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Archive for the ‘Challenges’ Category

This year’s Shadow Work October theme is Cycles of Self, and Week 1 begins with the idea of Roots. This, the first spread to be done is called the Roots spread, serving to show us where we’re coming from and what’s going on that’s brought us to where we are. This is quite literal, not metaphorical- this is about our past and our ancestry, our families and places of origins.

Using the Druid Craft Tarot, I pulled the following cards:

1. Family Shadow: immediate family’s burden of shadow we carry. Page of Pentacles: This is kind of an interesting thing to think of as a “shadow”, but I think what I’m getting from this is a sense of wandering, of being nomadic, or being uprooted. Both my biological parents are the “black sheep” of their families, and I do think they’ve both suffered from a sense of not belonging, which in turn has affected how I interact with my extended family.

2. Family Core: upbringing, tradition. Death: This is another interesting one! We do have a fair share of tragedy and literal death on both sides of my family, which does mark us, but I think this is true of a lot of families. I do think my family on both sides tends to be a bit more fatalistic than a lot of folks; not in a bad way, necessarily, but we don’t beat around the bush with regard to illness, death, or trouble. There’s also a certain amount of reinvention and rebirth? And also the sixth sense/the sight/whatever you want to call it, and these things were definitely a core part of how I understood my family background growing up.

3. Family Light: immediate family’s strengths and valuable traits we carry. Nine of Cups: Hah! Well, I suppose it is true that all of my parents know how to have a good time, possibly more so than I do.

4. Elders Shadow: grandparents’ and elders’ of the family burden of shadow we carry. Six of Swords: Transition, change, movement. My grandparents did all move around a fair amount, whether to find a new place to establish their family, or because of war, or even just emotional change, there is/was definitely a lot of going forward and not looking back.

5. Elders Core: lineage / family wisdom. Three of Cups: The ability to make the best of where you are, to form partnerships and friendships that will be to your benefit. We’re adaptable, and whether we’re in a situation we chose or not, or if we’re happy or not, we’re pretty good about making it work.

6. Elders Light: grandparents’ and elders’ of the family strengths and valuable traits we carry. Nine of Wands: Yeah, this makes a lot of sense. We’re a damned tenacious bunch. We can be wary and suspicious of strangers, but we don’t give up, and we don’t give in, and if you give us shit, we’ll hit back.

7. Ancestors Shadow: the burden of shadow we carry from our ancestry for generations. The High Priest/The Hierophant: I’m not sure I understand what this is getting at. Perhaps an over-attachment to power or authority? Certainly my family, like most families, has been heavily patriarchal, and also heavily religious for generations.

8. Ancestors Core: collective wisdom of our ancestry / tribe of origin. Ten of Pentacles: Well, that’s about as good as it gets, and I think there’s something to it- for all that we have a multi-generational sense of pragmatism and realism, we also have big appetites for life, and also a certain willingness to take on risk in hope of a better future. We wouldn’t all keep moving around and trying new things if we were resigned to the fates we were born into, I think. We’re looking for that place we can make our home.

9. Ancestors Light: strengths and valuable traits we carry from our ancestry for generations. King of Pentacles: The ability to make and rule a rooted and secure place of our own, to be the monarch of our own domain. Also, abundance, whether of the earth or of money, which is interesting, given my family has never risen past working class, at least not in the last 3 or so generations. But we do have lots of farmers?

10. The Outcome: who we are as a result of our Roots. The Lord/The Emperor: I have apparently inherited more from my more previous ancestors than my immediate family, and am able to create my own realm and rule it well.

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I decided to do @mnomquah’s ShadowWorkOctober challenge again this year, and like last year, it begins with a Hero’s  Journey Spread. I will be using the Druid Craft Tarot for my ShadowWorkOctober readings this year. (Apologies for the poor photo quality.)

For the Hero’s Journey, you’re meant to choose ten cards, each corresponding to a different piece of the path. However, I accidentally laid out twelve, so I turned over the first ten and read them, saving the last two to be some kind of additional information on the reading as a whole.

The Hero’s Journey Spread

1) The Hero – Who are you at the beginning of your journey? King of Swords. It’s been a tough and busy year, the last summer in particular. The wariness and aloofness of the King of Swords seems fairly accurate to my current state of mind. Also, though, he is a discerning and strategic intellect, which is a good thing for where I am right now with trying to get various projects off the ground.

2) The Quest – What is the conscious purpose of your journey?  Rebirth (Major Arcana 20). Traditionally this is the Judgment card, but I think Rebirth is more apporpriate here- I would very much like a fresh start on several things, or at least an advancement of the cycle.

