In this companion blog to Healing Thru Tarot Podcast episode 34, we are continuing our shadow work series. In this 2nd installment of this mini series I will discuss triggers and wound healing, which are major aspects of shadow work. I will also share a few custom spreads I’ve created for our shadow work journey. And I will review the Disney Villains Tarot deck that I think is a perfect deck for identifying triggers and wounds in shadow work.
Shadow Work Exercises
One of the best ways to ease into shadow work is to start carving out a few minutes a day to meditate. We’re able to access the subconscious mind easier when we are in a relaxed state. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and see where your mind drifts off to. Just notice. You don’t have to work through anything. For the moment just observe. Afterwards you can journal about where your thoughts wandered. Notice if anything came up that felt confronting, upsetting, or troubling. Don’t push those thoughts or images away. Calmly observe without judgement.
Those thoughts are here to teach you. View them as guides to lessons that you are ready to master now. The mind is a powerful tool. We have many layers of defense mechanisms so if your mind allows these thoughts or memories to waft into your awareness, it’s safe to say that you are ready to at least observe the thoughts. If it feels too confronting, just jot a note down about how it feels and allow yourself to return to it later when it feels safer. There’s no need to rush through this process. Take cues from your body. We all will experience resistance to this process so that’s normal. I usually push through the resistance when it arises, but if your body and gut say no then don’t push too far too soon. That could be a nudge to seek out help from a mental health professional for this work. #I’ve noticed that a lot of my breakthroughs with shadow work have come when I am falling asleep or waking up and lying in bed for the first few minutes of the day and also in the shower. I believe that’s due to everything being turned off. There’s nothing competing for my attention at those times.
Another way to start shadow work is a trigger log. Log all triggers, confrontations, arguments, and moments of anger that occur daily. These are clues to hot button topics that strike close to our shadow elements. Write down anything in the news that angered you or any particular people that set you off. Describe which traits about these people set you off the most. What types of conversations upset you and why? How do they make you feel? Remember triggers are teachers. What can you learn from your particular triggers?
Look at your relationship dynamics. What role do you usually play in relationships? You can look at romantic relationships as well as friendships or family interactions. Are you the caregiver, the fixer, the sick child, the black sheep, the gifted child, the passive friend, the aggressor, or the savior. If you have trouble with this exercise, look through an archetype deck or a list of archetypes online for ideas. I also like the archetype quiz that you can find on projectarchetypes.com - This could include the victim, the hero, the mother, the healer, the advocate, the trickster, the warrior, the rebel, etc.
You may find you take on similar roles in all relationships or you may notice that you shift roles based on the type of relationship. All of these clues help us piece together past experiences that have shaped our current reality. If you are wanting to break unhealthy or dysfunctional cycles or habits, these clues help point us to the work we need to complete to change how we interact in the world. We have to be aware of what’s driving our behaviors first before we can change them.
And be compassionate with yourselves. Self-compassion is one of the hardest things for us humans to give ourselves. We can offer it to others so easily. But it’s a whole different matter entirely when we need to comfort ourselves. So, please keep that in mind as you undertake this shadow work journey. Be kind to yourself and show yourself compassion and self-care. And don’t be afraid to hold yourself accountable for the healing that needs to happen from this work. That was the key to my breakthrough.
“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” ~ Carl Jung
When starting shadow work, shame is going to have to be addressed early on in the process. Let’s talk about that now. Every single person on the planet has felt shame in their life whether it was warranted or not. It’s normal to feel this way, but I want us to understand that when healing this is something that we’ve got to address. Otherwise, people will feel that shame rise up, and they will likely halt the entire healing exercise. Prepare to encounter shame or fear. Knowing it’s coming helps you to prepare for that discomfort.
You will also likely encounter anger. This is a very common and acceptable emotion for many people. We find it much easier to feel and express anger than shame or vulnerability. Anger is a secondary emotion, so there’s usually a deeper primary emotion that we need to identify. Primary emotions include shame, fear, hurt, wounds like deep insecurities or fear of rejection, abandonment, and humiliation. When I taught anger management on my internship, I always passed out an anger quiz to identify the type of anger a client was experiencing. There are at least 10 common anger types. Shame based anger was one of the most common. If you encounter anger during your shadow work, keep digging because there’s likely something deeper under it.
Let’s explore triggers. This is a crucial step in shadow work.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~ Carl Jung
When we know why we are being triggered, we can make different choices. Being aware is key. Know why you react the way you do so you can learn to respond not react in the heat of the moment.
