This blog goes with Ep. 44 of Healing Thru Tarot titled Embracing our Shadow + Review of the Shadowland Tarot & Lenormand Decks. In this blog, I’ll be revisiting the topic of shadow work and discussing how to embrace our shadow, and I’ll be reviewing 2 more shadow work decks that I’ve wanted to review for a while now – the Shadowland Tarot and Lenormand decks by Monica Bodirsky. Also, I’ll share a 9 card spread for embracing our shadow.
Exactly a year ago, we embarked on our shadow work journey with the 3-episode podcast mini-series on shadow work. If you’re new to the podcast and interested in shadow work, you’ll want to check out those episodes which were Healing Thru Tarot Ep. 33-35. In the first episode (Ep. 33), I cover how to start the shadow work process and share spreads on determining if you should tackle shadow work at this time & a spread called Diving into the Shadow to help kick off your journey. In the following 2 episodes (Ep. 34 and 35), I discuss identifying triggers, how to neutralize triggers, setting boundaries, and how to integrate shadow aspects.
Through that series, I shared several custom shadow work spreads & exercises to help guide you through this self-discovery process. And in each episode, I feature a tarot deck that I find to be an amazing tool for working in the dark while exploring hidden shadow aspects. So, please check those out if you’re wanting to take up shadow work for yourself. And I want to note that I’ve noticed in my statistics for my podcast that about 200 people out of 1000 skipped the 2nd episode in the 3 part miniseries. That’s the episode on triggers, which is highly important to shadow work. I encourage anyone that skipped that episode to go back to it and make sure you do the spreads and exercises. You can’t progress very far in shadow work if you aren’t willing to take a long look at what triggers you and discover why that is. Then, you have to put in the deep psychological work to neutralize those triggers so they don’t set you off anymore.
Let’s quickly review what we’ve learned so far about shadow work since we began our journey a year ago. Carl Jung viewed the shadow self as a collection of aspects of ourselves that we dislike or would rather ignore. He saw healing in the work to be done by looking within to understand how our identities shaped our lives from childhood. He saw the shadow as a persona or the sum of traits we develop in response to feedback by others in our environment, mainly during our childhood and developmental years so this would be our parents, teachers, and authority figures. During those early years, out of a desire to be liked and accepted by others, we rejected and banished parts of ourselves that were embarrassing to our ego mind. These may have been parts that others ridiculed in our childhood or that we feared others would reject in us. Those lost parts of ourselves that we rejected long ago were named shadows.
When we embark on a shadow work journey, we undertake a discovery of these shadowy parts of ourselves in an effort to understand ourselves more fully and eventually integrate those shadows with the aspects we are more familiar with. In the end, the goal is to function as a whole version of ourselves. And that’s what we embarked on together in the winter months of 2022. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves along the way.
If you haven’t started your shadow work journey and are feeling nervous about it, I suggest that you approach this type of work with curiosity and not fear, shame, or judgment. Be curious about what your shadow can teach you and any hidden gifts you’ll discover through this work. Think of all the untapped potential that could be released if you accept your shadow. When we live in denial of our shadow selves, that part of us works hidden in the shadows of our subconscious mind. So, we will often be surprised by our behaviors, or the repeating toxic patterns we find ourselves in or our reactions to certain triggers. It can be confusing if you aren’t aware that all of that stems from your shadow self. But if you are willing to face your shadow self, do the innerwork to heal those shadow aspects, and join forces with your shadow self, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and no longer be surprised by your emotional reactions or unconscious behaviors. Things just start to make a lot more sense and start to flow easier.
So, where am I one year into this shadow work journey?
I’ve noticed that all my work around triggers has paid off tremendously. I don’t get triggered near as much about certain topics that used to really set me off. I’ve worked on the underlying issues there, and I choose to either disengage or just choose not to fight over those issues as hotly as I did before. And a big change is that I don’t let social media bother me as much as I used to.
I came across this quote below the other day by led by source and it spoke to me on this issue of growth through shadow work, “Notice the old lesson resurfacing, but also notice your new response. Breathe into the growth.” That’s what we strive for with this work.
