Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

What a Shame

We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In discussing the ways that we make known to the Goddess our secretly whispered heart’s desires, we have to also look at the shadow that is (at least until we have done a lot of homework and growing) almost always tied to this. Our ability to ask for what is our truest truth is hampered by the degree to which we are ashamed to do so.

This difficulty comes up when we begin to test the idea of “Ask and you shall receive.” To ask exposes us. To open your heart, and fully seek means your defenses drop, and your most vulnerable self is revealed.

Julia writes, “Those of us who get bogged down by fear before action are usually being sabotaged by an older enemy, shame. Shame is a controlling device. Shaming someone is an attempt to prevent the person from behaving in a way that embarrasses us.

“Making a piece of art may feel a lot like telling a family secret. Secret telling, by its very nature, involves shame and fear. It asks the question, ‘What will they think of me once they know this?’ This is a frightening question, particularly if we have ever been made to feel ashamed for our curiosities and explorations – social, sexual, spiritual…”

To be the true artists of our lives, our authenticity is absolutely necessary. We must write, paint, dance, sing, photograph, teach, weave truth – our truth. But there is a good chance that our truth-telling may make someone else uncomfortable. And that is hard. It takes a lot of courage, no doubt about it.

It means we have to ignore the fury of the inner critic, the family and community skeletons we were taught to keep closeted, and the subtle (and not so) pressures from those with whom we are most intimate. In fact, it requires a certain detachment from the whole culture, for that matter, which is more interested in our obedience, not our expression.

Our art can threaten the status quo of all those vested interests. So yes, if you have been contaminated with shame about revealing your authentic self, which, in turn is the source of your creativity, it is not surprising.

“The act of making art exposes a society to itself,” Julia writes. “Art brings things to light. It illuminates us. It sheds light on our lingering darkness. It casts a beam into the heart of our own darkness and says, ‘See?’”

Next week, we’ll discuss more about this as well as considering the difference between criticism and shaming. But over the weekend, in your morning pages, I invite you to gently see if you remember any incidents when you might have been discouraged or even shamed about your true self, especially in the area of your creative longings.

Who or what might have been behind these events? How have you been affected? Now, with the perspective of time and maturity, what do you really believe?

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  • April 18, 2009, 5:30 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Really? No comments on this? Is it getting too dark around here? I know this is heavy going…I promise we’ll lighten up next week!

    – Beth

  • April 18, 2009, 11:19 pm Anonymous

    No, not too dark for me. Illuminating, as a matter of fact. How many delays have I experienced in my formative years because a phrase from my writing would have shown that I ‘thought’ about a subject, much less had the audacity to elaborate on it! So, lead on. Keep going. I’m enjoying your series. (anonymous, for the moment, until I can figure out this identity thing)

  • April 19, 2009, 7:36 pm Star

    I have been away since early Friday at a wonderful Reclaiming Elements Class in the form of a weekend workshop in WV. It was awesome! Facilitated by two of our favorite brigidy crone friends E and A! I just now read the post (Sunday night).

    Although I do not recall specific shaming incidents, I know they happened, because most of my home life in the house of my parents, I hardly ever revealed my true self and held back most of my emotions. I spent many years lying to them and myself about most everything. It took me years of inner spiritual work and counseling in my 30’s to learn that there was a difference between who I was portraying myself to be and my authentic self, and to learn to be truthful with myself. That was a startling surprise to me when I discovered it. I am now able to express my authentic self with my closest friends and in groups of like minded souls. Since I am a rather ecclectic self, I still keep my own counsel in many community groups in this rural area who tend to dislike and prematurely judge folks who hug trees, run naked in the woods, dance and drum at the fire circle, do alternative healing work, study chakras and personally relate to nature sprites and the elements of air, fire, water, earth and ether (spirit). I choose how much of my authentic self I reveal, not out of shame, but from a conscious analysis of the consequences for them and me. I no longer lie to myself or others. And I choose to travel mostly in the circles where my authentic self is appreciated, honored, respected and welcome. My art is coming from my authentic self at this time and includes topics and symbols of my craft and beliefs. I don’t want to create art that is not authentically me.


  • April 20, 2009, 4:16 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Thank you BOTH! (I had wondered if this was the Elements weekend! I would have loved to be there for that; they are 2 of my dearest favorite people!)…

    As I am writing about this particular subject, it seems like work I finished long, long ago. And yet, life is a spiral path it seems to me, and just when I least expect it, old things I thought were resolved long ago come up in new ways!

    So I would expect that as I begin to express myself in deeper creative ways, I may encounter some ghosts, and even new incarnations of old troubles.
    – Beth