Let’s look at the trigger cycle
Someone says something that triggers us, we react defensively – often with a defense mechanism we learned as a child to protect ourselves – this reaction causes consequences for us – we stay angry and defensive but not consciously aware of why we react this way. The cycle repeats over and over again if we never explore why we are triggered in the first place. Take a good long look at the emotions you feel when triggered and start to observe and even log your reactions when faced with a trigger. Those are huge clues that something needs to be explored.
Wounds and triggers
Triggers are closely tied to our wounds. Triggers stir up our wounds, so we need to identify our earliest wounds and explore and heal them in order to deactivate the trigger. This way we change how we respond to the trigger in the future. We defuse it. To do this we must re-examine these old wounds as well as old stories and beliefs we hold onto about ourselves.
Ask yourself these questions and journal on these topics:
I created a 9 card spread to help us with neutralizing triggers. The first prompt is my biggest family trigger – under this card we will pull another card to tell us what this trigger reflects about ourselves and then a card to reveal the inner work needed to neutralize this trigger. We will do this same process for my biggest relationship trigger and my biggest situational trigger. This will help identify how we can de-activate each of these triggers and not be so reactive in the future.
“Whatever is rejected from the self, appears in the world as an event.” ~ Carl Jung
We repress our shadow self because we don't want to face perceived shortcomings, negative traits, or traumatic and difficult memories from our past. Part of the shadow work process is to return to these moments in childhood when our shadow self was created. During that crucial part of our development, we learned of the expectations the world and our parents or caregivers had for us. This conditioning altered how we viewed ourselves and how we functioned throughout the rest of our lives. As children we want to gain approval of our caregivers, so we shape our behavior to their expectations, thinking this will bring us happiness and acceptance.
Unfortunately, for many of us, this means cutting ourselves off from passions, dreams, and aspects of ourselves. Thus, begins the shadow self that is repressed so that we don’t have to face the aspects of ourselves that wouldn’t fit into society’s mold of an ideal citizen. Looking at our wounds helps to connect the pieces of our missing selves that we’ve hidden away for long periods of time. For some of us it could be decades before we reconnect with these repressed parts of ourselves. Shadow work entails moving these hidden shadow aspects into conscious awareness so we can live a more authentic life and improve our overall mental health. When we aren’t conscious of our wounds, we act out of our shadow. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “wounded people wound others.” This is so true. We have to look at our wounds and heal them to stop lashing out at others. This will help end this cycle.
Here are some common clues to the type of shadow work needed:
Family drama and frequent family arguments. If you constantly get stressed out over family events or holidays due to frequent confrontations and often feel triggered in their presence, then you would benefit from inner work revolving around deep family wounds. You may need to work on balancing your root chakra if you uncover any old family wounds connected to your shadow.
Deflection - Notice when you deflect, change the subject, or avoid conversations about your behavior because those are clues that you are avoiding an honest look at certain shadow aspects of yourself. There could be great shame around things you’ve done, choices you’ve made, or thoughts you’ve had in the past. If you explode in anger when these things are brought up, that is a sign that shame is present. Shame is uncomfortable, so we deflect onto others to avoid feeling shame, fear, humiliation, or pain of old wounds.
Imposter syndrome - Do you feel like a fraud or unworthy? This is often at the root of our insecurities and low self-esteem, which can fuel self-hatred. Low self-worth is related to the solar plexus chakra, so you need to work on balancing this chakra. Listen to Ep. 22 of Healing Thru Tarot to learn how to balance each chakra if you find that you have some chakra work to do within your shadow work.
Self-Criticism - Where do you harshly judge yourself? Examine your inner critic. This is so crucial. When we delve into the shadow, people often find self-hatred, self-disgust as well as self-sabotage and self-abuse lurking under the surface. All of this is related to our inner critic that barks demands at us, demeans us through constant negative self-talk, and paralyzes us through fear and doubt. If you pull the devil card frequently, you could have a strong, harsh inner critic. When working through self-criticism in shadow work the bottom line is – can you get to the point where you can embrace yourself and learn to love yourself unconditionally – just the way you are – flaws and all. Can you commit to building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down going forward? In order to heal, the self-abuse cycle has to stop. Can you offer yourself some compassion? I can’t say this enough - be gentle and kind with yourself through this process and show yourself compassion.
Follow the blame - Who are you blaming? We often project our fears, doubts, and insecurities onto others. This is what we call projection. Make a list of those you often blame for things that go wrong in your life or for blocks to your success. Are you really upset with yourself over perceived shortcomings or the lack of accountability for your actions? This is a major clue! We also call this Victimhood – do you blame the world or someone in your life for something that happened to you? Have you given up your power? Explore these questions to see what pain you need face to heal.
