This post is for the Instagram #ShadowWorkOctober: Cycles of the Self
ROOTS SPREAD, created by @mnomquah.
I’m writing about my cards for the Root Spread, part of the shadow work for the first week of October.
Some of this shadow work goes into terra incognita, some into terra “avoida.” I am very grateful for the thoughtful path that @mnomquah has made for this shadow work, and I’m going to explore, wherever it takes me.
After I laid the cards out, I just sat there not turning over card #1. So I followed my curiosity and turned over the tenth card first. (In the spread, it’s the one by itself in the middle at the top.) I was almost relieved and not astonished to see the 10 of Swords. Well, I thought, that makes a surprising amount of sense.
I proceeded to turn the cards over, one by one. For some of the cards, I felt like my hidden, inner thoughts/feelings had been read, and the thoughts/feelings then felt validated. This was particularly true for #2, 3, and 10.
The order of the cards is this:
At first I was put off by how little meaning I could make from some of the cards— #1, 4, 5, and 7 in particular. “Reshuffle and draw again,” urged the part of my brain that was saying “Too hard, don’t understand enough…” But considering how weird, yet fitting card #10 and #3 felt, I decided that my Rider Waite Smith deck deserved my confidence.
I observe that I drew 2 major arcana, 3 cups cards, 4 wands cards, and one sword card.
I have not yet looked at any Tarot references for these cards. I will probably do that, but I wanted to use my initial impressions and my intuition first.
I found the Ancestors’ cards easier to work with than Family or Elders. I know almost nothing about who my Ancestors are, so I felt more free to take seriously what I was perceiving/imagining. For example, for #9, I imagined that man talking to me, his future great-great-great-great granddaughter, encouraging me to remove the chain I wear in #3. For #8, I imagined someone telling me how this Queen got to be the great soul that she is, and that person believing I could be like her.
The material from this spread is way more private than I normally ever consider posting online. But I decided to post my initial responses as they arose. I’ve benefited from brave, vulnerable sharing by others, so I make the intention of offering similar help. I have not edited what I wrote for clarity either. I apologize that it will inevitably have confusing or ambiguous parts; the point of view shifts frequently, and some metaphors are quite painfully mixed.
1. Family Shadow: immediate family’s burden of shadow we carry.
trying to make a new thing out of old?
perfection? since I always love this card?
I see Temperance as a great card. I’m working on putting aside my prior experience with this card so that I can see how it shows me a burden of shadow. For now, the only perception I have that makes sense to me is the burden of trying to make everything flow perfectly and effortlessly, being as perfect as an angel…. and like an angel, never doing anything wrong. Or hide anything that isn’t perfect so you can sustain the impression that there is nothing not perfect….
2. Family Core: upbringing, tradition.
6 of Cups
be nice; remain a child— do not even think about being a worthy adult; you’re on your own as a child; accept what you’re given— do not search for more. Look around you: you have everything you need, a beautiful home and nice family. You should not want anything other than these lovely flowers in these perfect cups.
3. Family Light: immediate family’s strengths and valuable traits we carry.
XV the Devil
You can escape. You are not as trapped as you feel, as you look, as you think you are. The god you were not then ready to meet was a devil in your sight. Look within to see how this feared one transforms into some of what you seek. Look within and you may see the Devil has become the angel on the card of Judgment or the angel on the card of the Lovers.
4. Elders Shadow: grandparents’ and elders’ of the family burden of shadow we carry.
4 of Cups
You have some good choices. Your fear, your shame, your fear of shame, and your need to master perfection keep you from reaching for what may not be the perfect cup. (What will people think if you choose wrong?) Share strength drawn from the Tree of Life at your back and take action; risk is part of life, and “failure” is not to be feared. You will always be able to find another cup.
5. Elders Core: lineage / family wisdom.
9 of Wands
hard work, guard what you have worked to gain; injury is part of the deal? Life is difficult, dangerous. I am really not at all sure about this one. The little I know of my grandparents does not connect with this card yet. Maybe when I read some Tarot resources, that will help.
6. Elders Light: grandparents’ and elders’ of the family strengths and valuable traits we carry.
9 of Cups
actually achieving without having it slip through one’s hands?
You have such richness of resource, such potential for emotional depth, for compassion. No longer allow yourself to remain under the domination of the guard in the courtyard of the 6 of Cups, accepting only what is given to you and remaining inside the walls.
We worked hard in our time. Few of us drank freely and deeply at the well of the Tree of Life; we took its branches, and we built this life for you.
You, now, turn; turn around and drink. You may sate your deepest thirst, and there will still be more than enough for you, and enough to share.
7. Ancestors Shadow: the burden of shadow we carry from our ancestry for
4 of Wands
do what is expected; fit in: that is the route to happiness? Do not try to craft your own happiness; what satisfies others, you must also be satisfied with? Also struggling with how this carries a message about Shadow…. Further contemplation leads me to remember that some of the Ancestors were immigrants to the U.S. in the 19th century. Fitting in would have been necessary and also destructive of their own independence of spirit, at least for a time, I think. Not sure if that is the Shadow burden for this card….
8. Ancestors Core: collective wisdom of our ancestry / tribe of origin.
Queen of Wands
You are a great soul. You have allies in the plant and animal world. You have a space of your own with a foundation from which you can act. You are capable of protecting what is yours (standing up for yourself). As the sunflower blooms in the light of the Sun, so it is your nature to grow in the light you live in (I’m thinking of my Pisces sun sign). You are not taking something that is not yours to take, any more than the sunflower stole light from the Sun to energize its growth.
9. Ancestors Light: strengths and valuable traits we carry from our ancestry for generations.
2 of Wands
You are not limited to where you stand at the moment. You look out at a vast world even as you hold its miniature in your hand. You may draw on myriad strands (DNA, Indra’s net) across the eons and galaxies. You have potential that has no limit, neither geographical nor chronological. Immerse yourself; experience all you can and delight in it.
10. The Outcome: who we are as a result of our Roots.
10 of Swords
end of a cycle; great suffering, much of it mental/cerebral; a single body on a deserted shore. This will not go forward to touch another generation.
The 2 of Wands from card #9 returns for a final word: Leave the cup of flowers; slip from the chain. Explore and express your own essence. Ten swords end a long cycle of pain and alienation, and you have played your part well. Now I reach across time and space to hand a different world to you, my child.