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Ask a Grey Witch - Questions about witchcraft and magick

Shadow work journaling exercises

Suggestions and examples

So, you may be wondering, "what does Shadow Work have to do with grey witchery?" 

Well, in my opinion getting to know yourself best, including your shadow-self, is absolutely essential in order to recognize and separate your own energies apart from others. This can be instrumental to being truly connected with inner pure intentions within castings, charms, potions, and spells, as well as rituals, ceremonies, and other workings.

Prompts to help start journaling

Prompts are questions that promote self analyzing deep within our inner selves. Here are some examples:

  • What are your triggers and what caused them?

  • Is there anyone you hold a grudge against? If so, what is holding you back from letting go and moving on?

  • Do you feel misunderstood? If yes, what misconceptions do people have of you?

  • What do you dislike about yourself most?

  • What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done and why did you do it?

  • Are you happy with where you are in your life? Is there anything that you can do to improve it?

  • Was your childhood negative or positive? Outline the most prominent memories that you have of your younger years.

  • What is your relationship like with your family? Has your connection strengthened since you were a child or has it gotten worse?

  • What are your parent’s best and worst personality traits? Do you see any of them within yourself?

  • Who are you closest to in your life and do they positively reflect who you are? Are you holding on to people that don’t deserve your time and affections? Are you honestly happy in your relationships?

  • Are you comfortable in your skin? If there is something that you would like to change about yourself, what is it and why?

  • Do you lie to yourself to avoid addressing your fears?

  • What characteristics and traits do you dislike in others?

  • When are you hardest on yourself and why?

  • What emotions do you tend to avoid?

  • Do you enforce boundaries with others or are you the type to let people cross lines?

  • How did you deal with trauma in the past and what do you do to combat it in the present?

  • Are you 100% yourself around others? Do you put on a persona or mask to blend into the crowd? Do you know who you are?

  • Do you forgive yourself when you have done something wrong? When you make mistakes can you move on from them or do they continue to hurt you?

  • What are your toxic traits?

  • Are you happy to be alone in your own company? Do you use other people to fill a void?

  • Do you respond well to constructive criticism? Are you over-sensitive to any form of feedback?

  • Do you allow yourself to be vulnerable in your romantic relationships? Do you put up walls around yourself and your partner or are you completely open?

  • Do you accept yourself as you are?

  • What is your deepest, darkest fear?

  • Is there anyone in your life that you are competitive with? If yes, what caused this rivalry?

  • Do you feel as though people respect you?

  • What is your biggest regret and why?

  • Do you have any unhealthy attachments or habits? What are you doing to curb them and why have you continued to entertain them?

  • Do you practice self-care? Is there more that you could be doing for your wellbeing

Think about one thing that bothers you

One good place to start with shadow work would be to think of one thing that bothers you, and reflect on what it is about that specific thing or person that might also be a part of or within you.

To figure this out, you could ask yourself gentle questions like:

  • What is it about it that I don't like?

  • Do I find that I have some of those same traits sometimes?

  • What makes it so difficult to be in that situation, or around them?

  • What parts of me create it as to the situation? Or what does that person not like when I'm around them?

  • How do I feel about that part of myself?

Contemplate on the answers and journal any interesting realizations.

Choose one thing at a time to work on. Take note of any discomforts, fears, or disturbances while rationalizing and analyzing the responses to the questions above.

Do this exercise as many times as necessary. Each time choosing a different thing that is bothersome whether it be a trait of yourself, or a characteristic of another, or of a situation or issue, etc.

Quite often this type of reflection can lead to some kind of growth. For example: the realization of a resolution to a problem, or acceptance of something, or of ourselves or of someone else, or the evolution of one's own weakness eventually becoming a strength.

Look at your family tree

Another starter exercise to dip your toes into shadow work would be to analyzing your family tree.

Make a family tree of your two sets of grandparents, all of your aunts and uncles, and your parents because they're the generations above you whose attributes—good and bad—might be in you. This practice is all about getting honest enough to say, "I love my family, but one of my uncles drinks too much," for example.

The next step is to really look at all those qualities that exist within your family, and ask if any of those things are in you.

Analyse caregivers' traits

Write down five negative traits for each of your parents/caretaker or the people who raised you.