As I progress on my own spiritual journey, I’m letting go of the need to steer the path of those around me. My tarot birth card is the Emperor so I’ve had to do a whole lotta work on my need to control everything. I understand now that everyone has their own path. My control issues really settled down once I realized I needed to let everyone steer their own course without any influence from me. It’s more meaningful that they come to it on their own. And it has taken a lot of stress and anxiety off of me to release that need to control everything around me. I credit all that growth to this shadow work journey. Over the past year, I’ve also worked on relaxing my perfectionism now that I’ve taken a hard look at it through shadow work. This is something that has always driven my life and caused me severe health issues. I’m learning how to not obsess as much as I used to and learning how to handle flaws and problems when they arise. I’ve also worked on no longer seeking out the validation of others or trying to please others and meet their expectations. That was something that caused all sorts of health issues because I would work myself to death to please others even when it was something I didn't want to pursue. I’m putting my needs and my dreams first for once.
I’ve even learned through my shadow work journey how to change how I speak to myself and about myself. Before, I would speak so harshly and demeaning to myself. I would obsess about mistakes and focus on my flaws. I speak in a much more loving way now. My enthusiasm for my creative projects soared after I stopped berating myself. If I hadn’t done my shadow work who knows how long it would have taken me to publish my first novel. In the past, I imagine it would have never felt good enough. But now, I have to work faster because the ideas are coming in so quickly as if they are being channeled. There’s an urgency to get this story out into the world, so I don’t want to obsess like I would in the past. It feels good to constantly be moving forward now that I’m healing. I’m no longer stuck in the past. Where are you holding back currently? What’s stopping you from moving forward? Shadow work can help you find those answers.
If you want to ease yourself into shadow work if you’re hesitant to dive right in, you can start analyzing your dreams. There are messages from our subconscious mind that run throughout our dreams each night. I’ve found that starting a dream journal is an easy way to start to wade into the waters of the subconscious where we can meet our shadow gently. Toward the end of 2022, I released 2 podcast episodes on how to use the tarot to analyze dreams. Make sure to listen to those episodes if this is a practice you want to start.
Ep. 39 is titled: Diving Into Our Dreams with The Tarot + A Review of Rose Inserra’s Books and Deck for Dream Analysis
And Ep. 40: Healing with the Dreamer Archetype + Review of The Dreamkeepers Tarot for Dream Interpretation
That’s a great place to start if you want to ease into this type of work. OR You can start to journal with shadow work prompts. I hosted a shadow work challenge in October 2022 where I created 31 shadow work prompts. I’ve included that graphic below. I suggest choosing one of those prompts daily or weekly. Then you can pull a tarot or oracle card for that prompt and journal about your thoughts on that card. Pulling cards for each of these prompts will give you insight into the emotions lurking beneath the surface and journaling about the emotions these prompts bring up for you is a cathartic process. It will allow you to meet aspects of your shadow gently and in a way that can be empowering because journaling can help you work through solutions as you allow your subconscious mind to flow in an uninterrupted state known as stream of consciousness.
If you want to journal by hand, you can even try automatic writing where you write with your non-dominant hand and close your eyes so you don’t worry about what you’ve written. Don’t judge what you are writing. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation. And don’t erase or correct what you’ve written either. Just write down what flows through you without thinking about it. I type with my eyes closed instead of writing by hand, but just go with what feels natural to you.
In Ep. 44 I lead us through an exercise to face our shadow in a gentle way. Make sure to check that episode out to meet your shadow, observe them, and notice any details you can about them that will help you lessen your fears around shadow work. I just heard someone tell a story about Louise Hay the other day. She said that when you clean your house, you have to see the dust, the dirt, and the cobwebs in order to clean them up and clear it all out. So, we need to see our shadow aspects and acknowledge them before shifting and transforming our shadow selves.
The Universe Has Your Back Deck (photo above)
I find that the more you get to know your shadow, the less scary it becomes. Remember, we’re talking about aspects of you that have been a part of you since the day you were born. You aren’t separate from your shadow, you’re just unaware of these aspects. But with shadow work, you can change that. You’re in the driver’s seat now. And soon you will feel less out of control and less surprised by your behaviors. You’ll start to see how this shadow self has been influencing behaviors that may have confused you before. Soon, it’s all going to make sense.
I’ve heard Kellie Ann Maddox say that she names her different shadow aspects to personify them. She gives them a name that represents how those shadow aspects show up in her life and how they may act up or cause her trouble because they all have such distinct personality characteristics. She even talks about inviting these aspects back home and she imagines giving them a hug.
