Book Review: Existential Kink by Carolyn Elliott

Review and Photo by Miss Snow | Instagram 

About the Author

Carolyn Elliott, PhD is an author, teacher and the founder of online Witch magazine, as well as the creator of popular online courses and business specializing in helping people achieve dramatic positive change in their lives through shadow integration practices and applied occult philosophy. Elliott has a PhD in critical and cultural studies from the University of Pittsburgh and writes poetry, plays, and fiction. She lives in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. | Instagram: @carolynelliott_. Website: http://carolyngraceelliott.com.

About Existential Kink

Existential Kink is the book that will take you on the journey of accepting your shadow, and even learn to derive pleasure from it.

It is divided into three parts; Part One teaches you the basics of the process, the shadow, and the unconscious, with examples of things you may find familiar and happening in your current life.

“If you want to know who you unconsciously believe you are, just take a look at your life, your surroundings, your relationship. Your life mirrors those deep beliefs.”

Existential Kink

There is no shaming in these pages, and Elliott’s sharing of personal experiences, as well as her open acceptance of the notion that some of her previously-held attitudes or patterns may not have been positive, yet are still a part of her story, creates a safe space for you, the reader, to accept and dissolve your own attitudes and negative patterns, and celebrate the unconscious pleasure you get from them. Some of these patterns include:

  • Dating people who end up being an uncanny resemblance to an abusive parent
  • Feeling stuck with health or weight conditions
  • Creative blocks
  • Not being able to make more than a certain amount of money, no matter how hard you try

If you’re a fan of shadow work, but often worry how others have said it’s a depressing affair, then this book might just help you with the final kick to get started. Personally, I love shadow work, and wholeheartedly agree with Elliott’s words: “Shadow work is looking down at the shit so you can clean it up or even compost it into a lush garden.”

Before going further, there are three very important points worth mentioning;

  1. Readers should not do EK work if you’re experiencing depression, simply because when depressed, you are unable to feel joy in anything.
  2. If you’re in the midst of, or recently experienced,  a soul-crushing situation (but not necessarily depression), take stock of it and avoid doing work in the heavier stuff. Rather, begin by devoting your time to experience grieving.
  3. You shouldn’t do EK work on childhood issues either, because, plainly put, as a child you were powerless in the choice of your surroundings and companions, whereas as an adult, you are free to navigate in the world.

Part Two is called “Getting Kinky,” containing seventy-six pages and thirteen exercises for transformative magic that are sure to get your kink on. Exercises 1 and 2, “How to Get your Shit Together,” and “Deepest Fear Inventory,” respectively, pave the way for the work ahead, and may feel familiar to those who have done extensive shadow work already. It’s important to go through each one if you want to see the results of EK work, and to do so with a willingness to accept the positive and rewarding changes they are almost sure to bring into your life.

Part Three is dedicated to questions and answers, which I wish I’d read first as I spent the majority of Part One struggling with a sense of “but I don’t relate to this.” When Elliott mentions the TV show The Walking Dead, which so happens to be one of my favourite shows – not because of the terror or gore but, because despite all the horror, the characters find a way towards some kind of happiness – I began unfolding, accepting and laughing at my own pattern. Although I didn’t take pleasure in the pain and horror of the situation, I found great joy every time a character overcame an issue and moved forward.

I do suggest reading the Q&A beforehand, particularly if you find yourself struggling with the first pages.

“Accepting our power as world-making artists and learning to consciously engage it is . . . drumroll, please . . . magic.”

Existential Kink

Something to Learn…

Give yourself permission to accept and even enjoy the fact that you created the situation you’re in. This is shadow work, to accept those parts of ourselves we don’t think are worthy or awesome, but that are part of ourselves nonetheless. Don’t ignore the reality, but go into it with shameless glee and enjoy it – be honestly happy. Accept it, understand it, release it, change the narrative.

Something to Make…

A special journal to accompany you on the exercises, as the book deserves its own companion. Gather blank pages, sew them together, go as crafty or as simple as you want.

A journal usually has 200 pages, but if this feels too much, there are plenty of blank ones waiting to be filled with your work. What’s important is what you’ll place inside, working through each of the thirteen exercises.

About Miss Snow: Miss Snow is a folk witch who loves studying the old ways who currently lives on the sunniest side of Europe. She uses the elements of the earth in her magic, working with the moon, flowers, herbs and her trustworthy tarot deck to light the way. Her background as a handwork educator means there’s always something being born from her hands. You can follow the adventures on Instagram at @thewildmoongarden where she often writes about plants, books, sewing petticoats and aprons, and her obsession for not wearing shoes.

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