Dancing with our Shadow in Relationships

At the Fall Equinox, the sun enters Libra- the sign of relationships and balance. This season initiates our journey of descent into our own personal underworld, where we meet with our shadow self.

There is no better way to meet our shadow than in the world of relationships. People we connect with in life, whether friends, co-workers or intimate partners mirror to us aspects of ourselves. Some of these qualities we are delighted to encounter, while others not so much.

Generally, the qualities we despise or are irritated by in others point to aspects of ourselves that we’ve repressed, rejected or denied, which then become part of our shadow. The shadow self follows us around, asking for attention and acceptance. If we do not heed its call for attention, it may actually start to drive us through life unconsciously. When this happens, we may end up in situations we regret, living life in a way that creates more pain and anguish for ourselves (and others) rather than healing and opportunity.

The shadow requires that we meet it. Acknowledge it. Embrace it. Dance with it from time to time. They are our forever companion, after all. We can’t simply get rid of our shadow. Denying its existence only makes life harder. Over time, the shadow can become our friend and ally.

The Goddess Oracle by Marashinsky & Janto

We all carry human traits that we don’t like. If we like to think of ourselves as a selfless, hardworking person, we may relegate our inner self-centered, lazy tendencies to the shadow. When we do this, we encounter these qualities in others until we accept them within ourselves. If we accept our own human tendency to be selfish or lazy, we are less likely to be bothered by these traits in others.

We may repress positive traits as well, which can become part of our shadow. For example, we may deny or repress our confidence, out of fear of not acting humble enough. Then we may find we are attracted to confidence or repulsed by it in others we meet.

If you are single and find you are constantly attracting people with certain traits into your life and they keep triggering the same issues within you, there is likely some shadow work to do.

If you are partnered and get stuck in loops of the same old arguments, or collect resentments over time for the same behaviours, there is shadow work to do.

Basically, if you are human living in the world with other humans, there is shadow work to do!

Relationships as a path of Spiritual Growth

If you are interested in your own spiritual growth, I highly recommend being in an intimate relationship. All relationships can push our buttons, but the closer they are, the deeper the healing can go.

I have been with the same partner for over 19 years now, and I feel my marriage and being a mom has probably brought me the most spiritual growth than anything else in my life. A day doesn’t go by when I am not encountering my shadow. Every day I am asked to look in the mirror and tolerate/accept/dance with what I see.

The snarky sarcastic rebuttals my teen throws my way often cause a reaction in me. Then a split second later, I see my own reflection in her. She’s so much like me. I was a snarky sarcastic teen and still am now! I must take my own medicine and remember that this is how she asserts her independence. This is one of the ways I still do, too.

My husband’s frustrating absentmindedness is another mirror. When he has forgotten yet another important detail or isn’t paying attention to the present moment, I curse his blissfully unaware existence. I feel burdened taking on the responsibility for all the mundane details. Then, I realise how much of a daydreamer I can be too. I can easily avoid the world in front of me, and often prefer to. Maybe I could let myself daydream a bit more.

I am not a Jungian expert nor have any sort of formal training in shadow work, so obviously I would first suggest you see a pro for doing deeper shadow work, especially when it is rooted in past trauma.

Alongside seeing a therapist, or when that option isn’t available to us, we can use Tarot and journaling to help shine a light on our darkness. These self-healing tools can help us become better people, cultivate stronger relationships and create a happier life.

Journaling Questions

First, here are some reflection questions you can journal with to get a sense of what aspect(s) of yourself you repress, deny or relegate to the shadows. These traits can actually be positive or negative.

  • What positive traits do the folks I am attracted to usually carry?

Positive traits we desire in others can also be parts of our shadow. We can access these parts of us if we choose. Often a partner will bring these traits out in us as well.

  • What traits about the people I get into relationships with do I find hard to deal with or unacceptable?

These are traits that we may be denying or repressing within us that unconsciously take the driver’s seat sometimes- especially when we are upset or stressed.

  • Who do I sooo NOT want to be like? Why?

This person may be a more extreme example of your own shadow. Yes, its scary to fathom this. But, be open to there being something there to work with.

  • How do I behave towards others when I get really stressed or triggered?

Often, we express our shadow when we are in a highly charged state.

  • What’s the positive side of these shadow qualities?

For example, selfishness transmuted into its positive form can be self-love, self-confidence or self-respect. Are these traits you could cultivate?

