We’re getting into the deeper part of the darkness in the northern hemisphere. It’s October, the start of spooky season for some and the darkest parts of the year for others. This is a great time to begin working with the Shadow Self. The Shadow part of you that is hidden away and runs (or at least tries to run) the conscious mind. Since we’re coming into that darkness, I created a simple tarot spread to help connect to your Shadow. This spread uses four cards laid out in the shape of stairs, symbolic of the descent into your own darkness.
Shadow Work Disclaimer
Shadow work isn’t always for everyone. Those that have experienced trauma or who are not in a good mental space should not pursue shadow work. It’s okay to wait. It’s okay if you never fully explore your shadow. Please approach shadow work, and all things meant to help in a psychological manner, in a responsible way. Seek help from a medical professional when necessary, and don’t let the internet dictate your mental health.
What is Shadow Work?
I’ll give you a brief explanation of Shadow Work if this is your first encounter with the term. Shadow Work is a concept straight from psychology, specifically from analytical psychologist Carl Jung. Among his many theories and psychological discoveries was the concept of a divided self. This divided self consists of The Persona, The Anima/Animus, The Shadow, and The Self. According to Jung, these are all aspects that we carry around with us and they dictate how we see the world.
According to Jung, our Shadow holds everything that we’re conditioned to believe is wrong. This includes thoughts, behaviors, and impulses. As an example, those who are AFAB (assigned female at birth) are generally conditioned to be mothers and caregivers. We are given baby dolls and kitchen utensils at a young age, further cementing in our subconscious that this is what is expected of us. We are then raised to take care of others. This can lead to said person taking care of others at the expense of themselves, especially if they were taught that the needs of others come first.
The process of working with your Shadow means uncovering those hidden things and working with them. For example, realizing that our thoughts telling us we’re no good because we’re taking time for ourselves is just plain wrong and a result of our conditioning. We could then learn to work with this instead of against it, learning that it’s okay to put ourselves first sometimes.
I created this spread to give a starting point to anyone who just discovered shadow work, but also to those looking to work with their shadow in a simple way. This spread uses four cards laid out like stairs, starting from the top. Each step is symbolic of the descent into our darkness, and each card is tied to a related question.
Card One: What’s hiding in the darkness?
What is hiding in your darkness? This is your current shadow concern. This card will either reveal a shadow that’s bothering you or give you a place to start.
Card Two: How does this affect my waking life?
How is this current shadow issue affecting you in ways that you may or may not be aware of? As I said, our Shadow is our backseat driver and sometimes it knows things that we don’t. It can subconsciously drive the show and influence your decisions.
Card Three: How should I approach this darkness?
Now that you know the issue and how it’s affecting you, what’s your game plan? This card will help you develop that plan. Should you approach with caution? Logic? Emotion? Alone? Or should you have a support system at the ready?
Card Four: What can I learn from this?
Lastly, what can you learn from this situation? This card will help you understand how your illuminated shadow can help you moving forward. It can give you a way to work with your shadow instead of against it. Once you know how it affects you, you’re better equipped to handle it when it shows up during your day.
Get the Printable
Have a journal at the ready or download this free printable! I created this to add to your Grimoire or Book of Mirrors (or whatever else you call your magical books). It comes with an image of the spread, my obligatory disclaimer, and room to journal your thoughts. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think of this spread and how it works for you!
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