When people talk about being frightened to face their shadow self, I always think of the boggarts from Harry Potter. "A Boggart is a shape-shifting creature that will assume the form of whatever most frightens the person who encounters it." For a lot of the Hogwarts students, it would be Voldemort. But if you remember from the books, Ron is scared of Spiders, so it takes on that form for him. But Professor Lupin teaches them that to repel a boggart, you imagine something comical, so it forces the boggart to change into something less frightening. That’s because laughter would cause the boggart to disappear. So, Ron imagines the spider roller skating on all 8 legs and the spider loses its balance and can’t chase him. And Neville is afraid of Snape and imagines him in his grandmother’s clothes, which causes the entire class to erupt in laughter.
I imagine something similar when practicing shadow work. I try to observe my shadow, not in a comical way, but in a way that shifts me out of my fear. I look at my shadow’s vulnerability so that I can have compassion. I notice the wounds that my shadow is healing from, the isolation my shadow feels from being rejected by me for decades, and I try to see what my shadow has to offer that’s redeeming. See, we’re not all good or all bad. So, my shadow aspects are not all negative. Sure, there are aspects that may be hard for me to embrace, but that doesn’t mean they have nothing to teach me. Quite the opposite. I learn more from my shadow than my light aspects as many people do.
"I Am Whole" card from The Wild Woman Oracle (photo above)
To ignore your shadow, would mean you miss out on the greatest learning opportunities in your lifetime. The whole point is to shift out of the shame you feel for these shadow aspects and just shift into a mode of observing first without judgment. Then you’ll work toward embracing the shadow and integrating all the shadow aspects into your whole being. You’ll be happier in the long run too. You no longer have to deny or hide those parts of yourself. Love all of yourself. Going forward, see if you can look at your shadow in a different light.
Red feather sent over the Shadowland Tarot and Lenormand decks for me to work with and review. I’ve had these decks on my wishlist for awhile. And I’m so glad I have these to use in my shadow work. And I love that I now have a matching set of tarot and Lenormand so I can read with both systems simultaneously. The creator, Monica Bodirsky, has created a world of creatures that help us instantly tap into our shadow without making it feel like a scary process.
Her characters are similar in appearance to the creatures in the book, Where the Wild Things Are. Some of them are slightly creepy, but mostly they seem adorably weird. The artwork is a combination of pen and ink and watercolor, and she describes the style as “the awkward love child of Edward Gorey and Wednesday Addams.” How relevant is that now with Netflix’s new show Wednesday that is phenomenal!
The guidebook is stellar! It’s one of the best shadow work guidebooks I’ve come across. In the guidebook, she describes the 78 card images as “pieces of our individual and collective psyche. Combined with the tarot journey of archetypes, in Shadowland we can recognize and acknowledge all of those neglected bits of ourselves and integrate them to become whole, perfectly imperfect human beings. Get your lanterns lit, there are a lot of shadows to illuminate.”
One thing that she does that’s unique is that she doesn’t include reversals because she says that each card possesses both inherent positive and shadow aspects. She stresses that “she doesn’t see shadows as necessarily negative but as circumstances and personality traits that have gone unnoticed.” That fits with how I perceive the shadow as well.
For each card, she provides us with keywords, shadow messages, and reflections where she provides questions that prompt you to see the card from several perspectives. These make great journal prompts too if you want to explore the card further after your daily card pulls. And she offers a short description of the artwork. For the shadow keywords she offers a list of words that may or may not seem opposite to the keywords and may contain words that have positive, neutral, or negative connotations.
I pulled a card for us to explore and funnily enough the Emperor came up. I was just talking earlier about the Emperor being my tarot birth card. Here, we are asked to examine what authority means to us, our relationship with our father or father figures, our view of rules and laws, boundaries that need to be drawn, and how we feel about stepping into our own roles of leadership in our community. The shadow keywords to contemplate and explore are authoritarian, oppressive, restrictive, immovable, and controlling. These are some themes that we can explore and journal about as we start to explore our shadow with this particular card.
Monica invites us into her shadowland filled with witches, spiders, bats, ghosts, poppets, and other quirky, whimsical creatures that represent pieces of our own psyche that we may not have recognized up until this point. I think this deck is the perfect tool to use to start to meet these mysterious aspects of ourselves so we can discover our own quirkiness and begin to feel at home with these aspects that we’ve kept locked in the dark for too long. The deck also has humor that helps us work with these images without fear. Instead, they will serve as our guides through the dark passageways of our psyche back to our authentic selves if we are brave enough to take that inner journey and meet our whole self. And if you feel a magical energy when you work with the cards it just might be due to the moon charged water she used with her watercolors.
