This blog goes with Healing Thru Tarot Podcast Episode 35. In this blog, we will be wrapping up our shadow work series that has spanned over three podcast episodes. We will be taking a look at our progress so far and talking about the integration process of our shadow aspects. I have 2 custom shadow work spreads and a ritual to share with you in this last shadow work episode.
It is finally time to talk about the integration process. Here, we will move the shadow aspects out of the darkness and into the light so that we can make conscious decisions going forward and not be at the mercy of these hidden wounds and fears.
You may have found the process of unearthing these hidden pieces of yourself uncomfortable, but hopefully by the end of this episode you will feel differently about the process. The payoff of this work is so rewarding and freeing. When we choose not to put in the effort to do the necessary shadow work, we are dooming ourselves to repeat patterns of self-sabotage, toxic relationships, and addictions. We won’t see progress in many areas of our life, and we will feel stagnant and doomed to keep repeating history over and over again, which can lead to depression, hopelessness, and learned helplessness. Something has to change in order for us to finally break free and gain some traction. The key to that momentum is shadow work.
Through this process, we have to challenge our misbeliefs, explore the roots of our fears, face our inner critic, and hold ourselves accountable before we can understand our true motivations and move forward. If you feel like you have been spinning your wheels for years and not making any headway, you have to take a hard look at your shadow because that is what keeps us all from achieving our goals and finding true success in life.
Remember, the goal of shadow work is to integrate all our parts (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Through this process it is important to identify which actions we need to take to heal and move forward as our whole self. It isn’t an easy process because facing our deepest fears, feeling our most painful wounds, and looking at our true inner selves isn’t pleasant. It can be downright terrifying for some who have lived in deep denial for most of their lives. Shadow work opens our eyes to hidden truths about ourselves. A really important truth to face is that this work is not about fixing any broken aspects of ourselves. It’s about remembering the wholeness that has been inside us all along. The job is to remember who we are and focus on the integration of all aspects of ourselves instead of labeling ourselves as broken or damaged and in need of repair.
There will be some healing that needs to occur in shadow work but that will mainly be about healing old wounds – many from childhood when our shadow first developed. We are not broken, though. Our shadow aspects need to be accepted and embraced - not banished or destroyed. Contrary to what some believe, we don’t need to kill our ego – we just need to understand it. This process is all about facing who we are and not running from it. I call it radical self-acceptance – the kind of unconditional love you expect a mother to have for her child. Mostly during this process, you are being asked to simply observe – observe your thoughts, behaviors, motivations, intentions, fears, wounds, and flaws. The past two episodes have taken us through the early stages of shadow work, where we plunge under the surface of awareness into the dark murky waters of our shadow so we can examine the ways we have incorrectly judged ourselves up until now.
We must understand where we have misinterpreted the actions of others and ourselves. We must explore the depths of our pain and the source of those early wounds where shame and fear surrounded these wounds in an effort to protect us from further betrayals and hurts. But we also must look at how that has caused us to act out later in life, causing chaos and consequences for us along the way. And the key to this shadow work is to hold compassion for ourselves through this exploratory process. And throughout this process, we have to use awareness, understanding, and acceptance to bring us to the integration phase.
Now is a good time to look at the progress and growth you have made over the course of these shadow work episodes. Look at the areas where you have seen significant movement on particular issues and triggers. Look back over your list of wounds and assess how much healing you’ve been able to accomplish through this process. Identify the areas in your life where you had major breakthroughs on your inner work. And look at how you feel overall. Is your mood better? Has your health and mental health started to improve as you face some of these shadow aspects and start to work to integrate them into a healthier, whole version of self. Have you been able to offer more compassion for yourself? Have you been able to accept flaws and insecurities that once plagued you and denied you happiness and self-worth?
I hope that through this process you have been able to break some long-standing toxic cycles and that you have started healing from the damage those patterns caused. Hopefully, you’ve been able to break through those walls of resistance. Once you are able to do this, you will see massive growth on your healing journey. As you revisit all that you have unearthed in this process, you may realize the need for boundaries with those that trigger you. Boundaries will be extremely important going forward to help continue your progress on these shadow issues. Believe me, you will be tested in this area. Setting boundaries helps you establish a healing space so that you don’t relapse into old, destructive patterns.
