Wednesday 30 October 2013

What Tarot Taught Me About Loving Myself

This blog post is my contribution to the Samhain Tarot Blog Hop for 2013, themed LOVE.

The blog post lined up before mine is written by Jera-Babylon Rootweaver and can be found here and the blog post lined up after mine is written by Alison Coals and can be found here

If you get lost somewhere between Rootweaver's, Alison's or my blog, please visit the Samhain Tarot Blog Hop 2013 master list to read the posts of the rest of the Tarot bloggers here:

Thank you for visiting my blog whether you are a regular follower, a Facebook friend who has chanced upon my post, or you have  been linked to my blog post from any of my fellowTarot blog hop participants' posts.

We are almost coming to the end of the year.  Some of my friends from the Northern hemisphere are well-suited in their sweaters, coats, gloves and boots.  Thankfully in Singapore, I am still perspiring in the sweltering heat. However, cultural, religious and ethnic celebrations do transcend geographical and racial barriers.  So I am quite excited about celebrating Samhain or Halloween with my friends from all over the world by writing this blog post.

Why Love?
When Spring came, love was in the air.  When Summer came, love was in the air. When Autumn came, and the hint of wintry winds started to cut through the air, it did not seem like a right season to celebrate love. The malls and restaurants in Singapore had been decked out in Halloween decorations.  Did I see anything that remotely resembled Hearts and Flowers?  NO.  So when we were instructed by Alison Cross of the Games of Throne Tarot Blog fame, to write about the topic of Love in the Samhain Tarot Blog Hop, I had to admit that I was not enthused at all.  “Love!  What did Love have to do with anything during this season’s celebrations?” I muttered and shook my head in despair as I added my name to the bloggers’ participants’ list.  So I quote Jordan Hoggard here, “Wild horses can’t be broken, and with the thinner veil I'm looking forward to them galloping and traipsing around the hop in MORE places than normal. I am really enthused about this topic. And, with the thinner veil even more Lurve can come through.”  If you know Jordan, he is a little bit “Woo-Woo” crazy but oh so brilliant.  So I took his advice and cracked on with the topic as best as I could, with the aim of exploring how I could use LOVE to work on a rather difficult issue I was currently facing – Drawing Out My Shadow Self.
What Is Samhain?
Samhain is celebrated as a Celtic New Year. It marks the start of Winter, as we walked into the darker half of the year when the days get even shorter and the night gets much longer. As a Roman Catholic, I celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day. Like my friends who celebrate Samhain, it is a time I honour my ancestors who have long passed. As the topic for this Tarot Blog Hop celebrated Love at Samhain, I thought it appropriate to remember and honour my late Granddad.  He had been critical in teaching me the values of humility, grace, love and compassion when I was a child.  Granddad was that embodiment of love and compassion.  He was as patient as a saint and devoted his life to caring for and making his family happy.  My childhood with Granddad by my side was filled with so much love.  He taught me not to ask for more and to live in gratitude for what I had.  He taught me to deal with the differences amongst people around me with compassion.  He said we could not change people, but we could change ourselves. 

My Shadow Self

And this being the festival of Samhain, which casts a shadow upon my path as I walked into the darker half of the year, I thought it appropriate too, to explore how I could use Love as the perfect tool to deal with my shadow self which reared its ugly head when I had to deal with a personal issue recently. 

Last week, I had a run-in with someone who told me that I was not competent at a skill in spite of the fact that I had developed that skill for more than 17 years now. What upset me most was that she could not articulate her reasons why she thought I was incompetent and even “grasped at straws” to throw preposterous and unsubstantiated claims about what I had or had not done.  Upon analysis of that conversation, I realized that the only reason I was criticized and attacked specifically for those skills was that it was a response to her insecurities of not possessing the same skills and experience that I had.  Her shadow self was rearing its ugly head. However, what was even more interesting, was my assessment that when I had responded to her criticism with an aggressive defense, my own shadow self had also reared its ugly head because within me, there was a deep insecurity and fear of criticisms, alternative viewpoints and change.

After that showdown, I promptly packed up and left for a week’s vacation in the magical island of Bali and went through daily yoga studies and practice.  That was the best week ever because I came back with a rejuvenated mind and spirit to take on, not that person who criticized me, but my shadow self. 

Carl Jung said, “Whatever the form 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.”
My shadow self reflected some vestiges of insecurity, intolerance to differing opinions and fear of change which I had hidden because I was taught to be strong, aggressive and formidable in the face of obstacles,

In my yoga studies, I learnt about Ahimsa, one of the Yamas or moral codes of Yoga which preached non-violence. Ahimsa opened my heart and mind to the fact that I was ultimately causing myself “violence” and hurting myself and others around me in the process because of my anger and disappointment.  I was also not practicing Ahimsa when I raved and ranted about what a stupid, short-sighted cow she was.

In my spiritual journey, I learnt the axiom “ As above, so below.  As within, so without.  So that the miracle of the one can be established.” I drew significance of this axiom to my situation, acknowledging that what appeared in outer situations, was a reflection of my inner consciousness.

 I was usually aggressive and ambitious and often approached issues with a hard-nosed, rigid and arrogant attitude as if I knew best because I was very experienced and highly skilled in what I did.  My shadow self however, embodied a very insecure person who hated criticisms, differing opinions and I was not prepared to accept changes that impacted my sense of security within my comfort zone.  When I was criticized, the first instincts was for my shadow self to respond to that criticism as I saw a negative me, being projected by the other person who had criticized me.  I responded to her by fighting back with tenacity to defend my turf because I recognized that sense of insecurity.

