Denise Sheehan: Inanna ~ Embracing the Shadow

Today’s guest blog post comes from Denise Sheehan of Sage Spirit Blog, which she describes as “a gathering space for conscious, creative, intuitive, fun, loving earthlings and their ideas. If you’re here, you belong.” I have had the privilege and delight of knowing Denise since 2006, when she attended the very first Reiki class I taught in Reno. That group holds a special spot in my memory, because although I had been teaching Reiki Certification Classes since 2002, this was the very first one I ever taught on my own. Over the years, I’ve watched Denise step into her amazing intuitive, healing and coaching gifts. Today, she shares insights into the increasingly important Shadow aspect of ourselves: how do we heal and integrate those aspects in order to empower ourselves and heal our world?

Inanna ~ Embracing the Shadow
By Denise Sheehan

Inanna Goddess Oracle Card, Amy Sophia Marashinsky and Hrana Janto (illustrator)

Inanna Goddess Oracle Card, Amy Sophia Marashinsky and Hrana Janto (illustrator)

To enhance my already-rich tradition of tapping into guidance and support through Tarot, I recently purchased the “The Goddess Oracle” cards, by Amy Sophia Marashinsky and Hrana Janto (illustrator). Today I drew a beautiful card, pictured above, with a message I feel is important to share in times like these. I think I posted recently that we can experience more than one dark night of the soul, and so it seems that many have contacted me to share their experience of that. Perhaps The Goddess Oracle can share some light and hope for your journeys.

Inanna is known as the Sumerian Queen of Heaven. She “tricked her father, Enki, God of Wisdom, into giving her the hundred objects of culture, which she then gave to humankind.” She journeyed to see her sister in the Underworld, where she was, “stripped and killed, and left to hang on a hook for three days and three nights.” She had to name a replacement in order to be allowed to leave the Underworld, and she chose her son-lover who betrayed her during her absence.

Marashinsky tells us:

Inanna is her to tell you that a journey to the Underworld is the way to wholeness for you now. It is time to dance with your shadow, reclaim what you’ve denied, embrace your own Dark Sister/Dark Self. You need all those aspects of yourself that your parents, caregivers, teachers, society have deemed unacceptable in order to achieve wholeness in your life. Whether it be your talent, your beauty, your inner vampire, your anger, your madness, you are required to surrender to the journey and embrace your dark side. If you are already in the Underworld, the appearance of Inanna may signal that the time for your return is at hand. Journeys to the Underworld to embrace your dark side are a law unto themselves. They take as much time as they need to take – you can’t just fit them into your schedule. When it is time for you to journey, you will and you will not be done until you return. Take comfort in the fact that all journeys to the Underworld do end and that you will indeed return – much different from who you thought you were when you went. (pp. 85-6)

I’ve been teaching workshops on accessing intuition in Reno over the past few months, first partnering with Katie Packham of Copper Cat Studio and then with Alicia Greene of Pure Yoga Boutique Studio. Each one has been different, as I’ve been guided to create more or less structure and content for each one. During the last workshop, I added a component of exploring the shadow, inspired by my shamanic work around this and also by Debbie Ford’s book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers: Reclaiming your Power, Creativity, Brilliance and Dreams. I felt thrilled at the way the workshop participants so courageously and beautifully embraced our activities on this topic!

Seeing and embracing our shadow allows us to live and breathe more deeply into our unique gifts, expressing them more fully in the world. Not only that, but once we embrace them, we no longer have to cast our shadows all over everyone else (called projection), limiting our capacity to intuit our world in empowered, masterful ways that allow for ease, grace, flow and so much love!

If you find yourself in the dark night, breathe into Marashinsky’s words once more, “Take comfort in the fact that all journeys to the Underworld do end and that you will indeed return.” I am happy to support you in your journey of discovery, coming back into light and joy, if that feels right for you.

What am I seeing in the shadows of my existence, within and in others?

How can I more deeply dance into what is in my experience, to reveal and embrace the gifts?

Who am I becoming?

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mary on June 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Thank you for reposting. 🙂

    I think where I get stuck is I don’t know what that embrace/integration looks like. The way I work is usually modeling from a template, but I don’t seem to have a template for this, I don’t know what the ‘end’ product is supposed to look like, so I without direction, that map, I find I get lost in the details.

    I recall my parents always fighting with their shadow. The shadow would run the show, they would go into guilt and self chastisement, then the shadow would run the show again. Seems I’m emulating this model. But, what does an integrated person look like?

