a shadow spread to get out of your own way

I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because a picture is worth a thousand words. If you follow me on IG @bwitch_please , you’ve likely seen me doing some IG Live broadcasts a few times a week with shadow self exploration using a couple of decks I really like for working with the shadow self.

I developed this shadow spread if you’re someone who would maybe benefit from a little initial guidance on where and how your shadow self may be showing up for you, where it may have originated, and what you can do to avoid this affect, OR work with that shadow self to overcome the limitations its imposing on you.

The Spread

This is pretty straightforward and I won’t really dive deep into this, as I think if you’re even a novice at tarot, you can still just follow the layout, make notes on where each card appears, and then go from there.

If you don’t have a deck or aren’t yet comfortable reading/interpreting for yourself, let me know, I do readings from time to time and we can set something up.

One note I will say about the third column, ‘body/physical,’– I included this because I am a clinician and work with many many many people whose medical problems (physical and psychological) are entirely self-created.

Yes, there are legit illnesses and real medical problems, and then there are people who hold onto their trauma (both physical and emotional), letting it manifest into the physical body.

This column is meant to address both those self-created illness ‘thought-forms,’ for lack of a better term, AND any physical ailments, limitations, symptoms, or other manifestations of psychological or emotional repressions that have appeared and which prevent you from fully realizing physical health, wellness, or a balanced and optimal state of your physical body.

In other words, that column looks at ways you may be holding back your own progression of health and wellness through thought, actions, and choices.

And, as a disclaimer, I feel like it goes without saying, but its going to be said, this is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical conditions. Please consult a trained healthcare provider before making any changes to your health, diet, exercise, or medical therapies.

self doubt is what’s blocking you

self doubt is something we all experience about virtually all aspects of our lives at some point. it could be about relationships, our self worth, our appearance, our abilities, and our knowledge.

and its not that this is specific to magickal or spiritual practice, because self-doubt happens in all areas of our lives, as i just said, but if you’re experiencing blocks in that specific pursuit, then start with your own self-perception.

i’ve written before about shadow work, and that is 100% going to be foundational to your ability to push through and past your own obstacles, but here are some other things to consider, that i’ve had a number of conversations about lately:

  1. you are powerful. i don’t care who you are, where you’re from, and whether you’ve ever been spiritual before. you have innate power and you are connected to everything around you, which is also powerful. the potential is there. you just have to let it work.
  2. you can be whoever you want. if you’re young and still trying to find a peer group to fit in, i’m sorry. i know what that felt like, especially if you haven’t quite figured yourself out- because that can take a while, and nobody expects you to have this figured out yet. people can and will judge, and the internet is full of people who think they know what’s best for you. if you’re of any age, and just simply afraid to be who you really are inside, i’ve also been through that. now more than ever, we need to embrace and let ourselves shine, otherwise, there’s a massive war going on inside your head and you’re on the losing side.
  3. you are worthy. whatever it is you hope to gain from this spiritual or magick path you’re on, you can get it. you deserve the things you ask for as long as you believe you deserve them. (but be careful what you ask for, because sometimes the universe sends you what you need, not necessarily what you want).
  4. magick and spiritual connection are not owned or limited to a select few. this is for everyone. some people are naturally adept and things work easily for them, others need to practice and build confidence before things start to work. the key word there was confidence. believe in you, and believe in your ability to make this work, and it will. don’t let anyone tell you its not in your birth chart, or you don’t ‘have’ it, whatever ‘it’ is.
  5. be unafraid. no matter what happens, you are powerful and capable, and you can always ask those in your community (magickal or otherwise) for help with problems, or things that don’t go your way. yes, magick and spiritual matters can go wrong, but they are rarely life-threatening (although, let’s be honest, we would be fools to think they aren’t in some cases). we all mess up, make mistakes, and learn from them.

how do you get out of your own way?

one of the biggest things that helped me, and still does anytime i’m feeling that doubt creep in over a new idea or undertaking, is grounding, meditation, and visualization. i’m a big fan of this method.

these are honestly some of the most potent tools a solitary practitioner has in her toolbag. if you don’t have the luxury of learning from someone else on a regular basis, or you just prefer to strike out on your own, get to know your body, your mind, and your spirit well with some solid foundations you need to lay.

