Your life and the situation that you are in at the moment can change dramatically when your conscious and unconscious align. Our divided wills make us say one thing when we actually mean another. Dr. Carolyn Elliot shares and explains the Existential Kink method that leads to integrating shadow desires with our conscious desires. Learn how to excavate, accept and celebrate these desires to live life exactly the way you want it.
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Integrating Shadow Desires with Dr. Carolyn Elliot
On the show, we have Carolyn Elliott of BadWitch.es where she talks about how to integrate your shadow desires, the things you’re not willing to confront, and how that’s stopping you from having the life exactly the way you want it. When do you address it, when you confront it, the solution shows up and she calls it practical magic. We then bring one of her students, Jessica, to talk about a specific instance in Carolyn’s shows and how you can integrate her work into having the life that exactly what you wanted.
I’m very excited to be with my good friend Carolyn Elliott to talk about being a witch. I’m not exactly sure what that is. I’m really excited to hear her viewpoint. If I remember correctly, the first time we met Carolyn was at OMX in September 2013. I think I came upstairs to talk to you in a moment of a lot of sensation. Frankly you look like a little bit of a mess but there was definitely a zing excitement about meeting you and I knew I had met someone really exciting and new. I’m really excited to have you, especially where you’ve gone in the world and I’m just want to hear about what your journey’s been. I want to read your Facebook intro. I was checking out your Facebook profile and I thought this is great. “Six-figure online business strategist and witch with a Bodhisattva vow.” How cool is that? What is Bodhisattva?
A Bodhisattva is somebody who has taken a vow to work towards the liberation of all beings from suffering.
Your official bio is Dr. Carolyn Elliott founded WITCH Magazine to give voice and prominence to the subtle witching in the world that’s not confined to tradition and convention. She’s the teacher of INFLUENCE: the life-altering course on mastering practical magic. She runs a multi-six-figure online business specializing in helping people achieve dramatic positive change in their lives through shadow integration practices and applied occult philosophy. She’s also the author of the cult-favorite creativity book, Awaken Your Genius, which is based on the dissertation she wrote while getting her PhD in Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She also co-hosts the Grit & Grace podcast with her partner, Taia Kepher. Welcome to the show. We’re really happy to have you. I’m excited as always. Practical magic, witch, explain to everyone if you would what that means and how they can understand what that is.
As I understand a witch is just basically somebody who actively cultivates a relationship with the unconscious. The world of dreams, the world of symbols, the world of desires that we’re usually not aware of and uses that relationship to make things happen in the world.
Can you give a more specific example of a pragmatic example of that?
A pragmatic example of it is, for me, I struggled the first almost decade of my adult life with being core, like really low wages. They don’t pay PhD students very much and I had to realize that I had an unconscious desire for scarcity. When I worked on that unconscious desire, using some methods that we could talk more about, my situation changed very dramatically as if by magic. Indeed, that’s what magic is. A lot of people don’t know, but in ancient discussions of magic, if you take the ancient Greek discussion of practical magic, they call it Thaumaturgy. It was all about aligning your conscious will with your unconscious will because most people have divided wills. We say we want one thing, but we actually want another. If you can get to a place where like your whole being congruently wants one thing, it’s pretty easy to make that thing appear.
Practical magic is really changing your viewpoint on something like scarcity and then it appears like magic. Is it a lot of work to change your viewpoint about scarcity?
It did take me, I would say like some months of concentrated focus, but I would say when you consider that most people never managed to change something like that, that it’s on balance, not a whole lot of work. It would have been a lot more work to live my life with those scarcity limitations. Yes, it is work and that’s the work of magic.
First off, I think months is remarkable. I think some people take years. I think that you did that in a couple of months is remarkable. Also, I think we have a viewpoint contrary to what I just said, that we have to work hard to change something, which is also, I think maybe part of the scarcity mindset. It’s really just a trick of the mind. You can change your viewpoint in a millisecond. You let go, you can un-sync to about something. You can release something in a second if you have that much desire.
