This blog post was inspired by a few things including how I’ve been evolving and growing on my spiritual path.
I recently read a post on The Numinous titled “Be the Dark: How to Embrace Your Shadow Side” which really made me agree with it and helped to articulate what I’ve been trying to word these past few months. The author of the post talks about embracing her inner “dark worker,” a play on the word “lightworker” that is seen everywhere.
Another good post on this subject of Shadow Self is on Loner Wolf titled “Shadow Self: Embracing Your Inner Darkness,” which there is a test on Loner Wolf to see about your Shadow Self: How Dominant Is Your Dark Side? An interesting, fun and quick test to try.
As much as “light work” is needed in these troubled times and many people find comfort and security in the realm and discussion of angels, angel cards and angel tarot, there can be a shift in focus away from the shadow aspect that distracts us from the root of what we genuinely feel, say and do unconsciously, instictively and irrationally.
Sometimes we need to look into the shadow aspect: what really lies underneath everything can give us a better understanding what we think, say and do and why we do these things.
The more that I align myself with Hecate, the more that I needed to explore and accept the shadow self.
If you haven’t taken this quiz yet, try it out and see for yourself. The Biz Goddess Quiz helps you to align your business with the energy that you identify most with that is connected with a goddess.
Combining the previous mentioned posts, my personal study of Hecate and as the days grow shorter and darker as we progress further into autumn, I turn more inward to explore what goes on in the undercurrents that I’ve struggled to resolve over the years, only to have scratched the surface of my shadow self.
Lately, my husband has reminded me of my shadow self that comes out often. I’m not sure he really realises that’s what it is even though we’ve known each other for many, many years.
After many years together in a relationship and marriage, you let more and more of yourself come out because you feel comfortable with each other.
Yet, the side my husband sees of me is not a side many other people see of myself in real life – unless I’m pushed to a limit, then it comes as a surprise to others who least expect it from me.
This can be common for many people as we try to keep our shadow sides hidden.
This is why it’s called “the shadow” – we work really hard sometimes to keep it hidden and other times, we don’t even realise what it is.
The shadow self can be raw, dark and unbearably real and often remains as an unconscious aspect as we rather not look at why we do or say things irrationally or instinctively.
When I read from the blog post on The Numinous and Loner Wolf, I could relate to the feeling that most of the time we have to supress this “dark aspect” of ourselves in order to be more “light”. (However, just because you might not be dancing in sparkles and sunshine doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and a wry, wicked sense of humour.)
This feeling of supressing our darker aspects to be more “light” can be comparable to watching Animal from The Muppets trying to drum to a slow song then he can’t take it anymore, he goes “bananas” on the drums – and totally feels better afterwards.
Sometimes, you just have to feel your moods instead of trying to be what others expect you to be and be wild when secure to do so.
THE SHADOW SELF & TAROT
Shadows thrive in the darkness, yet where there is light in one place, there must be darkness in another place.
Light can cast shadows, but can also illuminate the shadows. The unknown can lie in shadows, but can be discovered and brought into light.
Take for example, the Moon card in the Rider Waite Smith tarot. A wolf and dog howl at the moon, while a crayfish crawls from the murky waters. Some believe that the water is what lies behind the curtain of the High Priestess symbolic of the unconsciousness.
The crayfish (the shadow) emerging from the waters (the unconsciousness) is coming into the light of the moon between the wolf and dog, the wild and tame sides of ourselves.
The moon has always been associated with lunacy (the word derives from the Latin word “Luna” for “moon”) and the crayfish coming from the shadow aspect of the unconscious (the murky waters) can be seen as crazy, lunacy, irrationality and bewilderment.
The Moon card can be a symbol for the shadow aspect of the self emerging into the consciousness, creating confusion for ourselves and others around us, walking the fine line between our wild and tame selves.
I’ve seen books and cards making tarot less “scary”, which makes me wonder if we’re trying to lessen what is really underneath our shadows by not looking at them more closely.
Angel cards are beautiful to get positive, reaffirming messages, but if you really want to “get dirty” and “dig deep”, you’ll probably need a deck that will look at these issues. This can mean not getting the “sugar coated” treatment.
There are thousands of tarot and oracle decks for every type of reader and readings, finding the right deck for shadow work is just as important as asking the right questions to do shadow readings for yourself or others.
Readings on the shadow aspect isn’t easy, since many of us don’t want to admit our own faults and flaws. Most of the time we do things without realising we’re doing them; even when someone points out a flaw of ours, we may deny it since we don’t realise that it’s that bad or often.
Tarot can reflect this mirror image back to us, but we have to take a good look at ourselves and not deflect what we see.
Here’s some tarot and oracle decks (yes, a bit Halloween themed still) that I particularly like for the imagery and the feel of them that can be used to explore the shadow self with shadow work:
- Les Vampires by Lucy Cavendish – I absolutely love this oracle deck and was introduced to it by Diana at Modern Witchy Woman. I offer two readings with this oracle deck on my Etsy shop, a three card reading and a one card reading.
- The Tarot of Vampyres by Ian Daniels – I saw this deck first on a Periscope by Diana at Modern Witchy Woman, but haven’t had the chance to get it myself yet. The messages that this tarot deck can be a bit more intense if you really read into it, but it can help to get to the bottom of matters that some may not want to look at.
- Bohemian Gothic Tarot – I really like the imagery on this deck, however the prices on Amazon are really expensive for this deck, which I think is now out of print. Information on the deck can be found on the website for the deck (note: the website plays music automatically – I was wondering why when Spotify was playing “This is a Call” by Foo Fighters, it sounded weird like two different songs playing. Now I know.) Regardless, a beautiful deck.
HEALING THE SHADOW
It can be a healing moment to find out why we do what we do, say what we say, and think what we think. It’s about making peace with our shadow side, not ignoring this part of ourselves or shaming it.
If we can pinpoint what is unresolved or needing to be healed in the shadow self, why we do what we do, say what we say or think what we think, we can move forward more consciously about our actions and thoughts instead of reacting irrationally or blindly.
The shadow self can be misunderstood as well as dark goddesses, such as Cerridwen and Hecate, who depict these aspects of ourselves and humanity.
Some of us may shy away from these natural aspects of ourselves because we may feel they are “unnatural”, yet these are as natural as any other part of ourselves and in nature.
Tarot can be a divination tool to help explore the underlying causes and roots of our shadow self and understand ourselves better in order to bring more happiness, healthier relationships and career and much more to remove self-made barriers and blockages that we may be putting in our own way.
Working on the shadow self and tarot can be a long process that isn’t an easy one to go down that path and ask the questions that we may not want to hear the answers.
This is where the light side of ourselves needs to have the compassion and understanding to help us face these parts of ourselves and not ignore them.
Jungians caution that acknowledgement of the shadow aspect of oneself is a continuous process throughout life. This can be journey that digs deeper into the murky waters of our unconsciousness, yet the revelations of shadow work and tarot combined can be enlightening and life changing.
Stacey & the Tarot Pugs
Card images from Rider Waite Tarot ©1971 by U.S. Games System, Inc. All rights reserved.
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