This post is for you if you…
- want to dig deeper into your shadow self
- are looking for a way to make hard self-development work a bit more fun
- like practical everyday examples as to how to use tarot with shadow work
The Purpose of this Post
There are two things I am very passionate about in my life: self-improvement and tarot cards. Finding new ways to marry the two together is something I thoroughly enjoy as it puts a new spin on old ideas, creating flow and inspiration which is the perfect opportunity for growth.
Lately, I have been working with my shadow self and it is an ongoing process, one I most likely will never finish. It’s rough going at times but working with my tarot cards is what gives me the added push to keep striving for clarity. My relationship with my intuition has grown so much since introducing tarot into my life and I want to pass along everything I have learned and created that has helped me in the hopes it will help you, too.
The purpose of my post is to give you a tool that will help you connect with your own intuition as you work through making friends with your shadow. I break down exactly how to incorporate tarot into your shadow work and how to create your own unique practice.
What is Shadow Work and Why it’s Important
Carl Jung defines the shadow as the part of ourselves that we deny, hide and refuse to acknowledge. The side most often projected onto other people to take the blame off of ourselves, it is essential we not only acknowledge our shadow but also accept it if we want to move forward on our soul path.
“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.”
Shadow work is the process of uncovering your shadow, understanding how it became your shadow in the first place and ultimately accepting it as an essential part of yourself. It is extremely important work because if you don’t acknowledge it, it shows up in your life over and over again creating chaos. Think of all the repetitive situations you have found yourself in over your lifetime. Relationships, missed opportunities, irritations and desires you don’t believe you can achieve. That is where your shadow lives. That is where your greatest chance at growth resides.
How to Create a Shadow Work Routine
Because shadow work is not a walk in the park, I find creating a routine and sticking with it is the easiest way to move through it. By providing yourself with a consistent process, you are exponentially expanding the likelihood of success. Routines help shape your mindset and give you a solid foundation from which to build upon.
To help you get started, take a minute to answer the following questions:
- What does Shadow Work mean to me?
- What exactly do I wish to achieve? (be specific)
- What scares me the most about Shadow Work? Why?
- How do I want to feel every day as I work through this?
- What is an affirmation I can use when things get difficult?
- What achievable and realistic goal can I set for myself today?
- What do I need to do today to get me closer to my destination? (be specific)
- What milestone will I celebrate? How?
If you would like to go ever deeper, I have created a checklist to help you create a personalized routine. You can download it here ⬇
My love affair with tarot has been relatively short but definitively life changing. When I discovered this powerful tool, I was no beginner to the self-help scene. With that in mind, I can say with great conviction that incorporating tarot into my life was the catalyst for my massive growth. Finally I found a way to receive the messages I had been begging for, guidance and a checklist for exactly what was wrong and how I could fix it.
How Tarot can Help You with Shadow Work
- Opportunity for explosive self-development and growth.
- Incorporate a daily mindfulness practice.
- Discover your authentic self, both the light and the dark parts.
- Uncover blocks and obstacles holding you back and get an actionable plan to move around them.
- Validation and confirmation that you are heading in the right direction.
- Guidance as you navigate making friends with your shadow and help making decisions.
- Experience the inner peace that comes with knowing you are creating your dream life.
- Connect with and develop your intuition, the seat of your soul.
- Enhance your creativity and flow.
- Opens you up to new ideas that you had not thought of or previously discounted as too out there.
Related Reading: 10 Powerful Reasons You Need Tarot In Your Life (includes a beginner plan if you are new to tarot)
Tarot + Shadow Work = Road to Authenticity
Now that you know what shadow work is and how tarot can help, let’s put them together and take action.
What You Will Need
- Tarot deck: this doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but I would suggest finding one that speaks to you. If you are a total beginner, I suggest the Rider-Waite deck as it contains imagery that is easier to understand.
- Journal: this can be as simple or fancy as you wish. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s exclusive use is for your shadow work. I label mine my Book of Shadows and know that whenever I need to work something out during my day, I can do it here.
- Your favorite pen: I am extremely picky about what I write with. To me, there is nothing worse than having to journal with a pen that writes horribly. Treat yourself to a nice pen and remove any excuse as to why you don’t want to write.
- Uninterrupted time: Shadow work takes time. It is an ongoing process and one you probably will be doing for the rest of your life. Don’t try to jam it all into one sitting and take it slowly. When you do decide to do the work, give yourself the courtesy of doing so undistracted.
- A sacred place: Find somewhere you feel comfortable. Anywhere will work and it doesn’t have to be the same place every time. Just find a place that feels right to you in that moment.
- Extras: I like to make a cup of tea before doing any meditation, thinking or exploring the depths of myself. Find something that will signal your body that it’s time to do some deep exploration. This could be tea, lighting a candle, turning on a specific song, etc. Whatever you choose, do the same thing every time you dive into working with your shadow self. It’s kind of like a security blanket.