I guess I wanted to maybe talk a little bit about how I came into doing this work and how it makes sense to my brain. One day I was sitting in a OneTaste workshop and somebody said something about having is evidence of wanting. I was really interested in that statement because it really resonated with all of the stuff that I had read while getting my PhD. All of the Jungian psychology and the Freudian stuff and all of the weird stuff. I started thinking about it in my own life. At first there was this resistance to this idea. Like, “I’m broke. I can barely pay for this workshop. I don’t want that. What do you mean having as evidence of wanting?” As I sat with that idea, I could more and more clearly see that there actually was this underground part of me that really loved the drama of having money, that really loved being a mess and like the way that you first met me. Just like being a whole ball of emotional trouble. I just took great pleasure in that. I recognized like, “If I give myself permission to feel the pleasure that I have in creating right now, that actually frees me to create something different.”
The proper viewpoint was written by Vic Baranco of More University which is true intention is demonstrated by attainment. What that means basically is if you want to see what you want, look at what you have. Your intention behind it will guide you to that place. Having as an example of wanting is a derivation of that. This sounds weird, but you were a hot mess. You were a hot mess, but there was power inside of you. There was no question in my mind when I met you. If I remember correctly, we were at the top floor of that building, I think we talked about your future and where you want it to go and what you wanted to achieve. Even though you “were a hot mess,” you felt very clear to me of who you were going to become. Now you’re a six-figure online, and I don’t want to equate six-figure with success, but for some people that is success with the Bodhisattva heart. I love that because you’ve achieved to take care of your material success, but also staying true to your passion.
Thank you, Rob. I’m glad that you got that sense of power from me. I definitely needed help with the affirmation of it. Now, it is my honor and pleasure to pass on that help to others.
How did you go from the big hot mess we know in the workshop, who couldn’t afford the workshop into what were your pragmatic steps to get there? What are your practices?
The main practice that I do as a meditative practice called Existential Kink.
You’re so good on the marketing. That is awesome. Tell us about that.
Existential Kink is based on this idea that there’s all sorts of painful things in life, painful things like being broke, the humiliation of not being able to pay for things. We can give ourselves permission to get off on those things, instead of hating and shaming ourselves for having those painful things being present. Just like people in BDSM, in sexual kink scenarios, they give themselves permission to take pleasure in being chained up and flogged and all sorts of things that one ordinarily wouldn’t imagine that you would want to happen to you. The reason that people are more easily able to enjoy that in BDSM is because they’ve set up a container. They’ve made a choice like “We’re going to play this game and this is all fun,” but in life of course, it seems many times we don’t have a choice. Like, “This is just happening to me. This is horrible. I’m the victim of this.”It really is in addition to being a meditative practice, it’s also a strong invitation to step into the imagination that we have. Maybe this is all a game that we’re playing. Even the most painful things we’re experiencing are a game that we’ve chosen to play and that it’s all sensation. The range of pleasure to pain, it’s our interpretation of it that decides whether a sensation is painful or pleasurable.
The concept is very clear. How do you advise people to start the Existential Kink process?
The beginning part of it is just beginning to excavate using that principle as you were explaining the history of it, true intention is demonstrated by attainment. Using that version of the statement or using the version of ‘having is evidence of wanting’, just taking a look at my life and being like, “What’s happening here that I don’t want?”For example, I have this theory that our partners always fulfill our unconscious desires, our true intentions, but they don’t necessarily fulfill our conscious desires. Meaning that are our partners always responds to the underlying thing. My partner, my husband, Taia, every once in a while will say something that I interpret as being like rude or cranky or rejecting and I get really upset and I’m really mad. When I’m being really honest with myself and I looked at the situation through this excavating lens, I see that just like there was a big part of me that really enjoyed the scarcity game with money, there’s a big part of me that really enjoys the feeling like there’s a scarcity of lovableness or a scarcity of rightness or anything like that. When he is doing that, he’s responding to that desire within me and he’s responding to it perfectly.
