Updated: May 12
The Tarot is a powerful tool to aid in Shadow Work. Shadow Work is a powerful practice of identifying, understanding, and integrating the parts of yourself that have been hidden away or repressed due to fear, pain, trauma, or shame. By tapping into the wisdom and insights of the Tarot, you can begin to uncover and embrace the depths of your being, leading to a more empowered and authentic life.
What is Shadow Work?
Shadow Work is a term coined by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung to describe the process of accessing and exploring one's unconscious or “shadow self”. This mystic journey involves uncovering, understanding, and embracing the hidden parts of ourselves that often lie beneath the surface. It is through this inner exploration that we can begin to heal and accept the repressed aspects of our personality and work to become whole.
Shadow Work is essential for personal growth, as it allows us to recognize and ultimately transform our limiting beliefs and outdated ideas of who we are. By engaging with our shadow selves, we gain insight into our fears, motivations, and behaviors - all areas of Psychology which Carl Jung believed were vital components of successful living. As such, many people turn to Tarot cards as part of their shadow work practice, because the power of Tarot lies in its ability to help uncover hidden thoughts, feelings, emotions, and connecting with our higher selves.
By diving into our shadow selves with Tarot cards as our guide, we open up a channel for greater clarity and understanding. As we travel deeper into this unknown territory, we gain access to new insights into our conscious behavior, allowing us to make positive changes and move forward on our path towards holistic well-being.
How to Identify Your Shadows
Identifying your shadows is essential for understanding yourself and improving your relationships. But it can be a difficult process, as shadow selves are often buried in the unconscious mind. Carl Jung viewed it as an integral part of the psychology of the individual.
To identify your shadows, begin by examining your inner thoughts and feelings. Pay close attention to the beliefs and assumptions you make about yourself and the world around you. You may notice patterns of fear, aggression, or judgment that arise when you interact with others. These are all signs of a shadow self trying to reveal itself.
Once you’ve identified these aspects of yourself, give them a name. Whether you choose to call them “insecurities” or something else, labeling your shadows will make them easier to work with and ultimately help you understand them better. Working with your shadows can be frightening, but acknowledging and accepting them is the first step in overcoming them. The simple act of identifying and naming your shadow can be extremely beneficial.
Through shadow work, we gain insight into ourselves and can eventually become liberated from our limiting beliefs. One tool commonly used to access the shadow self is tarot. Carl Jung believed that through this medium, we could access deeper levels of our unconscious minds, allowing us to bring our shadows into the light. This allows us to get a greater understanding of how our shadows affect us, so we can take steps toward healing. When combined with shadow work practices such as meditation, journaling, dream exploration, and energy healing, tarot has immense power to support our transformation and personal growth.
How to Know Your Shadows
The process of coming to terms with our shadow self is often difficult and uncomfortable, but it is necessary for us to fully understand ourselves. Jung coined the term "individuation" to refer to the process of discovering our true selves, which includes honestly facing and accepting all aspects of our personality, including both positive and negative traits. In order to achieve a healthy balance between our light and dark sides, we must learn to live in harmony with our shadow self.
Your inner shadow is composed of parts of you that you subconsciously reject. Jung defined the collective unconscious as a set of eight different archetypes which represent different aspects of the shadow self. These archetypes can be thought of as different parts of ourselves that are either consciously or unconsciously repressed.
Here are the eight different Jungian archetypes:
Self- The core of our personality and conscious awareness.
Shadow - Darker, emotional parts of our being that often remain hidden.
Anima- Feminine energy - being open to receiving, empathetic, and sensitive.
Animus- Parts of ourselves that has the capacity for reflection and insight.
Persona - A mask we wear out in the world to shield us from exposing our inner selves. Self-protection.
Hero- Overcoming evil, destruction, death. Wants to belong and has a lot of courage.
Wise Old Man- Also known as the sage - spiritual aspects of the personality (referred to as the 'Self'), seen in the form of dreams and shared wisdom. Archetype of knowledge and power. It is representative of discipline, self-control, routines, temperance, and rational thinking.
Trickster- Thought and behavior can be irrational, chaotic, and unpredictable. Navigates life through wit and deceitfulness in order to obtain a specific goal or aspiration. The underbelly of the human condition. Childish and often times needs instant gratification which can include taking short cuts that may not be in their best interest.
The mystic in us can lead us to explore our shadow self by teaching us to observe it patiently and with compassion. Our shadow self is part of who we are and listening to its wisdom without judgment is the key to coming into our own power. Shadow work is not about getting rid of our shadows but understanding and embracing them.