Before Starting Your Shadow Work
It’s important that you are in the right frame of mind before you start your work. Mindset plays a large role in how successful you are, so adopting the one that will move you forward towards your goal is essential. The key is to be receptive to whatever you uncover without resistance. If you find yourself feeling any of the following, you are not in the best possible mode to move forward and it is probably better to set your work aside and come back to it when you are.
Signs You are Not Receptive
- Your tarot card pulls make no sense
- You are easily triggered or irritated
- You find yourself looking for excuses as to why something doesn’t apply to you
- You blame others for what you uncover
- You feel restless, can’t sit still or are easily distracted
During Your Shadow Work
Pull out the routine you created for yourself. Review why you are doing this, what your ultimate goal is and have your affirmation ready if things get tough. Go into this with an open mind and a desire to remain curious. The most important thing is to release any rigidity and simply flow. Make up your own rules, change things up when you feel called and remember to look for the good that is coming out of this hard work. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself the gift of compassion and gratitude.
After Your Shadow Work
Now it’s time to integrate what you learned into your daily life so you can continue to move forward. Journaling is a great way to do this. Write down what you feel and get specific on ways you can make necessary improvements. I want to emphasize to not rush through this and gloss over the action needed for growth. You must do more than simply uncover your shadow, you need to learn how to accept it and take the steps to deliberately and intentionally shift how you do things.
Ideas to Take Action On
There are no rules in this work. I do not believe in a one size fits all approach but I do feel having a springboard of ideas to start with as you tweak your journey is helpful. What follows are ideas I have used in my own shadow work that I encourage you to adopt if it feels right or switch up to better fit. Remember this is an ongoing process, so what works today may not work tomorrow. Be flexible and find a way to make this fun!
You can google tarot spreads for shadow work and find hundreds of examples. This is helpful in guiding you as to what questions to ask but I believe that creating your own spread is more beneficial in the long run. Creating a tarot spread does not have to be hard. I have never been formal when reading cards for myself and feel that impromptu questions often give you the most insight.
Some examples of questions to ask:
- What am I feeling?
- What is behind my irritation?
- Why am I triggered?
- What should I know about this situation?
- How can I move forward?
- What am I afraid of?
- Where is my blind spot?
- What lesson am I supposed to learn?
Feel free to ask a clarifying question if you need additional insight but don’t fall into the trap of picking another card to get an answer you like better. I will give you an example of asking for clarification from my own tarot pull this morning:
What do I need to know about today?
Card: 7 of Swords reversed
→ The card told me that I was lying to myself in some way or feeling like an imposter. After pondering it for a while, I could not pinpoint where in my life this was happening or how I was doing it. So, I asked a clarifying question.
How am I lying to myself?
Card: 6 of Cups
→ So now I know I am living in the past and holding onto my memories wishing they were reality. Turns out, this is true as I am currently struggling with a relationship where I focus on everything that is wrong and constantly yearn for what used to be. Okay, time for one more question.
How can I move forward out of the past and create a new type of relationship with this person with new memories?
Card: The Devil reversed
→ As soon as I saw this card, I immediately knew the answer and how to move forward. I am addicted to my memories and the stories I tell myself as to why our relationship is not working. It is necessary to make peace with the past and cut the ties to the feelings they give me so I can make space for new ones. Holding onto old stories is not doing me any good and instead takes me away from exactly what I most desire: a strong and healthy relationship in the present moment.
Interview Your Tarot Deck
Pull out your cards and go through them one by one. Take the time to really study them and pay attention to the feelings that come up as you look at them. What cards are you drawn to? What card causes you to physically recoil? Pull them out and set them aside. When you go through the entire deck, go back to these and pick two cards: the one that you dislike the most and the one you love the best.
These are your shadow cards, one light and one dark. Study both of them and write in your journal what you feel as you do. They will give you a clue as to what shadow is present in the moment and insight onto a potential blindspot.
Pay Attention to What Triggers You
I carry a small notebook with me and throughout the day, I will jot down things that set me off or what I desire but don’t think I can achieve. This is prime shadow information and gives me a clue as to where I am holding myself back. I usually don’t work through understanding why I feel the way I do in the moment because usually I am too emotional to really be receptive to hearing what I need to hear. Instead, during my designated shadow work time, I will pull out my notebook and go through each one with my tarot cards. Using the same method of asking questions as I discussed above, I will ask my deck questions as to what I need to know and how I can work through it.
Working on yourself is a never ending process but it doesn’t mean it has to be a terrible one. Find a way to approach it that speaks to you and gives you some form of joy. For me, the answers and guidance that tarot gives me is fascinating and I eagerly look forward to bonding with my deck as I do the hard work. Most importantly, I am learning that letting go of control and allowing myself to flow with what comes is by far the most efficient and most enjoyable way to creating the life I truly desire for myself.
I want to know! How do you make self-growth fun?
Proud introvert, intuitive entrepreneur, and spiritual activist. On a mission to embolden my fellow introverts to quietly change the world.