There’s this language I’m always being met. That’s the first step is that excavation and recognition. The next step is really just taking time and giving a ton of permission to the fact that I have this desire. That’s a taboo fucked up desire to have, the desire for scarcity. I’m not supposed to want scarcity. I’m supposed to want fulfillment. Really giving myself permission and letting myself know like, “This desire that I have for scarcity and discord and whatever else and drama, is just as important as my desire for sunshine and food and friendship. It’s just as valid. It’s just as beautiful. I don’t need to shame it. I don’t need to regret it. I don’t need to resent it.”Really pouring honor onto that desire which has been pushed into my unconscious by my denial of it. The really interesting thing about the unconscious, which you can learn about if you read psychoanalytic theory, is that it’s the creative part of us. It’s the generative part of us. Anything that’s pushed into the unconscious will actually create results in our lives much more intensely than our conscious intentions will. One way that this is experienced right is with New Year’s resolutions. Get in shape, run every day, quit smoking, all of the various things. Those are our conscious intentions and we can make them work, but our unconscious intentions have a lot more power. Basically, the idea in existential kink is that by giving permission to these desires and by celebrating them and enjoying their fulfillment, that’s the third step is to enjoy the fulfillment of the forbidden taboo desire, we’re making these unconscious desires conscious. They no longer have the power to create those negative results as strongly as they did.
The main thing I’m hearing is taking responsibility. That’s the biggest, because you’re unconscious, “Your partner doing this. He is a jerk. He is a chauvinist. He is an idiot.”You can keep looking at that and pointing it out which demeans your power. What I’m hearing you saying is really you’re saying, “Yes. I have desired to have someone mess with me. I am being a little immature.” It’s a lot of responsibility. How do you recommend people learn to take that big jump into responsibility?
By practicing it every day. That’s what I asked people to do in my courses. We work a lot on this process is to just set aside 30 minutes every day where they look at something that they think that they don’t want in their lives and really gently, humorously allow themselves to find the part of them that might really actually like that.
Responsibility, there’s an excavation you said. There’s an excavation to find out what your unconscious desires are and then there is an acceptance, celebrating of those desires to bring them to the forefront so they become conscious like your New Year’s resolution so you can actually start to practice them.
No. You want somebody to be conscious like your New Year’s resolutions no longer have power. What I’m saying is that when my desire for scarcity with money, when I made that conscious and I really fully approved of it and I enjoyed it, it lost its ability to create scarcity.
Shine the light and let it dissipate.
Exactly. The shadow desires that come up in intimate relationships are a little bit more complex obviously because they involve two people’s stuff. This one has taken me a little bit longer to work on. I’ve been in the process of working on this one for a few months and it might take me a while longer. It’s really cool because I do know that once I really give full permission to my horrible taboo, wrong desire for scarcity in this regard, it lifts.
Can you go back to your scarcity? I think people will still want to know how did you do it. How did you go from, “I know I’ve discovered this scarcity for money, viewpoint or desire inside, “what were the steps you took to change that? How did you work with it?
After I started to feel some lightness and some humor coming in from doing that Existential Kink process with it, what I found was I got inspirations. It came to me really pretty easily of tangible things that I could do that would change my financial situation. I was already a coach at that point, but I hadn’t been asking for what I was worth. I had been going out and doing the kind of networking or sort of work that would bring in the clients that would really sustain me. Part of why I hadn’t been was because I was so caught up in that drama within myself and I’m ashamed of my desire for it. Freeing myself of that allowed this inspiration to come in and it just allowed to see all of these things that I was completely blind to these opportunities before. I think that’s an important thing with magic that most people don’t really realize is that the main thing that magic does is change our perception so that we see possibilities and opportunities that were actually always in front of us that we’re just blind to previously. I started taking action on that and within two months, I had quadrupled my income.
What’s the best magician’s trick? It’s right in front. A hand is right in front of your face and I’m thinking in terms of your business opportunities. These opportunities really are right in front of us at all times, but because we have our blinders, because of our unconscious, we can’t see them. That is the practical magic. I’m figuring new things out as we go through the podcast but I really love it. I love the simplicity of it. It also sounds really challenging because it is an inside job. It is hard to get rid of those blinders unless you’re willing to do the work to really let go of scarcity.
I’ve worked with over 600 people in my INFLUENCE class. That’s the class that I teach on practical magic. I have 600 testimonials of people letting me know how dramatically their lives have changed as they’ve become willing to apply these principles. I also teach other things. I teach actual spell casting and astrological things, but I really think that the heart of what makes that stuff work, like the spell casting is the easy part. It’s like the arts and crafts part. Another part is the shadow integration.
The shadow integration part, tell us about that. How does that work?