Jung believed that if we cannot integrate these shadow parts of ourselves, then they become more powerful and cause more destruction in our lives. He argued that engaging with our shadow self through tarot could be helpful because the cards bring the unconscious mind into conscious awareness so that one can examine what needs to be addressed. By exploring the symbolism associated with each card through tarot, we can uncover hidden emotions, thought patterns, and even beliefs that have been suppressed or denied within us. Through this process, we learn how to take responsibility for our shadow side rather than projecting it onto other people or external circumstances. Ultimately, learning to confront and accept our shadows gives us back our personal power and allows us to start living from an authentic place.
The Benefits of Shadow Work
Shadow work can be an incredibly powerful tool for understanding and embracing our inner lives. By engaging in shadow work, we can begin to better understand our shadow selves and how they impact our everyday lives. Through this process, we can learn to accept, recognize, and even celebrate our shadow self, allowing us to become more fully integrated as individuals. Shadow work helps us uncover hidden strengths, heal past traumas, and ultimately foster a healthier relationship with ourselves. It is a powerful way of unlocking our potential and reclaiming our true identity.
Here are some benefits you can experiences when working with your shadow self :
Gain More Confidence & Self-Esteem
Shadow work can also help us recognize our strengths, even when those strengths come from our weaker aspects. This can be an empowering realization and allows us to build on our potential for growth. Through conscious exploration and understanding of our shadow, we can also learn more about ourselves and develop greater emotional intelligence.
By doing the work, we open ourselves up to a more complete version of our being. We are better able to take ownership of both our weaknesses and our strengths, allowing us to have a more positive and accepting view of ourselves. As we embrace all parts of ourselves, including our shadows, we can move forward with confidence, self-assurance, and ready to achieve our goals.
Tap Into Your Creativity
By embracing our shadows, we can learn to recognize and celebrate the creative aspects of ourselves. Rather than viewing these hidden qualities as something to be ashamed of or concealed, we should be open to exploring the depth and richness of these potentials. Whether it’s an innate talent for writing or an ability to compose beautiful music, our shadows have much to offer us if only we can accept them. Letting go of our fears and self-doubts allows us to fully access the incredible powers within our inner depths. Unlocking these dormant strengths helps us create beauty and inspiration that comes from no other place but within.
Enhance Your Relationship with Others
It is only when you embrace your flaws, weaknesses and imperfections with complete acceptance and love that you can truly love and accept those around you. Learning to look at people objectively and without bias requires an understanding of yourself; getting rid of any pre-conceived notions about the world or about others will help to make this possible. As soon as we become comfortable with ourselves, our ability to recognize, understand and accept the perspectives of others will be improved dramatically. This will result in better communication, healthier relationships and deeper connections.
Work & Heal Your Self-Acceptance
The journey towards fully embracing your shadow can feel overwhelming and may take time. Shadow work is essentially uncovering the suppressed emotions or desires that lurk beneath the surface - they are part of you, yet can often feel distant or shameful. Taking steps towards developing greater self-awareness and embracing those feelings with kindness is essential to allowing yourself to reach a place where you can move beyond feelings of loathing and replace them with understanding, compassion, love, and acceptance.
Unlock Your Hidden Potential
Shadow work provides an opportunity to uncover and appreciate our inner strengths, gifts, and resources that may have been overlooked or underutilized in the past. Even though it can feel daunting, we should remember that our shadow likely contains more potential and positive elements than negative ones. Shadow work helps to draw out these buried talents so they can come to life. With some courage and self-exploration, we can step into a more confident version of ourselves with greater abilities and understanding.
When we push away and repress our shadows, it can manifest into a variety of issues that we might not realize are stemming from the parts of ourselves we try to deny. Doing "shadow work" can be an important part of managing one's overall well-being, as it allows us to get to the source of whatever troubles we are facing. Rather than simply trying to alleviate certain symptoms such as anxiety or difficulty in interpersonal relationships, shadow work provides an opportunity to understand the true origins and root causes behind these feelings and behaviors. By actively engaging in shadow work, you can gain greater insight and control over your mental and emotional health journey.
Compassion for Others
Shadow work can help to diminish the likelihood of being negatively impacted by other people's behaviors and traits. By taking part in this kind of self-exploration, it is possible to feel more empathy and understanding towards others, instead of projecting our own issues onto them. We come to recognize that they are likely struggling with their own personal battles and not just there to bring out the worst in us. With this attitude, it becomes much easier to interact with others without getting upset or overwhelmed.
Opening a Path to Clarity
When we are aware of our thoughts, emotions and feelings, we are more able to understand how they can shape the way we act. Knowing how our inner self influences us gives us the power to be authentic and honest in our words and actions. Being true to ourselves makes us better able to recognize and respond in a manner that reflects our innermost beliefs. This allows us to act with more clarity and intentionality rather than just simply reacting instinctively. Through this process of self-awareness, we can become better communicators and decision makers while still being true to ourselves.