Boundaries are crucial to not getting sucked back into these destructive cycles that we have just worked so hard to identify and cease. Boundaries also apply for self-abuse and self-sabotage. If these are areas where you struggle, make a list now of healthy limits so you know when to act. How many hours a day do you want to devote to work and household responsibilities? What is your ideal work-life balance?
Learn to identify when your plate is full so you can start to decline offers that will surely come from family, work, or community groups. You’ve just put in the work to repair the damage caused by imbalance in many areas of your life. Don’t throw it all away by not taking these necessary steps to prevent a relapse. Often, I find setting and sticking to boundaries with myself is much harder than the boundaries I set with others. We must hold ourselves accountable, which is never a fun thing to do. But it is necessary if we want to maintain a healthy balance with all our responsibilities.
While we are talking about holding ourselves accountable, let’s identify which areas of our lives we still need to take some responsibility. This is an important step to take before we move toward integration. I created a 6 card spread to help us called Holding Myself Accountable (see below) I would love to see the photo of your spreads. Please tag me on Instagram @healingthrutarot and please use the hashtag #healingthrutarotaccountabilityspread Don’t skip this accountability step. You want to make sure you thoroughly explore every phase of this shadow work process.
During the process of shadow work, we have learned that it is helpful to cast off the expectations of others that have shamed us into hiding our light. We can heal from this shame by connecting with our true selves. We can and should lean into our authentic self and our innate gifts that we each possess. When we do this, we will align with our life purpose, which will lift the vibration of the planet and bring about change. Each of us is tasked with this alignment with our higher self or soul when we incarnate. Our higher self will always help to guide us to our life path and life mission. The easiest way to allow this to happen is to be your true self in every way – no disguises, no hiding, and no denial. To do this, give yourself permission to love yourself and to honor every aspect of your being. Total acceptance! Self-acceptance and self-compassion can be hard for many of us. It helps to place your hands over your heart and let the compassion and self-love flow into your heart chakra. This helps to bypass that inner critic that is so judgmental.
If you are a creative or artist, you may have come to realize through this shadow work that inspiration and creativity can easily be blocked by our limiting beliefs about ourselves. Most of us have something that we feel drawn to create and release out into the world or something that we are driven to achieve. To do this, it may require some shadow work to remove the shame that was created in childhood when certain parts of ourselves were deemed unacceptable. You may have pushed those aspects down below the surface in order to receive love and acceptance from others who didn’t value those aspects of yourself.
Now is the time to heal those wounds and bring all hidden aspects of the self back into awareness so they can be fully accepted. Then, we are whole again and can manifest easily because we have merged with the shadow self. It’s crucial to understand that the shame is not the truth. It is an illusion to keep us hiding from our true potential. Now is the time to reclaim your power and free your true self so you can step into your life purpose. Break the cycle and unleash your true potential. What you want to create, wants to be created. As you free yourself from the restraints of the past, you create change in the world. Heal thyself, heal the world.
We consider shadow work to be successful if we are able to explore our shadow, process what we find in those hidden areas of our unconscious mind and integrate the shadow aspects with the rest of our psyche. This gives us a whole version of ourselves that is closer to the true self we incarnated as. Shadow work doesn’t require fixing any part of ourselves or banishing the shadow aspects. It is a process of understanding all parts of us, accepting them, and merging all aspects into one whole version.
Ritual for Integration of Shadow Aspects
Once you have explored your shadow and worked through the exercises and spreads laid out in the past few podcast episodes, I suggest completing a ritual to formalize this integration process. Rituals are helpful because they provide us with an action that we can complete to make a statement to the universe regarding our intention. Think of it as intention made real.
Write down a list of all the shadow aspects you have uncovered throughout this process and also note any toxic behaviors, limiting beliefs, and negative emotions like shame, anger or fear that you have unearthed as well. Light a candle or fire. Burn the piece of paper with all the negative emotions connected to these shadow aspects. As the paper burns safely in a plate, fireplace, or bowl, take several deep breaths in and with each exhale, release all of those negative emotions attached to your shadow aspects.
