17 – The Star

17 - The Star

Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. I am not a mental health professional; these are my personal reflections and experiences that I hope you will find helpful.

The Star is a beautiful card to follow the challenges in The Devil and the turmoil in The Tower. Full of optimism and hope, The Star renews our faith and reminds us that things can turn around. This card brings us gentle yet thorough healing, reinvigorates us after upheaval, and provides a positive shift in our energy. If you have found yourself dwelling in a dark place, know that the star sheds light that can be trusted to find your way out.

This card represents higher understanding and provides an opportunity to step into our authenticity. Sometimes this can involve a spiritual discovery or interest in the divine. The imagery in the card often has a female figure with one foot in the water and one foot on land which symbolizes our involvement in both the physical and spiritual world.

In contrast to the incessant negativity in the media, The Star reminds us of the good things happening all around us. This is a card for the dreamers and symbolizes those individuals in our lives who manage to bring their light to everyone despite what they are navigating in their own lives. It is the wishes made on shooting stars, the coins tossed into the fountains, and the dandelion fluff blown into the breeze. 

Do you recall any wishes you made as a child? Perhaps some of them have come true! When was the last time you laid out under the stars? We don’t often take time for that in our busy lives, but it can bring us back to ourselves in such a healing way. Do you have a favorite constellation? I invite you to take some time to tap into that child-like wonder and spend some time under the night sky. If you wish, try drawing, painting, or journaling the things that come up for you. Return to hope.

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
― Anne Frank

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett

Until our paths cross again…

 

 

 

 

 

16 – The Tower

16 - The Tower

Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. I am not a mental health professional; these are my personal reflections and experiences that I hope you will find helpful.

Have you ever experienced a sudden, abrupt change in your life that shattered your reality, or your illusion of reality? Enter, The Tower. When a Tower phase enters your life, you will likely not see it coming. It will come quickly, out of nowhere, and dismantle things. While upheaval is not always a negative experience, The Tower tends to prepare us for an unpleasant surprise.

The art in this card does not tend to vary much. We see lightning striking a tall building with a crown at the top. The structure is crumbling and there are two figures leaping presumably to their death.  Even though the tower is crumbling and things seem quite dramatic, there is a strong, stone foundation at the base which remains unshaken. The Wild Unknown, as pictured here, uses nature in its depiction, as it does throughout the deck.

The fire resulting from the lightning is symbolic. We are aware of the damage and destruction fire can bring, but fires can also be generative! In the wake of forest fires, certain species of trees germinate and thrive. This is the gift of The Tower: an opportunity to take root and flourish. In this way, The Tower can be seen as an awakening. There are symbols in this card, such as the yodh, which indicate divine guidance, a hand from a higher power. These events are not random, but an integral part of your story!

The message with The Tower is: things are about to shift in a very big way. This card brings a shattering of illusions. It may be unpleasant at the time, but it is actually a sacred gift! This rough patch informs us of the aspects of our life that did not have a sound foundation. With this, we can rebuild in a way that will support our growth. 

Consider a time in your life when things suddenly seemed to be collapsing around you. If you are currently in the midst of something like this, consider going farther back. How did you feel at that time? Which aspects of your life were affected? This might be a good time to challenge yourself with a messier, more tactile craft than you are used to. Perhaps you can use a mix of acrylic paints and collage techniques (fingerpainting as an adult can be incredibly satisfying). Grab images that remind you of a chaotic time in your life and make a mess of it! Allow yourself to sit with the feelings that come up, but also allow them to pass out of you, into the paint, and onto the paper. Once you are satisfied, take a moment to think of all of the positive things that have come into your life because of this event. Perhaps you lost a job that you were certain was a good fit, but find yourself now in a much more satisfying position. Could it be that the dissolution of a marriage ended up freeing you to follow a passion? Maybe something that you desired in your life did not manifest, which made room for something greater. Spend time with these positive outcomes. If you feel ready, thank the challenging event for the lesson it brought to you,  release it, and continue building on your solid foundation. 

