Tuesday 30 October 2012

Brushing My Shadow Away With A Besom This Samhain

The Shadow

Whether you have come from the previous blog post of the lovely Aisling at http://tarotwitchery.blogspot.com/2012/10/samhain-blog-hop-searching-shadows.html, or you are my regular blog reader or perhaps you may have just chanced upon this blog post, thanks for visiting my blog.

The topic for this blog post was developed by my fellow Tarot Bloghoppers  and specially themed around the significance of Samhain  or Halloween.  We were asked to explore the “True” us and get to know our “Shadow Selves” better for this blog post. 

This was an interesting opportunity to understand the Jungian theory of the “Shadow” and relate it to myself.  Carl Jung said “whatever the form it (the shadow) takes, the function of the shadow is to represent the opposite side of the ego and to embody those qualities that one dislikes most in other people.”  So it comes as no surprise, that I feel a measure of discomfort when I meet emotionally needy, highly sensitive and clingy people.   I often serve up some “tough love” towards my family, friends and clients when they face issues and find it difficult to embrace  a challenge head on or are not able to move on from a disappointing situation.   I do appear quite hard with some of them, in a bid to shake them out of their “woe is me” attitudes to their situation.   So, before you judge me for being the Tarot Ogre, this is how it all started.

The Past

I was raised within a strict Asian family who were staunch Roman Catholics.  Mom might as well have been a professional pope.  So when I went through a failed first marriage and got a divorce, then subsequently married my husband who was of a different nationality, and an atheist, Mom and Dad cut me off for years out of their disappointment in me, refusing to have anything to do with me. Independently, I rebuilt my life and my relationship with my son as I was a “weekend mother”, a position I was forced into by the custody agreement.  Those years of depression, solitude, guilt and anxiety were perhaps the building blocks for the personality of my “shadow self”.   

During those lonely years, even when Mom hung the phone up on me, I would continue to call her without fail on a daily basis, just to ask how everyone was.  When my son’s friends thought he was weird and had 3 parents, I was the one who had to hold him close and explain as best as I could that he was a blessed child surrounded by love. 

When Grandpa was frail and sickly, I was prevented from going to see him because they didn’t want an outcast in the family home.   At Grandpa’s birthday, I just drove up to the house, greeted family members who couldn’t look me in the eye, or who waved me away as if I was a leper and wished Grandpa a Happy Birthday before I turned around to leave. 

Till today, even though my parents and I have reconciled, I had never forgotten the bitterness which occasionally still welled up within me.  My heart still hurt with regret that I couldn’t spend enough time with my Grandpa during those years and soon after he passed away.  There was still so much left unsaid between him and me, but I didn’t get that a chance, because that chance was taken away from me by biasness and myopic opinions of my parents and even some friends then, stuck behind the guise of religion and what my Asian culture calls “Face”.  Any word or deed that forces me to stray from the expected societal norm and behavior would cause a loss of "Face”.
The Impact Of The Past

"Face” protected my "Shadow Self", and made me a hard woman, tough on myself and others.  I seldom display any semblance of vulnerability and would temper my need to be overly expressive.  I don’t give myself  leeway to seek my own personal fulfillment at the expense of “Face”.  

Any display of such intolerable “weakness” might be frowned upon by society.  I might be deemed unsuitable to be a great mother, wife, daughter, friend, marketeer, manager, and tarot reader, if I shed that mask of a super tough bitch with balls of brass, and present my vulnerable, highly insecure and sensitive self.  Society is unforgiving of people who are weak and vulnerable.  I would lose credibility with Tarot clients and protégés if they saw my insecure and sensitive side.

“Face” is a tremendous yoke around the necks of my Asian community that corresponded with Jung’s concept of the “Shadow”. It would cause an unacceptable loss of face if we were to allow our “Shadow” to emerge from its hiding place.  I am expected to not show my sensitivity and emotional vulnerability, always keeping a lid on it because I have always been brought up to be strong, sensible, and tough. If I chose to marry someone, no matter how wrong that choice was, the deal was – I had to sleep in the bed I made.  I was not allowed to change the course of my decisions and succumb to my emotional need for true fulfillment.

In fact, true to Jung’s ideas, when I met someone who acted out the behavior that I was condemned for,  I would react to that person with the same judgment.  I had judged friends who chose to quit their jobs in mid-career to travel the world in a bid to find new purpose - I thought they were weak and couldn't stand the heat of the corporate kitchen.   

 Really, did I need to be this judgemental?

