Court Cards Cast a Shadow
We live with challenging aspects of others and ourselves every day. For example, maybe we tend to be critical, or perhaps victimized, or we live with someone who is stubborn or deceitful. Alternatively, at work we may be faced with a boss who competes with or ridicules us. This chapter offers a starting point for changing difficult behavior and relationship patterns.
The Shadow Side of Court Cards
People in our life whom we might call “the bane of our existence” usually tend to throw us off balance or make us feel uncomfortable. Their influence varies, but typically detractors can make us feel worthless, powerless, used, vulnerable, angry, depleted, defensive, overly responsible, indecisive, or incompetent.
Detractors can also draw from us instinctive responses or “knee-jerk” reactions that can be related to the court card challenges. For example, we have just discovered that our lover is cheating on us (Betrayer). We might drown our sorrows (Self-Destruction), go on a shopping spree (Greed), plan revenge (Anger), feel powerless (Depression), or turn green (Jealousy). You can probably predict what combination of reactions you would have. In court card terms we have responded to a detractor with our own challenging behavior.
One way of averting this scenario is to recognize our inner experience (feelings and thoughts) before proceeding with the knee-jerk reaction--that is, make the unconscious process conscious. We have the opportunity to make choices about our response that will in the end strengthen us rather than bring us down. Also, if we are able to circumvent our instinctive urge, the other person has a greater chance of acknowledging his or her part in the problem, the situation does not escalate, and we avoid wallowing around in our own negative patterns.
Dispelling the Shadow
There are times, however, when our best efforts cannot accomplish this Herculean task of perception, self-knowledge, and self-discipline. We have indulged our passions and have fallen into the abyss of shadow. Now we must find a way to regain balance. Here is how the court cards can help.
Each shadow side of a court card can be worked with or counterbalanced by the harmonizing influence of another court card. For example, if I recognize that I am being intolerant and critical of others (challenge of the Queen of Swords), I identify supporters or resources that might help transform my feelings, thoughts, or impulses. Then, through seeking out the appropriate support or meditating on the harmonizing court card, I might find a way out of my “Cruella” persona.
Whichever court cards we choose to harmonize a shadow are unique to us and may change from situation to situation. In other words, if I am feeling trapped (Queen of Cups: Victim) and stuck in my feelings of helplessness, to get myself out I might try bringing in the energy of the Adviser (King of Swords) to gain intellectual understanding of the situation and to develop options. Someone else might seek out a Healer to bring in new physical energy to help ease the sense of depletion.
You can also use the court cards as an oracle to point you in the direction of healing. The following spread is intended to offer resources for working with a given shadow. The resources may be people in your life or within yourself.
Separate the court cards from the rest of the deck. Select the court card that best represents the detractor or challenge that you are faced with. Place it faceup before you.
Shuffle the remaining court cards and select three cards. Place them below the card you have already chosen.
1. Notice which suits have been drawn. Does one suit dominate? This may give a good indication of what can help in the situation: spirit, love, knowledge, or power.
2. Next, notice the different levels of royalty. This may also shed some light. If you have lots of pages, perhaps you are needing to learn something new. Or if you have drawn several kings, you may need to exercise maturity and leadership. Queens look within, knights take action.
3. Finally, look at the specific support roles. Try to see how the energy they represent may help in your situation. Also take note of specific people they might be in your life. Perhaps these individuals have something to offer you in this situation.
4. Make sure to record your reading