3) Refusal of the Call – The reason why you’re afraid of to seek out what you desire. Seven of Swords. I think of this card often as imposter syndrome, or feeling like something is a zero-sum game. But those things are often lies we tell ourselves to avoid taking risks, or to rationalize fear.

4) The Guide – Who/what will guide you on your journey? Two of Pentacles. Balance. Hah! Yeah, ok, I do need more balance, and I’m always striving for it, but apparently I haven’t fully achieved it yet.

5) Road of Trials – The lessons for you to learn; what you need to go through. Three of Swords. Heartbreak, anguish, pain. This is… concerning. This could be failure, in the sense that the thing/things I pursue are not successful, or it could be something that comes up that prevents me from continuing my journey, or at least sways me from the path.

6) The Dragon – Your greatest obstacle to overcome. Ten of Cups. I guess I fear success? Or maybe more accurately, I don’t believe it’s possible for me, so I don’t pursue it as doggedly as I would if I felt it was a sure thing. I need to learn to think of it as a destination, not a possibility.

7) Death – What you have to leave behind? Queen of Swords. I’m unsure of how to interpret this one- is it that I will have to leave some autonomy behind? Will success mean getting caught up in others’ agendas? Or will it mean that I’m a more social person? I’m not sure about this one.

8) New Knowledge – What new wisdom and power you will obtain on your journey? The Hanged One. Perhaps if I’m leaving behind a Queen in favor of the Hanged One, I’m learning to let go of tight control and instead create my own space to be out of time? Or maybe learning more patience?

9) Boon – What you will take back with you to share with others? Nine of Cups. I tend to read nines as subtly negative, and thus usually read this as greed, or gluttony. My friend reads nines as much more positive, and would read this card as well-earned decadence or luxury, and frankly, I like that option better for this question!

10) The Hero Returned – Who you come back as from the journey? The Moon. Perhaps I’ll come back even more creative than I was before? Maybe even with recurring creative cycles? That could be nice…

The Hero’s Journey Spread with two additional cards

And then the two final cards- the Princess of Cups and the Princess of Wands. These are actually two of my favorite cards in the deck, and drawing two Pages/Princesses seems auspicious for starting a journey. The combination of Wands and Cups seems good too, as it seems to imply that I have the creativity and the will to do what I need to do; I simply need to strike out and do it.

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I stopped doing this for a bit because posts on this series were being reblogged to content aggregation blogs, which I don’t like. But, I’m also not sure how to stop it other than to state that I do not give permission for my work to be reposted on other blogs.

What is the positive aspect of this card?

Well, on a very basic level, this card can indicate love, often of a sexual or romantic nature, in a consenting and enjoyable context. More broadly, this card can mean self-love (as in, regard and care for one’s self, not masturbation, though it can certainly mean that, too), or the love between close friends or family members, or even just the joyful embrace of life itself. Arguably many of the great poets and musicians could have been represented by The Lovers when in the exuberant peak of their creative love affair with the world around them, I think.

What is the negative aspect of this card?

Obliviousness. Whether you are enamored with yourself or another, it is very easy to become possessed by passion or sentiment to the exclusion of all else and all others. People in love can be incredibly selfish to anyone who is not their beloved, and it is important that we make an effort, when being ruled by The Lovers, to extract our heads from our posteriors and look around on a regular basis.

Astrological association and why?

For me, this is Libra and Aquarius, maybe mainly because those are the main two signs I’ve known that have a tendency to be “in love with love”- Librans, in particular, I’ve heard wax rhapsodic at length about the beauty of love/their lover, and even when love is beating them down, they wouldn’t trade it for anything. Aquarians, I think, relish the pleasures of it somewhat less than the pleasure-driven Librans, but they can be just as obsessive about seeking that next emotional hit of a crush or a fuck. (I’ll also throw in Taurus for good measure, because I think of them as the romantics of the zodiac.)

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I stopped doing this for a bit because posts on this series were being reblogged to content aggregation blogs, which I don’t like. But, I’m also not sure how to stop it other than to state that I do not give permission for my work to be reposted on other blogs.

What is the positive aspect of this card?

The Hierophant is the card of hierarchy, of structure, of authority, and of systems, particularly with regard to spiritual institutions. Consequently, one name for it is “Il Pape”, or, “The Pope”, and many people dislike it. But, as tribal animals, humans acting in groups really need some sort of structure, no less in our religious and spiritual practices than anywhere else. The positive aspects of the Hierophant, therefore, are concerned with tradition, with heritage, and with “doing the right thing”. Where the Emperor is concerned with responsibility for the greater good, the Hierophant is telling us to trust in that greater good; to have faith that the larger whole exists for a reason, and is working as it should. Or, if we are part of that system, it reminds us that the system is larger than just us; the needs of the many come first.

What is the negative aspect of this card?