Notice which ones you really can’t stand.

Then write down five positive traits for each of your parents/caretaker or the people who raised


Notice which ones you really admire.

Then answer these questions:

? - How do these 10 traits live in you?

? - How do you exhibit them or what’s your version of them?

? - How do these 10 traits show up in your life?

Advice VS Judgement

For one week, observe your own judgments about other people.

Whenever you’re upset by another person’s behavior, notice the quality in him or her that is most upsetting to you.

Write down any opinions you have of the people who are closest to you. Be sure to include your

friends, family, and co-workers.


Make a list of advice you give to other people.

What are you telling others to do to make their

life better? Reflect on whether the advice you give to others isn’t just advice to yourself.

Sometimes we tell other people what to do as a way of reminding ourselves of what WE need

to do.

Realize that your advice to them may be a way to remind yourself.

Create a "bucket list"

If you don’t live your days by goals and plans, chances are that you spend most of your time caught in a jumble of day to day activities and tasks. Ever felt that your days are passing you by without any tangible output?

? - What did you accomplish in the past month?

? - What are your goals for the next three months?

Look at the things that you have been doing and the things that you’re planning to do next — do they mean anything to you if you are to die today?

Having a bucket list reminds you of what’s really important to you so that you can act on them before opportunities to do so are lost.

Take note of emotional reactions

An emotional activation is the response you have when you’re not engaging reason and logic to understand your feelings accordingly. This can come from unaltered emotional wounds from our past experience. Like, in the way how a scent or sound or specific sight can remind of a sudden memory from deep within our minds, bringing it to the surface for a quick sudden moment. This can cause emotional outburst.Like a reflex. It’s important to notice, because – if you pay attention to that quick moment – it may provide you with important information.If you have the courage to examine your emotional activators, also known as triggers, then you can find out a lot about your inner self that is subconsciously hidden from us (also known as the shadow self).

First, begin to notice when big feelings and strong emotional reactions occur. It can happen unexpectedly. You’re looking for patterns, so that you can begin to identify the activator. For example, what brought on the strong emotions? Was it a certain sound? Or a specific smell? Or does it revolve around another person? or as you enter an uncomfortable place? or maybe the texture or touch of an object? Etc.You will need to be objective and dispassionate -- which is not easy to do.

Try to journal the answers while asking yourself the following questions:

? - What specific words, actions, situation, or person caused your reaction?

? - How did you react? Consider not only the physical manifestation, but more significantly the feeling(s) driving that physical manifestation.

? - How did you feel? Why?

? - Where have those feelings come from? Or, during the emotional activation what can you recall, if anything?

3 - 2 - 1 exercise

First choose what, or who, ‘it’ is going to be in this exercise. Keep in mind that for this particular technique it’s easiest to work with another person with whom you have a troubled connection, perhaps a friend, colleague, spouse or relative for example. You might be rankled simply by being in the company of this person, or perhaps you feel intimidated by them. Alternatively you may be infatuated or jealous of them.Whatever your reasons, whether positive or negative, the objective is to choose somebody with whom you have a strong emotional resonance and an intense relationship. 

 3. Face it 

 Picture the person you chose in your mind’s eye. Really try to conjure up their appearance, and then zone in on the feelings that evokes in you.You can do this next bit verbally, or you can return to tried and true journaling. Using third person pronouns (s/he, they), describe the traits and qualities that most irritate, fascinate, or attract you. Don’t overthink this, just feel it and then either say or write it – there’s no need to censor yourself, this is completely private and nobody is judging. 

 2. Talk to it 

Now, communicate with the person directly, as though they were in front of you. Use second person language this time (you).Again, you can speak or write, whichever you’re most comfortable with.Tell this person the things you need to say to them, how they make you feel. Ask questions such as:? - Do you know you make me feel this way?

? - Why do you behave that way towards me?

? - What do you want from me?

? - What do you want me to understand?

Now imagine their answers to these questions, and either say them out loud, or write them in your journal. Have a ‘conversation’ if you feel you have more to say in response.Shadow Work Exercises Pin 

 1. Be it 

If you feel uncomfortable then that’s no surprise – the theory is that these traits are the very ones you’ve been repressing or denying in yourself.This step may feel awkward. Become the person you’ve been in dialogue with. Embody their persona.Take on the traits you identified and described earlier as your own; use first person language this time (I, me), and make ‘I am’ statements:I am angryI am hurtI am frightenedI am jealousI am vainIf you feel uncomfortable then that’s no surprise – the theory is that these traits are the very ones you’ve been repressing or denying in yourself. 