its important to ground yourself before and after any intense meditation or visualization, because these can be remarkably energy intensive, and if you’re already sensitive or an empath, it may make you feel as if you’ve been run over by a truck afterward.

visualizations that i’ve done that have been helpful include:

  • visualize your power; its source within you, its color, its shape; you don’t have to visualize yourself doing anything with it, but visualize its existence; know it, and know its there when you need to call on it
  • visualize your success; this is something life coaches and motivational speakers have used for decades to get people to overcome their mental hurdles; its a super simple technique with huge payoff; whatever it is you’re getting ready to do, create a strong mental vision of it and its successful outcome that you can call on when you need a boost of self-esteem or a reminder of your inner strength; you can even create a talisman or other ‘power object’ to bestow this vision on, which you carry with you and can hold or access when you need to revisit your desired outcomes
  • visualize control over your own self, including your body, mind, and spirit (internally maybe this is chakras or energy flow, externally maybe confident posture and movement); in visualizations, especially those which are deep, it is best to first become acquainted with your body and its energy flows, places where energy is stuck or sluggish, and identify why (past injuries, whether physical or emotional? posture? trauma?); throughout this journey, being in full control of yourself in every way is critical for protection in all manners
  • visualize correcting any deficits of balance, whether its energetic, emotional, or physical; there’s an entire field of science that’s studying the rare, strange, and poorly understood phenomena of people who heal complex medical problems purely with their minds; and then, of course, the only way to heal complex emotional problems is with our minds – we have to be in control of everything going on up there in order to feel whole, and that means cutting the cords attached to those who may have hurt us in the past

take responsibility

if you’re at all in a mode where anything at all in your life is someone else’s fault, you’re not going to succeed long term at anything you try- spiritual, magickal, or otherwise.

yes, shitty people exist. yes, we come into contact with them. yes, some of them do shitty things to us. but its now our responsibility to recognize this shitty person, their shitty behavior, and set a boundary that no longer allows it into our lives.

its also now our responsibility to take ownership of how we have and are reacted/ing to that shitty person and their behavior. if its someone you can just walk away from, just walk away. cut them out. they are dead to you now.

if its a shitty person you can’t avoid, or can’t avoid right now (boss, co-worker, ex spouse with whom you still co-parent children), then you have two options:

  1. fixate on how shitty they are and feel helpless and complain, but never offer up a solution or make any effort to actually change your situation or how you think about it, feel about it, or react to it.
  2. actually change your situation, how you think about, feel about it, or react to it.

if things always seem to be because of someone else, and you can’t see your own choices or involvement in the situation at all (that perhaps you are a willing participant, or at the very least, willingly making it more difficult for yourself), then you will continue to stand in your own way, honey.

if you are, however, fully ready to own your life, your mistakes, your past, your decisions (good and bad), and absolutely every single bit of what and who you are right now, then start working on those small steps forward, each one shedding just a little bit of that past self and behavior.

step into your power

if you’re standing in your own way, ask yourself to move aside. and then step into that spot, claiming the power held there.

this can be a visualization you do daily, or you can literally create a ritual or spell to manifest this.

the part of you that has splintered off from the rest, that bitch standing there going ‘uhhh, you can’t do that,’ and ‘what if [insert irrational fear]?’ all day long? politely take her hand and guide her out of your path. have compassion for this part of yourself. she’s been hurt, betrayed, kicked down, and discouraged for however many years you’ve been walking around. she only knows those things. but she has to walk beside you now, not stand in front of you.

then step into her spot and feel the power there that she once held over you.

not kidding, you can do this.

shadow work: why you should do it

if you’re newish to whatever spiritual journey you’re on, particularly if you’re newish to witchy shit, you might have heard the term ‘shadow work,’ but you might not be that familiar with it.

witchery isn’t all crystals and moonlit baths, regardless of what instagram would have you believe on your curated timelines.

i personally think this is the most powerful personal protection you can build in this world.

if you’re doing it right, you’re bound to encounter dark things, and sometimes, depending on what’s going on in your life, or what you’ve been through, you may encounter more dark than light.

if you’re suppressing or ignoring your shadow self, when these dark things come up, they can be even darker (or scarier) for you.

here’s why.

your shadow self is part of who you are

the prolific psychiatrist, Carl Jung, referred to the shadow self as“…to become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.”