“Most people want to be circled by safety, not by the unexpected. The unexpected can take you out. But the unexpected can also take you over and change your life. Put a heart in your body where a stone used to be.”
― Ron Hall

“Many people pray to be kept out of unexpected problems.
Some people pray to be able to confront and overcome them.”
― Toba Beta

Until our paths cross again…

 

 

 

 

 

15 – The Devil

15 - The Devil

Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. 

Culturally, The Devil is known by several names. In many traditional tarot decks, he appears as Baphomet, the Horned Goat of Mendes. The Devil is a multi-faceted card representing the lower-vibrational habits and detrimental behaviors that we can fall into. Depending on your religious upbringing, the image of The Devil may create fear and unease within yourself. In truth, Baphomet represents our baser instincts and acting on impulses, rather than being a symbol of inherent evil.

In many depictions, Baphomet perches over a man and woman who have chains around their necks. They appear to be enslaved and attached to the Devil’s perch, but the chains around their neck are loose–they have the power to remove the chain whenever they wish. This reminds us that we are capable of falling into voluntary enslavement. This is evident when we feel victimized in a situation where we have more power than we are exerting. Power imbalances are often suggested with this card.

The Devil warns us about taking hedonism to an unhealthy level. While some people can indulge in alcohol or chemical substances occasionally, these can quickly become a recurring, unhealthy habit. While these addictions are often the first that come to mind, The Devil encompasses all habits that do not serve our highest good. This could be gossip, self-defeat, dishonesty or any of the behaviors that cause us to feel shame in knowing that we can do better.

The Devil is a snapshot of the bondage we may have to the crudest, most visceral aspect of our human nature. On the positive side, the Devil acknowledges the animalistic nature we all have within and can be a wonderful shot of adrenaline to our sex life, but as with all things The Devil brings to the party, we must watch for things going too far.

The Devil drops us face-to-face with our shadow self. There is no finessing our truth here. If you have not seen the unforgettable Ted Talk Brene Brown does on shame, I highly recommend it. From a very young age, we are constantly informed of which behaviors are acceptable and because our very survival depends on these adults around us, we bury parts of ourselves that are not deemed appropriate. These rejected aspects of ourselves sneak out in our adult life to bite us, and those around us,  in unexpected and sometimes shocking ways. We are unaware of their existence and it is only through gently healing and integrating those rejected shadow aspects that we can fully evolve. Until then we continue to project and fault those with the qualities we dislike about ourselves without realizing it. Our shadows can also hold the repressed ideas, instincts, impulses, desires, perversions, and embarrassing fears that we do not show the world. 

It should be stated that shadow work should only be attempted when we are in a healthy mental state. It can be incredibly triggering. It can and will bring us back to traumas that shaped the person we have become. Ideally, this process would be facilitated by a professional., however, if you are attempting this work on your own, please check in with yourself consistently and make sure you are safe and well. Remember The Wheel of Fortune: if your mood dips and you need to take a break from this work it is okay. There will be brighter, stronger days that will allow you to resume your healing path.

Shadow work is an incredibly trying process and it is a life-long commitment, but if we want to fully realize our potential, it is vital. We all deserve to bring our entire selves–our broken, messy, wonderful selves–to the table.  We all have amazing and exceptional gifts that could be exactly what someone else needs. When we stifle these, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and to those whose lives we have the potential to change. So often we discount the value that comes with our own unique perspective.

The easiest and least invasive way to begin shadow work is by paying attention to negative responses and limiting beliefs. For example, if you meet someone who rubs you the wrong way because they seem loud, arrogant, and rude. The hardest thing to accept is that the qualities that bother us most in others are often reflections of unhealed parts of ourselves. Take some time at the end of the day to reflect, and possibly journal, reactions you had that were unpleasant. See if you start to notice a trend. These rejected parts of our inner world will continue to rear their heads until we learn the necessary lessons.

Because of the delicacy of shadow work and the intense vulnerability it requires, I invite you to explore activities and journal prompts that speak to you. The work I have done is specific to my needs and may not be helpful. I will provide some links below which may or may not resonate with you. 

