By Cat Gina Cole
For many magical practitioners, winter is the dark time and full of shadows. Technically, we have only one winter, but it has occurred to me that according to our modern calendar, winter actually comes twice a year. For most, it begins in late October and continues through December, the end of our calendar year. Then in January, the start of a new year, most of us are deep into winter, which means the new year begins with winter and the year also ends with winter.
Fall brings the slow onset of winter with the falling leaves providing a place for winter to rest. Many areas get snow which can lift our spirits or provide an opportunity for families to play and laugh together. Snow’s blanket is cold, it is crisp, and it changes the way everything looks, smells, and sounds.
Magically, what is snow? Snow is white, the color of purification and clarity. Snow has a way of purifying the air as it pushes all the dust and pollution back into the Earth for recycling. To me that is an act of the air getting cleansed and charged and it does the same for my spirit.
Cold crisp fresh invigorating air just seems to be easier to breathe and everything just feels lighter in the dark season.
Snow is a combination of elements. Snow begins as water. Water is H2O that freezes in the atmosphere. It becomes crystalized and falls to the Earth, home of all crystals. These crystals bring the same purity and cleansing we know clear crystals to have with them purifying the air as they fall. Later, they become the element of water when they melt, providing nourishing water that brings forth our spring.
Snow seems to make everything stop and brings us stillness. Snow dampens sound and stifles movement. This quiets the usual noise we are so used to hearing and gives us cause to listen and notice things. In this way, snow creates a liminal space. This makes it easier, for those who can, to notice and communicate with the darkness and shadow of the season even more readily.
Most think of liminal space as crossroads, thresholds, portals, doors, walk through trees, the beach and so much more. The liminal space that snow creates is not often spoken of and it feels sacred, if only for a moment. Snow creates something similar to what many feel when they walk into a church. There is only you and your soul. This is why so many do shadow work in this liminal time.
This darkness gives us space to let go of what is not useful and apply acceptance and awareness. It allows us to put fear aside, gather our strengths, grab our courage, and gain faith in our own ability and that of our divine.
We do this shadow work so we can be ready to step across the threshold into a whole new year of the unknowable when spring comes.
When a magical practitioner finds a dark shadow in themselves or others when there is snow on the ground, they can place that shadow in the snow. First to freeze it and render it powerless, then to be purified by the snow, then later to be dissolved as the snow melts, taking it back into the earth to be recycled.
That kind of shadow work and dark magic is the lighter side of working “Dark Magic and Shadows.” When we clean up our personal shadows, we are better prepared to face any other shadow that may come, not only in life, but in magic. A magical practitioner who faces their own shadows will be able to face the more surprising darker things one encounters in magic. On occasion, a “dark thing” will pop up in meditation, or a dream or astral travel.
Sometimes when working with deity or spirits we encounter dark stuff too. Our shadow work allows us to face them and build skills to handle it.
Make no mistake dark things exist in all facets of life and magic. It is the job of the magical practitioner to be able to identify the dark, then decide how best to proceed, either with protection, engagement, or to provide accurate information to others.
There are many definitions of dark magic as there is with any type of magic and discussions on white or dark magic and the ethics of it all. I am not here to debate that or give you a set answer to that. What I will and can say is that dark magic exists whether you believe in it or not. The power comes from acknowledgment.
For example, there is an individual whose name I never say. I never say their name because I do not want any acknowledgement of any kind to lend power to them or to create any energetic link back to me. This is knowing darkness is there, but not acknowledging it as a type of magical defense. Belief is power and any power can be a spell or a protection.
This allows for us magical practitioners to be aware and knowledgeable without engaging in anything we do not choose to. Yes, we can choose to accept what we experience or reject it, good or bad, either choice is a magical power.
I have had plenty of occasion to walk among the dark shadows and to do dark magic. Being able to work dark magic and having it available when the need arises is like a defense to the dark arts. I find it allows me to walk the light a better protected and confident magical practitioner.
So do not be afraid to look into the shadows and dark magic. Come to know them. Just because you look at them or know them or are able navigate them does not mean that is where you will reside nor will it make you a dark practitioner. What it does is make you wise and capable.
Cat Gina Cole is a Herditary Witch and author of Psychic Skills for Magic and Witchcraft (Llewellyn, 2022). She is the founder of The Coven of the Rising Phoenix and Staff Coordinator for “Green Egg Magazine.” You can reach her at www.catginacole.com.