The Hero’s Journey

This year I will be once more participating in a Shadow Work Tarot challenge on Instagram by @mnomquah. The challenge last year was pretty great, but somewhat more on the surface, and an absolute great place to start if you are looking for some direction in reflecting and understanding yourself and your shadow. This year the month is broken into weekly themes, and delves into Cycles of Self. Which starts pretty heavily, looking into the family and ancestral aspects of self with Roots. For me, this will be extremely helpful and is very needful – and thus I expect it will also be really difficult

If you are at all inclined toward tarot or shadow work, or even if you’re just an Instagram-er, you should check it out. Sometimes just reading through the processes that others choose to share can be extremely impactful.
For that reason, and for reasons of personal impulse I don’t quite have a finger on, I thought it would be fun and maybe helpful to document this years challenge here on the blog, at least a little bit.

This year, as with last year, we start off with a Hero’s Journey Spread – pictured here, as drawn yesterday evening, using the Tarot of the Silicon Dawn.

2016 Hero's Journey

I enjoy this deck immensely, for the way it reads, the art, and the more unconventional aspects. It includes many extra cards, several Fool cards (the Fool is also seen in many of the images throughout the deck), and the difference in the suits themselves. Here Wands are Earth, Pentacles are Fire, Swords are Air, and Cups are Water. Though I should say that I use this deck with all of the court cards, excepting the extra Void Court set, removed.

1 – The Hero – Who are you at the beginning of the journey?   8 of Cups Regret
2 – The Quest – What is the conscious purpose of your journey?   Judgement
3 – Refusal of the Call – Why you are afraid to seek out what you desire?   99 of Swords Fission
4 – The Guide – Who/what will guide you on your journey.   Tower
5 – Road of Trials – Lessons for you to learn / what you need to go through.   7 of Swords Futility
6 – The Dragon – Your greatest obstacle to overcome.   Maya
7 – Death – What you have to leave behind.   The Fool – the first and fear fueled
8 – New Knowledge – What new wisdom and power will you obtain on your journey?   3 of Cups Abundance9 – Boon – What will you take back with you to share with others?   Fortitude
10 – The Hero Returned – Who you come back as from the journey?   5 of Pentacles Strife

I don’t see it as a coincidence that my starting Hero this year is represented by the 8 of Cups, which was my Dragon card last year. Here is where the leftovers sit and time has come to revisit the rubble and try to scrape things together anew. What can be salvaged from the corpse of the defeated foes? That’s where I am and what I am involved in. Salvage, rest, and retreat. Nursing the wounds (of psyche and soul) and starting off anew.

Judgement says this journey, now, is about casting off the old and stepping into the new. The end of the world and the soul rises to whatever waits to loose us next. My time has come to move the fuck on, and that’s what this should be.

But the 99 of Swords blares my fears as incomprehensible obliteration. My mind creates unrealistic goals and inevitable failures of drastic proportion. I’m crippled by my expectation of what will be, too busy staring at the rockets to realize that maybe they’re just a projection.

My guide for this trip is in the Tower falling, which is the best guide one could hope for if fear wins and stalls the works. The collapse of the old modes will push me through the end, discarding my fear along with the carcass of history to catapult me onward down the road… the Road of Trials here is the 7 of Swords, which was last years Quest card. Where once the futility and struggle of extraction was the key, now the echoes come back to show the futility of repeating the same tired shit. I need to abandon the ways and rules of old, let them rot on the roadside for the crows while I find a new way around the shitshow. I may still fail, but I’ll make better progress, and bigger, by taking this from another angle.

My Dragon this round is represented by Maya, number 8 1/2 in the Silicon Dawn. They’re described as the crossing point of the Devil and the High Priestess, straddling duality with a tiara and a butterfly glazed over hermaphroditic genitalia. My biggest challenge is in her challenge and her legs. To accept the sacred raw reality of everything, especially the dark and smut and fucked up aspects of myself that I deny or defile through rejection of myself. Defile away if you must, but own it as you do.

The Fool comes rushing off the ledge to very plainly exhibit that which must be left behind – the panic and burning fear that clouds and blinds and runs things when I’m not looking. The fear must go. And through letting go I can move through the universe to gather the power and wisdom born of freedom. Freedom of heart and acceptance of the monsters within myself… the monsters Maya points out. Through acceptance is joy, and in that joy celebration and a spiraling path to gather up the Fortitude. The Boon of survival, strength and resilience. The offering of how to use the endless reserve of raw power within, and how to manage our burdens and hold up our chosen bonds with dignity and consent. Silent freedom, and waiting truth of strength.

And finally the Hero Returned… this one had me a little concerned to start. The 5 of Pentacles, showing the fearful woman cowering away from the shadowed figures fighting in the background. This is a good visual representation of how I feel much of the time, when my anxiety is running the show. But the more that I look at the overall arc, the more right it feels, in a way. Looking into this card, the Strife seems to be an instant, an occurrence, a moment or layer of things to come. In this card, I see a choice. A series of options, with strife holding sway at center. It is the living in the moment. The Hero Returned here must choose to act upon what it returns with, with all that I will have hopefully learned, and with all that could stand in potential through this journey… Like a final test. – Will she cast aside the fear and integrate the shadow fuckery to become more whole? Or will she cower in a corner and backslide into the panic of her nightmare and uncertainty.

It’s an interesting spread, and a lot of tough work ahead, but it’s clearly worth it.

Are you participating in the #ShadowWorkOctober challenges? What do you see rising ahead for your journey? I’d love to hear from you.

This work is some of the best work a person can do to better themselves and to understand themselves. It can be so much harder than it seems.

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