My favorite card in the shadowland tarot is the 5 of Pentacles. This card is brilliant. She has bigfoot watching a family of campers from afar, and you get the sense that bigfoot is left out and feeling lonely while the campers are enjoying their campfire and roasting smores. This card makes me chuckle every time I see it. But it’s such a brilliant take on the 5 of Pentacles where we usually see two injured people on the sidewalk outside of a church. They need assistance, but they often feel like they’ve been forsaken, but help is near if they ask for it.
The images are crafted to provoke our unconscious fears and collective archetypes that provide wisdom and healing, and the guidebook provides us questions for each card to facilitate exploration of our shadow selves.
One thing I did differently this year since I had this deck is that I pulled a shadow work card from the shadow land tarot when I pulled my year ahead spread. This way I can focus on that shadow aspect all year round. I plan to do this every year going forward. There are all kinds of ways you can incorporate shadow work into your daily life. Just get creative with it.
In her tarot guidebook, she offers some great spreads such as a 4 seasons spread to identify challenges and advice for each of the seasons or for the seasons in your life, a 5-card element spread to find harmony and balance, an integration spread to help integrate your life path and career, shadows of the past spread to explore a past-life, a 9-card blockbuster spread to facilitate creative breakthroughs and inspiration, a moon cycle spread to identify patterns and cycles in life, and a 13-card moon spread to gain advice from your ancestors for the upcoming year.
This deck is powerful, evocative, and healing as it holds our hand while we walk through the magical forests full of creatures waiting to reveal parts of ourselves that are ready to awaken and aid us on our healing journey.
Now, turning to Monica’s Shadowland Lenormand, we see the same stylistic images throughout the 36 lenormand cards with a few changes. Erika Robinson summed up this deck perfectly in her Foreward of the guidebook, “It is a deck that beckons one inside oneself, to explore even the scary parts in safety.”
This Lenormand deck is quite unique because she explains that no single card in her deck is seen as strictly positive, negative, or neutral like traditional Lenormand decks. Her artwork allows for more flexibility and freedom when reading. For each card, she offers a shadow which is an aspect of the card you may not normally see. Like her tarot deck, she offers keywords, shadow keywords, a message, and reflection questions. This is more detailed than the few lenormand decks I’ve worked with. There was one change I noticed in the cards. For the whip card, she uses a broom held by a witch, and she uses it to clear away debris and negative energies.
So, I wanted to pull a card for us to look at so I could walk you through an example. I pulled Crossroads. Here, a devil holds a pitchfork at the center of 2 intersecting roads. The keywords show us he is facing a choice and change of direction. The shadow shows indecision, fear of change, immobility, and lack of accountability. The message for this card urges us to make a choice by looking to surrounding cards for clues. We are cautioned not to remain stuck in indecision too long due to stress and a deterioration of quality of life. The reflection questions ask us how we react when faced with decisions, what choices have been the easiest to make and which have been the most difficult, and when we travel, do we use visual cues for direction, a GPS, or both.
She gives a few different methods for working with the Lenormand cards that I find unique. For the usual 36 card grand tableau where you shuffle and lay out all 36 cards, she suggests finding the signifier card that represents you in the spread and any cards beneath that card are considered the subconscious or shadows, and the cards above the signifier are the higher self and is considered your advice. I love this. And for working with the tarot and lenormand she suggests asking a question and pulling one card from your lenormand deck and one from your tarot deck and then study the cards to see which symbols are repeated and examine how the images work together or contradict one another. That is so creative.
I really enjoy working with this deck because I feel like I get more out of my lenormand pulls. I picked up tarot really easily but I’ve always struggled with lenormand. It just doesn’t click as effortlessly as tarot does and sometimes I get bored with it, but this guidebook has helped me breathe new life into these readings because using it for shadow work focuses on the healing aspect of divination that I love so much. I highly recommend getting both decks to use together for this reason. Thank you to Red Feather for sending over both of these decks for me to review. They have helped me kick my shadow work up to the next level!
