I was a bit longer finding quiet time for this than I thought I would - this afternoon, I played bingo at a fundraiser for my daughter's Yearbook club.. and won nothing. It was a fun day anyway, in spite of the inevitable table of little old bingo ladies who were rude and way too serious and made the volunteers nervous the entire time ... and insult to injury walked away with a good third of the prizes! boo, mean bingo ladies!
So... I did an open reading with no subject in mind to see what turned up.
What an interesting version of the Devil this is! A man in standard business attire is sitting on a rock in a dark cave with stalactites and stalagmites behind around him. Behind him in the shadows there is a dim red light and a shadow on the wall (him or is there someone back there?). At his feet are six discarded masks with various facial expressions - one of them is a horned demon-featured mask. The man himself has a hole in his face... under all these masks, there is the portal to what's really inside, but does this mean that every face we show is a mask? The man is holding a mirror up to his face - his hands are chained and the mirror has a single eye on the back of it... the sense here is of using his 'third eye' (minus a face, it's his only eye) to see deep inside himself. "Shadow" is the keyword here, pointing to this as doing some deep inner Shadow work.
So this is the goal of this reading - the desire to deal with those parts of myself that I don't readily see or acknowledge... to get behind my personas to what's inside. And a good goal for the Samhain season, I think.
Well there's an image! An artist is sculpting a bust and looks over and there's another guy dumping rocks into a machine and churning out mass produced busts much faster than he is... They're both being 'inventive' in the creation of these busts (personas?) but there's the slow creative path and the efficient technical path.
So when it comes to dealing with shadow work, what's going on here? It seems like the machine is making masks - all those masks that were discarded..churning out new ones to replace the old as quickly as possible. Don't like this one? Well here's another, and another and another. No need to see the hole when we've got all these busts to fill up the space.
But the artist is working slowly chipping away at rock to shape his bust and it seems to me that an artist has to have a model ... he has to have looked within to create what he sees there - he's drawing that shadow outward into manifestation.
As far as my role in this.. I think its a bit of both. I want to be the artist, who examines my own dark places and turns them into something beautiful. But I won't deny that that adapting and taking on mask after mask (the strong one, the wise one, the calm one, the bitchy one, the sick one) can sometimes look like acknowledging all the parts of myself when it's really only short cutting the process by labeling it instead. I need to keep in mind that this is not a quick path, but one that is best done by chipping at it bit by bit rather than manufacturing feel-good junk food 'self-improvement' projects.
A chef is tasting a pot of red sauce that has been prepped by an assistant and giving it a thumbs up. The assistant has done the work, but is taking the time, as part of the learning process, to have someone more experienced check her work.
This suggests to me that one thing I can do in the course of dealing with my own shadow work is to seek out someone experienced in this to check my progress. I get the idea this is about getting professional help - and I have to be honest, it's not likely that I'll be budgeted for that anytime soon.
But it does make me think of a few people I know who have professional backgrounds that I might want to talk with on a less formal basis. In the main, the key idea here is to get a second set of eyes on the work I'm doing and not go about it entirely alone. Give the nature of dealing with denial and inner work that isn't comfortable, that makes a lot of sense... it's unknown territory, and scary. Someone who knows the likely pitfalls can only help prevent disasters.
A man sits in a boat with a fishing pole and tackle box. He's not cast out his line, which has a butterfly perched on it. In the water is a fish looking up at him, while his attention is focused on a red rose in his hands. The lake is very still and calm, with low hills in the distance behind him. The sky is full of bright stars which are reflected in the water below and the man has a large blue star on his t-shirt, which makes the total number of stars 21.
All the symbols here point to calm and serenity and being in touch with emotions and intuition. The 21 starts point to the World card - the Whole that this card is optimistic is up ahead.
This is what I needn't try to control, because it is a part of the process. There is assurance here that however uncomfortable looking into the shadow part of myself, the result is a sense of peace and trust in eventual wholeness. It reminds me of the purpose behind the goal, and seems to be saying 'trust the process'.
In this image, a man and woman are walking a tightrope. The woman, decked in red and wearing safety pads and helmet, is carrying a wrench and some sort of white package and seems to be struggling to keep her balance.
By contrast, the man, wearing a blue suit, is barefoot and blindfolded and is walking calmly and carefully minding his balance.. he's feeling his way without focusing on the potential risk.
In exploring the Shadow, I will be learning how to more greatly trust my instincts and to stay focused on goals rather than driven by fear and a sense of risk - this seems to be both the way of taking the journey and the lesson learned from it that can be used in the future. It speaks on taking one step at a time, not looking down, and maintaining balance in absence of being able to see where I'm going.
Well ... I will have to think on this one a bit - I have been wanting to do some work along these lines and putting it off, but maybe the time is right as the weather turns cold and more introspection seems to fit the season.