My biggest ghost at the moment is creating a new business web site, with resources aplenty. I want others to know my interests and feel inspired to create. This desire to expand and rebrand is in line with seeing tarot court cards as creative archetypes, writing tarot poetry, and crafting a tarot wreath.1
The concept of change — let alone the possibility of business success — is a frightful and common ghost. I think a lot of people ignore growth, as it feels easier to shrink into our shadows and remain invisible. Even when we know we could succeed at a business, or have a book that only we can write, we procrastinate on the vital steps that take us forward.
Before we know it, we are trapped in denial. Our potential piles up as undone work that lurks inside the empty corners of our self-definitions. Visions we held for our past, present, and future become a heavy fog of shoulda, coulda, woulda. And the deep forest of missed opportunity flourishes.
When I agree to live in fear, I confine myself to smallness. As a child, I was like a joyful, open house with a backyard of laughter and light. I recently felt the familiar chill of resistance I’ve had for years involving my dreams of a creative means of making a living. And I distracted myself with the Halloween Tarot.
The ghosts in the imagery of the Halloween Tarot deck inspired me to explore a way to bust my inner ghost. In three cards, I see that my struggle wasn’t special or all-encompassing.
First, I needed a name for my ghost. What did I shut in my proverbial haunted house with me?
What are you frightened of?
Giving in to fear and doubt means getting lost in dangerous woods. “You are a failure.” “You don’t deserve [fill in the blank].” “There is no time or money to [fill in the blank].” Such thoughts make us shrink, rather than expand.
Hallowe’en offers the chance to pay witness to our vulnerabilities. Tarot reminds us how to honour what can make us bold and brave, rather than small and meek. This tarot spread can help clear the cobwebs and shine a light on inner shadows.
This simplistic tarot spread may help you recognize — and exorcise — what haunts you.
By preparing for this reading, you prepare to look at your shadow or inner ghosts.
Psychologist Carl Jung recognized that we all have shadow parts of ourselves. Your shadow is constructed of the bits of you that are judged evil or shameful. One way to look at shadows is as psychological hauntings.
This tarot spread helped me address an old shadow. This part of myself is afraid that I’ll take radical risks and end up in poverty. If this shadow could speak, he would tell me “You will never prove it is safe enough to invent your own life. Who are you to decide?”
Our shadows are typically unknown aspects of our personalities, often negative and primitive. The shadow harms most when it is avoided. When recognized, it is less likely to undermine and sabotage.
Some aspects of ourselves may require banishing, though Jung approached the shadow as something to work with, rather than eradicate. This tarot spread is designed to help you consider what steps to take with a part of your shadow.
Make your environment feel safe. After picking your tarot deck (you may use an oracle deck and even consider Lenormand), get grounded.
If you have a ritual for quieting the mind and welcoming the messages of a divinatory experience (a reading with tarot or runes, for example), do so. Otherwise, burn incense or candles if you like, or run an oil diffuser to enhance your experience with favourite uplifting or comforting scents. Subtle music is also encouraged.
Card one: What haunts you?
Creaking floorboards. Cold drafts. Restless nights.
Hauntings come in many forms.
The Magician card, from the Halloween Tarot, appeared as the shadow, or what haunts me in this example.
A lack of trust in my own talent haunts me. I want to manifest a new website, and launch a new brand. I realize how life-changing the undertaking can be.
The Magician is about manifestation and mastery. I am fearful because I know I have the choice to change what I perceive to be much of my world.
This card is firmly tied to creation. Good advice here is to consider how well the actions of manifestation serve the person who does the manifesting. Here, I am asked to consider questions someone else asked me in a reading done around the same time: What has happened in the past when I tried to manifest, which brings me so much fear? What stops me from working on the effort to manifest what I desire today?
Card two: How do you proceed?
This card allows you to reframe your fear or respond to the shadow as it has allowed itself to reveal itself to you.
Maybe knowing what your shadow self needs to let you know at this point is enough. You may need room and time to appreciate each other and work in more harmony.
In this instance, The Tower presents itself as how I should proceed.