What do you feel guilt over? Guilt keeps us hiding from ourselves. Is there something you deeply want forgiveness for? Can you forgive yourself and release the blocks this caused you?
Trail of fears – wherever your fears lie, you need to camp out and do a lot of digging. This is where you will discover deep wounds and hurts. Fear often protects us from getting hurt again. If we don’t take chances and stay at home in our comfort zone we don’t risk getting injured again right? Our fears would keep us locked away, secluded from the world for the rest of time if possible. The only way to solve this issue is to dig it up and process it. If you pull the following tarot cards often, you may have a lot of fear stopping your progress: 9 of Swords, the devil, the moon, or the reversed fool card.
We often hide behind masks too. Which masks/disguises are you wearing daily? Who are you pretending to be? Through this work, you have to determine if you can shed the disguise and face your inner self. That’s the biggest fear we all have.
And remember, have compassion for yourself as you tackle each of the areas above. If you are having trouble with finding compassion for yourself, the key is to connect with your inner child. It helps break down the defenses we have built up for decades. When we do this, we see our inner core – our vulnerabilities, our self before the wounds and pain, our soul’s true expression, our heart! When we do this work, we realize that we don’t deserve the self-abuse, and we can finally start to work on building ourselves up - not tearing ourselves down. Drop down into that inner child whenever you encounter intense self-criticism. It’s hard to yell at our younger selves.
Also, I will add a little tip here. When working with healing wounds, the issue of forgiveness will probably pop up. It’s a touchy subject because a lot of the time you just aren’t in a place where you are ready to forgive. It took years for me to work up to forgiveness of those who I blamed for my trauma, but I eventually got there. I pulled the forgiveness card in every one of my oracle decks along with the 3 of swords so often for years that I threatened to remove them from my decks.
The only way I could get to the point of forgiveness was at the soul level. I created tarot spreads to unearth the wounds and the behaviors I had developed in response to those wounds that were keeping the cycle going. Then after I had clues to what was holding my trauma in place, I did the work with my higher self and their higher self to get to forgiveness. So just know that it doesn’t have to take place face to face. I did what felt safest and truest at that moment. Follow your gut on this issue, and don’t stress over it if you don’t feel ready. Only you can make that decision.
I would love to see the photo of your spreads. Please tag me on Instagram @healingthrutarot and please use the hashtag #healingthrutarottriggerspread
Disney Villains Tarot Review
Insight Editions sent over the new Disney Villains Tarot deck for me to review. Just like all Insight Editions decks this one is gorgeous! The colors are so vivid and magical. And the artwork is sublime. I love the aesthetic of all their decks. This is my favorite of their decks so far. It is a close match to The Nightmare Before Christmas Tarot. But this one edges it out because it is so effective with shadow work. I knew the moment I opened it that this deck would be exclusive for shadow work in my tarot practice.
We all know so many of these characters from popular Disney films – some we’ve seen since childhood. We often have associations already formed for these characters. The fact that this deck is made up of all villains makes it perfect for shadow work – particularly when exploring shadow personality characteristics.
Many of these villains mirror our own personality traits that we repress, which is why these villains trigger us when they are on the screen. So, using them to explore these shadow elements helps us get in touch with these traits quickly and easily. Then it is up to us to work through our resistance where these elements are concerned. I always find art to be the most evocative tool for unearthing unconscious material to be worked through either in therapy or inner work like shadow work. The guidebook for this deck says that the individuals in the deck were assigned to their respective tarot cards based on how their storylines and personalities suit the cards’ traditional themes, archetypes, warnings, or lessons.
If you want to work on triggers, this is the deck I would choose. We are triggered by what we have in common with those that push our buttons much of the time. That’s why this deck is great for exploring our shadow, especially with the court cards. The great thing about this deck is that you could read it as the shadow even when the cards are upright. The way I do this is set the intention to work with it for shadow work on the spreads I am about to throw. When pulling cards using this deck, ask yourself, why do these villains trigger me and what that can teach me? I want to highlight some of my favorite cards in this deck.
Ursula is exactly who I would have picked for the Queen of Cups, so this is so on point for me. The shadow version of this card is an individual who is emotionally manipulative, deceptive, and vengeful, which suits Ursula well. Watch what you drink around this Queen of Cups because the potion she serves you could easily steal your voice and leave you without the ability to speak up for yourself. And be careful what you wish for – this queen might trick you into a binding contract that you’ll soon regret, you poor unfortunate soul.
