Quick disclaimer: Before beginning with this challenge, I’d like you to ask yourself: Am I ready for this? Do I want to do this? Shadow work can be frightening; it might tear some half healed wounds open. If you are on any antidepressants, experience depression or anxiety, or under psychiatric care, please, please consider leaving this challenge for another time. It might just make things worse and I don’t want anyone going even further down the slope because of me. Please be honest with yourself. I am in no way a psychologist, nor do I claim to be. I have made this challenge based on what I understand of taking control of our whole self and life. This is what I do in my private life and it works for me, but I do not take any responsibility for how it might affect others. Thank you!
I have made this challenge for tarot readers who are interested in Shadow Work. What is that, you ask? There are plenty of articles on the internet about it, so if you want to do your research, you have plenty of resources. In short: The Shadow, or Shadow Self is the Jungian concept of our less shiny and socially acceptable sides. This is where our instincts, fears and rage reside. If the conscious and the Shadow don’t communicate with each other, the Shadow might become overbearing. Working with your Shadow enables you to understand WHY you react to certain things in a certain way, and then TRANSFORM it to be more healthy. Quick example: your kids have eaten crisps in the living room and now crumbles are all over the place. You start yelling at them and give a few slaps for good measure. Shadow work asks you to stop when you see the crumbs and think. It is only crisps. Vacuuming it up will barely take a minute. Why would I hit my children over such a small thing? And indeed, asking WHY might lead you to a pattern brought from your childhood, an aspect of yourself that you would happily take no notice of. The point of this exercise is to take note of these patterns, make them conscious and change them. Ready? If you post it on social media, don’t forget to use #katistarotshadow. You can also tag me with @KatalinPatnaikCartomancer or if you do this in Hungarian @TizSerleg
Kati’s Tarot Shadow Work Challenge
Day One, The Fool – Today we are looking back at your childhood. Remember how you used to feel as a child. Jumping into every day like it was an adventure, being self confident and radiating from the Fool’s absolute lack of self-doubt. Ask your cards to show you five positive personality traits of yours. Only positive! Even if you get a “negative” card, take it as a positive thing. These are your cards that will remind you throughout the exercise that you are a truly good person with plenty of good sides. They will give you strength to go through the challenge.
Day two, The Magician – Childhood and teens. Today’s card looks at your self esteem, confidence and actions that have affected your Shadow during your childhood and teens. Ask your cards: How did my childhood and puberty affect my shadow? How did my self confidence evolve? What are the things that has become part of my Shadow this time?
Day three, The High Priestess – nursery, primary school teachers, female family members (like sister or nieces) apart from your mother and grandmothers. The first time we come in contact with women other than our mother (who ideally was the epitome of love this time) can be hard. They might act differently than we are used to with ‘mom’, and that can lead to confusion, disappointment or fear. If a teacher gives you punishment for something your mom would just smile on, it leaves a big scar. This is the first step to realize not everyone loves you unconditionally. Ask your cards: How did these women affect my Shadow? What part of me did they put there?
Day Four, The Empress – your mother. Most people love their moms, but as much as we adore them, we must see their faults to prevent ourselves from repeating their mistakes in our lives. Ask your cards: in what way am I imitating my mother’s Shadow? How did she affect mine? In what way did she not accept me for who I am?
Day Five, The Emperor – your father. Fathers, if one is lucky, are great role models, but even they are not perfect. Ask your cards, how am I imitating my father’s Shadow? How did he affect mine? In what way did he not accept me for who I am?
Day Six, The Hierophant – society, higher education. Society is a very skilled assassin of dreams and self esteem. Many of us dare not follow our dreams because of the fear of what others might think. Ask your cards: How do my fears of society limit me? How does this affect my shadow?
Day Seven, The Lovers – your love-life and choices. The first love, whether it is fulfilled or platonic, has a big effect on us all. Just like (ideally) every person with whom we go out. Ask your cards: How do my (ex-)boyfriends/husbands affect my Shadow? In what way did they not accept me for who I am? What did they put in the Shadow?
