Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Samhain Blog Hop--Searching The Shadows....

Tarot Blog Hop: Me And My Shadow

You've probably come here from the blog of Morgan Drake Eckstein, my neighbour in this round of the Tarot Blog Hop. And when you leave here, Joanna Ash has something to say to you. Please enjoy the journey. And if you should happen to lose your way amongst the spooky trees and shining jack-o-lanterns, Amethyst Mahoney's blog contains a Master List that can get you back on track....

And so, we look to the focus of the Samhain Blog Hop. This Samhain, we have a very intriguing challenge for the 'Hop. Here, in the words of our Wrangler Amethyst, is the topic for our Samhain Blog Hop: 

"Explore your Shadow side. What aspects of yourself do you feel like you have to keep hidden? Sometimes this takes form of hiding our magical selves from the “normal” world. If Harry Potter taught us anything, it is that we must hide from the Muggles. Even within our own Pagan and spiritual communities, many of us are ridiculed and shamed for our beliefs. Whether you are told you are too Light and too fluffy, or too Dark and too Vampirish, everyone seems to have an opinion of how you “should” be. This Samhain, take the time to get in touch with the True You. Who are you really, once you shake off the expectations of your community and the World? If you find things you do not wish to publicly share on your blog, share a little about your journey, or perhaps a Tarot spread or ritual that you did to get you there. Or share if you felt differently and what changes you may make in your life because of it. While most people spend Halloween pretending they are someone or something else, you dear one, can find time to pretend to be who You really are. Who is hiding beneath the normal every-day mask you wear for the World? I look forward to meeting you."

I looked forward to meeting Me, too. The one thing I know about the Shadow is that your Shadow Self -- well, to put it simply, "hides in the Shadows." In other words, you can't just go find your Shadow by looking for it. You need to do as we of Traditional Witchcraft are instructed to do when we "approach the Altar"...look backwards over one shoulder, standing on one foot, not attempting to go directly to the Source but using the roundabout method of intuition, inspiration, and intrigue....So. I found a meme on Facebook that gave me an idea for a spread...have you seen that "Who do ______ think I am?" thing that's been going around? It occurred to me that the main idea of finding the Shadow is that one doesn't necessarily recognize one's own Shadow even when you find it. Instead, we have to look through filters, through other sets of eyes. And so-- a layout, drawn by inspiration and at random, that might give some suggestions as to the tropes that identify the Shadow....here we go. Follow me into the Shadow Realm and see how much of this might apply to you.

Who My Mom Thinks I Am: This card represents the view of our Shadow from those people, symbolized by our "Mothers", who always seek, and see, the very best in us, regardless of what is really going on. The first thing we need to do in looking for the Shadow is to ignore the refrain of "oh, you're just fine the way you are," whether it is being voiced by other people or our own conscious mind which is resisting looking inward. The Chariot card reminds us that there is a race going on, it is a competition, we are needing to pull ourselves together and look at the racecourse the way it really is. "Mom" may see us standing triumphantly on the teetering seat, coming in in first place. But we know in order to keep our balance, we need to be constantly aware of the course and the obstacles thereon. Rachel Pollack says, "The Chariot indicates the importance of willpower in dealing with the problems shown in the reading. If the Chariot appears in the position of Self in the Celtic Cross, it says that the person has a strong will and this may help to bring about a satisfactory outcome. In a difficult situation, it may show a will to continue. In fact, meditation with this card can increase the person's will power. If several cards in the reading suggest weakness, but the Chariot appears in some key position such as Possible Development, then it advises the person to approach the situation with optimism and determination." In this place in this layout, I see the Chariot representing the fact that the race is ongoing, difficult, and perhaps not where we want to go--but we still may prevail, if we choose to keep our balance. "Mom" says we are winners. The race is hard, but we can do it. Maybe even within our Shadow Self, there are ways to prevail.