The Present

When I became a Certified Professional Tarot Reader, my family and friends approached the idea with skepticism, not for the skill, but for the notion that I will never be taken seriously and possibly not treated with respect.  I do appreciate the fact that they were genuinely concerned for me.  However, I chose to further hone my skills and walked that journey with my Tarot cards because it was the only channel which took away all forms of lies, masks and other barriers to my true self.  The Tarot cards, through me, revealed only the truths to my clients.  No wonder I felt so fulfilled each time I read the Tarot and uncovered choices that my clients might make, and even helped them tackle their respective “Shadow Selves” which had previously prevented them from making better choices before. 

I often worry “But how do I explain what I do?”  This is “Face” talking.  This "Face" did show up at social events when I meet high flying senior executives of companies who may only think of a Tarot reader as the hired help, fronting the fringe activities offered to entertain clients at these events.   My “Shadow” of insecurity and vulnerability often hid between the crevices while my tough Tarot ogre self showed up, bellowing, “I am a Certified Professional Tarot Reader, I help my clients uncover right choices to influence the outcome of their situations themselves.  I am not a Fortune Teller!” 

Really, did I have to defend my gift of intuitive skills? 

Brush Off The Cobwebs With A Besom

I needed to brush away the negativity of my “Shadow Self with a besom,  so I had to force it out of the crevice  to expose her sensitive side so that when I defend my intuitive skills, it is not out of the need to defend my ego and pretend to be strong, but for the truly genuine purpose of educating the people around me about what Tarot is all about.

As we celebrate Samhain, Third Harvest, Old Hallowmas, All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween, or All Soul’s Day or whatever one might label a day where we remember our ancestors, or relatives and friends that have passed on,    I thought this might be the right time to bring out my besom.  I wanted to deal with my “Shadow” head on, so that I can move on to better help salve the wounds of my Tarot clients. 

Samhain to me, was not just a festival that honored the dead or the past.  It was also a festival that honored the future in the form of a rebirth or reawakening of values and a commitment to hold true to these values.  I wanted to hold true to my free will to make the right choices. I wanted to hold true to liberation of thought. I wanted to hold true to my pursuit for only passions that will fulfill me.

So I shuffled my Tarot cards to the question “What’s my “Shadow” most afraid of and can I sweep it away forever?”  I picked the Lovers card and the Queen of Cups from the Rosetta Tarot deck – the most unlikely pair of cards which I wouldn’t have associated with Samhain. 

However, these cards were clearly telling me that I couldn’t just sweep my “Shadow” away as it was here to stay.   It was a message for me to integrate with it instead.

 The Lovers + Queen of Cups

The Lovers represent the unification of opposites and I saw the opposites of our respective personalities within the card.  It was an integration of the “detached and tough persona” with a “sensitive and vulnerable persona”.  These 2 personas were being held apart by "FACE".   The integration of both, and my eventual understanding of how to manage each of these personalities would liberate me and help me to make right choices for myself,  governed with the balance of the head and the heart. The mirrors depicted in the card image were a reminder to me that I often see the image of my “Shadow” in others and would react to it in Judgement.  I also see the story of Andromeda and Perseus in the first mirror which reflect the theme of Liberation.  The second mirror depicted the story of the Judgement of Paris when Zeus asked Paris to choose the fairest of the 3 goddesses and Paris gave the golden apple to Aphrodite.  This mirror reflected the theme of Choice.

 How apt.

The Queen of Cups was the next interesting card I picked.  She embodies one who is compassionate and creative, yet intuitive and emotionally balanced.  The Book of Seshet which explained the Rosetta Tarot deck in detail described this Queen as one that uses her heart more than her head.   However, my experience with the deck and my interpretation of the image which depicts her looking at her reflection  in the water, have often found her one who is emotionally balanced and controlled.  I saw the balance in the reflection mirroring the Queen.  The image also reflects the Queen’s need to decide that what she sees in front of her is true scrying or a projection of her own personal thoughts.

When I put both cards together, some messages came into my mind.  They were asking me to leverage my intuitive skills to reflect deeply into the need to build rules of engagement to allow me to integrate with my “Shadow”.   She was a mirror image of myself, but there were strengths in the differences between us.   She exists for a purpose to always remind me that I had the permission to be sensitive and vulnerable at times, and I had the permission too, to hide that vulnerability when I needed to do so.  It’s only through learning to integrate with my “Shadow” that I am able to freely explore my passions, and make right choices along the way as I continue enhancing my spiritual awareness through esoteric studies.

The Lovers and the Queen of Cups cards, are telling me I can integrate these 2 personalities because they serve well for different purposes, in different environments at different moments.  I just need to be smart enough to discern these purpose and moments though.