    Maybe I’m applying my 3D thinking to a non 3D situation? Or is it 3D, in that we are bringing unity to a space where separation typically reigns – so maybe it’s a little of both…

    I think I get frustrated because I hear this message a lot (hee, for a reason…), but it’s like someone saying “just build a rocket and travel to mars, just go!”, I’m left thinking OK, but… how? I don’t really even know what a rocket is!

    Thanks for letting me vent! :)))

    Will be pondering this today and asking for guidance to show itself, I know it will. 🙂



    • I would suggest Tarot Shadow Work, even if you don’t normally use the Tarot yourself. The book includes lists of what Shadow attributes are, and then how those would look when integrated. It does this for each of the Major Arcana … so 22 different cases … and I suspect that when you read through so many of them with the Shadow list and the integrated (Gifts of the Shadow) list, you’ll start to get a clearer picture of what wholeness and integration look like. I agree, there are very, very few models for working with the Shadow, but some of us DO engage it quite often with positive, healing results. You might want to check out the book Denise mentions, too: “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.” I’ve not read that myself, but it looks good.

      Another good place to begin is by reading actual Faery Tales — not the sanitized Disney versions, but get some really old folk tales, Brothers Grimm or even older if you can find them. Humanity used to know how to engage the Shadow side. Oh … another good resource would be Brian Froud’s The Faeries’ Oracle Cards. The artwork is gorgeous, but he includes both Seelie (“good”) and Unseelie (not so easy to deal with/challenger) faeries. Working with the faeries in general will help you to balance the Shadow side, because they are very much engaged in that sort of work. Faeries are not black or white kinda folks. They prefer the in-between times and places, dusk, dawn, river’s edge, cliffs … as well as the very deep, dark and undisturbed places.

      We have a ton of faeries right around the edges of our property — with poison ivy to go with it. They’re standing guard, as they don’t like trespassers, and I’m really OK with that. It’s kind of Shadow in that if someone is walking where they shouldn’t be, I’m OK with the plants and faeries whopping ’em. I may substitute out Hawthorn trees, Morning Glories and painted Runes for poison ivy, but I will honor their (and my) desire for boundaries that deserve respect. When you begin to integrate your Shadow side, you start to recognize boundary breaches and feel really OK defending yourself. It doesn’t need to be mean and aggressive, but one advantage of Shadow Work is that you learn how to love and honor the deepest, sacred, most vulnerable parts of yourself. When they know that you will honor them, they come out to play!




  2. Thank you for sharing, Laura! My own journey into the shadow has been most intriguing and beneficial. I find that the Reiki journey, which you helped to bring into my life, has been most supportive of doing the work. I am grateful for all the energies, wisdom, playfulness, and delight you’ve brought into my life these many years (and lifetimes). Love and blessings always…



  3. Mary, I feel your readiness for your guidance and your shift. I feel your breakthrough energies. I will offer a few more thoughts, in case they might be useful for you. For me integration feels like joy, acceptance and self-love that empowers me to love and show up for others more fully. Of course, there really doesn’t seem to be an arrival place, just a deeper unfoldment into the mystery that I can choose to embrace, or not, in each moment, in each day. I really enjoy Debbie Ford’s book because I feel like she holds the flashlight for me where I might get bogged down in self-doubt or shame. She also guides me into the journey of seeing everyone as mirrors for my own journey of discovery. Whatever I perceive as someone else’s stuff, gets turned around into a joyful opportunity for me to go deeper into my own shadow and projections. The work is practical and mystical at the same time, 3d and 5d all at once.



  4. Love your recommended resources, Laura! Tarot is such a fun way to explore! I love the way you bring the work into your garden story… so you, Faery siStar!



  5. Posted by Mary on June 6, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you both so much!

    I’ve recently picked up this book for my kindle by Paul Levy “Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil” . It’s very interesting so far. He too shares the idea that within the problem lies the solution, that this shadow aspect offers a gift of freedom, if one can face and embrace instead of look the other way or try to control it.

    I’m excited to work with the Shadow via Tarot, Tarot too is becoming a powerful tool for me.

    I also love Laura’s garden examples!

    It’s great to be able to share my thoughts open and honestly. I appreciate Laura providing the space to do so. 🙂 Thank you for that too!



  6. You are most welcome. That’s what this blog is for … helping people to think beyond programmed limitations and find freedom in their expansion. Thanks for sharing part of your process here. I’m sure others will benefit, even if they don’t comment. 🙂



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