Here's the 9 card custom spread I created to help us embrace our shadow aspects. If you throw this spread for yourself, I'd love to see the photo of your spreads. Please tag me on Instagram @healingthrutarot and please use #HTTembracingmyshadowspread - I post all of my custom spreads on my Healing Thru Tarot Pinterest account on the board titled Healing Thru Tarot Custom Spreads
If you want more shadow work spreads, consider purchasing my 4th spread eBook in my Healing Thru Tarot line of spread eBooks called Healing Thru Tarot’s Shadow Work Spreads and Workbook.
That eBook contains 20 custom shadow work spreads centered around shadow work and integration of shadow aspects. This workbook guides you through diving into your shadow, identifying and neutralizing triggers, managing self-criticism, and facing deep seated fears. This workbook guides you through integrating your shadow aspects into a whole, healthy version of yourself where you can tap into your greatest potential and live a more authentic life.
These shadow work spreads include the hidden shadow aspects spread, breaking through resistance spread, shadow-related fears, self-deception, and the unconscious motivations spread and many, many more. And it’s only $15 which is a steal for 20 spreads. It’s my most in depth spread eBook yet. You can find this shadow work spread eBook on my website, healingthrutarot.com - Also, check out the other 3 spread eBooks I have on healing and mental health spreads and A Spread For All Seasons.
Here are the 31 shadow work prompts I included in my October 2022 Tarot Shadow Work challenge. Those prompts are great for daily pulls to help you dig deeper into your shadow work journey. And there are 3 full length podcast episodes dedicated to walking you through this shadow work process – those are Healing Thru Tarot Ep. 33-35. Links for those below.
Ep. 33 Shadow Work Pt. 1: Diving Into The Shadow + Review of The Deviant Moon Tarot for Shadow Work
Ep. 34 Shadow work Pt. 2: Triggers and Wound Work + Review of Disney Villains Tarot for Shadow Work
Ep. 35 Shadow Work Pt. 3: Integration of Shadow Aspects + Review of The Macabre Tarot
Ep. 39 is title: Diving Into Our Dreams with The Tarot + A Review of Rose Inserra’s Books and Deck for Dream Analysis
Ep. 40: Healing with the Dreamer Archetype + Review of The Dreamkeepers Tarot for Dream Interpretation
Books and Decks shown in this blog or recommended: The Shadowland Tarot, The Shadowland Lenormand, The Universe Has Your Back Deck, Wild Woman Oracle
Link to Podcast Episode 44 on Spotify for Podcasters public site click here
And if you are looking for a good witchy book, pick up my new book series, The Divining Sisters. Book 1 in the series, The Call of the Cards (shown above) and Book 2 We Divine Three (shown below) are both available as ebooks $4.99 and paperbacks $14.99. The paperbacks are on Amazon and the ebooks are also on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Smashwords, Google Play, Scribd & more.
Find out more details on my novels on my author website author.heatherhardison.com
Healing Thru Tarot's Spread Ebook Line
A Spread for All Seasons - 17 custom spreads
Healing and Mental Health Spreads Vol. 1 - 15 custom spreads
Healing and Mental Health Spreads Vol. 2- 15 9-card spreads
Shadow Work Spreads and Workbook - 20 spreads
Click here to purchase any of these spread ebooks
I don’t know about you, but I do most of my shadow work exercises at night. Magic Mind is my new coffee replacement that keeps my mind clear and alert, so I don’t nod off when I’m up late into the night journaling or pulling cards for my shadow work spreads. This 2-ounce elixir is easier on my stomach than coffee and doesn’t leave me with jitters. I sip on it in the evening hours, so I have about 6-7 hours of productive work in evening and night hours thanks to the natural ingredients like the nootropics and adaptogens that not only help me stay alert but also relaxed as I work through the nighttime hours. Of course, you can drink it any time of day. If you’d like to try this elixir for yourself, go to https://www.magicmind.co/htt You can use my Code at checkout: HTT (all caps) to get 40% off your first subscription or 20% off your first one-time purchase. My 40% off code only lasts 10 days, so hurry to catch that deal. They also have a money back guarantee. If you’re looking for better focus or more productivity, give this little elixir a try.
*If you would like to support this podcast monthly, please consider signing up for a small pledge to help me be able to continue to produce these quality episodes every two weeks. Use the link below to sign up to support through anchor.
Are you enjoying the Healing Thru Tarot podcast and companion blog? If so, now you can gift me a coffee or two to kept me fueled as I pull all-nighters writing the scripts and recording all the episodes. Help me keep this content flowing by sparking my inspiration! Just click here to gift me a caffeine fix.