May 4, 2016

How to Use Tarot to Find our Shadow Aspects.


The Nine of Swords shows a woman with her head in her hands, sitting up in her bed. She appears to have just woken up from a bad nightmare, and is obviously upset, fearful and anxious following her dream. Nine swords hang on the wall behind her.

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Having been a tarot enthusiast and reader for many years now, I want to share its power and magic with you.

I use tarot as a therapeutic tool for shadow work, to strip layers of conditioning and to connect to your true self.

Before I start talking about tarot as a healing tool, I would like to tell a story that has shaped my life profoundly and gave me a new understanding of life and shadow work. It’s the story of the book Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch. The following is a very short summary of the message of the book:

Before our world was born, God used to be only love and light. God had the knowledge that he was love and light but couldn’t experience it. Because to experience something and to know what it is, you first need to know what it is not. So God decided to split himself up into quintillions of pieces and created a universe of opposites to not only know but also feel that she was love and light. To experience light, he therefore created the darkness. To experience love, she created fear. To experience the conscious, he created the unconscious. And each of us is tiny but a very important part of the big oneness called God. 

When we were children we still remembered that we were only love and light, and then we went through a series of experiences that made us forget this fact completely. Most of us spend the rest of our lives searching for that feeling again. Often, we don’t understand why life is so difficult. But life isn’t difficult at all once we find out who we really are—God in disguise—sometimes hiding very well to make the game more exciting. The road to light oftentimes leads through the darkness.

Our emotions are our inner guide that we ignore way too often because we fear the negativity in our lives. It’s time to unlearn what we have learned in the past.

You are already perfect the way you are. You are not here to improve yourself or become a better version of yourself. The sun in your heart has always been shining very brightly. There are simply a few clouds obscuring the sunrays. These clouds are your shadow side. These clouds are our belief systems that cause harm in our lives.

If we try to force the clouds away, more will come, because whatever we resist, will automatically persist. But if we approach them with awareness and without judgment, if we start detecting their reason for existence and learn to love them, our sun will start shining through them.

The most important thing is to bring these clouds to our awareness. To do that, I found tarot to be a wonderful tool. Here is a wonderful technique that will help restore the connection to our inner guide.

First of all; sit down comfortably and take nine deep breaths. Feel if there is any tension in your body and breath into it. Then take your tarot cards, shuffle them and ask the question: What lays hidden in my shadow? Draw one card and face it. Continue to breath deeply. Comprehend tarot as the picture book of your life story. Your intuition will respond to the pictures. Compare the cards symbols to situations in your life. Bring old memories into your awareness. Let the heart read the pictures, the mind will follow.

Here are a few steps to guide how to bring your shadow sites to the surface:


If an emotion comes up that feels uncomfortable; sit with it without judgment. Investigate the feeling the same way that a scientist would do research: Where in your body is it located? What does it feel like (“bad” isn’t a sufficient answer)? What shape and size does it have? What color, texture and temperature does it have?

If you analyze your sensation that way, you will automatically stop to devaluate it, which is key to start loving yourself with all of your aspects. Stay in this mode for quite some time until you experience that you truly enter a state of non-judgment.


Imagine this emotion as a figure with arms and legs, head and eyes and imagine it facing you. If nothing comes up, imagine the tarot card coming alive in your vision. If you see an apparent lifeless object, envision what it would look like if it started living. Notice the appearance (size, shape, color). What gender is it? How is the look in its eyes?


Talk to your emotion. Ask anything you need to know. Ask what it wants and needs. Be patient and sharpen your awareness to receive an answer. Once you know what it wants and needs, visualize yourself giving it to the personification of your emotion. For example: It tells you that it needs your attention and love. You can then picture a scene in which you give a hug to the image of your feeling.

You can also ask what time and moment you have felt it for the first time. When images come up and you see a scene of the past—you as a child or as a younger version of yourself—ask your past what it needs and provide it as the adults you are now. For example: If an image comes up that reveals a moment in which you have been neglected as a child, you can imagine your adult-self how you give care and attention to your inner child. That way, you can alter your memories and let go of these painful experiences.

Look again: 

Now that you have given your shadow aspect what it desired, look at it again. Does it still look the same way? Does it look more sympathetic? Did it change form completely?

What happens is that you tame this “negative” energy once you give it attention and it can turn into a wonderful ally that will guide and protect you.


Imagine that the ally dissolves into you and you dissolve into wholeness. Let your mind relax. Rest as long as you like.

Relephant Read:

An Insider’s Guide to Tarot & Other Readings.

Author: Alice Smeets

Editor: Sara Kärpänen

Photo: Courtesy of the author / Alice Smeets 

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