Connecting with the shadow
I have written several blogs exploring how Tarot can be used to access shadow work (blocks, information, memories, promises made to self, self-limiting beliefs, habits ignored & forgotten by the logical left brain)
This is life changing, empowering work. But I urge caution. Tread slowly, give yourself time to adapt – it can be very difficult.
It is likely we all have shadow issues, times of stress and difficulty that caused us to freeze emotionally, push things to one-side. Then our life is built around these black shadows, especially relationships- friends, family, partners. To mend those shadow issues is to change who you are at core, and this can have a ripple effect on every area of your life. This work is wonderful, life changing, empowering- but all change has difficulties, even when it is change for the better.
As part of my recent Healing course with Evelyn Brodie we worked on our shadow, a lot. There was a point where I was changing, emerging so quickly it shattered friendships & nearly broke my marriage. Some friendships did not adapt to the changing me, luckily my marriage did.
Work slowly, nurture yourself, and give those around you time to adjust.
So if you are reading for yourself, and seeking to access information you have decided to hide- how can you manage that? I have a few practical ideas for you to try. They can be used for any tarot spread, though I have included a simple Tarot spread to create a “complete package”.
Identify, and write down your question, or which ever block/ life area you would like to work with.
A notebook/pen and paper is needed, the act of writing is really useful for connecting with the right brain.
This spread is simple, I often find that simple spreads can be very insightful!
Card 1; Reflects the issue.
Card 2; Practical advice.
Card 3; possible outcome.
Card at the bottom of the pack- shadow card, something you need to know but is currently hidden from you.
Read cards 1-3 as you normally would, in your own style.
The shadow card is best understood using at least one of the following ideas. Try them, adapt them, blend them- have fun (and trust the process!)
Dreamwork. Gaze at the shadow card, meditate on the card, before bedtime. Then first thing in the morning make a note of any dreams you had. Do this for three nights in a row. Then read back over your dream notes and see if anything helps with your understanding of this card.
Stonework. Gaze at your card. Take a stone (beach pebble/crystal- what ever feels right to you). Place the stone on the floor. Now consciously step into the spot where the stone is and pick it up. Standing there & holding the stone ask your “right-brain” for help, and say out loud whatever comes. Trust the process, just say it out loud, whilst listening with the left brain. Put the stone on the floor, step out of the space, and write down whatever you spoke. This is a strange technique, keep an eye on my you-tube channel (link at the top of my webpage) and I will post a video to help!
Symbol-work. Gaze at your card, let your mind find one symbol or colour that is meaningful. Now write a web of what that symbol means to you. It does not matter if it makes sense to anyone else, just jot down words as they connect in your brain. For example if I was gazing at a hunting bird I might write something like; bird, prey, hunting, freya, dust, man, amber, joy. It is your meaning that matters- not any perceived “correct” meaning. When you are finished look through your list an see if it helps your understanding.
How do you know if you are getting the right interpretation?
Firstly, it might make you feel a little uncomfortable, angry or tearful. Sadly I once nearly threw the stone at someone who was helping me with this exercise, I believe I swore quite a lot too! Anger or tears is your left brain trying to distract you, breath deep and try and look past the emotions (and try not to through the stone where it could damage!)
Secondly you may be surprised. When I regress people to help with shadow work they are almost always slightly surprised by what they find. If you find what you expected to find- it may be useful, but you have not reached the source.
Lastly you get that “OHHHHHHHHH” moment. When I was helped to realise my core shadow emotion was shame my first response was a loud “don't be ridiculous, I'm not bloody ashamed at anything I've done” Then I went home & re-read several books. I had clearly read the chapters on shame, they had my writing in the margins. But I had not retained ANY of the informations.
So take your time with this, it is a peeling of the onion exercise, it takes a lifetime to get right!
Looking for a little extra insight? Here is a development spread. This can be done straight away, with the original layout still there, or some time after- using the notes to help.
Card1- what I need to know
Cards 2 & 3, how can I access this information.
Card at the bottom of the pack, shadow card. Still hidden from me. But following the advice of cards 2 & 3 will lead me to understand this.
Cards 2 & 3 are practical. The first time I did this for me I got the king of swords & Hierophant, to me this suggested I needed to book a session with my male shaman teacher. Try and think of something practical they indicate- perhaps a specific person, time away, getting outside, crafting, writing, connecting with others, time alone, daydreaming- you get the idea