Truth Without Love Can be a Hammer


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by Erika Ginnis

article (originally written under the pen name Iris WaterStar in Widdershins 1996) (vol2iss5)

When I was asked to do an article for this issue of Widdershins, I wasn't sure what to write. This is the issue where we deal with shadows and the dark side of our nature, it being near the time of Samhain and the coming dark of the year. I am always talking about us being "Light" and putting our attention on that, so you might understand why I was intrigued as to how to approach this type of article.

I have to thank my editor for giving me the final piece that finally gave me direction in this subject. What she did was quite simple…she asked me, "Well, you do readings; how do you deal with telling people about things that you see that aren't exactly pleasant?"

We live in a reality of dichotomies. Things are split into their opposites or complements in physical reality. "Good/bad, light/dark, inner/outer": the list isn't hard to come up with. I do personally believe that who we are in capital "R" Reality, is energy. I believe that we are spirit, and spirit can be perceived as Light. When I say Light (again with a capital "L" ) I don't mean just light that we think of in our dichotomy of light/dark, good/bad, right/wrong - since that is usually a judgment call, mostly made of our perspective at present which is by its nature limited and changeable - but the Light that is all things and encompasses, balances and completes all dichotomies.

However, we are here incarnating into the physical plane and to do this we each have a body. We find ourselves involved in and surrounded by the world of opposites. We are in a process or a game of learning and this world of opposites is one of the "playing fields" that we are currently using. I am of the opinion that we are here uncovering our true nature, and that this is a process of "becoming" who we actually are. In this process we come across our shadow aspects. These can actually be very powerful allies if we look them right in the eye and make peace with them. They can also be the driving force in our lives if we deny them or avoid them entirely.

I have been doing psychic readings, healing and teaching people how to work with their energy for a little over 15 years. In that time I have had numerous opportunities to see in someone something that would be considered "shadow." I have also had the opportunity to see or experience "shadow" within myself. In fact, one of the things that I run into a lot with people who find out that I read auras, is that they are immediately curious - "What color is my aura?" - and also afraid - "Oh no, maybe you'll see something really bad." I think it's that fear that keeps us from exploring our inner nature much of the time.

In some ways our fears are unfounded; we, as spirit, are always greater than that we fear. But there is also the reality that we all have shadow within us. What you can't get around when you are either learning to work with energy or are reading someone is, "When you turn on the light, you're going to start to see." That means you'll see the shadow as well as the light. If you fear and avoid the shadow within you then you might tend to project that onto others - " I am good…they are bad!" - or you might find yourself afraid to use your own power.

So how, you might ask, do I tell someone that indeed they are being completely run by their anger and it's destroying their lives, or that there is a very invasive guide (an energy being) attached to them that is actively draining their energy? (Instances of shadow which occurred at different times just this last week!)

Well, the answer is; very mindfully, and hopefully in a way that they can hear me; otherwise, I might as well keep still. I have come up with a list of a few things that I have learned over the years that have assisted me in communicating with people about shadow stuff. It is also very good to use for your own growth, since that is the real point of all this, in my opinion.


Truth without Love can be a Hammer. I only learned this one in the last year or so. (I am sure the people in my life are relieved.) But I find it incredibly important, and it's one of the reasons that it continues to be important to work on yourself. It is really easy just to see something and tell it to someone without any compassion, understanding, or love. This helps about as much as hitting them over the head with a hammer; it also feels about the same. If you can come from a place of understanding and truly love the truth of who they are on some level, even if they are dealing with some very difficult things, then you stand a chance of communicating in a way that they might actually hear.

This doesn't mean being "nice," or even presuppose that you have to "like" the person; it also doesn't mean that you will even change what you would say. It just means that you continue to do the work necessary to come from a place of love even in the midst of conflict, and that you are speaking from a desire to communicate the love behind the truth rather than just the "satisfaction" of telling someone what's wrong with them. This is also just as important to do within ourselves as it is for other people.