Another perfect shadow example is Gaston for the Knight of Cups – we usually think of this knight as our charming knight in shining armor, swooping in to sweep us off our feet and offer us what we’ve always dreamed of. But in the shadow version, this knight can turn into a stalker. Gaston represents the jilted lover who can’t take no for an answer and comes on too strongly. He can’t take a hint that this relationship just isn’t ever going to happen. We see him shower Belle with unwanted attention and advances throughout the entire film. He becomes possessive, relentless, and clingy. We probably all have examples of people like this in our lives.
Scar as the King of Swords is the perfect representation of the shadow version of this king. He’s cunning, calculating, tyrannical, and willing to throw his family into harm’s way to get what he wants. This power hungry, controlling character is definitely one we all love to hate.
When looking at these villains and the cards they represent, it’s easy to see why they trigger us. And each of these characters are operating from deep wounds. In one version of Ursula’s backstory, we are told that she is seeking revenge against her brother, King Triton. They were supposed to rule the seas together. In another version of her backstory we see that she longs to be desirable because she had 6 sisters, all more attractive than she was. Her father, Poseidon, found her loathsome and her sisters beautiful. So, we see her acting out of both revenge against her brother for taking over the kingdom when he came of age and out of her jealousy of those she sees as more desirable than her like her sisters and Ariel.
Gaston is nursing a deep rejection wound and wants to strong arm his way into a romantic relationship where he is adored for what he longs to be seen as – a strong, handsome suitor. It’s clear that he may have been rejected early on in life based on his extreme aversion to Belle’s constant refusals to courtship. He could have experienced rejection from his mother as a child and turned to vanity and narcissism to mask his deep insecurities that left painful emotional scars. In adulthood, his shadow developed into the vain, sexist, manipulative and obsessive stalker we see manhandling Belle despite her repeated rebuffs. And out of jealousy, he becomes even murderous as he stokes the mob heading to the castle to kill the beast.
And Scar’s jealousy stems from playing second fiddle to his older brother, Mufasa, who was always destined to be king and ruler of the Pride Lands. He has walked in his brother’s shadow for so long. He acts out of his inferiority complex, knowing that he is inferior to Mufasa strength-wise. But he is quite the narcissist and prides himself on his intellect, which he uses to plot against his brother. So, he schemes to win the only way he knows how – through deception and betrayal. If he felt superior to his brother, he would have challenged him directly. He knows he is no match, so he resorts to sabotage as he sends Mufasa into the stampede after Simba as he watches from a safe distance. He then sends Mufasa to his death as he lords above him safe on top of the cliff after digging his sharp nails into his brother’s paws which were gripping onto the cliff for dear life. We also see him acting out of his sense of entitlement and sadistic nature when he next targets Simba to manipulate and gaslight in order to get him out of the way so he can assume the throne. Wicked to the core. Is there even a bigger Disney Villain than Scar?
This Disney Villains’ Tarot deck is a great tool for us to identify which shadow aspects we need to explore within ourselves. See which cards trigger you the most and spend time exploring why. Which wounds do they reflect for you?
Links for all the decks discussed in this episode are below
Chakra Alignment Tarot Challenge - April 2022 on Instagram
I’m hosting a chakra-themed tarot challenge on Instagram this month. I created prompts for each of the 30 days in April and linked them to themes of each chakra. To follow the challenge follow me on Instagram. I’m @healingthrutarot – the graphic with all the daily prompts is posted below. We started on April 1st but there is still time to join in on the challenge.
In the next episode, we will be wrapping up our 3 episode shadow work mini series. We will be taking a look at our progress so far and talking about the integration process of our shadow aspects.
Link to Podcast Episode 34 on Anchor click here
Other relevant Podcast Episodes - Click titles below to listen
New tarot spread ebook - Just launched
I’m excited to share my 3rd tarot/oracle spread eBook titled - Healing Thru Tarot’s Healing and Mental Health Spreads Vol. 2 This ebook includes 15 healing & mental health tarot/oracle spreads to help with all aspects of healing through the various 9 card spreads in this ebook including inner child healing, body healing, conquering anxiety, managing depression, restoring balance, ancestral karma clearing, soul connection, and much more. Complement to Vol. 1 Healing and Mental Health Spread ebook but can also stand alone. This ebook will help you continue your healing thru tarot journey! You can purchase this eBook for $14 by clicking here
Check out the list of all 15 spreads below so you can see what you are getting with this spread eBook. When posting your card pulls, feel free to use #HTThealingspreadbook2 Link to purchase this spread ebook and my other spread ebooks is in my instabio As always, Happy Cardslinging!
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