Guest Writer Alice Hart: Straight out of Wonderland, this intense dreamer crawled her way through one mad tea party after another to bring you some keys to your doorways. Versed in chaos magick with an emphasis in alchemical self-transformation through art, she encourages everyone to dream BIG and jump through the rabbit hole. Sometimes head first.
Alice Hart’s Analysis on Shadow Work:
“Nothing will ever change here.” He said casually, lighting up his fifth cigarette that afternoon. “Not for this town or me or you.”
My friend peered up into the clear blue sky, squinting his eyes skeptically at it. He inhaled and exhaled a cloud of thick tobacco smoke. Then, glanced over at me.
“The sooner you just accept that, the easier life will be.”
“Everything is shit and nothing ever changes.”
I looked up at the same blue sky as he. Squinted identically as I mused the weight of his words over and over again inside my mind. There was a point of time where these putrid dogmas would’ve slid easily down like butter or extremely tenderized lamb, but the pain I was in kept me from swallowing them. There had to be a way out of this town, out of this absolute nightmare! My life was a crumbling tower struck by Uranian lightning and heralded by Saturnine thunder that I refused to hear. I was penniless, homeless, pregnant, and continuing a toxic relationship with a devouring sociopath. High school was over and I was a foster kid on the run from myself while the threat of adulthood held a knife to my throat. All my years alive and the misfortunes I burdened under were the fault of some mysterious and seemingly omnipotent “they”. ‘They have done /this/ to me’, ‘they /forced/ me to do this’, ‘they /won’t let me/ leave this town’…’they have /fucked over/ my life’. “They” were suddenly nowhere to be found on this bleak afternoon during this particular conversation in front of our town’s courthouse. There was only myself inside of my life and an outsider to it blabbering crap.
“You know,” I replied, tilting my head curiously to the side. “I’ve been giving it a lot of thought…”
My friend took another drag of his cigarette. “Yeah?” He responded with a grin playing on his lips. Maybe he’d said all those things on purpose, strategically edging me into the fire that would mark my end and beginning. “Giving what thought?”
“I think you’re wrong.” I said. “I think you’re full of crap.”
By articulating that magickal incantation of disbelief, by telling the omnipotent “they” to fuck off, I had initiated myself into shadow work unknowingly. Most people trudge the desolate mindscapes of the dark night of the soul and come out of it broken, if they ever come out of it at all. The abyssal plains of a broken heart and the numb doldrums of the weary spirit /can/ and /will/ consume all who traverse it (to varying degrees). Should you ever find yourself eclipsed by indescribable agony where every aspect of your life is dissolving faster than America’s confidence in it’s government, your only key out is stupidly simple: decisive choice. Choose! Until you choose to own every aspect of your experience, the beatings will continue, until your goddamn morale improves! The monsters will gnaw at you. The thieves will invade your safe spaces and rob you of riches. The scythe of death will reap the growth short of every seedling you dare to plant…because until you fertilize the earth of your soul with conscious choice, all spoils to bareness.
Getting to that point of decisive choice is no joke. I won’t lie to you, audience, and say that there’s some exact formula for reaching that psychological plateau. There isn’t. Hitting the realization that you are responsible for your own shit is completely individual for the person producing said shit. The tipping scales which send us catapulting forwards into this realization or further into ignorance of it is…unique. There is no general timing. In my personal experience, however, the suck ends when we feel the pain through completely. And in feeling the pain through, we realize the choices we DO have. Inevitably, we end up choosing something, or someone/something else will do it for you.
Our pain transmutes in that singular moment and becomes a great unveiling. That’s right! Your pain is the very key to your freedom.
Like I said though, you have to really FEEL your pain. In this statement I am not encouraging self-harm or bringing about harm for others…but let’s say you have an old laptop or object just sitting around, that isn’t important, and you happen to have a hammer? Assign that laptop a problem or six in your life and destroy it. Realize that you’ve changed it and simultaneously, you can change yourself, if you harness that pain inside of you. That pain is the momentum, the horse, the chariot of your victory over the mess you’re currently in. Yes, you are a powerful manifesting machine capable of creating worlds and ending them!
Either passively or actively, you’ve created this nightmare world. You are the god of this abyssal cemetery and you can hit the ‘end’ button any time! Are you satisfied with the moss, the skeletal willow groves, the upturned tombstones, and bloodied moons of your life? Do you long for the dawn again? How much do you long for it? Grab that pain clawing you apart and direct it. Leash that pain and make it work for you. Use it as motor fuel to change the conditions of your life. You created the grave you’re dying in so build a bridge back to heaven. You can use the materials of your coffin box to do so!
‘Where are the blueprints for this bridge?!’ you might question. Frustrated, at that.
Do anything with passion and if you cannot muster passion for it, do not do it. After wandering miserably in the streets of my hometown, I got fed up writhing in agony, and started putting that pain into art. Art became my decisive choice. Every single convulsion and contortion of emotional turmoil became an action that I put into my life. Instead of letting go of the hurt feelings or applying a moralistic tone to them, ferment them into self-expression, every single day. For as long as you can. If that means keeping a notepad near your bed to write down a poem for five minutes in the morning before work or cutting all your ties and moving into a cabin in the forest or visiting your parents during the holidays to work through your bitterness…do it. You can only escape the land of the dead and dying when you use that decayed material, when you compost it. Turn your crap life into roses by believing in that pain enough to cure yourself through daily acts of passion.
If daily expression of pain into acts of progress (even if that’s just getting out of bed in the morning) is your key, apathy is the douchebag guarding the door. With their buddies depression and fear.
Much like the high school bullies they are, they’ll hunt you down, and challenge you after school. They won’t stop until you’ve looked them straight in the eye and stand up to them in earnest. Every passionate and courageous act you do in ANY context is you facing those threshold guardians down. It can be a matter of one stand-off or a series of many throughout your entire life but each step counts. Each step is an anchor and a block forged from your determination to choose better for yourself. Further into this matter, these guardians of the threshold serve a sacred, and often misunderstood purpose: they reveal who we truly are. That which opposes us to the point of spiritual burning or decay shows us the core of our being and purpose. When you finally look these concepts in the face and understand their articulation within yourself, they stop being obstacles. They start becoming teachers and allies.
And they’ll open the door out of the dark night of your soul into a new day.
The dark night of the soul is bleak and shadowed, perhaps, to make us peer up into that wide sky. To expand our vision to faraway futures, tiny pinpricks of light, just like stars. Leaving this stage in your life starts with choice. Your choice and the limits you allow upon it. And with each evolution you progress through in your spirit, you might return to this place, over and over. Each time gets a little less disconcerting and more informative if you treat the nightmares like boss battles, sages on the mount, jabberwockies, stormtroopers (they can’t actually hit anything if you treat yourself like the main character). To sum it all up, to make sense of my ramble at it’s optimum, the key to any dark night is…
Choosing to act upon your vision daily. No matter how elaborate, simple, or anywhere in-between that it is. And all it takes sometimes is saying “fuck off” and doing you, boo.