This is a beautiful article on our shadow selves.

Here is a comprehensive guide to shadow work.

“Every pain, addiction, anguish, longing, depression, anger or fear
is an orphaned part of us
seeking joy,
some disowned shadow
wanting to return
to the light
and home
of ourselves.”
― Jacob Nordby

“People who cease to believe in God or goodness altogether still believe in the devil… Evil is always possible. And goodness is eternally difficult.”
― Anne Rice

Until our paths cross again…

 

 

 

 

 

14 – Temperance

14 - Temperance

Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. I am not a mental health professional; these are my personal reflections and experiences that I hope you will find helpful.

The Temperance card appears when it is time to be patient, use moderation, and find balance. Although we rarely seek out chaos, daily life has a tendency to divert our best-laid plans to be the zen adult we aspire to. Temperance is known in other decks as The Art (Thoth), and Fferyllt (The Druidcraft Tarot) and in addition to the above properties, this card represents alchemy–the bringing together of two opposites to transmute them into something new and beneficial!

Ironically, while Temperance represents bringing unlike things together, it also asks us to remain on middle-ground in our life. While we may have strong and possibly controversial opinions, now is the time to set those aside and try to lean into a range of perspectives. We all have blind spots and it is when we allow ourselves to consider something discordant with our own view that we can gain valuable knowledge and higher learning. Adaptability, flexibility, and compromise are key here.

What might occur when we execute patience and explore the union of two opposing elements? How can we apply this to our daily life? What does the word alchemy mean to you? What images come to mind? Which two elements of your personality are the farthest apart and do they serve you best this way?

This may be a good time to evaluate the areas in your life that could use moderation. Are your “occasional drinks” becoming less occasional? Do you have a stack of books that are being ignored while your video game stats are shining? Perhaps your finances could use a remix. Reigning in areas of your life that have been drifting towards excess, opening yourself to different views and willingness to blend two seemingly opposing things offers an opportunity for healing and rejuvenation.

“In each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We’re each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real. We’ve got to forgive ourselves that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there is a lot of grey to work with. No one can live in the light all the time.”
― Libba Bray

“This is why alchemy exists,” the boy said. “So that everyone will search for his treasure, find it, and then want to be better than he was in his former life. Lead will play its role until the world has no further need for lead; and then lead will have to turn itself into gold.
That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
― Paulo Coelho

Until our paths cross again…

 

13 – Death

13 - Death

Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. 

Have you ever been outside after the rain and walked along the earth just drinking in all of those luscious, earthy, green and rich scents? Perhaps there are new sprouts shooting up from the earth, vibrant and resilient. Surrounding these sprouts, and responsible for the delicious aromas around you, is decay. The old slowly curls in on itself and returns to the soil, nourishing new life in necessary ways. While the brown, barely recognizable plant material may look less impressive than it’s proud, green counterparts nothing would grow without it! So it is with the Death card.

If you are familiar with retro horror films, you may have encountered a scene where someone flips over the Death card and everyone in the room gasps and looks pitifully at the seeker. Most tarot advisors approach this card in a more progressive fashion. Yes, the Death card represents natural endings, but these endings are necessary in order to move forward.

While not all of us can embrace the concept of death and finality, presumably we will agree that desperate attempts to resuscitate something that is no longer meant to live is worse. Sometimes, we need to be strong and recognize that something is over whether we are ready or not. By all means, take the time to grieve. Whatever is moving out of your life is a loss, and skipping over the possible pain, disappointment, and mourning would be cheating yourself out of the delicate thread that stitches up your life story. It all matters–especially the really challenging chapters. It is important to acknowledge this loss, but it is also imperative that you move forward. Much like in the Konmari Method, take the time to thank this area of your life for all it has taught you and wish it well (then light a match).