As with anything to do with power structures, The Hierophant can become corrupted. When tradition is used as a club for conformity, that’s bad. When the emphasis is not on the ways in which experience can guide us, but is instead on the ways in which we should stay to the previously trodden paths, that is also bad. There’s a certain stodgy focus on the by-laws that can come with the Hierophant, as well as a shallowness that ignores depth of truth in favor of the trappings of history.

Astrological association and why?

This card, for me, is very clearly Capricorn and Virgo- Virgo is known both for a self-sacrificing nobility, and for an inability to see the forest for the trees, while Capricorn is the master of systems and power dynamics, both for good and for ill. On a good day, you can’t ask for a better leader than a Capricorn or a better second in command than a Virgo- there will be a vision, a well-executed plan, and enough supplies to get everyone to the end. On a bad day, petty in-fighting and power trips run the risk of taking over.

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I stopped doing this for a bit because posts on this series were being reblogged to content aggregation blogs, which I don’t like. But, I’m also not sure how to stop it other than to state that I do not give permission for my work to be reposted on other blogs.

What is the positive aspect of this card?

The Emperor is the card of authority wielded well. This card shows care, responsibility, vision, a sense of order, the necessary diplomacy, the willingness to make difficult decisions for the betterment of those affected, and the humility to listen to and understand those in the community. This is the card of good parenting, of responsible stewardship, of considered statecraft.

What is the negative aspect of this card?

When in bad aspect, The Emperor can become a card of arrogance; might makes right; my way or the highway; I’m the dedcider, and so on. Power held by persons who deeply believe that they have the only true and right perspective, and who are willing to impose that belief or the consequences of that belief, on others can be a deeply frightening thing.

Astrological association and why?

I can see three possibilities for this card: First, Aries- Aries has the confidence (or hubris, depending) to own the role of Emperor in the way only a fire sign can. Likewise, Leo- the fiery confidence and charisma paired with a sign who likes the attention of being in charge, and can genuinely care about those over whom they preside. I also think of Capricorn, though- they’re the ones with the dedication, the responsibility, the work ethic, and the endless drive to really make this role work smoothly and successfully. So, maybe a Capricorn with a Leo rising? That might be your best Emperor.

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What is the positive aspect of this card?

The Empress is all things abundant and growing and vital; whether that’s literal, in the sense of becoming pregnant, parenting children, and growing crops, or whether that’s more metaphorical, in the sense of birthing creative projects, flourishing in interpersonal or career relationships, or being financially abundant. It also conveys a sense of benevolent rulership; a deeply rooted generosity that does not believe in zero-sum games, but rather believes in enough of everything for all.

What is the negative aspect of this card?

It’s pretty hard for me to come up with a negative association for this card; I tend to read it much like the Aces, in the sense that it is nearly entirely great potential, and it’s hard to see a downside to that. I suppose you can think of oppressive success, where there is pressure to produce more and more, or the blindness that comes from unquestioned success and privilege, but I think the card would have to be pretty badly aspected for those interpretations to arise.

Astrological association and why?

I believe this card is traditionally associated with Virgo, which makes sense; Virgo is The Maiden, or The Virgin, and is depicted as the young woman with the horn of plenty, much as the Empress often is. Virgo is an earth sign, both grounded and endlessly creative, and Virgo’s mutability also lends itself to an interpretation of growth. I can also see a strong association with Taurus, though, the earth sign ruled by Venus (or Ceres, if you prefer)- Taurus is very much about the realm of the physical and particularly the bounty and comforts thereof, and those aspects certainly connect to the Empress as well.

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What is the positive aspect of this card?

The High Priestess is the ruler of the unseen- the unconscious, the silent, the deep and vast streams of emotion and thought which encircle and affect our waking world in every way. The High Priestess is the healing Dark Mother who guides us, and also the Queen of the Underworld, full of wisdom and knowledge and magic which can bless and heal us.

What is the negative aspect of this card?

The High Priestess can be both full of secrets and full of silence. There is no hope of ever attaining to her level of wisdom, though it behooves us to try; however, this can end in frustration, with us stymied and alone. It can also be a card of those powers which operate unseen, and which can therefore alter outcomes in ways we can’t know until they are upon us.

Astrological associations and why?

The High Priestess is all Scorpio to me, though I could see aspects of Pisces. Both are water signs, which tie into the emotions and hidden currents of knowledge that she represents. However, Scorpio is, as my mother likes to say, the sign of “sex, death, and secrets”, which is definitely a large part of the provenance of the High Priestess. I also associate Scorpio with power and mystery, which are also right for this card. Pisces, though, would reflect the unconscious dreaming and the ever-flowing emotion of the High Priestess, all the subterranean feelings and hopes of the world.

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