The twin mirrors in the Lovers card suggests the glyph of Gemini, the twins.  The twin lilies blooming in the water of the Queen of Cups card also hints to the zodiacal sign of Gemini.  So I started exploring the characteristics of a Gemini.  I think both cards are advising me to govern my thoughts and actions with the strength of a Gemini born and be consciously aware of its weakness too.

Gemini is associated with Mercury which is linked to intelligence and communication.  This makes a person born under the Zodiac sign very versatile, persuasive, communicative and expressive.  They accept and adapt to changes very easily and are compassionate about social causes, always going out of the way to help people who are in need.  They are also extremely honest and value open communication and integrity. 

Reuniting With My Shadow

Knowing the strengths and the weakness of the Gemini personalities are the cards’ advice to help me create a more positive relationship with my “Shadow”. 

That’s why, I am grateful for the cards prodding me at my side to say “Go ahead, get to know your “Shadow”.  It’s okay to bring her out from time to time when you need to cry and ask for help.  Have an open and honest discussion with her about when the right times are for her to make an appearance.  Life is ever changing.  Use her to adapt to changing situations and embrace challenges with an open mind.”

I have come a long way to finally be aware of the skeletons stored in my closet, and to accept that I do not need to fear these skeletons.  By releasing these skeletons, I will become free from this prison of a deceptive persona that I had created of myself as  a very tough Joanna.

I welcome these memories of the past as lessons that will make me a better person and a better Tarot reader to my clients.  I will not bury them out of fear and hurt because like my cards, these memories are my tools.

To further explore the notion of the “Shadow Self”,  I would like to invite you to read the post of my fellow Tarot Bloghopper Chloe at  http://innerwhisperscouk.blogspot.com/2012/10/samhain-tarot-blog-hop.html .   And if you do experience a broken link, you may return to the master list for this Tarot Blog Hop at http://amethysttarot.com/samhain2012.

About The Writer:
The writer of this blog post is a marketeer by trade, and a tarot card reader by accident. She was awarded a Certified Professional Tarot Reader qualification from the Tarot Certification Board of America (TCBA) and was recently certified as a numerologist in Singapore. A member of the American Tarot Association (ATA) and the Tarot Association of the British Isles (TABI), she is also a reader for the Free Tarot Network and is a mentor for the ATA.


  1. This was very intense. I liked your spread and what you came up with. Thank you for such a frank open look at where you were and where you are now.

  2. Thanks Arwen. Was a difficult piece to write but nonetheless rewarding.

  3. This is truly an amazing post! I enjoyed it very much; your like to the idea of "face" was very insightful! :)

  4. How apt. How poignant. These memories are your tools. You've really resonated with my depths of Memories, Dreams, Reflections which also happens to be the title of Jung's autobiography. Thank you for your forthright courage of presence that feels wholly natural. I bow in respect while I at the same time raise my hands brightly in Hoorahs to you! "Face" knocked it out of the ballpark for me. Magical Blessings, Joanna

  5. "These memories are your tools." SUCH a great line! SUCH a Shadow blessing.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your inner voices and your shadow. I gained new insight into my self, my story, and my shadow by reading your story. A great gift!

  7. Thanks all for your comments. I am so glad you guys enjoyed it. Amethyst did a great job with the topic. Took a hell lot out of me to write this piece...but it was the universe' way of telling me to address the issue.

  8. What a terrible time you have had of it. I was going to add 'what a waste', but I can see that although it was horribly painful to experience (and hats off to you for having the courage to write this) it has helped you become the woman that you are today.

    Well done. Keep putting one foot in front of the other :-)

    Ali x

  9. You certainly made a tough journey of self discovery and strength. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  10. A very insightful post.. it shows how much our upbringing creates and influences our Shadow. and I said this before elsewhere and is apt here, too: it's those people, who have to deal with difficulties in their lives that can share the most wisdom and inspiration. It's been a pleasure getting to know you better ;) Thank you for sharing x

    1. Thanks! And it was such a an honor for me to be amongst a group of wonderful Tarot bloggers.

  11. This post really touched me. And I love the fact you got the Lovers as one of your cards - so perfect for embracing your shadow! Fascinating, too, to have mirrors/reflections in both cards - it's really hard to see our shadow directly, but as you did we can find it in the mirror of other people, and the mirror of the cards ;) Thanks for sharing, Joanna!

  12. Thanks Chloe:) when I picked Lovers, I thought my intuition wonky due to the flu I was having. So I picked next card Queen of Cups, looked at them very closely and the lightbulb came on:). Funneee....they were the 2 cards least expected to use to talk about the Shadow. The universe is so wonderful that way.