Everything that we’ve been talking about is the shadow integration part. Jung said that the shadow is all of the desires that we have, that we don’t want to admit to having. When we’re doing this excavation work and being willing to see like, “I really do want this discord. I really do want this scarcity.”If we own that and we accept that as part of our being, and instead of seeing ourselves as like, “I’m being so victimized by this poverty. I’m being so victimized by my partner being a jerk.”Instead, we are saying like, “I’m having my actual desires meticulously, perfectly fulfilled. I’m incredibly blessed person.”When we do that, our identity changes. When we change our identity at that level, seeing ourselves as people who are relentlessly fulfilled, instead of relentlessly abused by the universe, what happens is that shift in like, “I was blind but now I see,” happens with, “I’m more whole.” That wholeness is the point of shadow integration. We’re no longer divided. We have a united will, just like those ancient Greek thaumaturgists talked about, which means that we’re able to be way more effective in the world than actually 99% of other people. Most people will live their whole lives in this divided condition.
That’s okay. Can you give an example of one of those 600 people who you saw a transformation? What is a great example from your workshop of where it was before to where it was after?
One really amazing example actually is a dear friend of mine. She had been struggling with the same scarcity poverty stuff. Through taking the course and doing the shadow integration work and also doing the spell work, she got a job that was like far better than she had imagined being able to get. It’s hard for me to put it into context exactly how. She’s a professor, an English professor. English professor jobs, they don’t really exist anymore. Let alone one in the same town that you’ve been living in. She got a great professorship job here in Pittsburgh, which far exceeded all odds and all expectations. That’s one example. Another example, people tell me these stories about their whole love lives transforming. They were previously caught in these situations where there was like unrequited desire. They would really be into guys and the guys really wouldn’t be into them or women or vice versa, every combination. They would do this work on themselves internally and like find the part of themselves that like really loved being rejected or really love to being insulted, whatever and get off on it and their energy would change and they become much more receptive and form these great relationships and engagements and marriages and babies and you the whole shebang ensues. When people want to find out more information about it, if they want to go to my website, which is BadWitch.es and join the email list. I will shortly be sending out lots more information about INFLUENCE and lots of the actual written testimonials.
This term ‘witch’ has a negative connotation to it. It has The Witches of Eastwick or the witches at the stake and like, why do you claim that? What is it about that word that you actually feel empowered by?
To me it’s a huge feminist issue. The Burning Times, hundreds of thousands of women were burnt at the stake in the Middle Ages as witches, men too but mostly women. Calling a woman a witch it’s basically a name for a powerful woman that you don’t like, that you want to destroy, because she’s more powerful than you are in some regard and that’s not tolerable. I also think the word ‘witch’ applies to somebody of any gender who is magically empowered, is working with their unconscious and their shadow. It does have this connotation of being associated with women. For me, calling oneself a witch, I really feel that all powerful people who do the shadow work and who are in touch with their feminine side are witches whether or not they practice Wicca, whether or not they light candles and casts spells. I think that Oprah is a witch or Clinton is one intense witch or Beyoncé. There’s a way in which to be able to have that presence and intensity, that’s witchcraft and to influence people to have a presence and a charisma that changes hearts and minds is also quite a witchy thing. It’s important to me to use that name, just like in rap music, sometimes people use the N word and that’s a part of their empowerment, reclaiming that term. I feel similarly about witch. I feel similarly about the word slut. I feel similarly about any term that’s been used to denigrate women. I feel like it’s really important to insist on it and reclaim it.
Thank you for doing that as well. Women, be all they can be in whatever shape and form. That’s my motto. Sometimes it’s scary and sometimes it is daunting to be with a powerful woman and every time I surrender and get off my male chauvinist, high horse, life tends to get better.
Jessica, welcome to the show.
How are you?
Good. How can we make this time most optimal for you?
I guess the issue that I’m thinking about right now, particularly in regards to relationships and shadow integration is that I’ve realized that my predominant pattern within all of my relationships be it romantic relationships, friendships, even business relationships, is that if any relationship is a bridge, I want to run to the other side of the bridge to meet the person. I never wait for somebody to come and either meet me at my side of the bridge or to meet somewhere in the middle. I’ve realized recently that this is a very large pattern in my life and I’m trying to figure out how to pattern interrupt that a little bit. I think I maybe robbing myself of some potential experiences, but also I don’t know that that’s necessarily a healthy way to operate in the world. Always feeling like I need to go to the other person.