Neutrality and amusement help with telling someone about their shadow side. One of the things that was important in my training as a reader, and that I also teach people when they work with me, is a technique called neutrality. It means simply looking and reading from a place of non-judgment (not labeling the thing as right or wrong, good or bad). Seeing what Is, not what you "want" to see or what the other person "wants" you to see. It can be incredibly healing for someone when you actually see them, see what's up, speak about it and not judge them for it. It can be extremely powerful in your own personal work as well.

Something else that goes hand in hand with that is amusement. Sometimes if you can add some lightness into your energy or voice it can really help when you are dealing with "serious" issues. This doesn't mean that you have to joke about everything, sometimes that just isn't helpful. But if you can keep you own energy up out of the morass, then the other person has a much better chance of being able to hear what you have to say


Perspective is important. See Neutrality above. And in addition - remember to keep your perspective. If you find when reading one of your past lives that you were someone that spent the entire life cutting off everyone's heads, it is important to keep the perspective that you had something to learn from the experience. Perhaps in that life you needed to be right where you were. This is a challenge, especially when we see things in ourselves that we don't agree with in this life. It's also important to keep perspective when we look at our own past in this life and want to learn from things which we consider our shadow.


It's important to know what your "stuff" is, but equally important to put your attention on where you want to go. What you put your attention on increases.

We probably know this as energy workers and workers of magick. Right? Right! It applies in other areas as well. There is a seductive quality about looking at our inner darkness. We can unwittingly create more of the same if we spend all of our time putting our energy or focus on "what's wrong with us."

Bringing things to our conscious awareness can be a step in healing them, and doing the work necessary to change things can be another step. Making peace with shadow can mean acknowledging it and accepting it as part of the experience of being human. Dwelling on it endlessly will only bring more of the same.


People have to be ready to hear what you have to say on some level. I have found this important in doing reading or teaching work with people. If someone isn't ready to hear what you have to say, it won't really matter how you say it; they simply won't hear you. As a reader I see a lot of things. I simply don't say all of them. That is something that, even though I was taught it in my training as a reader, I didn't really get until much later. If you give someone too much information they will start throwing it back at you. If you can give enough so that they can hear it, the rest will follow in its own time.

Current perception

Many things that we perceive as shadow are simply things that served us in the past that are no longer current in our present situation. This is true in past life situations as well as our current life history. Many of us came from backgrounds in which we needed to develop certain skills just to deal with the environment, whether that be physical, emotional, or spiritual. They were our keys to survival and therefore were very important to our well-being. The trick is to see that some of those very things that kept us alive in the past, may be keeping us from living fully in the present. They got us to where we are today, but are now perhaps actually hindering us.

Having outlived their usefulness, they can cause damage to our lives if we don't discard them. We may experience them as a part of shadow. The bracelet that you might have worn as a child that had your name, address and phone number on it, was quite useful and important at that time. If you had never taken it off it would probably have become pretty uncomfortable or even damaging at some point.


Judgment can actually get us stuck in the behavior or energy; forgiveness lets us release and move on. One of the keys to working with the shadow whether it is with yourself or another person, is to let go of judgment. Set it aside and get on with what you are doing. When we get into judgment about something it is like psychic glue that sticks us to whatever we are judging. Sometimes I know the Universe has this very sick sense of humor because the bad news is: Eventually we will start to emulate the very thing we were judging.

So it is in our own best interest to forgive ourselves or others since it then frees us to move on. This doesn't mean staying involved with things that don't work for us. It does mean releasing the judgment (or energy) about them and about ourselves for what our involvement is or has been so that we can continue to grow. When we start to see the shadow in our nature and accept what is, then we can expand our awareness of who we are and where we are going.

Erika Ginnis offers Spiritual Counseling and Coaching, Psychic Reading, Healing , and Classes though her practice
"Inspiration is the Inbreath of Spirit"



Tacoma, Washington

Seattle, Washington