With each inhale bring in light, understanding, acceptance, and peace. Continue to exhale any negativity and darkness surrounding these shadow aspects. Release all those feelings of inadequacy, shame related to disappointments and failures, deep wounds holding this shame in place, regrets from your past, toxic behaviors, etc. Visualize all of this leaving every cell of your body. Release it from every level - mind, body, and spirit.
As the paper burns visualize the energetic cords to these emotions and toxic individuals breaking. You are free! You have released all that has bound you to that past trauma and those old wounds.
Shadow Work Invocation
Here is an invocation I wrote that you can use to help you solidify the integration of shadow aspects.
Once the piece of paper is burned and once you feel you have released all the negative emotions from your body, snuff out the candle. Clear your space either through smudging or a singing bowl. And imagine yourself free at last from any and all attachments that once held you back in your life. In your new space and energy, breathe in the possibility and potential of this new start. You have successfully met your shadow and made friends with it. You may feel a newfound peace wash over your body. A world of opportunities lays at your feet now. Let yourself dream about the new direction you want to take and write down a few goals you would like to tackle over the next year.
Once you have those goals on your list, start to brainstorm on what steps will be necessary for you to start to tackle the most important goal on your list. Break the larger goals into smaller goals and tasks and make a plan on how to integrate these tasks into your schedule so that you can start to make progress on your new path. Now that you have just removed some major roadblocks, your path is clear and ready for you to start this new adventure. Get excited about this new chapter in your life.
It is important to note here that your self-worth is not wrapped up in your achievements. You were already worthy. Your soul decided to incarnate at this moment in time to have a certain experience and to learn specific life lessons. Your worth is not dependent on how far you have gotten on that path. At the soul level you are infinitely loved and supported. You just don’t always know that because we are all cut off from that knowledge when we are born into this world.
I believe the purpose of life is to find our way back to that truth. You are loved and accepted beyond measure. You cannot even fathom how loved you are. If you can always remember that truth, your belief in yourself will soar and the roadblocks you face on your journey will melt away. They won’t seem so insurmountable anymore. The saying “Life is a journey, not a destination,” is important to remember. You won’t miss your life purpose. Your soul will make sure you are in the right place at the right time. So, stop beating yourself up with self-doubt and judgment about how you are progressing in this life. You are learning very meaningful lessons along the way and that’s what is valuable. Much of the time we learn the most through our failures. So, success can’t even be used as a measurement of the knowledge we have gained in one life. Failures, challenges, and missteps all test us and reveal our true character. They show us how strong and resilient we are. We often surprise ourselves with our strength and fortitude. Celebrate your growth on this journey just as much if not more than what you would deem a success or achievement. Growth is much more important.
Fear of failure is so ingrained in our shadow that we often are driven by this motivation without even knowing it. Now that we have done the hard parts of our shadow work, we know that awareness is key to neutralizing these triggers and unconscious behaviors. We can now see it for what it is, and we don’t have to give these unconscious motivations any power anymore. By moving the shadow aspects into the light through integration, these actions are no longer taking place in the shadow, hidden from our view. We are consciously aware of the wounds these fears stem from, and we can make a conscious choice to not react from these wounds any longer. Instead, look at these fears and learn from them.
What do you fear and why? What do you fear of losing? See if these fears hold the same weight or power now after you’ve brought them all out into the light to dissect and study. Things don’t seem so scary once we bring them into the light. You may find that you feel very different now when faced with the same triggers and situations that once had you cowering in the corner. Look at your motivations and make conscious decisions on which goals to tackle now and make sure it is for the right reason now and not out of fear stemming from wounds. Those wounds should not feel as raw as they did when we started this journey. What was once in the shadow is now sitting in plain view in the light.
To help us with this integration process, I will share the last custom spread I made for our shadow work series. This is a 7 card spread called Integrating Shadow Aspects (see below). I would love to see the photo of your spreads. Please tag me on Instagram @healingthrutarot and please use the hashtag #healingthrutarotintegratingshadowspread
Shadow Work Tarot Decks
Review of The Macabre Tarot
I have the perfect shadow work deck to share with you in this episode. Rockpool Publishing surprised me in late fall of 2021 by sending me The Macabre Tarot by Samantha West. As soon as I opened this deck, I knew it would be a great edition to this shadow work series. Some of the imagery is disturbing and dark, which helps to evoke darker elements from our shadow. I prefer a deck with evocative imagery to help unearth some of the darker aspects in my shadow.