When you do that, going after the other person, what tends to be the result? Does that strengthen the relationship? What happens?
It’s mixed. I think it depends. I think a lot of the enduring relationships in my life, it has strengthened it, but there are a lot of other people who I think get scared off by me coming on too strong. One of the witches I do a lot of work with in my coven has jokingly called me a planning talk. That I don’t really think is not much of a joke. I think it’s maybe anxiety-fed a little bit. I need to know what’s happening, therefore I’m always going to try to take control of the situation.
What about it feels unsatisfying? Where do you get to the place where you’re like, “I don’t know if this is so good?”
I think that it often leads to disappointment on my end if people aren’t receptive to it. I feel like I have very high standards for myself and other people. If somebody isn’t willing to put forth the same kind of effort that I see myself putting into any type of relationship, then I end up disappointed and hurt and maybe a little bit resentful of them. Which isn’t really fair if they haven’t asked for that.
That sensation of disappointment, if you just let yourself remember that and feel that in your body, what are the qualities there with that sensation?
Physically in my body, it feels like a heaviness in my chest and a bit of a constriction. It feels like heaviness in and around my heart area, it just feels tight.
When you identify with that disappointment or take it personally as like, “This means something about me,” is there any benefit associated with that? Does that reinforce any beliefs about yourself?
Probably only negative beliefs.
I say benefit though because to me, I get a huge benefit out of having my scarcity beliefs enforced. It helps me maintain who I think I am. I could ask some more questions, but maybe Rob have any questions for Jessica?
It’s so fascinating because the approach you’re taking is just a different approach I would take. I want to stay on your methodology. Keep going on that sensation feeling and let’s follow your pathway and then I’ll comment more towards the end.
Going back to that sensation of the heaviness and the constriction, I want to invite you to hold that in a way as if it’s still there. The heaviness and constriction is still present, but maybe it just doesn’t mean what we think it means. Maybe it’s something else. I want to invite you to see if imagining right now that you’re in a dungeon. You’re in a kinky dungeon and you’re feeling these sensations, this heaviness, this constriction, can there be any pleasure in those sensations?
I can see the possibility of it.
What comes up for you if we look at this idea, maybe there’s a part of me that enjoys feeling disappointed. What comes up when we think about that?
I’m honestly a bit of shamed around that.
“You’re horrible. How dare you want something like that? It’s so fucked up, Jessica.”That shame, that’s there. What if it was the greatest thing in the world to really want disappointment? What if that was the most honorable, noble desire that you could have? What if the desire for healthy relationships was completely like the shameful desire? Just like reversing it. This is really the sticking point. This is exactly what is challenging about this work is because we can identify that we have these desires and then we immediately come up with this shame, “That’s so messed up. How could I want that? That’s horrible.”Usually for me, it’s the sensation also have like, “This doesn’t feel good. This constriction, this heaviness doesn’t feel good, therefore there’s something wrong with me for creating this constriction and this heaviness.”Would it make you insane if you thought it was the greatest thing in the world to desire disappointment and have disappointment? Is that insane?
A little bit but I can see where you’re going with this and me being familiar with your EK work.
I think a lot insane and I think if you can give yourself permission to be that level of insane, there’s a way in which an energy can open up with people when they’re around you. Where they can feel that permission and that bounty of love and approval that you have for yourself. I have a feeling that that can encourage them to come in a lot closer to you than if you’re shaming something that’s in yourself, right?
That would be my suggestion, Jessica. Work on being completely insane.
It’s like, “Am I crazy?”
Yeah. I really honestly believe that the coolest people on Earth do exactly that, whether they know it or not. That’s the mechanism of coolness.
I’m totally down on my crazy and my disappointment.
How comfortable is shame and disappointment for you?
Right now, I would say those are fairly uncomfortable sensations.
In the past when in relationships?