Who My Friends Think I Am: Here we have the Seven of Swords, and the word inscribed on the foot of the card is "Uselessness"....so--how does that compute? If people are our friends, how can they think of us as "useless"? Well---this is one of those times when what we think we see isn't exactly what was intended. "Who my friends think I am" is probably more correctly interpreted, in this instance, as "Who I think my friends think I am." As we said, one of the Guardians to this Quest is understanding our own use of filters. And false humility is a very common filter all of us use in evaluating our Selves. Most of the time, whether or not we are willing to admit it, we think our friends don't have as high an opinion of us as we have of them. Most of us feel somewhat inferior, and as if we need to "pump it up", in order to deserve the friendship of the people with whom we associate. We usually feel as if we are lucky to have the friends we have, and that they are doing us a favor to be our friends in the first place. This is one of the first Gates to the Shadow Realm--our feelings of inferiority, and our willingness to think ourselves of less importance than are other people. If we are going to discover the Shadow, we have first to identify who we already are. Your friends think you are every bit as wonderful as you think they are. Those Swords are standing in the way of a true assessment of your Self. If you want to see what your friends think of you--sheathe the sword, and simply ASK. You might be--you WILL be--pleasantly surprised.And in order to identify your Shadow, you need to know, first, what it isn't.

Who My Cat Thinks I Am: A little giggle here, but also a truth. Animals do have an acuity about us, knowing our moods and temperament sooner, more accurately, and even more in depth, than we do ourselves. And yes, for most of us, the animal allies in our lives do see us as the Hierophant, the source of wisdom, home, comfort and kitty-treats. But there's a truth hidden here that might not be immediately accessible--'my cat' is a metaphor for the animal instinct present within each of us. We do have a mammalian soul, and that part of us is not subject to logic, does not respond to rhetoric, nor can it be persuaded to act against its own interests. When attempting to access the Shadow, it is essential to look to the mammal-mind, that part of us which is always guarding our own best interest and sees only that which is necessary for us to live and thrive. What does your "inner feline" really want? Don't forget that many times it is this kind of "selfishness" that is perceived by the conscious mind as "shadow"... we somehow have convinced ourselves that it is WRONG to think of our own "best good". But that is not shadow--that is necessity, and it makes possible the expansion of the psyche to embrace the good of others. That "animal instinct" is, in this reading, expressed by the Hierophant, and is indicative of our own Inner Wisdom. So--look at yourself through cats' eyes, with cat's wisdom, and see the real You hiding there behind the food-dish. Be Wise about your Self. What do you really need, really want? And--is that Shadow, or is that Sense? Only by clearing the extranea and misconceptions out of the way can you see what is really lurking in your own personal Shadow Realm. Miaou!!

Who My Mate Thinks I Am: Here, we've drawn the Ace of Cups, which is probably one of the most positive cards in readings about relationships. If you were reading for yourself and your partner, this card represents the Marriage Cup, the Holy Grail of happiness as contained within your relationship as the Cup holds the Wine. But in this instance, the Grail Quest is a bit more complex. Who does your Mate, the person closest to you in reality, who does that person think you are? Are you truly the person your Mate sees when s/he looks at you, or is the first place your Shadow Self manifests in the most important relationship of your life? The spiraling gold of the Cup in this card is elegant, regal, quintessentially perfect. But the wine? what is it, how does it taste, and does it "measure up" to the elegance of the Cup? And--how does this relate to the Self you have shown or are showing to your life partner? In many cases, we "groom ourselves" to find a partner--we try to become something we are not, thinner, more sexy, more elegant, more made-up, more successful-looking, so we will attract the "right kind of man/woman." And, unfortunately, this sets up a layer of deception which usually persists throughout the relationship, until one day, you let your "real self" out and all Hell breaks loose. When looking for the Shadow, many of us need look no further than what J. AlfredPrufrock calls the "face" we have "prepared to meet the faces that we meet." So on the Shadow Quest, we need to examine closely the persona we are using in our deepest relationships. Does the person you love, love YOU, or some cognate of "my best self" that you have created? And, if you currently don't have a partner, are you more interested in "finding the right person" or in "being the real person"? When on the Shadow Quest, one of the first stops in that journey is to look into the eyes of the Beloved, and see the Self that is reflected back. Does your Mate really know, love, understand, YOU? And if not--maybe that's a good place to start on this journey.The first stop on the journey to understand the Shadow is to let the person/s you love see you as you really Are. 