Tarot Spread for Relationship Shadow Work

Here is an example of a Tarot spread you can use with your own deck to support you in navigating a current relationship. You can do this spread for an intimate partnership or for friends/coworkers/roommates or anyone who is pushing your buttons!

Shadow in Relationships Spread by me using the Gentle Tarot.

Card #1: Self- Aspect of self we need to be aware of in current situation. 

This card shows the part of ourselves that is active within the current situation. How does this card make you feel?

Card #2: Shadow- Aspect of self we project onto the other and need to accept within ourselves.

This is an important card. It shows the issue we are grappling with, the energy we are avoiding within ourselves or what is blocking us from relating with ease. How does this card make you feel? How does it show up in your relationship? Is it something you feel ready to accept and integrate within yourself?

Card #3: Support- Cultivate this to support Card #1.

This is an energy within you that you can access now to support the current situation or your role within it. How would taking a step in this direction affect how you feel?

Card #4: Integration- Energy to help us dance with and integrate our shadow.

Cultivate this energy to help you deal with card #2. It is the key to integrating its energy within you and your life. How would it feel to bring more of this energy into your situation? How would it change your relationship with yourself? How could it change your relationship?

For me, my spiritual path is not about always trying to attain a lofty ideal of being or behaviour. It’s about wholeness, acceptance and finding peace with being human. Dancing with our shadow is an integral part of accepting the harsher realities of earthly life. Even if our spirit is made of complete love and compassion, we are living a human life. On earth, the laws of spirit don’t always translate.

As the ever-useful quote by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin states:

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.”  

Are you interested in shadow work? How does your shadow show up in relationships? Do you consciously seek to meet and accept it?

May Libra season bless you with self-love and understanding, grace and flow.

Xo

Serena

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Summer Solstice Reading: Step Into the Light

As we arrive at the year’s peak of light, the Earth Mother blooms and pours her cup of abundance our way. The sun radiates its healing light upon us too, illuminating the dark recesses of our psyche and heart, urging us to release our burdens and receive the gift of love available to us now.

We are asked at this time of year to remember how to lighten up, to listen to our childlike wisdom and let ourselves receive the nourishment the Earth Mother offers us.

It’s been a heavy past two years, which can perhaps make some of us a bit slow or unsure of how to embrace lightness at this time. It’s ok to not feel celebratory, super social or ready to shine just yet. On the solstice, the sun moves into the sign of Cancer. This sentimental water sign urges us to embrace all the feels, to be gentle with ourselves and practice receptivity. We can allow ourselves to receive the nourishment we need now, in order to shine our light once Leo season comes.

Generally, this part of summer lends itself to emotional cleansing and renewal, caring for ourselves and loved ones, exploring our past, family, lineage and creating a sense of being at home within ourselves and around us.

Once the sun moves into Leo, later in July, we will be invigorated with some extra bold, confident fire energy to help us shine. Even though we have more hours of sunlight now, Leo season will likely turn up the heat and make us feel more expressive in a few weeks. We can use this time to explore what aspects of ourselves wish to come into the light and remove blocks to their expression.

As we enter this potent time, you may find that anything that was hidden or unclear becomes illuminated. This is a wonderful time to getting to the truth of things. To uncover your own truth, to align with your authenticity, to see in others that which you maybe turned away from or chose not to see before. Illumination can be challenging. But it is only when we are willing to see, that we can move forward in alignment with who we truly are.

Is there an aspect of yourself that you normally keep hidden that is wanting to step out into the light, even just a little bit? Are you dealing with some fears or past traumas that are blocking you from fully being who you are? Do you often feel insecure around expressing yourself? Then you may wish to check out my summer solstice reading below- Step Into the Light.

This is a short reading to help illuminate an aspect of you that is wanting to shine or come out into expression. You can use this spread with your own chosen deck, or see if my reading for you below resonates!

Here is my summer solstice ‘Step into the Light’ reading for you below, dear reader! I used the Gentle Tarot by Mariza Ryce Aparicio-Tovar. The interpretations are by me with some quotes by the author.

