Sunday, August 26, 2012

8/27/12—Greeting Your Shadow Side

Today's Draw: Three of Wands from the Bohemian Gothic. What fears stand between you and what you want? Are there projects in your life that you never seem to complete? If you're not ready to change your situation, are you ready to let go of the dream of making it different?

I was upstairs in my room trying to think of what this week's topic would be when one of the most spectacular decks known to all mankind caught my eye—The Bohemian Gothic Silver. Photos can't possibly capture this deck because parts of it are printed in silver ink that makes some of the images seem almost three-dimensional. But when you try to scan or photograph the silver aspect of it, it just seems like the colors are muted. (I found this image of the card online. I don't whether it came from the silver or the regular edition.) The effect is all in how the light and ink and eye interact. Long story short, however, I decided that this week is going to be Shadow Side Week and I'm going to use all my "dark" decks (which basically means gothic or vampire themed decks).

Our shadow sides are our darker sides...the sides we pretty up, deny, hide away or otherwise keep from view. The shadow side can include addictions, fetishes, angry thoughts, "dark" moods, etc. Or it can include beliefs and behaviors that hold us back or defeat us. The reason the shadow side is important to explore is because things will never change and we won't move forward if we keep sweeping it under the rug. As the saying goes, monsters live in the dark. The only way to defeat them and move past those barriers is to bring them out in the light. 

The Three of Wands is a card of planning ahead. A card of vision, hope and ambition. Here's this woman amidst all this darkness and decay, but she keeps her eyes forward, toward the future. No dark side here.

But if we were to look for a dark side in this card (and for the tarot peeps, I'm not talking about a reversal), it might be someone who is always planning and dreaming, but never takes practical steps toward a goal. Or someone who has too much anxiety to move past their fears toward their dreams. Someone, perhaps, who can't see past the gloom of their current situation to a brighter future. Someone who flies by the seat of their pants, never making a plan. Someone who has a lot of unfinished projects going on. Or someone who feels so trapped by their situation that all they have is daydreams and fantasies.

Lurking beneath any dark side situation, to one degree or another, is fear. Rather than look at that fear and acknowledge it, it's easier to just make excuses. "Oh, those are just dreams." "I'm so busy trying to keep my head above water that I can't move forward." "There's always time to pursue that dream." "The odds of me succeeding are unlikely, but it's nice to think about." "I can't start on X until I take care of Y."

That last one is similar to one I tend to use when I tell myself why I can't be working on such and such right now. I imagine a set of perfect conditions under which I can pursue something. For example, I don't have a man in my life. And I don't have a man in my life partly because I'm comfortable with the way things are. But part of me believes that any man I meet will mirror back to me what I feel and think about myself. So I would like to be in a position where I'm feeling really good about myself before I meet a man. I think it makes perfect sense. And it does.

But I also know that beneath that is a fear...a fear that I'll be disappointed. Or lose my equilibrium. Or lose my focus on other aspects of my life. Or become co-dependent. I haven't had nice, nurturing relationships in the past and, frankly, I'm not sure one exists out there for me. The story I tell myself is that when all the pros and cons are added up, I'm better off alone. After all, that's what my experience has been so far. I'm not really blaming it on anyone but myself. I'm in command of my equilibrium and happiness, not them. I'm afraid of losing who I am and what I enjoy of my life, and being set back emotionally and spiritually in the process because that's what I've done in the past. In that sense, I don't trust myself. 

Yet, on the other hand, I'm on a spiritual path that is a huge part of my life. And relationships of all kinds are essential to the learning path. Whereas many other people might need to work on their ability to be alone, it's the opposite for me. Being a hermit is safe and comfortable. Most people that know me think I'm an extrovert and comfortable with others. But it's a stretch for me. Doing some of the things I do...teaching classes and being social...that's hard for me. I can do one-on-one, but when it involves a crowd, I can feel very exposed and uncomfortable.

Another aspect of the Three of Wands is that you're on the verge of things coming together. This is the card of "ships coming in". So all your planning is about to pay off. But in some regards you can stay in that place of "just about to pay off" forever. Or at least tell yourself you're there. Before the actual payoff, though, you have to make that final leap that takes you from this card to the next where you've achieved something worth celebrating. You have to truly to commit to the direction and you have to be prepared to face either victory or failure. For some people, victory is as hard to face as failure is. 

So this all comes back around again to you. If there's something you want out there that you haven't been able to get, what fears hold you back from it? Why does your shadow side keep you on this side success? And if you're not willing to do anything about it, are you willing to let the dream go?

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