So, what is the shadow and do I have one? I hate to be the one to tell you, but everyone has one. And I’m not speaking of the shadow that used to stretch far and wide and scare the life out of me when I used to walk to Johnson’s candy store as a kid. That shadow was pretty scary, but our shadow selves can be a whole lot scarier because it is the parts of ourselves that we don’t want to face.
There is little, more disturbing, than actually setting aside time to work with the parts of ourselves we don’t like, don’t understand, and that sometimes leaves us speechless when we see what it is capable of. But in my opinion, shadow work needs to be done by anyone who wants to be fully self-realized. Meaning, you have explored all parts of your human behaviors so that you get to know your pain, and you begin to learn why a memory or an everyday occurrence makes you feel a certain way. A major part of shadow work will also answer the question as to why we hurt others.
Using the Tarot and oracle decks is a great way to work in that arena without it being so frightening. Some people who hear about doing shadow work think that it’s time to chew themselves up, belittle themselves, or get angry at themselves.
This is nothing like shadow work should be. So if you are still basking in the energy of punishing yourself for being a bad little girl, then step away, and save this type of spirit work for another time. Shadow work is about learning to love each and every part of yourself with all the labels we place on ourselves; the good, bad, selfish, ugly, unforgiving, stupid, weak, and on and on we can go, until we have bitten ourselves down to a nice little particle of undeserving dust.
You must learn to love yourself before you can be gentle with yourself while seeing your own truth more clearly, instead of beating up yourself. The sacred text of the Tarot and oracle cards. with which you resonate deeply, can help you to explore these parts of yourself that cannot seem to forgive YOU.
You can design your own shadow work process in the way that works best for you. You can begin by pulling a daily card and journaling, or writing down your undesired traits, pulling a card and seeing how it relates to that particular trait. Kelly-Ann Maddox and Erick Silvermoon have amazing instructional videos on shadow work. Please check them out on YouTube.
Here are some decks that I believe are helpful when in the process of shadow work. You can also do some searching on sites like aeclectic.net, to look for decks that appeal to you. Here is my list to get you started:
Deviant Moon by Patrick Valenza
A deck that includes a dark whimsy with a touch of humor
The Victoria Frances Gothic Oracle
This is a beautiful deck made for those who love to read intuitively only; meaning that there are no key words to guide you, just your own inner guides.
Soul Journey Lesson Cards by James van Praague
This deck is not dark, it is simply honest. I kept pulling the same cards over and over again; forgiveness and trust! Two things I must work on, not to free anyone else, but to continue to free myself.
Finding the deck that is right for your shadow work can be a fun and interesting project. Make sure you feel comfortable with its images and keywords, if there are any. What is most important as you embark on this journey, is that you do it to understand and love yourself fully. This is not a process in which you begin to blame yourself. It is a journey to pack up your baggage and get to know what behavior you can transform and which ones you need to say good-bye to.