The final step in this process is to acknowledge that you possess these qualities inside of you, and to actively begin to notice them.Reject feelings of guilt or shame, that’s not the purpose of this exercise. 

Simply recognise that these traits exist in you, and accept them as part of you, with compassion. Try also to extend the same compassion to the person you were focusing on.Remember, your choices are half chance, and so are everybody else’s. 

 The value in this technique is that you should be able to unify your unconscious shadow with your conscious self, thereby reaching a sense of harmony and peace.

Write a letter, from yourself to yourself

As the title suggests, whether it's written on paper with a pen into your book of mirrors or typed out in a document or email, write to yourself. You don't actually need to send it. The act of just writing the letter can help to analyse or uncover feelings from within the subconscious bringing them to the surface. Which can then be worked through. You could also write a letter to someone else to express your thoughts and help to discover your true feelings. Then destroying the letter afterwards.

Personally, I have written letters to a passed relative and then to send it I put the letter into the fire of my chimney. Knowing my loved ones witnessed me writing the letter and aware of it's contents.

Another way that I do the above exercise is each and every year on a specific day of the year, I write a letter to myself from myself. Within the first half I write about my impressions of the year that just past. About the hardships or good times had. Then within the second half I described my desires and thoughts for myself in the next year to come. About my dreams and goals that I hope to achieve. When completed I place the letter in a special small box that is stored and saved until the day comes again a year later when I open the box when I read my letter to myself and again respond in kind.

Becoming an annual tradition to reflect and wish for myself, it's interesting to compare what I have hoped for and how things turn out afterall. All the letters are kept in the box and I can look through the letters on that one day of the year when I reflect on my growth and see my progressions and lessons in my life, etc. The day of the year to do this exercise annually could be any date, like your birthday or new years or any anniversary, etc.

Meditation as assistance

Helping to relax your inner self, meditation can assist to gain answers about behavior and inner feelings. It allows you to dig deeper for utmost healing and better understanding of your inner self.

While meditating and exploring, it's important to feel the emotions which are discovered. You can not confront your shadow self without realizing and acknowledging it's there first. If you are scared of anything, then don’t turn your back. Instead, face it and own up to your emotions. Journaling about them will enable you to explore more about them and can lead to finding ways of healing.

For example, when I was a young boy I was very affraid of spiders. With meditation, researching and journaling of my fears, I gained a new understanding of the eight legged creatures that for some reason terrified me. After further reflections through meditation I became less and less afraid of them. Now, I haven't been afraid of spiders since. I'm also not triggered by others mentioning them or taking about the topic allowing me to comfortably discuss it in detail when appropriate.

This type of shadow work can be very useful to a tarot reader regarding any personal issues in order to remain objective during self readings and when doing readings for others. It's extremely important to remain objective during readings and not allowing your own thoughts or ego interfere with the messages received.

Meditations can be solo, or guided. There are many guided meditation videos available online through YouTube that may be useful as a way to get started.

3, 6, 9 exercise

Think of something which you would like to have brought into your life.

What ever it may be: Be it perhaps a trait of yourself that you'd like to improve? or maybe to achieve a better position in your work? or gain better job? It really can be about absolutely anything whatsoever which you want to change about your life.

Focus on whatever it is that you would like to change, and try to come up with a short sentence that describes the success of those changes.

For example, for someone wanting to increase their success in finances, one's affirming sentence might be, "I'm grateful for the promotion received".

In the morning tell yourself that sentence which you came up with that describes the success of the desired change, and repeat it three times.

In the afternoon tell yourself that same sentence six times repetitively.

And in the evening tell yourself that same sentence nine times repetitively.

Each time that you say the affirmative, day it with intention and confidence.

Repeat until desired changes have reached you.

So not Shame the Shadow

Your shadow self as a whole are made up of many different parts of yourself that have been hidden beneath the surface of consciousness. We may have pushed traits deep down inside or rejected aspects of ourselves, or viewed parts of us as noncompliant in society.