Here is the spread:

Step Into the Light Spread with The Gentle Tarot
  1. Self: This position describes an aspect of you that wishes to come into greater expression.
  2. Inner Truth: This position describes something that influences this part of you and is only known to you, and not necessarily to others. It relates to the Self card.
  3. Outer Truth: This position describes the expression of the Self card. It shows what influence hinders its expression, or how this part of yourself is coming out.
  4. Light: This position is the gateway towards shining your light. It gives advice on how to bring the Self card into expression in a healthy way.  It relates to the Outer Truth card, and gives insight on how to shift into healthy expression.
Self: Four of Wands

Self- Four of Wands: You have been working hard on your vision and set the foundation- good work! At this point in your journey, you deserve to relax and enjoy life a bit more! This card is about celebration, harmony and reveling in the beauty within and all around you. It is also associated with coming home to oneself and being with family and friends. Yes, this is a very summer solstice-y card, and invites you to shed the weight of the last 2 years and acknowledge all you’ve been through. You are ready to let go of striving and to get into a more relaxed mode of being. Take your shoes off, untuck your shirt and let your hair down. Be confident in the foundation you’ve laid. Allow yourself to coast, to keep things a little lighter, simpler and more enjoyable from now on. No need to be anything but your comfy, satisfied self.

“Spread your wings. There is celebration and excitement in the air! Break free of whatever is holding you back and reclaim your resolve. The four of wands invites you to take a moment to enjoy the satisfaction of new feats in your life.”

Inner Truth: The Hierophant

Inner Truth- The Hierophant: Spiritual wisdom, your spiritual practice and learning are very important to you. You may keep this part of yourself hidden sometimes, for fear of perhaps not being knowledgeable or acceptable enough in the eyes of society or because you don’t feel you can be an authority on spiritual matters. You may feel called to explore the spiritual practices of your lineage, or ancient knowledge that you keep privately to yourself. Your spiritual life nourishes and supports you and will help you to relax into your authentic self. Letting go of striving can become a spiritual practice for you. Giving yourself some space to rest and receive can support your spiritual studies. Honour your ancestors, elders or teachers that have brought you to where you are today.  Your inner wisdom and spirituality strengthens you and wants to come out.

“Seabirds are ancient. The wisdom in their movement and in their eyes feels older than the millennia countable on our fingertips. Only until we honor our ancients, can we truly know who we are and live a life we love.”

Outer Truth: Nine of Thunder

Outer Truth- Nine of Thunder: The full moon depicted in this card is much like the summer solstice in that is illuminates the hidden and brings things to light. You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed at this time- your mind may be racing, you may feel anxious or having trouble sleeping. This is because a lot is coming up at once and demanding to be released or expressed. Events from the past and fears of the future may be affecting your ability to relax and express yourself. Take your time and calm your mind. You may be thinking the worst, making things appear worse than they truly are. You don’t have to express everything you wish to right now- you can take some time to slow down and process. Write down your thoughts and feelings. Sort through what is true and what is simply fear. Write down all the ‘what ifs’ and then with a clear mind, release the ones that hold no real weight (which could be all of them!).

There are things that we may never fully understand and ultimately we need to accept what is and reconcile things with ourselves. Feel the feelings and cry the tears, but come back home when you are done. Those hard feelings need tending to.”

Light: Flower of Thunder

Light- Flower of Thunder: Another thunder card! This card shows us the way forward towards healthy expression of the Self and reminds us that the way through the overwhelm and anxiety is through strength, objective clarity and sound judgement. The beautiful eagle encourages us to take an objective point of view- pull back from the details for a moment and see the big picture. She balances her mind and heart and expresses herself with clarity and authority. Your fears of expressing yourself must be evaluated rationally and compassionately- are they based in fact? Do you need to perhaps set some boundaries with others in order to be yourself fully and enjoy life? This card says to express yourself truthfully and unapologetically. Remain true to who you are and express the wisdom and depth you’ve been developing behind the scenes. Others will take you seriously if you do. Carry yourself with conviction and others will respect you.

“She embodies truth, honesty and surviving through life’s heartaches and headaches. The energy of this card in one of bold, clear communication coming from an experienced, loving, powerful heart.”

Conclusion:

You are fully supported by the ancient ones, the ancestors and the Earth Mother. Relax and let your hair down. Honour the tender feelings that hold you back from simply enjoying life and let them go. It is safe for you to simply be, to honour how far you’ve come at this point. Relinquish the need to be perfect or let your fears and anxieties prevent you from expressing your truth. Your spiritual wisdom flows through you. Express yourself with conviction and authority. You are enough. Simply being is enough.

Summer Solstice blessings my friends!

I look forward to seeing you at our Summer Solstice Circle, for a reading or 1 on 1 session soon!

Xo

Serena

Receive first dibs on events, new products & my FREE ebook- The Witches’ Wheelby signing up for my newsletter below!

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.