If you’ve been following my YouTube Channel, you may have noticed that I do Shadow Work Tarot readings, which is type of intuitive tarot that has the purpose of aiding you in your healing journey.
Although the term “Shadow Work” sounds purely occult, it’s actually based off of the work of Psychologist Carl Jung. Back when I was a teenager I was obsessed with both Carl Jung and tarot, so you can see what happened there. So, what is The Shadow? What is Shadow Work? And how can you integrate it into your tarot practice?
The Shadow is simply the part of ourselves that we have repressed. A lot of people get confused and think the Shadow is all of the negative drives and impulses. That’s actually not the case. The traits we repressed aren’t even negative, but at some point we decided they were due to criticism or negative interactions with our family and peers.
I’ve written before about my experience of being pushed into the role of the “Invisible Child” in my family. For me, being seen and being heard became “negative” and that part of myself that is artistic and connected was repressed. It’s actually the reason why I created this blog and my YouTube Channel, as a way to heal that Shadow.
So the Shadow is not bad, rather it is the seat of our true and authentic self. Often creativity lives there, trust, integrity, inspiration, and our childlike innocence. However, the more we decide that these traits are bad and need to be eliminated, the more intense a response we can get from our Shadow. There’s a part of us that is quite frankly bullshit that we’ve never been allowed to be our true selves and every now and again it will try to get our attention through what are known as Shadow Symptoms:
Carl Jung believed that the only way to heal these symptoms was to heal and reintegrate the Shadow. In order to do that, we must dialogue with it, commune with it, show understanding and acceptance for it, and ultimately welcome it back in.
This is a difficult process because for most of us we have no idea what our Shadow wants or why we do the things we do. That’s how repressed it is. Think of that friend of yours that keeps dating unhealthy partners. Each time they tell you it’s going to be different, but it’s clear as day to you that they keep dating the same type of person over and over again. They simply can’t see it for themselves until it’s too late. It’s not something that can be easily done.
In my own quest to speak with the Shadow I discovered Shadow Work Tarot as an amazing tool to break through the filters and discover things about myself that had been long buried. This can be a painful process, but not only will you help to heal your Shadow, but you’ll also quickly level-up your tarot reading skills.
The way I recommend doing this is to do one question per day from the list below and to draw a single card per question. If you’re really struggling, you can draw up to three cards, but try to keep it at one. You will be amazed at how much information you can get from a single card. Resist the urge to look up the meaning of the card in the guidebook. The guidebook will not help you when doing Shadow Tarot. Simply let the card speak to you.
If you find this process painful, have difficult shadow symptoms, or an unhealed history of trauma, please please please consider seeing a therapist. I would not be where I am without therapy and Shadow Work is not a substitute for professional help.
If you are looking for a more in-depth explanation of The Shadow and Shadow Work, I also have an additional video I created. You can watch it here.
Questions for Shadow Tarot:
- Spiritual Bypassing: In what way do I use spiritual practices as a way of avoiding dealing with uncomfortable feelings, emotional needs, and unresolved issues from the past?
- The current unpleasant emotion I am feeling: what is it trying to teach me?
- Enantiodromia: In what aspect of my life am I running towards the opposite of what I actually need?
- What is a truth about myself that I tend to ignore?
- Persona: What is the mask I show to the world?
- What would happen if I fully embraced the real me?
- Personal Unconscious: In what way does my repressed Shadow manifest itself when interacting with other people?
- What is the real reason I want to be successful? Follow-up question: What would be a healthier definition of “success” for me to have?
- Projection: The traits I find the most annoying in other people, which of these do I too possess?
- What is something I need to forgive myself for?
- Complimentarity: What is an important part of myself that I am denying?
- What is the relationship pattern I keep repeating? Why?
- Katoche: How am I served by denying my ability to change certain behaviors or aspects of myself?
- Fixation: What denied need from my childhood is still causing me hidden difficulties now?
- In what ways am I contributing to my current difficulties with friends?
- Messiah Complex: Where do I use “helping others” as a way of avoiding my own issues?
- When I find myself being reactive to people, what is really going on?
- Where am I not allowing myself to simply be human? Follow-up question: why do I do this?
- Cathexis: My current negative habit is caused by the blocking of what need/s?
- Thanatos: In what ways am I currently being self-destructive?
- Where do I need to show myself more compassion?
- Displacement: What people in my life am I unfairly taking out my anger on?
- How are my problems in the workplace related to an unmet need from my family?
- Self-analysis: What negative theory do I have about myself that is simply not correct? Follow-up question: Under what circumstances did this theory form?
- What is something that I have forgotten about myself that I need to acknowledge?
- In what ways am I similar to my enemy?
- In what ways do I create obstacles for myself?
- What are the traits that I consider to be flaws, but are actually strengths?
- What is something I blame others for, but is actually something that I myself have control over?
- What is a way in which I am still hiding my true self? How can I stop?