The Power of Tarot in Shadow Work and How To Use Them
Using Tarot for shadow work is a creative and intuitive process that allows one to explore their own unconscious mind and the depths of their individual self. This form of exploration provides an opportunity to identify behaviors in oneself that they may wish to change, while also enabling them to fight bad habits or work on addictions. Furthermore, tarot readings can be utilized both for those who don't remember their dreams, in order to unlock them intuitively, and for those who do recall their dreams but wish to know more about the messages within.
Understanding the balance between our internal darkness and light is an important part of the relationship between dream symbols and our everyday life. Tarot is also beneficial for understanding what our dreams represent and connecting with powerful figures within them. They also can also help us to uncover and foster our creativity by tapping into the archetypal figures or images allowing the symbolism of the cards to fuel and inspire us.
If you decide to use tarot as a means to connect with your shadow self, take a moment to clear and ground your energies by clearing yourself and your space with sage, aura sprays, incense, Palo Santo, or even a selenite wand.
Once your energy and space is cleared, you will want to ground yourself - however you feel guided. I personally love to ground my energy by closing my eyes and envisioning a goldish purple light shining down on me. Embracing me with its warmth, protection, and guidance. I envision this light going within me extending its light further down into my body and shining through my feet, into the earth, and wrapping itself to the core of the earth and coming back into my body and emanating its light from my heart chakra and encasing me in protective energy.
When I am done, I then I begin to do a session of breath work. I do not spend a lot of time doing this, but it does help calm the energy within me. I first take a deep inhale through the nose, expanding my chest, and hold for 3 seconds. I then release the exhale through the mouth until I have no more air. I then settle my breathing and repeat two more times.
I set the intention with a candle - asking my spiritual team, spirit, and my higher self to come forth and assist me with the messages that is needed for my highest good and the good of all those involved.
I also ensure that I have a journal and pen by my side so that I can jot down my impressions, feelings, symbols, or any other spiritual downloads as I begin my shadow work.
I then take time to shuffle my cards. You can use any deck for shadow work- but if there is a particular deck you feel guided to use, by all means, use it!
Here are some questions you can ask your deck:
What aspect of my shadow is asking for my attention?
How can I work with it?
What gifts are hidden in this shadow?
How can I use these gifts?
What does integrating this shadow look like?
What parts of myself must I be prepared to face?
How can I best care for myself during shadow work?
Advice or further guidance.
Get creative with your questions, use the above as a guide to help open up to the messages you need to receive. Pulling oracle cards are also very insightful. If journaling isn't your thing, you can also meditate, bodywork, breathwork, create works of art, or music. Pay attention to your emotions, your impressions, your feelings, any other downloads you may get from spirit. Most importantly - during this time, treat yourself with compassion and love and keep an open mind. Be patient during this process.
Pull a Shadow Card
Mary K. Greer's Archetypal Tarot proposes the idea of a Tarot Year Card, which is one card from the Major Arcana that can symbolize the trials and lessons we will encounter in any given year. This card is an indication of archetypal energies that suggest personal qualities to work on.
However, this concept can also be utilized for Shadow Work - which entails coming to terms with our darker aspects that often lay dormant in our psyche. Shadow Work is a vital part of achieving full potential, as it helps us accept our own Shadows as a part of us. To help in understanding the difficult parts of ourselves and what needs healing to come into alignment, pulling a Shadow Card can be useful. The goal here is to confront the hidden parts so we can truly radiate our gifts and share them with the world.
How to Calculate Your Shadow Card
First, take all the major arcana from your deck - there should be 22 cards. The major arcana are the life forces at work through our journey and will provide some in-depth and transformational information.
You will break down your date of birth and add all the numbers together.
For example - my date of birth is 6-18-1989.
The break down: 6+18+19+89 = 132
Now take your number and add it like so:
13+2 = 15
My shadow card is = 15 - The Devil.
If you want to calculate your shadow card for the current year, you would then take your date of birth and instead of you using your birth year, you would use the current year.
For example- using my date of birth but add the present year - 6-18-2023
The break down: 6+18+20+23 = 67
Now take your number and add it like so:
6+7 = 13
My shadow card for 2023 is = The Death Card.
Having the ability to be aware of our Shadow card is a powerful tool in aiding us to grow as individuals. When we are aware of this shadow side within ourselves, we can use it as an opportunity to integrate it into our lives and turn it into something positive. Understanding this Shadow aspect helps us gain insight into ourselves and find new ways to become the best version of ourselves. Tarot cards can serve as reminders that each obstacle we face presents an opportunity for personal growth. We can use these experiences as a way to challenge and ultimately conquer any hurdles that come our way.
Let me know in the comment section what your shadow card for 2023 is.
Until next time, my friends!