The term “shadow” has many connotations, depending on its use. When working with your “Shadow Animal,” you will probably want to explore what type of shadow the animal is. That will determine how you work with Them. I will define the terms: “darkness and light,” “the shadow archetype,” “nahualli,” “heyoka,” “trickster,” and “shaman’s death” in several blog postings. Finally, I will conclude with how to work your “Shadow Animals.”
My continued exploration of homeliness*must also embrace this season of lengthening dark. At Mother Grove Goddess Temple this morning, the priestess led us in an exploration of this dark time and the importance of sitting in it, being in it, learning from it. In the guided meditation, I saw the remaining days in this intense agricultural year stretch before me like a long hallway. Or better—one of those collapsible spy-glasses that grew more dense as it stretched toward the Solstice.
In my spiritual tradition, we cheerfully refer to the months after the Green (Summer) Solstice as the Time of the Long Dying, and particular attention is paid to the few weeks after Samhain, the final Harvest. These are the weeks, the hours of the deepening dark, when messages from the unseen people are lessening in frequency but more potent, more desperate for a hearing.
People fear snakes, and run from spiders. When we see these particular animals, we shrink in fear. Certain types of animals make our skin crawl. These animals are the “creepy crawly” ones or the ones we only see at night like owls. The ones that we feel the queasiest about are the animals that are the most alien or radically different from us.
Animals that elicit such a strong response from us are our Shadow Animals. These animals represent the part of our inner landscape that we want to keep in perpetual darkness. Shadow Animals are the manifestations of the unacceptable aspects of ourselves. They hold the aspects of ourselves that we dislike. Since many people feel uncomfortable in embracing their dark side, fear of certain animals is one way to keep it at bay. Hence, we invest our dark qualities in spiders and snakes.
What do Shadow Animals do? They give us permission to love the unacceptable parts of ourselves. When we work with Them, we take back our lost power to forgive ourselves. Once we embrace our Shadow Animals, we will be reunited with these missing parts of our being. They show us that our most hated, feared, and shameful qualities are actually our keys to living the life of our dreams. Shadow Animals call you to make peace with yourself.
The 7 of Swords is one of those cards that the shadow is pretty evident; especially when it is upright, but the truth is that it goes much deeper. The card conveys deception, lies, and stealing.In most Rider Waite versions of the deck, the thief can usually be seen with his arms full of swords, walking away from the community that he stole from, as he looks back to make sure that he is getting away with it.There is sneakiness to this card as the thief tip toes away with his bounty.
I love getting the 3 of Cups in a tarot reading.It clearly depicts celebration and joy with smiling girls that are dancing in a circle enjoying life, each holding a cup as they dance about.Perhaps they are at a party or maybe it's just 3 friends getting together at someone’s house to have a good time.It’s usually a reminder to the client to get out and have a good time.Let your hair down and let loose.
In my last post, I described Neo-Paganism as a modern-day mystery religion. Historically, initiates into the mystery religions experienced a ritual death and rebirth. Some Neo-Pagan rituals follow this format. The idea is that we die to our old selves and awaken to a new, more expansive Self. In Jungian terms, the Self is the wholeness of our many disparate selves, conscious and unconscious. But to encounter the Self, we must let our old selves, our egos, die. This is a psychological death, but no less significant than physical death from the perspective of the ego. For the ego, the experience can be as painful as dying physically, and some people would prefer physical death.
The 6 of Wands from The Tarot of Delphi deck is depicted in the1885 artwork entitled The Triumph of Titus: The Flavians by Sir Lawrence Alma-Taderma.Here, the heir to the Roman Empire, Titus, receives high honors and praise.This image perfectly depicts the victory that is the 6 of Wands.