Understanding the Energy of Shadow
Jakki Leonardini explains how she processes light and dark.
Those of you who have been listening to Pulling the Thread or reading this newsletter for a minute know that as a corollary to the primary idea of On Our Best Behavior—that women are programmed by our culture for an externally adjudicated idea of “goodness,” while men are programmed for power—I’ve been doing a side exploration of what “good” and “bad” even mean. I’m interested in how they’re coded by society certainly, but I’ve also been working on a deeper, more metaphysical understanding, outside of the false and exhausting binaries we love so much (Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, Cain vs. Abel, Us vs. Them, Democrat vs. Republican). I’ve been looking primarily to the grounding work of Sufi mystics like G.I. Gurdjieff and Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. (You can read this series: Understanding Spiritual Power, Understanding Collective Darkness, When Communities are in Shadow—I highly recommend all of LVL’s books, too.)
The ideas of “good” and “bad” are relative terms, so I’ve been trying to understand whether they exist in any absolute sense. Is there such a thing as pure evil? I honestly don’t know, though figures like psychopathic serial killers and Adolf Hitler—able to infect an entire country with his demonic instincts—certainly does seem to suggest yes. (A newsletter devoted to James Hillman’s The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling is coming.)
Putting evil and its source aside, what does consistently present is the idea of shadow and light—shadow being capable of an intense density and drag. (Here we get into G.I. Gurdjieff’s explanation of the “Worlds” which makes so much sense to me.) But the shadow is an essential energy in us and in the universe: It’s the void, the womb, the source of resurrection—it’s what fuels growth, change, and evolution. Ask people about the “dark night of their soul,” and they’ll tell you how the worst events—the events they would never choose—birthed a different direction in their life and reshaped their entire being. Often for the better. The light doesn’t exist without the shadow. Without this duality we are blind.
Shadow and light are Jungian terms, terms that become problematic in the way we’ve weaponized them over time in conversations about complexion and race. (For this reason, my Jungian therapist won’t use them.) They can also trigger spiritual bypassing—a refusal to acknowledge, accept, and alchemize the shadowy parts of ourselves, parts that we all have. Like many other bits of language that we lob around without context or full understanding (cue the recent conversation about the misuse of the word “boundaries” as a mechanism for controlling other people) shadow and light get tossed around a lot. For this reason, Carissa suggests that rather than using the words shadow and light, we instead use “realized” versus “unrealized.” It’s our job to “realize” the shadow, to mix it with light, bring it into awareness.
These darker cords are a powerful archetypal energy—amoral, really—and when we reach for power, or think we can handle or wield them for our agendas without exceptional consciousness and care, watch out. They can bend and distort us: We see this type of possession all over the place. People who have “changed” in disturbing ways, even under the banner of “being a force for good” in the world. These energy cords are very dense. Their vibrations are low.
In my quest to understand what’s at play, I’ve spoken to theologians and mystics (Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Cynthia Bourgeault, Thomas Hübl, John Churchill, Carissa Schumacher, and more), and I’ve also talked to practitioners like Jakki Leonardini.
I met Jakki through a dear friend, trauma therapist Kasey Crown, who is Jakki’s partner in Well Soul Workshops. In my very first encounter with Jakki, she was able to give me essential context around the metaphysical relationship of shadow and light, particularly around the way we embody fear. Fear is a gateway emotion. We discuss this at length on this week’s episode of the podcast, but Jakki explained to me that fear is a hijacking energy. When you go into fear, you make yourself more porous and susceptible—and because you’re so desperate “to figure it out,” any energy that touches your fear creates a hook and keeps you scrambling and connected, whether it seems to come from another person or not. As Jakki explained to me in this piece, “negative energy is intentionally not logical: Not only are you not supposed to understand it or figure it out, BUT YOU ACTUALLY CAN’T. It’s designed to be incomprehensible, yet almost decipherable. And it catches us in its maw because it is our nature to understand: What's wrong with this person? Why would they do this to me/us? What's their beef? We desperately want to understand because we’re convinced that if we figure it out, we can figure out the antidote and set ourselves free. If we sate its appetite, it will leave us in peace and move on.”