Once you start to know and understand these traits of your shadow (of your innerself) it is extremely important in my view not to shame yourself for having shadows. Pushing away aspects of yourself will only cause your shadow self to grow and interfere with your life even more. One way to describe Shadow work is to bring your dark to the light. Experiencing these strong feelings and confronting past trauma is a very uncomfortable and sometimes hurtful experience and so, take your time give yourself patience and try to heal from old wounds.

Embrace all aspects of yourself. As a human being it is normal to be different and unique in our own ways individually. Show your shadow self kindness and understanding and give yourself compassion, support and most importantly, love.

Love yourself for who you are, inside and out. The confidence that can be gained from doing shadow work will aid all areas of life.

Example if a shadow

Many shadows are formed early in life by ourselves rejecting aspects of our own character. The reason these aspects of personality are rejected may go back to early childhood. When we're young, we depend on main caregivers for everything. As a result, we become very attached to them and their way of doing things.

For example, if a caretaker disciplines a young child for being outspoken, there's a chance that as a young child, that person won't feel safe speaking their mind from that point on, even as they get older or even as an adult. That message becomes internalized, buried within the subconscious, and can therefore become an emotional activator for seemingly no reason.

In the example, if one's shadows is around speaking their mind or truth, it might bother one to see other people doing so. Every time somebody is outspoken, it might bring up unexplainable feelings of anger and resentment since believing that speaking up is not a safe thing to be doing.

One way that this type of shadow can be discovered is through writing down answers to related questions and exploring the memories, feelings, emotions, etc. that are brought to the surface while doing so.

Have compassion for yourself

Be gentle with yourself in doing shadow work. Especially as you are first getting started -- start off slow and don't feel like you need to dedicate too much time to it. 

Don't rush the process. After all, it can be very draining and an emotional process to do and can feel heavy to do.Make peace with what you discover about yourself, and be as positive as possible. Work at not retaining more negativity by your reactions as this will just increase your shadowwork to be done. 

Remember that the goal of shadow work is to know yourself better internally and create acceptance in whatever you find within yourself as you are reflecting. It is important to trust the personal journey that you are on and know that there may be some kind of spiritual purpose involved with lessons learned or past experiences.

Through Shadow work activities and exercises negative past experiences can be addressed and worked through in a productive and healthy way. The process can definitely be challenging and does take time to work through. Using prompts to jump-start reflection can be a helpful tool to get started (as mentioned above).

Using Shadow work to confront and heal my own shadow self has been an essential step for me as an intuitive reader. In knowing and understatement my true inner self well enough, I am able to maintain focus, remain objective and disallow my own ago or personal thoughts or past experiences to reflect on, interfere with or disrupt my ability to connect with my true intentions within spellwork, and deliver clear messages during intuitive, tealeaf, rune or tarot readings.

Please feel free to submit a practice related question. If I am able to help you on your path in your own journey as a practitioner of magick, or as an intuitive reader, I definitely will. Be confident with yourself, and have compassion for your journey.

Our Shadow Selves can be our best ally

Dark unknown qualities of our shadow selves can be elusive and mysterious to us. It's referred to as "dark" or "shadow" because it is unseen. Not necessarily because it is somehow bad or evil as some tend to imagine. Discovery of the unknown from a glace can appear frightening or confusing at first. After all, fear is most often built on the bases of missunderstandings. But, not all of these unknown shadowy traits are disadvantages, from trauma nor wounds from our past. Even though parts of our shadow, not all of them come from a dark place. Positive qualities can also elude us.

A couple of examples of this that come to mind are, Bravery and Courage. These are qualities that are often hidden within, unknowingly there until circumstances awaken it from within to act in the moment. Quite often when a person is declared a hero, they may say somethings like, "I'm not a hero, I'm just an average person who did the right thing.", Or "I didn't even know I had it in me!", Or "It was an impulsive reflex and I just reacted without thinking". These are examples of the shadow self reacting or taking control in a positive way.

Other examples that comes to mind are, instincts, or intuition. We may not fully understand our instincts at times as human beings, aspects of our inner selves, or even human nature for that matter. But, when instincts kick in, these messages are usually understood -- loud and clear. You can't silence a mother's intuition about their crying baby's needs. These feelings come from deep within our subconscious, our inner selves, the unknown recesses of our mind, ...our shadow.

