Girl with her forehead pressed against a tree in black and white photo to depict doing shadow work in the summer months .

Witch Life: Shadow Work Under the Summer Sun

The long daylight hours of summer call me to do shadow work. The juxtaposition of the light and dark themes is what provides the perfect backdrop for this work now that we’re just past the Summer Solstice.

Creating peace, flow and joy in my life is a top priority for me and aligning myself to the energies of nature and integrating the wisdom found there supports living that way.  Walking through the Wheel of the Year with intention is central to all my celebrations, rituals and everyday practices. Likewise, working with the energies of the seasons supports my everyday life.

In this post, we’ll look at what shadow work is, how to know when you need it, reasons to do it, and how to do it.

Let’s get started.



What is Shadow Work?

There’s no way to sugar-coat shadow work.

While shadow work is a powerful process of self-discovery and healing, it’s also challenging, uncomfortable and messy.

You’re probably going to cry. You’ll likely feel a whole lot of things that you’d just rather not.

I promise you that’s normal.

It’s so uncomfortable because we don’t like looking at those parts of ourselves that make us recoil a little. We don’t want to believe those qualities are part of us.

However, those things are exactly what’s keeping you stuck, or they perpetuate feeling stuck, having anxiety or a even a vicious inner critic that never shuts off.

Here’s why I think everyone benefits from doing shadow work:  When you understand yourself better, you’re empowered.

So, shadow work is always worth doing for the growth that follows it.



How Do You Know When You Need Shadow Work?

While everyone will have a different answer to this, here’s some telltale signs that you will benefit from doing shadow work.

  • Are you feeling stuck in life?
  • Struggling with things like self-sabotage or anxiety?
  • Do you have an inner critic that can’t stop talking?
  • Are you noticing recurring patterns?
  • Do you find yourself experiencing emotional triggers often?
  • You have difficulty setting or holding boundaries


Knowing when to do this work is sometimes hard.

But, if you’re feeling any of these things, or if you’re struggling with limiting beliefs that are keeping you deeply mired in your mess, then it’s time to consider shadow work.

Doing the deep work with shadow can help you heal, alchemize your pain into power and move forward with clarity, passion and purpose.

Empowering, right?


girl and tree in a fuzzy black and white shadowy image for shadow work
Shadow work in summer.


The Summer Season and Shadow Work

 The rhythm of summer is perfect for diving into the darker aspects of yourself and letting the sunlight help you integrate what you find.

From Summer Solstice through the month of July is when I feel the most pull toward doing shadow work. The sun’s energy is at its peak and that powerful solar energy supports my inner exploration.

Likewise, the solstice is a time of growth which also supports doing shadow work. The longer daylight hours offer up that sense of having more time for reflection but anytime you feel the need to do shadow work is the perfect time for you. Keep that in mind.

Nature’s cycles remind us that everything is a dance of light and dark. There’s expansion and contraction along the way. The decay creates new growth. Without bright sunshine, you can’t see shadow, it’s only seen with the bright light.

In this way, you can think of doing shadow work as bringing into the light, those things that are hidden. This allows us to recognize those shadows, understand how they originate, gauge the impact they have on our life and then be able to integrate them.



What Are the Benefits of Doing Shadow Work?

The potential for profound transformation is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the benefits of doing shadow work.

During a live round of my shadow work class, one of the students had this to say: “we all leveled up”.

It’s 100% true. We did. It was tough, but beautiful too.


Here’s a few of the benefits of doing shadow work:


  • You are in control now.

It’s so freeing when you finally face that shadow self. Before you do that, the shadow is in control. Confronting it means you’re now able to take control.

  • Better relationships

When you better understand the lesser qualities of your shadow self, you’ll also be able to better understand others. You won’t be as triggered by other people’s behavior. When you practice self-awareness, you become more grounded and calmer.

That’s empowering.


  • Heal generational trauma

In the process of doing shadow work, it’s likely that how your upbringing affected you will come up. You’ll note which things were helpful and which were harmful. You’ll know what methods and/or habits you don’t want to pass on to your own children. This breaks the cycle of passing on generational trauma.


  • Stop self-destructive behaviors

When you know your triggers, you can stop acting from a place of fear. For example, instead of spending money when you’re sad as a way to make you feel better, you’ll now actually allow yourself to cry since now you know it’s 100% okay to express your emotions!


  • Increased Self-Acceptance

You feel more whole because now you’re accepting all parts of you. You become more balanced.