it’s a conglomerate of all the so-called negative feelings, emotions, behaviors, traits, thoughts, and experiences that you have lived through or portrayed at one point in your life, but have been taught, either by other people telling you, or by the reactions of others, that these are ‘undesirable’ or better kept locked away somewhere dark inside.

you repress all of these things, but they never go away.

and when they occasionally emerge, like when someone cuts you off in traffic and you hope something horrible happens to them, or someone says something about you that you don’t like and the thought of cursing them and watching their house burn down flits across your consciousness for just a split second, this is your shadow self.

and then you feel ashamed, because you’ve been taught its bad to feel or think those things. and that shame then becomes part of how you feel about yourself. you begin to try harder to deny that part of yourself, and in so doing, you deny a part of you.

the point of shadow work is not to get rid of your shadow

on the contrary. the point is to acknowledge that it exists and that its completely human to want to get revenge, or to be angry when someone does something that hurts your feelings, and so forth. it is what you do with that emotion, how you respond to it, and how you let yourself know its okay to feel that, that changes how you and your shadow co-exist.

your shadow will always exist, but if you’re never acknowledging that inside of you there is darkness along with the light, you will find that in your magickal practice, you will only be a surface-level witch. and its okay if that’s what you’re comfortable with. its not a judgment.

but if your goal is to be a powerful witch who can control her destiny and manifest her will, seeing and acknowledging your shadow must be part of your self-improvement efforts, or it will hold you back. you will experience things like fear, anxiety, self doubt, and more, that all just stand in your way.

this goes beyond the concept of ‘white magic’ and ‘black magic.’ magic is neutral. but the intent of the one casting is not neutral.

many witches shy away from using any type of magick that may be deemed ‘dark,’ and that’s perfectly fine. you may have absolutely no need for it, or simply find other means to solve your problem (and that’s actually a great thing, rather than resorting to magick that may affect another person).

we’re taught that ‘dark’ magic is bad, but what’s actually happening is just further reinforcement of the ‘bad’ or ‘dark’ aspects of our humanity, which further encourages us to suppress them, shove them deep down, and pretend as if everything is okay, i’m okay, you’re okay, and all we need is to just take an herbal bath and pull a tarot card.

but we know truthfully that’s not solving these dark existential problems, is it?

what you can gain

i recently started doing a shadow work journal. i really highly recommend that one i just linked. i don’t get any kind of financial incentive for linking it, i just think its a good product.

in just the first handful of exercises, i can already see myself consciously making changes to how i think about myself and others. i’ve begun to think on the macro level vs the micro level.

instead of focusing on taking things personally or worrying if i am up to a particular task, i’m changing my perspective to think about how i can benefit from a mistake or criticism, or what positive lesson can be learned from an experience i would previously have thought was negative.

i can already see how this type of self-exploration changes peoples’ lives radically, to include healing from illnesses, elevating their careers, and saving their relationships, to name a few.

think about if you could remove all those self-limiting or self-sabotaging thoughts in your head, even for just a week, what could you do? let alone long-term…

if nothing stood in your way, where could you go in life?

what new path would you venture down if you were no longer afraid to?

how would your life improve if you began to conquer every goal you set out?

so, beyond just making you a better magickal practitioner, because you will be able to use all of your energy and will, unblocked and released from the boxes you have tucked them away into, you’ll be a phenomenally more stable person.

cautions

the one caution i have with shadow work is that this can be extremely uncomfortable, especially as you dive deeper and deeper into your psyche and dredge up emotions that have been bottled away for some time.

you may begin to relive experiences that were traumatic or hurtful, and you may pull up memories you had suppressed in the name of self preservation.

its not recommended to do shadow work if you suffer from low self esteem, and i can see why. you will actually just feel even more terrible about yourself if you did that.

you may need to couple this with copious amounts of meditation at times, as well. the darkness in all of us is natural, but can be difficult to accept if we have built our entire psyche around ‘only light,’ ‘only good,’ and ‘only positivity.’

i’ll just be blunt and say that each of the exercises i have done so far have brought tears forth, as i finally physically write down these things that i’ve held onto and not faced (some for almost my entire life).

but the feeling of therapeutic relief once i do so, the words plainly sitting there on the page staring at me, released and out there for the world to know, is priceless. its like an actual banishing of your barriers.

it has helped me begin to eliminate fears one at a time, and its liberating.

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