Making Space for the Shadow with Tarot

The Tarot is the ultimate mirror, reflecting the reader's wisdom back at them in their own language. Cartomancy, the act of divining through a deck of cards, is an infinitely customizable magical practice, because at the end of the day, the cards are only a tool. It's the reader that enhances the deck, not the other way around; the Tarot bridges the gap between our idealized selves and our realized selves. Tarot, at its simplest, is the spade that unearths necessary truths. Sometimes these truths lay buried deep beneath the smooth, unblemished surface of our idealized selves. Tarot is the ideal tool, then, for reaching our deeper selves—the shadow self. Using the Tarot, any witch can explore their own emotional and psychological underworld, and meet their shadow self with respect, vulnerability, and confidence. 


"Shadow work" is an internal part of the dark season, but what does shadow work mean in the context of the Tarot? Shadow work is a tool, but it's also a process. Shadow work can look like many things; it can look like a meeting with your therapist, or a heart-to-heart with a parent about a harmful experience, or a conversation with a sexual partner after an emotionally intense scene. Shadow work, ultimately, can look like all sorts of things, but at its heart, it requires vulnerable inquiry. 

Shadow work demands curiosity about the self, the deeper self, and its function.


Using the Tarot to work through our shadow self allows us to integrate our conscious and subconscious, to recognize and break harmful cycles, and reflect on shame, trauma, and oppression without judgement. If the Tarot is a mirror, then in shadow work, the Tarot is also a container, holding space for our reflections and our duplicitous selves with ease.


By working with a Tarot deck in your shadow work practice, you commit to meeting yourself again and again, in different stages or woundedness and healing. Beginning this process can feel overwhelming and "big" if you've never done it before—but beginning shadow work doesn't require formal ritual. Any witch can learn to work with their shadow, and follow "negative" feelings of shame, embarrassment, and fear to their roots.


The following tarot spread is ideal for those who've never done shadow work before. In this spread, you'll "meet" your shadow self, and learn what they need from you in order to heal.


Card 1: This card represents your conscious mind, or your ego, where it's currently at.

Card 2: This card represents your subconscious mind, or your shadow, where it's currently at.

Card 3: Ask, What needs do I have that I cannot see clearly?

Card 4: Ask, What do I need to forgive myself for?

Card 5: Ask, What feelings do I need to have validated?

Card 6: Ask, What do I need to accept about myself?

Card 7: Ask, What truth do I need to express, that I've silenced?

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