Beginning to learn about, understand and know the unknown parts of ourselves allows to understand our soul and life path or soul contacts more clearly.

Growing from doing shadow work

Tarot reading requires objective-ness, intuition, and self confidence to be able to assist others effectively. This is why i strongly recommend Shadow work to those learning to give themselves self readings, as well as those hoping to offer readings to others.

Shadow work can be a gateway to enlightenment and spiritual awakening.

The value of these kinds of workings is that you are able to unify your unconscious self and mind with your conscious self and mind. This allows you to come closer to reaching a sense of peace and harmony within yourself. We are all human and possess aspects of human nature within us. It is important to acknowledge that these qualities and traits exist, and to remain confident when noticing them.Any feelings of guilt or shame should NOT be tolerated. Recognise that these traits do exist and accept them as a part of your whole being. This is a healthy part of doing shadow work, and should be approached with compassion, respect and self love.

Individual growth upwards can not progress of you are putting ourselves down. The way to be confident is to understand and accept yourself for who you are internally and externally.

If you are not yet confident during tarot readings, the value, potential and opportunity to help others can be missed.

Trust your instincts and follow your intuition.

Energy recognition

The types of journaling exercises described in this blog are just one way to help with getting to know the "inner self'' well, and to acknowledge and accept what is found within our own shadows which is very much a part of our energy.

There are so many ways to get to know our inner selves better, be it journaling, meditation, exploring ancestry or childhood history, or perhaps though counseling or therapy, - it's really about getting to know our whole selves better - inside and out.

Nobody is perfect, and that's ok. We often repress attributes that don't quite fit into the conscious image we have of ourselves.

For one lite example: some who may pride themselves on being highly organised may also find that sometimes they do not live up to that image of perfection for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with being very organized and there’s also nothing wrong with being a bit scattered at times either.

To get to know your own energy, you must know and accept yourself fully, and be able to face and embrace all aspects of yourself. Recognizing our own energy is how we can begin to distinguish our own from the energy of others, leading to more in-depth readings.

Turn negative to positive

Within Shadow work, you may discover hidden traits about yourself which seem negative. Perhaps this manifests as a "pet peeve" of some kind, or an intolerable behavior which you just can't stand to see from others, or from yourself for that matter.

Without realizing it, we often make assumptions about others, and also ourselves that are negative from our own point of view.

For example, if you've always felt shy growing up, then speaking up in front of a crowd may feel like something you'd rather avoid later in life. You may view yourself a not being good at or able to do such a thing. The negative beliefs that you have about yourself can be challenged. It can be reversed. One way to do this is with affirmations.

Something as simple as saying to yourself every day: "I am an excellent public speaker, and people want to hear what I have to say." Keep repeating it in your head or saying it out loud. Try speaking to yourself in a mirror, or writing your thoughts down in a journal. You'll find yourself feeling less anxious and more prepared over time the more you do it.

Also, another good exercise is to try to pay close attention to the words that you use to describe the events that happen throughout your day. If you can catch yourself, swap out negative words and phrases for positive ones. For example, if you have done something incorrect, instead of saying something negative like, "Damn, i screwed that up!" Rather, try to say something in a more positive light, like, "That could have been done better!". If the situation happens at work, this will make you come across as more capable, or professionable. When talking to others, avoid starting or ending sentences with "I think" or "I'm not sure." Instead, use "I believe," which puts you in charge of the thought and conveys more confidence. Other phrases like "in my opinion" also make you sound less confident. Just get to the point and remove any unnecessary verbosity.

Be yourself. It's always appropriate to own up to your mistakes, apologize for wrongs, or to try to make things right again. How you do that can make a huge difference in the impression that is made. Think positive! The less negative we look at and experience life with, the higher vibrations we can acheive towards enlightenment.

How did this connect with giving tarot readings, you ask? Well, even negative messages to be delivered should be explained in a considerate and compassionate way. At no time do I suggest dulling down any messages from a tarot reading, and I certainly would not avoid saying messages that are received because they may be negative. As a tarot reader one can not foresee how messages will be perceived or be related to. And so, messages should be delivered appropriately and to the point avoiding extra wordiness that may confuse or influence the messages received.