Familiar, that’s a better word. That for me is a big thing is we tend to go with what we know. If a really dominated relationship is what we’re comfortable with or really passive relationship, we follow the patterns to it sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. Just to build on top of Carolyn’s methodology of accepting this part of yourself, is seeing the part that’s familiar to you and not having shame about your patterns to see your patterns and be like, “I want to do something different,” and then to migrate to something to something else.
Jessica, this has just come up with me as I talked to my husband about this sort of stuff. The other day, he said to me, “You’re shaming shame.” I was like, “Fuck you.”There’s this way, and like, “I’m feeling the shame. I need to stop feeling the shame about my disappointment or whatever.”There’s also a way in which it can be like, “Here’s this amazing, intense shame that I feel and this is so great. I love feeling ashamed of myself. I love pushing other people away with my shame. I love doing the whole spectrum of it.”
Can I also reflect back when you’re talking about going into the kinky dungeon with your shame and embarrassment? That was really sexy. I don’t know if you caught that, but it was just like, “Can we go? Road trip to Jessica’s kinky dungeon of shame.” There was an attractive, powerful nature to it.
I feel like the owning that and just accepting it for what it is, is maybe the way forward.
Yeah. I think that this is something that I should emphasize more when I teach this, which is that I think there’s a tendency even for me to talk about Existential Kink in terms of changing something or making it go away. It really is more just a matter of being turned on with what’s already present. You were just saying like owning it, being like, “I feel this shame and disappointment. That’s what I feel. This is my sexy party kinky shame and disappointment time and this is where I live. I’m not expecting it to go away or anything like that. This is how it is. This is who I am and this is how I get down.”
Maybe in that allowing, maybe it does dissipate or maybe it doesn’t, but something shifts there.
Our attitude towards it shifts and instead of hating and dreading this part of us, we’re agreeing with it. I hope you keep me posted on how it goes.
Thank you so much, Jessica. I feel like I have to listen to this one again and absorb it. I feel there was a lot of rich stuff to just what you’re expressing. It really is a different methodology. I love guest stars because they do bring out different methodologies that I don’t think of. It is a powerful medium you’re teaching and I’m just really amazed by you. Thank you.
Thank you, Rob. I got the transmission initially from something you helped create, so here I am.
How do people find you? How do people work with you? How do people learn more about this methodology?
Definitely the best thing to do is to go to my magazine, WITCH, BadWitch.es and there are forms on there to join the email list. When you do that, you will get emails from me. I also have a website, CarolynGraceElliott.com, where people can just read a little bit more about the businessy side of me. Also on the WITCH website, there’s a page that says About Carolyn Elliott, which links to all of my major essays and podcast interviews and my podcast Grit & Grace so you can get big doses of me.
Thank you for the work you’re doing out there in the world. It’s really amazing. I feel like you’re empowering women to be more of themselves, which I think the world needs desperately. Thanks for doing that.
Thanks so much everyone. Thank you again so much for Carolyn Elliot of BadWitch.es, please check out her stuff. Go forth. Be real. Be unhidden. Live life. Thank so much. Take care.
Thank you so much, Carolyn for coming on the show. Thank you so much, Jessica, for being our guest and we’re really grateful. As always, learning something new, learning how to bring a different modality into the world and how we can powerfully change our lives if we’re willing to look at our unconscious, take care of things, and really allow things to show up, to have life exactly where we want it. For more shows, please visit us at TuffLove.Live and you can always like us on iTunes or listen. You can hook up via your podcast app on your iPhone or Stitcher. Please check us out at TuffLove.Live. Thanks so much. We’ll see you next week.
- Carolyn Elliott
- Awaken Your Genius
- About Carolyn Elliott
- Grit & Grace
- Taia Kepher
- Vic Baranco
About Dr. Carolyn Elliot
Carolyn Elliott, PhD is a superconnector, the internet’s favorite writing teacher, and the author of Awaken Your Genius, published by Random House / North Atlantic. Carolyn is the host of the podcast Superconnectors. Carolyn teaches THRILL: a masterclass on writing for the social web, growing your audience, and getting paid and also INFLUENCE: a deep-dive course on practical magic. You can find more information about her coaching and the results her clients experience at carolyngraceelliott.com. She edits the popular online magazine about magic for smart people, BAD WITCHES. Carolyn earned a doctorate in Critical and Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, and is the recipient of a number of national and local writing awards.