James Wanless describes the message of The Tower card as such: “Break out before you break down.”
“Get out of your head, woman!” is what this card screams. I need to embrace a new frame of mind. In two words: end doubt.
How? This advice is for you, too: write — and then destroy — a “worst case scenario” for what happens when you try to manifest what you desire.
In this spread, this is a card that begs me to release my fears surrounding creation.
Destroy old habits. Let the magick of The Magician begin. The stage awaits.
Card three: Who you gonna call?
An understanding of what to do with one’s fears is fine and dandy, but professionals can give the shadows and the ghosts their due.
Even if you have decided that the shadow only needs acknowledgement and you will continue to tread delicately and with awareness, it is useful to have people who care.
What external support can you call upon?
The Knight of Pumpkins (Pentacles) wants to help.
I need someone reliable, who won’t push me too quickly to act on my goals. This person is well-grounded and on the lookout for The Magician’s needs.
Finding someone who is centred and career-focused can outspook the spooks. Either use this person as a mentor and work closely with them, or become this person.
Maybe the helping hand isn’t someone you know, but a resource. Consider finding a known figure who can guide you — want success and a way to manage your time to manifest a new reality? Find books or TED Talks on these topics.
I’m very social, and like to use Facebook groups when I have questions. Ask people on social media who inspires them in these areas. Get materials from the library.
Move. Shake. Because fear clings to those who stay still.
The ghosties will get out of the way.
A word on shadow work and behavioural health
Transformation can be exhilarating and/or scary — we may have been attached to our shadows. And what if, with practice, your shadow became your ally? What if the cards seem to tell you to work with your shadow more fully, as Jung might encourage?
A healthy balance can be struck. But be advised against getting lost in your own work alone.
Connect or continue your conversations with a couple groups that give you genuine, positive life-choice support, or a mix of a few trusted — and wise — friends and family members. Reach out to them in a way that keeps you truly visible — step beyond the norm and use Skype or face-to-face communication, so you may be seen as well as heard.
Your shadow — and your light — make incremental changes each day. Those who know you well will be able to catch your personal dynamics.
If you do not see or cannot afford a therapist, no matter what choices you make, true friends will alert you to dangers. Do not forget that you have mutual love. Listen to the people who know you well. And never assume that they can know your needs and goals.
I ain’t afraid of no ghosts
If you have read tarot, or worked on your self-awareness, you can probably predict what ghosts you’ll encounter in yourself.
The Four of Pentacles repeatedly surfaced as a ghost of mine in tarot readings. I recall a friend reading for me, interpreting her Crystal Visions Tarot, telling me how I approached being a professional tarot reader with an open-heart. But I held back. A part of me had an overly protective response to the concept of earning money with tarot. My fear (The Four of Pentacles) caused me pain.
That was June of 2013. Having done this more recent spread, I feel more prepared to invent what I value through my interest in tarot.
And what was once an obstacle, the money, or the Four of Pentacles, has matured. In this spread, I found a model mindset for exorcising my ghost. The person to go to for help, the Knight of Pentacles in my case, tells me to treat my ambitions with a devoted business mentality.
The wisdom I interpret within the appearance of the knight is this: No more clinging to all the coins (Pentacles). Rather, guard and serve the fruitfulness of what I want. Remain focused on my essential purpose and act on my goals.
Be gentle with yourself
The shadow self can be unknown and ugly, but within it is hidden magick. Your magick that is special only to you. Take a look at it, but don’t dwell (your shadow has already been judged, which is why it is your shadow), and move forward.
Use this spread to walk in confidence — the creaking floors will hopefully disappear easily. May your tarot work and your shadow work help free you from what keeps you up at night.
Share your comments here as you repair or let go of what does not serve you. In this sometimes difficult process, you leave behind the chill of an unneeded reality.
Image credits: Jon Feinstein, details from The Halloween Tarot, and The Crystal Visions Tarot
- See, “Tarot court cards as creative archetypes,” “An introduction to writing tarot poetry,” and “Crafting a tarot wreath.” [↩]