Deep within ourselves, lurking in the psyche of all humankind, is our subconscious that holds all of what everyday society deems as inappropriate feelings, secret wishes, and creative urges. When we start ignoring these feelings, wishes and thoughts, they soon start to form a shadow, a powerful force of unresolved inner conflicts and unexpressed emotions that resists our efforts to control it.
The shadow takes its shape from a swirling mass of negative thought patterns and behaviors. This shadow is sabateur, martyr, victim, addict, sadist, masochist, or tyrant...all the darker parts of ourselves that prey on the lighter qualities of the human personality.
The shadow also represents those latent talents and positive traits that were banished from us at some time along our life path, perhaps through an abusive childhood, or toxic relationship. All of our artistic, musical, athletic, or creative talents and undeveloped abilities, dreams that have gone unexpressed, a fantasy of what might have been—these too make up the personal shadow, they become the lost parts of ourselves.
This is where tarot, specifically the Major Arcana, can be used to heal as well as give insights into our "shadow-selves" and paths to healthy solutions. There is an absolutely wonderful book called "Tarot Shadow Work: Using the Dark Symbols to Heal" by Christine Jette, that I cannot recommend highly enough!
In this book, "Tarot Shadow Work, using the dark symbols to heal," you learn how to free yourself from the trap of the shadow's power. Through tarot work, journaling, meditation, creative visualization, and dream work, this book brings the shadow into the light and is ideal for those who are in recovery from a serious addiction or illness, as well as any person seeking a deeper understanding of his or her true self.
By exploring the dark and uncharted territory of the unconscious mind, one will be able to work towards understanding and integrating the shadow. No prior knowledge of the tarot is required and learning to use the cards as a tool to help break free from negative patterns and self-destructive behavior is the greatest gift one can give themselves.
We are made of both light and darkness and accepting our dual natures, frees us from sabotaging our own efforts as we learn to be compassionate with others and with ourselves.