  • Working through triggers

Triggers can be a person, place or thing. Anything that causes you a negative emotional or behavioral response is a trigger. When you’re feeling this, you can then break that down and understand exactly why you’re feeling reactive.

Here’s a way to work though triggers when they come up:

  • What triggered you? Journal about the situation in detail.
  • How did you react to this trigger? What emotions did you feel?
  • What thoughts did you have?
  • What’s the root or source of this trigger?
  • Does it bring up fears or insecurities? How?
  • Can you self-soothe right now in a positive way?


cat shadow reflected against a light colored curtain


What Happens if you Neglect Shadow Work?

So far, we’ve covered the benefits of doing shadow work, but what happens if you don’t do it?

Then, the same old stuff is likely to keep coming up. Over and over again. Any unresolved issues will manifest in your life in various ways. This leads to ongoing challenges in your relationships, in your mental health and in how you feel about your life.



Ideas for Doing Shadow Work

 Here’s a few simple ideas for doing shadow work. Each of these ways can also do double duty as self-care, which is an important part of doing shadow work since this work is hard.


  •  Journaling

Journaling is a great way to reflect on your dreams, fears and any recurring thoughts you notice.

Journaling is one of the Ravynwood Foundations because it’s a powerful tool that’s also easy to use. (We love simple, elegant solutions here at Ravynwood.)


Note: The other 5 Ravynwood Foundations are Reiki, meditation, self-care, gratitude, and healing creativity. I’m a fan of each one and these are powerful additions to your personal toolbox. 



Here’s a couple journal prompts to get you started:

  1. Nobody enjoys feeling negative emotions like anger, hurt, jealousy or rejection. But what is the emotion you hate feeling the absolute most? Why?
  2. What were your parents’ or guardians’ core values and beliefs? How did they influence you as a child? How do they influence you as an adult?


If you like journal prompts, you can pick up a copy of the Shadow Work Journal in the Printables Store. It features 30 journal prompts, a mood tracker, a trigger tracker and information about shadow work to help you explore and integrate your shadow self. Click here to get your copy. 



  • Meditation

Meditation will allow you to focus inward. This can be an opportunity to observe your shadow in a non-judgmental way.


  • Healing Creativity

Painting, drawing, music, writing or anything crafty that you enjoy can help you explore your shadow self. I kind of love the idea of crafting a collage that uses images you associate with the shadow as part of this.


  • Allow Nature to Help You

The natural world can be your wise guide to working through your shadow. You can go outside, ground yourself and ask for guidance or go for a walk and open yourself to receive messages.


  • Self-Care for Shadow Work

Taking care of yourself is so important every day. It can be emotionally exhausting to do shadow work, making it even more important to take good care of yourself.

Here’s a few ideas for you to use while doing shadow work:

(Keep in mind that self-care is anything that you need to do to support your mental well-being and manage your stress. So, use these suggestions or create something that’s perfect for you.)


  • Meditation
  • Get outside. Nature is good for the soul.  (Check out this post for 3 easy ways to connect to nature.) 
  • Movement – Pilates, yoga, qi gong or tai chi are all very good  (Check out the resources page for some great options.)
  • Journal
  • Try a new recipe that you’ve had your eye on or clean up your space (Here’s a great one for summertime meals.)
  • Brew up your favorite tea (I love mint or chamomile – click to read more about them.)
  • Soak in the tub
  • Listen to an uplifting podcast or music


shadow work depicted by a woman in shadow with only the lower part of her face visible
Shadow work is empowering.



Summary of Shadow Work

Think of the shadow work you’ll do as being an effort to find the balance between light and dark. It’s about embracing both of these. Each of these aspects of our being provides us with profound wisdom. It’s not about one being better than the other.

Just as nature has ebbs and flows, so too does our shadow and light.

Don’t align to one side or the other but allow for that duality to be your whole. These things are both needed for clarity and growth.

Let what you find in the shadow empower you.

Here’s a couple of thoughts that might help you use your shadow to empower yourself:

  • See the shadow as being a pathway to transformation.
  • Don’t think of this as fixing yourself.  You’re not broken. Instead, this is about mining the gifts that exist in that shadow. You never know what you’ll find there. Strength, resilience, beauty? There’s endless potential.
  • You’re returning to your whole self. This process is hard and will take courage to complete. It also takes self-compassion. Be gentle with yourself as you make this journey.

Will you give shadow work a go this summer?

Blessed be.



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Shadow Work Resources

Get your copy of the Shadow Work Journal 

Shadow Work Course – This course is broken down into easy things you’ll do each week for 4 weeks