Day Eight, The Chariot – grabbing the wheel and moving on. By now we know a lot about our Shadows, but what about it? Where does all this lead us? Today we will do a “Hero’s Journey” spread to see where we are going with all this dwelling into our Shadows. You can find the Spread on Aeclectic Tarot’s forum, here: http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=43135
We are at the end of the first third of the Majors. Until now we have explored what it is that you have to look at right now regarding your Shadow Self. Congratulate yourself, you have done a great job realizing all these things! Let’s move forward to the next seven cards.
Day Nine, Justice – doing justice for yourself. You have to be your own judge today. To stay with our earlier example: You are accused of being a cruel mom for slapping your kids over a few crumbs on the sofa. Ask your cards: in which situations do I act from the Shadow? Do I really feel this way or is it because of a hidden fear or anger that this behavior happens? What other way might I react to these situations? Pull one card for each situation.
Day ten, The Hermit – alone time. Inspect yourself in light of the previous cards. What have they taught you? Ask your cards: What is the lesson I have to learn right now? What is the lesson/experience my soul came to Earth for? What is my life purpose? This will help you see how you could use your Shadow Side.
Day eleven, The Wheel of Fortune – The Wheel of Fortune continuously turns, round and round it goes, whether you like it or not. If you try to obstruct it, it will act like an old gramophone: it will play the same part over and over until you go and set the pin on track again. Today ask your cards: what is my most obstructing belief? What is my most obstructive habit? How do I set these straight?
Day twelve, Strength – Ask your cards to give you a significator that will pop into your mind when your shadow takes control! Pull one card for each shadow quality that you are working with right now. Next time you are in a situation where you know your shadow used to take over, think of this card and Stop! It takes a lot of control, but you can do it! Meditate on these cards for some time, and try to memorize how they look. In your journal, make drawings of them, and write down whatever comes to your mind while looking at them. Name your Shadow qualities after these cards.
Day Thirteen, The Hanged Man – We have arrived to the ground shaking part of the Major Arcana. The Hanged man asks you to look at your situation from a different angle, and search for a way to cut yourself free. Take your shadow cards out of the deck and flip them over. Now you see them reversed: does this make any difference in how you interpret them? How do you see your shadow qualities now? Jot down any thought into your journal.
Day fourteen, XIII – Time to put your ghosts to rest. Ask your cards: How can I forgive everyone who has contributed to my shadow? How could I release the pain they have caused me? Pull a card for each Shadow aspect and follow it’s advice. If needed be, go and talk to each and every person who has had any part in building up your Shadow. If this is not possible, try to imagine them while meditating and talk to them this way. Forgive them and forgive yourself as well. This may take a long time, so don’t worry if you can’t finish all the forgiving in one go!
Day Fifteen, Temperance – If you have started the Challenge on the First of October 2016, it is full moon today (and tomorrow). Take some time to pamper yourself, rest a little bit. You have had a long journey, and the worst cards are still ahead. Ask your cards: How can I make sure I give myself enough time? How can I make sure I give myself enough credit for what I have achieved and become?
We are at the end of the second third of the Majors. Congratulate yourself again, you have come so far from the Fool! Take a deep breath, here comes the most intense stuff! Let’s move forward to the next seven cards.
Day Sixteen, The Devil – One of the “scary cards”, by its looks, but don’t get frightened. This card is only as powerful as you make it. The Devil speaks about our addictions – be it physical or mental – and bondage. Staying in an unhealthy relationship because of the fear of being alone is a very frequent situation that I associate with this card. So now, I ask you to break that relationship – with your ego. Change yourself and don’t suppress your Shadow anymore. People may be surprised at the change but reassure them that it is still you, just even more awesome. Ask your cards: What bondage within myself do I have to end in order to let my Shadow come to light? How can I do this without hurting myself and others?
Day Seventeen, The Tower – This time the exercise is the same, but you have to break free from outside forces that hold your back. I have mentioned an unhealthy relationship, but it could be a shitty job, a negative family member, a devil of a hose owner or anything that holds you back. Ask your cards (and look out for court cards): What bondage to the outside world do I have to end in order to let my Shadow come to light? Whom or what do I have to refuse letting to affect my life?
Day Eighteen, The Star – Gosh, we are done with the most scary cards, well done you! It is time again to take a big deep breath and let out a big sigh. You have done an amazing job, it will get better from here. Today, ask your cards: Now that I am free from The Devil and The Tower’s prison, show me direction to my dreams! What is my highest potential? How can I achieve it?
