Friday, May 20, 2011

The Shadow

I featured this card a couple of years ago as part of the Theme Thursday challenge, but I figured I'd repeat it today as part of the ongoing Tarot series.

The traditional #15 Major Trump card is The Devil; I renamed it after the Jungian archetype The Shadow because the two basically mean the same thing. The shadow represents the repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts lurking in the unconscious mind, the part of ourselves we're reluctant to show, and which we tend to project onto people we don't like. It's almost literally the "shadow" of the persona, the face we show the public. As a culture, we've conveniently projected those parts of human nature that we don't like onto the mythological antithesis of the deity, hence the figure of the Devil, Satan, Ahriman, devils, jinn, etc. He's a convenient scapegoat for avoiding dealing with our own shortcomings.

The interesting thing about the shadow is that Jung stresses the point that it's in the shadow because these are things we repress rather than integrate into the personality. Much of Jungian psychology is concerned with integrating those repressed instincts, compulsions, impulses into a healthy persona. Jung theorized that the repression itself is what makes these energies "evil", and that free from repression they become something positive: aggression becomes optimism, repressed sexuality becomes relationship, violent anger becomes passionate advocacy.

In the end The Shadow (both the archetype and the card) represents transformative energies rather than evil or danger. True, transformation can involve a certain amount of danger, but in the end the transformative energy of The Shadow is more challenge than threat. As you can see, The Shadow can be an interesting card to turn up in a reading!

No music for this one; I just couldn't find something that matched the Jungian concept of "shadow". Oh well...

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. I suppose "The Shadow of Your Smile" wouldn't have been a very good choice, huh? All kidding aside, good post!

  2. ...interesting post, Roy. I always love seeing your artwork...and your interpretation of the cards. I've learned a lot.

  3. Hi Roy.Your Post Brings To My Mind The Idea Of The Demian .A God Of Both light&dark.Good & 'Evil'.