In tarot, the Death card often means the death of the ego, and rarely refers to physical death. However, this card often comes with challenges so it may be helpful to examine how, culturally and religiously, death is acknowledged in a multitude of ways. This is a reminder that we get to decide how we want to approach loss! Westerners tend to sterilize the process and spend their life fearing death, but around the world, death is embraced and the focus is on celebrating the life of the loved one that has passed on. There are traditions of making beads from the ashes of their departed, creating beautiful altars to honor them, and often there will be parties that look a lot less somber than the funerals many of us have attended. There is no right way to acknowledge our loss, but it is helpful to consider that it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as we make it. Although the challenge around death is understandable, death just is.

On this note, I invite you to think about, and journal if you wish, some of the losses you have experienced. This may be the loss of a personal perspective, the loss of a familiar way of life,  or anything that caused a blow to the ego. How was your life altered after this event? What sort of changes followed as a result–were some of them positive? What opportunities made themselves present after this loss? How about dedicating an art journal page to constructing a painting or collage of how you visualize your “ego?” Explore your connection with this concept and look for pain points. Through this discovery, you can begin healing another layer of your internal landscape.

“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
― J.K. Rowling

“The ego is the culmination of our preferences and dislikes. Our ego represents the firm edges of how we perceive ourselves. An ego death involves a merciless destruction of the autobiographical memory system that sustains a person’s collective of bodily and mental images. In order to provoke an ego death, one might choose to pare down their sense of self to a bare skeleton divested of all flesh and blood. It might even be useful to visualize a person’s own burial and then imagine a rebirth. A person who undergoes an ego death might experience a transformation in their life that duplicates a reincarnation.”
― Kilroy J. Oldster

Until our paths cross again…

 

11 – Strength

11 - Strength.jpeg

Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. 

When you think of the word “strength,” what comes to mind? Is it a grandmother who fed and clothed her family through the depression? Is it a child who is overcoming unimaginable challenges? Is it someone who displays traditional physical strength? In the tarot, the Strength card reflects a deep level of emotional mastery.

In many decks, the Strength card depicts a woman gently closing a lion’s mouth. This reminds us that true strength can be gently harnessed and effectively expressed with loving care. While we often think of lions as ferocious, and they certainly are, there is quiet, deeper energy at work in these magnificent animals that is worth remembering when this card comes up. Where in the Chariot, we saw a need to outwardly take charge, Strength asks us to use the power within us in a patient, composed way. Emotional intelligence is demonstrated in the ability to feel intensely passionate while having the capacity to express ourselves in a focused and articulate way. For many of us this is no easy task but quietly influencing others is a powerful tool!

This card is a valuable lesson for those of us delving into our shadows. It may be helpful to make a list of situations where you have found your emotions getting the best of you. When was the last time you really lost it?  Does this tend to happen with certain people in your life or is it seemingly random? What are the topics that really get your blood boiling? Often the root of our outburst comes from somewhere deeper within–an emotional injury that has been left unhealed. The raw emotion that you feel can be helpful if wielded correctly. Many memorable humanitarians mastered this skill and changed history.

In shadow work, we discover that often our intense reactions to someone’s behavior or comments stems from shame we carry about our own thoughts or actions from the past. This is one of the most challenging and bitter pills to swallow but it is profoundly freeing and lends itself to lasting personal growth. It certainly takes strength to face this side of ourselves but it is integral to self-love and our own spiritual evolution. What does your lion look like?

“The lion who breaks the enemy’s ranks is a minor hero compared to the lion who overcomes himself.”
Rumi

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Until our paths cross again…

08 – Justice

08 - justice (1)

Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. 

If you are a proponent of the Rider-Waite-Smith system, you might have expected Strength to be in the eighth position. We will roll with the traditional order as it has been used by this deck, The Wild Unknown.

What does truth and Justice mean to you? The Justice card will have you examining this in your life in some way. The interesting thing about our own truth is that it is likely to change as we discover blind spots we didn’t know we had. In itself, this is one of the most effective ways we can grow as humans! It is exciting and can actually be quite freeing to realize that your perspective is limited and begin to approach differing viewpoints from yours from a curious place rather than an argumentative one (but this muscle can take a lot of work). We have so much to learn from each other!