Explaining that sometimes going through something negative can lead to a positive outcome, can help to hear harsh messages from the cards.

Build confidence

When not feeling confident, or when feeling burnt out or low on energy, is not the best time to do divination, such as tarot readings.

If this happens to you, i'd suggest to simplify - When feeling tired, sometimes the smallest ritualistic expressions can be the most moving. If still wanting to refer to tarot, instead of doing a full reading spread for yourself, try a three card spread, or a one card advice pull. It doesn't need to be elaborate or complicated when you don't have the energy. It's very important that you feel confident during tarot readings and that you trust your intuition.

Here is a simple visualization exercise in which you can build on previously gained confidence.

Close your eyes and calm your mind. Think back to a previous experience when you felt confident in what you weren't doing. When you may have had more energy and focus. Or maybe the last time you achieve which you desire. Remember that time and hold that image in your mind's eye.

Think about what it is that you were doing? Who was with you there? What was the reaction that you got from others? How did you feel during? - feel that now. Or when it was over, did you feel proud of yourself? - feel that pride again. Focus on that positive energy and confidence from the past experience. Hold on to that feeling. Hold it and while you open your eyes, bring it back with you to the present.

As you may have been able to tell by now, I very much support and appriciate journaling. Try writing down how you feel. Make note of your strengths and what you are proud of. Remind yourself that you've done it before, and can do it again! Know that each and every one of us are unique and all have different qualities.

Now when you feel some confidence again, you can build on that confidence. It's so easy to feel less confident when wasting time on social media platforms watching others focus on the positives and rarely mention the negative. This really encourages comparing yourself to others and vise versa. Always keep in mind that most posts or videos you see on YouTube or Instagram, etc. don't actually reflect reality. Most only share the good, or possitive, or 'the shiny side of the coin'. Nobody's life is perfect.

Confidence comes from believing in yourself, trusting your own abilities, and understanding where you are in your own path or in your own personal journey. Comparing yourself to other people who only sharing the "good" things in their lives can make it more difficult to recognize the reality that life os hard. But, we have our own personal achievements! Due to this, it would be my suggestion to avoid social media when you're feeling unsure of yourself or if feeling burnt out or overwhelmed, or when you're about to do something challenging. Instead, grab a journal and write about the things you've done that you're proud of. Or write comments and feedback to yourself, or redo the visualization exercise above.

Keep and boost your confidence! There are also some studies that have shown that our appearance, and how we represent ourselves, can effect how we think of ourselves. What we do to improve our look, do our hair, or the clothes that we wear, etc. can increase feeling protected and secure in ourselves, as well as heighten other people's impressions. There may be "that outfit" perhaps a dress, or suit, pair of jeans, piece of jewelry, or a certain crystal in your pocket, etc. that make us feel amazing or powerful. Wear these things when you need a quick confidence boost or if having a dull day, in order to maintain your confidence levels.

Do what feels right to you and be proud of yourself. Look back at your accomplishments and be proud of what you've done and who you are. I can guarantee you've taken steps on you path away from where you started, and moving you forward to where you are today - reflect on that journey and occasionally take a moment to celebrate yourself!

Spend some time honouring yourself. Perhaps a self-love ritual bath would help. Witchcraft is a study. Even professors take sabbaticals!Cut yourself some slack. When you're ready, you'll immerse yourself once again.

Be confident. Trust your instincts, and follow your intuition.

Other forms of shadow work

It should be said that the information on my website, in my blog or received during reading sessions do not substitute for medical or professional advice and is meant for personal self reflection.  It's a guidance tool that works with intuition to help solve problems by looking at potential outcomes. 

Although I do highly recommend and share many journaling exercises that can be used to Shadow Work, writing activities is not the only way to get to know your inner self. In fact, it is just one of so many different ways to get to know your inner self better.

Other examples of the different sources for shadow work that come to mind include (but, not limited to):

Self Reflection

Energy work

Yoga / Tai Chi / Karate etc.



Recreational activities

Life Coaching

Singing / Choir


Dream work



Learning a musical instrument

Spending time within nature

Ancestry research

... Etc. (Basically, anything that examines the "inner-self").

There are so many ways in which to explore your subconscious aside to journaling.

Shooting Star
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