, judging, anger, etc. These parts of ourselves can feel shameful and we may be embarrassed that we as spiritual beings have these base, human qualities. But alas, we are human. We are spiritual beings having a human experience yes, but we are still human. So having these aspects of our personality is normal and natural.

Should we try to overcome these aspects about ourselves that we don’t like? Absolutely! If you feel that these things are holding you back from being a better person. If you feel that you can overcome your shadow aspects and strive to grow spiritually. That is a good goal to shoot for. Just keep in mind that trying to overcome these things does not mean that we are flawed in the first place. It means that we are human and as such we will be endowed with human qualities which include good and bad, light and dark. It also means that while we are working to overcome these things, we also need to accept these parts of ourselves in order to truly feel whole and to truly love who we are. All of who we are. Not just the parts of our personalities that we like. But also the parts that we don’t.

Hel, work in progress shots

I always viewed the Norse Goddess Hel as representing the light and dark aspects of humans. She is the Goddess of the Underworld who is depicted as having half of her body as that of a beautiful, vibrant woman. And the other half as being a rotting corpse or skeleton. This represents (in my opinion) the light and dark aspects of her. She is fierce and true to herself regardless of whether or not she has darkness inside her. She has her conflicting personalities out in the open for everyone to see. She is not afraid to show the world that she has a dark side to her lightness. We too have these conflicting personalities. And in order to truly feel whole, we need to learn to love them both.

We need to wear our darkness and our lightness on our sleeves so to speak. We need to not be afraid of judgement from the world for showing who we truly are. Just like Hel, we need to learn to be confident and comfortable in our darkness as well as our light. Because it is part of who we are and we can’t choose to love only one aspect of ourselves or we will never truly love ourselves.

For those of you who are interested in this painting, you can find prints and prayer cards in my shop. How do you connect with your shadow self?


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