I also love the fact that half the deck has a black background and the other half has a white background. Black and white decks set the right tone for me when I’m engaging in shadow work. Visuals are extremely important with this type of healing work, and the contrast of black and white simulating the light and dark concepts we tackle in shadow work deepens this type of work for me. The images on the cards are colored with either black or gold ink or white empty space, which allows us to pull up emotions and memories from the depths of our shadow. This color palette is ideal in my opinion for this type of work. The images are stunning as you can see.
Some of the major arcana cards are renamed, and it works because these terms tap into more shadow and light energy. The High Priestess is the Divine, the Empress is the Ethereal, and the Emperor becomes the Rigid. As a life path 4, this works for me! We are very rigid in our beliefs.
I personally love the fact that the Hierophant is presented here as the Guide. This has much more positive associations for me than the usual Hierophant card, which is very triggering for me with the whole concept of using religion to control others through fear. That never sits well with me. Here, the Guide is more inviting and helpful versus the gatekeeping of sacred knowledge by the original Hierophant card.
The court cards have been renamed to reflect more shadowy vibes and to make it more inclusive and non-gendered. We have the terror for pages, nightmare in place of knights, haunting instead of queen, and massacre for kings. These cards can represent people or spirits in your midst according to the guidebook. The suits are cups, bones for wands, crystals for pentacles, and daggers for swords.
The imagery consists of skulls, snakes, skeletons, bones, and dark shadow figures. Medusa like characters haunt some of the images. If you think this might be too dark for you make sure to watch a walk through video of this full deck first before purchasing just to make sure the imagery isn’t too disturbing for you to work with. Personally, I love it and have benefited tremendously from using this deck along with the The Deviant Moon and Disney Villains Tarot throughout this whole series.
Other decks I’ve used in the past for shadow work and highly recommend are the Wild Unknown Tarot, The Bonestone and Earthflesh Tarot, the Light Visions Tarot, and the Tarot of the Abyss. All of those are excellent for this type of work. Thank you to all the companies who donated decks for me to review and use in this shadow work series.
Thank you to US games for donating the Deviant Moon Tarot, Insight Editions for donating the Disney Villains Tarot, and Rockpool Publishing for donating The Macabre Tarot. I’ve enjoyed them all and gotten the most out of this shadow work series by using them all to tap into a whole new level of my shadow. These are all excellent tools for this type of work. I highly recommend them all. Links for all the decks discussed in this episode are below at the end of this blog.
I hope you have all found this shadow work series helpful. So many ideas flooded in as I was creating these 3 episodes. I couldn’t fit them all in, so I have been working on a hefty 20 spread ebook just on new shadow work spreads. And for my October challenge in 2022, I will be hosting a shadow work challenge where I will provide a prompt for each of the 31 days of October for us to delve further into our shadow. The late fall and winter are ideal times for shadow work so look for my shadow work spread ebook to drop around the fall – probably close to the October shadow work challenge. It will contain spreads like the hidden shadow aspects spread, breaking through resistance, shadow-related fears, self-deception, and the unconscious motivations spread and many, many more.
I will be taking a break from podcasting over the summer. I will be back in September 2022 with all new episodes, and I will be continuing my archetype series with episodes looking into healing with the mystic archetype and the healer archetype. If you haven’t checked out the Healing with the Witch Archetype episode from February 2022 check that out. I really enjoy creating these archetype episodes.
I’m hoping to publish my first book in my fictional divination series this summer. If that happens, look for a bonus summer episode where I will read a few scenes and give you a sneak peak into the characters. I can’t wait to share this book with you.
Books and Decks shown in this blog or recommended: The Light Seers Tarot, Light Visions Tarot, Sacred Creators Oracle, Tarot of the Abyss, Wild Unknown Tarot, The Dark Mansion Tarot, Rider Waite Smith Tarot, Magick and Mediums Oracle, The Macabre Tarot
Link to Podcast Episode 35 on Anchor click here
Other relevant Podcast Episodes - Click title to listen
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. 32: Healing with the Witch Archetype and Review of The Season of the Witch Samhain and Yule Oracle
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
As always, Happy Cardslinging!
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