A Tarot Lesson In Love
With a new perspective and my openness to embrace change and the differing opinions of others, I remembered the lessons of love, compassion, humility and grace that Granddad had taught me when I was little.  So I created a Tarot spread with the intent to help provide advice on how I could use Love and Compassion to deal with my shadow.

For this purpose, I am using the Morgan Greer Tarot deck created by Bill Greer and Lloyd Morgan.

Managing My Shadow Self With Love And Compassion 
My Shadow Self - The Devil:
I was not surprised to pick this card as a symbol of my shadow self.  The Devil is a card reflecting fear, obsession, and the hidden forces of negativity to which I had bound myself to and hidden away in the closet.   My insecurities masked by an aggressive front had always been an issue that could potentially escalate to misunderstandings and miscommunication.

How can I show love and compassion to my external self? – Ace of Swords:

The Ace of Swords is a symbol of mental clarity, deep insights attained and a greater understanding of a situation or self.  In this case, if I had not been driven by my spiritual path, guided by the grace of my Catholic faith, wisdom of Tarot and the precepts of Yoga, I would not have been able to recognize how much my shadow self could leave me stuck in a perpetual pattern of approaching challenges with a passive-aggressive response.  However, recognition was not enough.  The pattern would continue if I did not take action to confront the issue. The Ace of Swords was a card advising me to cut through the problem by being more solution-centric than reactive, and not allow my responses to criticisms be dictated by my insecurities and fears.  Remembering the love, compassion, grace and humility which Granddad taught me, I am resolved to checking myself in the future when similar situations happen by calmly stepping back to re-evaluate the root-cause of these challenging situations.

If I loved myself enough, I deserved to treat myself better by ensuring that my external self could respond to future challenges with a level of dignity.

How can I show love and compassion to my shadow self? – 7 of Cups:

The 7 of Cups is a symbol of choices, some real and some illusionary.  This card had posed a question to me, “When my shadow self reared its ugly head as I responded to that criticism, were my fears and insecurities real or illusionary?”  I was blown away by the fact that my answer to that question was, ”Not sure.”  You see, when I was criticized for lacking competency in a certain skill, I responded without opening my heart and mind to the potential of learning new skills and knowledge.  With arrogance, I took it for granted that I was sufficiently skilled.  As a consequence, I did not give myself room to grow.  The 7 of Cups urged me to lend wisdom to my perspectives and discern the difference between what my real fears were and what were the illusionary ones.

If I loved myself enough, the only fear my shadow self should be having, was the fear of not giving myself a fair chance to learn more.

How can I manage my duality with Love and Compassion? – The Tower Reversed:

Recognizing that my shadow self and I would need to coexist, I had to look for a way to manage that uneasy relationship. The Tower reversed card was a reflection of my fear of change.  I viewed a criticism of me as another person’s intention to rock my boat and make changes that are driven by his or her personal agenda. That was the reason why I reacted so badly.  Instead of being opened to the idea that change or differing opinions could inspire new ideas, I resisted with my aggressive response.  I reacted with anger, disappointment and shock when I should have asked the question, “What could I do to make things better?  What could I do to learn more so that I could be of better help to you?”

If I loved myself enough, I should allow my duality to coexist in harmony by accepting changes and differing opinions with more confidence in myself.  I should see every potential change as an opportunity to learn and grow, hone my skills further, do more, and do better.

Love And Compassion

Granddad should be proud of me.  He had taught me well.  As a professional Tarot reader and Numerologist tasked to guide clients through their issues every day, how could I render love and compassion to them when I could not render myself the same?

“If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others.  If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others” ~ Dalai Lama

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 is also a certified numerologist.  She is currently running a Tarot consultancy based in Singapore called Sun Goddess Tarot,  which provides confidential intuitive readings combining the metaphysical disciplines of Tarot, Numerology and Astrology via face to face and emails as well as readings at corporate and private events and workshops.  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 mentors Tarot protégés on behalf of the American Tarot Association


  1. Loved your post Joanna... I think this is my favourite bit... 'I should see every potential change as an opportunity to learn and grow, hone my skills further, do more, and do better.' :)

  2. Lovely post, Joanna - thanks for sharing this.

  3. How lovely that you could pack up and spend a vacation in Bali after an upset! Can't get that level of value from a short break in Chepstow. ;)

    1. LOL! Carla, trust me it was sooooo difficult..for about a day I might as well have been in Chepstow!

  4. Glad I could extend a welcoming hand to guide you in through the initial WTF???'s... as once you got in you SHINED brightly from your Shadow! I can full-on feel that bright wormhole of a white dot in your article that lives in the yin-yang symbol so far into the depths of dark as to find light. Thanks for your wonderful insights with your bright eyes peering from the darkness of Shadow now welcoming me through the "I-have-no-clues-here" place. It helps me be even more comfortable with the not-knowing and Shadow Dance rather than wrestle. Thanks, Joanna.

    Happy Hallowe'en and have a Spooktacular Day in the future over there!

  5. Plus, it's great to see you and Bonnie Fernandes both invoking Grandparents. :-)

    1. Jordan you are sooooo funny! Thanks for inspiring me to dig deeper. I did suffer a momentary WTF moment LOL!

  6. Thanks. for this past. Shadow work is very healthy from time to time.. Have you read the book of Christine Jette: "Tarot Shadowwork"?

  7. Aw, I love this post, and your spread is fantastic. I will do this soon. I think posts like this, that offer people a way to understand our Shadows, help people (outside of your offerings of Tarot and numerology) a lot, as well :)

  8. I love it that you were able to take a step back and recognise the situation as an opportunity for reassessment and growth. Thank you for sharing this experience... it's a wonderful reminder for me to look at my shadow as a good friend and ally rather than as an enemy.