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This was a big insight for me. Fear is a heavy weight. I also believe that fear makes some people reach for power and control—they’re scared, it feels justified, something “bad out there is threatening them—and that this fear makes them more inclined to make “agreements” with denser energies. A vicious cycle. (As Carissa has also said, what you power powers you, so power energies like peace, patience, love.)
Interestingly, the antidote is to stay out of fear—at the risk of sounding woo-woo-cheesy, the antidote is to keep your vibration at a level high enough to be out of fear’s reach. Jakki has some thoughts below on how to do that.
ELISE: How do you describe your work?
JAKKI: As an energy medicine practitioner, I work in the subtle realm. I am practiced at psychically attuning to energies that are present, and shifting fear-based shadow energies into love and light frequencies through intention. I work with the certainty that we are all divine beings at our core, specifically that we are electromagnetic beings dwelling in an electromagnetic universe. We vibrate at frequencies of energy that are unique to who we are and to what we have experienced throughout our eternal existence. I hold the belief that the purpose of our existence is to evolve our energy field fully into light and love (enlightenment), so we can wholly realize ourselves as divine beings, or what I call the “soul-self.” In my practice, I work with peoples’ ethereal energy body, or chakra system, by attuning to light frequencies that illuminate where they are in dis-harmony in mind, body, spirit, energy, emotion, and ultimately experience. Together we discover the root cause of their pain through a process called “running energy.” As we run energy through the chakra system, we begin to shift the pain and disharmony into a more coherent state, one that creates space for them to feel present, centered, and clear. This practice starts with a grounding and includes intention, prayer, and the use of various energy healing tools, aiding us in having more agency over our energy so that we can live a more centered and graceful life.
ELISE: How does information come to you, and how do you understand/feel peoples' energy?
JAKKI: I always say that Spirit speaks to us in ways that we will understand. I have an ability to see or sense energy that is present. I receive and sense messages from my divine guidance system by attuning to my channel. Those frequencies of energy then open up a filing cabinet of information about what my client may be experiencing, feeling, or struggling with in the moment. It requires that I be fully present, grounded, and attuned to divine consciousness energy, open to receiving insights and simply trusting that because I am attuned, the information downloading is for the highest and best good of my client and all concerned. Once I am in this process, the information begins to flow in the form of pictures, words, songs, images, or even occasionally memories of my own that may help me relate to, or better understand, the experience my client is having. The work is about getting out of my own way, trusting, and having the courage to give voice to what I am seeing. We then work together to decipher what it is my client needs to know in order to experience balance and wellness within. The ultimate goal is for each of us to recognize our divinity and wholeness and to know that we have everything we need within us. We can know this because we are in fact divine and our divinity means we are in fact love. Every time we show up in love in thought, word, and deed, we are being true to who we are. Once I set the intention and work with clients toward that goal of recognizing and knowing their own divinity, I trust that because we are electromagnetic beings, we are attracting and receiving information that is coming from a loving source.
ELISE: Where does this information come from? And what comes up for most people?
JAKKI: The universe is made up of light and shadow frequencies, light meaning love and divine truth and creativity in its purest form, and then shadow. The root of shadow is fear. I choose to have a relationship with divine energy and so the information that I seek, I am seeking from those wavelengths of divine, source energy. What comes up for most people will depend on where they are attuning their energy field and what energy they are asking to come forward for them. Because I only want information coming in that is rooted in truth and unconditional love and has a care and concern for the connection between all of us within this cause and effect reality that we live in, I ask for information with the prayer: “Please show me the way, please give me the information in messages that I can understand for my highest good and the highest good of all concerned.” The information will then come in alignment with the vibration to which I am attuned in that moment.
ELISE: When people feel like they're being attacked, what is that exactly? Are there external energies that don't wish us well?
JAKKI: The universe is full of light and shadow. Those shadow energies are dense vibrational wavelengths or entities of energy that are constructed of fear and pain. Because we are electromagnetic, when we are holding pain within and in a state of dis-ease, we can sometimes attract those energies magnetically.
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