Dredging The Shadows

“I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow.” -Sylvia Plath

As the wheel turns and the Wild Harmonic Oracle Cards publication is imminent (October 2021, by Schiffer/Red-Feather—join my email list to stay informed), I am again returning to delving into the mysteries I created for myself in this deck. One might think that as the deck’s creator, I am somehow its master, but the relationship is far less hierarchical than our objectification of experience would lead us by default to suppose.

I have set out to create expanded writings on each and every card in the deck. These writings are in addition to what will be printed in the book/deck set, but entirely integrable with them. Why didn’t these writing make it into the book? In part, that had a lot to do with page count limitations for a guidebook that can fit in a box with the deck. I had to be pithy.

Yet in another very real way, I needed to sit with the deck for some time to attempt to put the expanses I can see into words, the expanses I have had and continue to experience, in each card directly. So every card in the deck comes from a process of identifying an aspect of my own experience, which I then do my best to distill down into a more universal meaning and teaching.

As I sit with a card in one hand and a pen in the other, I am compelled to invoke the card’s energy into my life to reflect on it with ruthless sincerity. For most cards, this is a joyful dance of a play of fractal wisdom pouring through my all too eager astral hands as I try and grasp at a glimpse of what I might manage to ground into words and deeds from beyond.

For the shadow cards, however, this is rarely a process of blissful cosmic trips. Instead, it is, more often than not, a painfully reflective reminder of how immature I still am. While I start my reflection in each shadow card, as any rational spiritual bypasser would, by clarifying how others in my life demonstrate a given shadow, that is only an outline, a sketched out table of contents, for the hyper-personal process that comes next.

Being with a shadow card in this way doesn’t so much invoke it into my life, as if it wasn’t already there. Instead, it reveals it by amplifying it. The revealing part is great, of course, as it is the way forward. But, the necessary amplification is the tricky part, the trial by fire, the gauntlet that I must undertake to earn the self-respect I need to write and teach about it.

And so I set out to get through as many shadow cards in a row as I can stomach! I burn the midnight oil and hope that my denials can play themselves out before dawn. I’ve got to pace myself, though, as there is only so much one can integrate at once into a day, a career, a family. I quip to a friend that I hope my marriage survives the process. Of course, I jest, and it will survive and thrive, but it will definitely be the result of being made stronger by that which does not kill it.

And that is the nature of shadows. They seek to tear down the strength of the light by beguiling us into thinking their denial is where the power resides. But such denial reigning supreme will never build a world worth living in, much less get my online card guide written up.

Clipart licensed from Adobe Stock.