Who My Ego Thinks I Am: "Ego" in this context is what Starhawk calls "Talking Self", the rational mind, the "Sun Sign", spoken astrologically. It represents the "me" that we see when we look in the mirror, the Self that we present to the world, the Being that we think of when we hear our own Names. And--the card this time is a rather interesting choice, because Ego, which translated from Latin simply means "I", can be the "eye" we have on ourSelves when we are out in the world--the person(a) which we expect to be "Me" as the world sees me. And yet--the card is the Hermit, the avatar of solitude, the Being who withdraws from the company of others and seeks out only the company of the Self, who revels in solitary contemplation, who speaks to, and listens to, and learns from, only the Self. This one scarcely needs an interpretation, but since I have a tendency, like most Virgos, to state the obvious, I will go ahead and point it out for you. Simply put, this card is telling us, we who have embarked on the Quest for the Shadow Realm, that the "Ego" we see in the mirror, the persona we wish the world to associate with our Name, isn't who we really are. We are being instructed here to go Within, to look deeper, to spend time in our own House of Silence, our Inner Realm, and to find out who really lives there. There are layers upon layers of misconception about the Self by the time a person reaches maturity--some of them have been wrapped around the persona by the expectations and insistence of others, and some of them have been willingly donned by the Self as protections against the perceived parts of the Self we don't care to acknowledge. But the Ego--the "I" of you--must, above all else, tell itself the truth. And so--retreat to the Hermit's Cave, forget the false apperceptions of "who I think I am" and "who I wish I was" and take a long, hard look at "who I really am." This is the first real challenge of the Search for the Shadow...and it is the one without which the Quest will die before it is born. Look at your Self, honestly, frankly, completely. Don't make your Self any less, nor any more, than who you are. And--be ready to be surprised, often positively, by what you will find.

Who I Really Am: I will admit, I was surprised to see the card I drew here, the one that is intended to convey what may be found at the bottom of the Well of Shadows. Most of us, myself included, see the Shadow Realm as terrifying, see the possibilities of "ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties" hiding in our own psyche as quite a sufficient reason to keep that gate closed forever, thenkewveddymutch. And yet--here at the apex of this reading, I draw the Two of Swords, the card that represents the Will to Peace. Swords are always potentially dangerous--unless sheathed. And two swords at rest recognizes the potential for hostility but affirms instead the choice of Peace. And so--how does this relate to the Shadow Quest upon which we have embarked this Samhain? What does the Two of Swords tell us about the discovery of our Shadow Self, and what to do with the knowledge? Rachel Pollock's interpretation of this card is perhaps the best place to start. In her words, "In readings, the Two of Swords means tranquility. It speaks of achieving a sense of serenity, possibly in a difficult situation. For now, the conflicting forces are kept apart and all is quiet. The forces (the two walls) may refer to people quarreling, especially if the subject of the reading finds him or herself in the middle. Peace is stronger than battle, at least for the moment. The time of peace may provide opportunities for prospering, or new growth. The person needs to be sure to take the proper steps so that growth will continue." This speaks very cogently of the state of mind inherent upon us as we discover the Realm of Shadow within us. We may not like all we have found. Perhaps we discover that we are, indeed, arrogant, or unskilled, or deceptive, or whatever qualities within ourselves we feel least inclined to acknowledge. We want to fight with this knowledge, to battle it, to refuse to acknowledge it as truth, to defeat it. But--the card says, "Be at Peace with that, whatever it is." And why? Does that mean, just accept what we find, and walk away? Not at all. This card reminds us that "peace is stronger than battle" and tells us not to attempt to reject our Shadow, but instead to "take the proper steps so that growth will continue." The Shadow Self is a toolbox. There is something to be said for accepting the pieces of our Selves which we find difficult or hostile, and looking with calmness and serenity upon them, and thinking, with the eyes of the Hermit, "What can I use this for? What can I make of this? What kind of a TOOL is this thing?" Is your perceived arrogance a cloak for self-respect and refusal to be abused? Is your supposed lack of skill merely an indicator that you are trying to do the wrong things? What can you do with your faculty for deception...storyteller? poet? politician? (insert small giggle here). And the answer to these questions may make it possible for us to find Peace within the Shadow, and further our Transformation. The Quest for the Shadow Self is really an invitation to Become. And all of us are capable of doing that, if we really look.

Samhain Blessings on your journey beyond the Veil. Treasures await you in the Shadow Realm. Be at Peace!

beith seidh,

Aisling the TarotWitch

And, speaking of journeys, don't forget to visit Morgan Drake Eckstein, my neighbour in this round of the Tarot Blog Hop, if you didn't get here from there. You can move from here to Joanna Ash, and if you should happen to lose your way amongst the spooky trees and shining jack-o-lanterns, Amethyst Mahoney's blog contains a Master List that can get you back on track....Happy Hopping!