The interesting thing about the Justice card is that it often refers to a more karmic, Lord of the Flies, kind of integrity, rather than the man-made law we are familiar with. One of the more memorable references to this is visited in Kim Huggens’ book, Tarot 101. She shares a story about King Solomon and a dispute he resolved between two women who both claimed to be the biological mothers of an infant. These women both presented their arguments–claiming to love the child more than anything,–and both were equally convincing, so Solomon presented a solution: they would cut the baby in two and each woman would receive one half. At this point, one woman threw herself before the King and insisted that the other woman have the child rather than allowing any harm come to him (inadvertently proving that she was the true mother). Although this is a harsh example, it is certainly unforgettable!

In this way, the Justice card may ask you to examine how karmic law would observe the way you conduct yourself in your daily life. We can all use tune-ups sometimes! More specifically, how do you make decisions when no one is looking? Are you kind to those who are the most difficult to show compassion to? Even if you do not subscribe to the spiritual beliefs surrounding karma, if you are kind in your dealings, when the time comes that you need gentleness, it will be there.

Fairness is in the eye of the beholder. What does fairness mean to you? I invite you to journal about the word “fairness” and “justice.” What is your initial response to these terms? Is there a time in your life where you feel that you were treated unjustly? How did that affect you long-term? Can you bring to mind a time when you treated someone unfairly and could have handled things differently?

This card is all about balance. We do not always present our best selves in decision-making, but through intermittent evaluation and self-examination, we can consistently improve. If we know we have been operating at a lower integrity level than we are capable of we can change the channel. That is often when we do our best spiritual work.

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Until our paths cross again…

 

 

07 – The Chariot

07 - the chariot

Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. 

The Chariot reminds us that at every stage in our lives we are on a journey but not all of our journey reflects the fire in our bellies that we find ourselves battling for, or on behalf of.

I once asked an enlightened friend how to better frame the idea of “trigger warnings,” as to me, that very term raised my hackles up. She shared that when she wanted to offer caution to someone in a more positive way, she described that the feeling of being “triggered” is actually you calling in your guardians. I think this is a much more appealing idea and also reflects where we are going with this card.

The Chariot represents your willpower, your confidence, and the things that “bring in your guardians.” Do you find yourself ready to fight for our four-legged companions? Perhaps you have the inner drive to be a warrior for children’s rights. Maybe you naturally gravitate towards ensuring immigrants are cared for. Whatever it is that has always been your default battle, this is something vital to who you are.

When this card comes up, it is an indication that you are right to be courageous and stay your course, but you must believe in yourself and your convictions. For example, you may have been considering starting your own organization in support of a cause that is closest to your heart, but you have been feeling the pull between being practical and following your passions (in The Chariot card, there are often two or more horses trying to pull the chariot in different directions). This is your time to grab the reins and hold strong to your path, despite the doubt others may throw in your way.

I invite you to journal a theme that has come up throughout your life. It may be in the form of arguments you find yourself having or situations where you feel called to defend someone or something. How have you presented your views? How were they received? Do you recall conversations that immediately brought your energy and excitement up?

Often, even with our best intentions, our passions take over our communication skills and we risk scaring someone away from our cause, rather than raising their interest and possibly getting them on board. One example of this would be some of the well-known animal rights campaigns. While these campaigns certainly grab our attention, the more shocking ones upset those who are already living a cruelty-free lifestyle and do not get through to those who likely need to assess their choices. After you have a look at this, think about how you can move forward in a more productive way and possibly integrate this passion into your life, and even career.

Although The Chariot can refer to that which drives our passion in life, it is also an overview of our journey aka, “The Fool’s Journey.” It can also be quite literal and refer to travel and road trips, but for our purposes, considering the metaphorical path may illuminate how true we are being to what our soul is searching for. What do we want our quest and our journey to really be about, and what focused action do we need to take to get there? Where can we begin?

“Intuition goes before you, showing you the way. Emotion follows behind, to let you know when you go astray. Listen to your inner voice. It is the calling of your spiritual GPS system seeking to keep you on track towards your true destiny.”
― Anthon St. Maarten

Until our paths cross again…