Day Nineteen, The Moon – The Moon for me is the significator of Shadow Work. Today ask your cards: What does my Shadow Self feel like after all this work? What is its message for me?
Day Twenty, The Sun – The Sun is the happiest card in the whole deck. Think a little about yourself. How do you feel after releasing your Shadow Self from oppression? How does it relate to the Sun whose light creates shadows? Sometimes people appear so perfect that we feel inferior, adding to our shadows… Ask your cards: How can I ensure that I do not create negative shadow qualities in others? How can I look at everyone (including myself) with acceptance?
Day Twenty One, Judgement – Always remember to act according to your best judgement. Hopefully you still remember and use your popping cards from the day with Strength! Continue to use them as prompts for those times when you forget yourself. Remember that shadow work is not something that can be done and finished in a month.It will go on in your entire life, so don’t judge yourself too harshly if you lose control. Ask your cards what do they think about your journey this month. How could you make it even more effective?
Day Twenty Two, The World – The last card of the Major Arcana, congratulations! After all the drama of the Fool’s journey we are nearing the end. Today collect all the Majors from your deck, and put them in a circle. Remember what they have taught you and see how far you have come! Today, do a past-present-future spread. You will only have the minors this time to ensure your answer will be down to earth. Ask your cards: What was I like before starting to work with my Shadow Self? What am I like now that I am working on myself? What will I be like if I continue on the path of working with my Shadow?
Day Twenty Three, The Fool – Remember your five cards from day one? Take them out of the deck and put them on the table. Ask your cards: how did these qualities evolve during my work? Pull one card for each on the table.
Day Twenty Four, Ace of Wands – Ego. The Aces will represent different aspects of the human psyche. Ego is the conscious part that we identify ourselves with. Today do an ID-Ego-Superego spread. You can find it here: http://greyladyshearth.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/id-e-go-and-superego-tarot-spread.html, sorry but I don’t know where it actually originates.
Day Twenty Five, Ace of Pentacles – Persona. This is how you show yourself towards others. Ask your cards: how do I want others to see me? What do they really see?
Day Twenty Six, Ace of Swords – Personal and Collective Unconscious. Ask your cards: What are the things that I unconsciously keep doing but are obstructing or damaging me? What am I attracting into my life that I don’t need? What am I carrying from the collective unconscious that is obstructing me? – when you think collective unconscious, think about stereotypes of your countrymen, or of humanity in general. Humans are said to be greedy, and different countries have different reputation. What do you carry from these qualities?
Day Twenty Seven, Ace of Cups – Animus and Anima – Animus is the masculine side of a woman, and anima is the feminine side of a man. Ask your cards: how can I balance these properties within myself? How can I achieve a working ratio of the two?
Day Twenty Eight, The Self – This is the ultimate you. You could call it your Soul, the eternal part of you that never dies and never changes. Your core around which you wear many layers of temporary lessons and tasks. Ask your cards: What is my Archetype? How can I make the most of it during this life’s work? Remember your life purpose and life lesson cards from the day with the Hermit. How do they compare?
Day Twenty Nine, Spirit world – Do you work with spirit guides? Power animals, gods, angels, faeries? Whether you can actually talk to them or not, these guides are always a great help when working with ourselves. Ask your cards: what is the Archetype I have to draw on to make my Shadow Work easier? Look up an entity that embodies this archetype and imagine what they would do in difficult situations. If you actually are able to speak to them, ask them for their help. Whether it is Archangel Michael, the Goddes Durga or Kukulkan, you may benefit from talking to them. Just be nice and respectful.
Day Thirty, The Black Moon – if you have started the challenge on the first of October 2016, then today is the black moon. This is a phenomenon when there are two new moons in one calendar month – this happens roughly ever three years. Today, devise a spread of your own, based on the black moon and all the work you have done until now! If you are not in a creative mood, just choose any of the Shadow work spreads or new moon spreads on the internet.
Day Thirty One, TRICK OR TREAT! – Your last day of the Challenge, I am so extremely proud of you! Well Done! Today is Halloween, so use your favourite Samhain, Halloween, or spirit spread! Have fun and be really proud of yourself! I know I am!