For the month of October, I am engaging in the #shadowworkoctober challenge on Instagram. The first spread really grabbed my attention: The Hero’s Spread by @mnomquah.
Based on Joseph’s Campbell The Hero With A Thousand Faces, the spread is based on every hero’s journey from the cradle to the grave. I haven’t read The Hero With a Thousand Faces, but I have read some of Joseph’s Campbell other works. The concept is very attractive because through the Hero’s Journey we can interpret many heroic stories (from the Iliad to Disney), but also our own developmental challenges.
I paired this epic spread with an epic deck, the Dreams of Gaia Tarot. The spread has 10 cards and I used all of them upright.
- The Hero. Who are you at the beginning of your journey? 11. Emotions/Intellect
I am really enjoying the balancing/alignment cards of the Dreams of Gaia tarot, and it’s the second time I have pulled that one, revealing a persistent challenge for me. The emotions/intellect card is all about balancing the roles that love and fear play in our lives. I used to be quite a fearful individual, but now I am focusing my actions on love as fear is entirely ego-based. The card also reveals that my quest is about balancing my emotions and intellect, my spiritual and logical sides, something I am very passionate about. The wings near the figure’s eyes hint to her clairvoyance. She can see beyond the surface, into the depths of emotions. This is who I am a the beginning of this epic journey.
- The Quest. What is the conscious purpose of your journey? 16. Destiny
I pulled the card previously regarding the book I am writing (it seems it is my destiny to write it). It seems my hero’s quest relies on both my individual purpose and my universal purpose. I often feel I am destined to help people, and this card reminds me to aim high in my goals. A quest is about destiny, it is about these big, bold ideas that grip us to the stomach, and we are doing ourselves a disservice when settling for less. My quest is simply to achieve my destiny and the other cards will provide further information on what that is.
- Refusal of the call. The reason why you are afraid to seek what you desire. 13. Union
Every time I see a Temperance-like card, I wince. I am not really a balanced kind of girl, it’s all Fire and not much else. Go go go! I feel I may be refusing the call or dragging my feet because I am unsure about how to blend the spiritual and logical. I feel the beautiful winged angel with the active chakras is myself during my heroic transformation, and the two serpent gods behind her the blending of opposites. Her hands are covered in a white glow, suggesting healing magic or Reiki. As I looked at the card, I felt transported into the angel’s world, a world full of bizarre creatures where the laws of physics do not operate. I have an inner fear that delving deep into spiritual work is going to make me crazy. I need to accept this blending of opposites and progressively push my comfort zone in order to continue on my hero’s quest. This is a card I want to meditate further on.
- Who or what will guide you on your journey. 20. Desire
I feel that desire and love for what I do will guide me on this transformative journey. The Dreams of Gaia guidebook states that this card is mostly about earthly and material desires. However, to me, this card signifies following the desires of my heart. If I align my projects and purpose with what truly moves me, the journey will be more easeful and more successful. I see the golden dragon as my true heart’s desire, the goat as my love for animals, the lotus as my love for yoga, and the falcon as my ambitious streak. There is a mysterious eye flowing in the ether, and this may be a further hidden desire or the benevolent, watchful eye of god. My desires will be my own guides.
- Road of trials. The lessons for you to learn, what you need to go through. 12. Love
The main lesson I need to learn is how to open my heart to love. Like the delicate yellow rose at the bottom of the card, I am expanding, and like the two butterflies, I am transforming. My heart chakra is active and this love radiates through my other chakras. The angel is not me this time, rather it symbolizes the inviting forces of the universe, in particular angels. Angels have been a considerable support to my development and I can recognize their peaceful, inviting energy in this card. They are asking me to open myself up. To continue on my journey, I need to transform my desires into pure love.
- The dragon. Your greatest obstacle to overcome. 4 of Fire
I was at first taken aback by that card. Is someone going to shoot me, or should I make sure I aim well? According to the Guidebook, the 4 of Fire is all about concerted, focused energy. Given my multiple desires, it makes sense that I should stay focused on the prize. It might be a challenge to contain all this firey energy into a square box. I am good at staying focused, however this card indicates that I will need to ramp up that skill. However I also see this card as potentially myself or others shooting me in the foot. I feel this person could be a shadow aspect of my personality – they are like me but not quite me. Hence a darker aspect of my personality could resurface. It is not quite clear to me what this dragon is.
- What you have to leave behind. 12. The Hero
On my hero’s journey, I need to leave the Hero behind. This might seem paradoxical, but to me it makes complete sense. So far I have lived my life abiding by the world’s rules and other people’s expectations of me (studying, working hard). I have come to the point where I am a successful conservation biologist, and I do feel I am a champion for environmental concerns. To me, this is what the bear represents. However to fulfill my life’s purpose, I may need to let those achievements go, or at least reduce their importance within my life. I feel remarkably comfortable with that because I feel the tides are changing. I have acquired valuable skills and it is time to use those in a different discipline. The Hero has used all his Fire energy to get to where he is … but what does he do when the Fire burns out? It might be time to look onto some more heroic challenges.
- New knowledge. What new wisdom and power will you obtain on your journey? 3 of Water
The 3 of Water shows a beautiful mermaid enjoying the flow of water with three fishes. Her binds are loosened and she seems at ease. To me this card is all about flow. I will learn to live in the current of my emotions and intuitions. I will be at ease over water but also under water. The 3 fishes indicate that I am going to meet some new allies on this journey. Compared to the previous Fire cards, this card seems so mellow and relaxing. I will learn to let go and let be.
- What will you take back to share with others? 5 of Fire
This card shows two men indulging in a fist fight. Will I bring back some new aggressive streaks? I am quite confused about this card in this position. I feel I am the person on the left, standing up for themselves. Am I going to bring back a new confidence that will impact others? Will I teach others to not suffer from bullies? I surely hope I do not bring back the gift of aggression. I will need more time to ponder on this card.
- The Hero returned. Who you come back as from the journey? 12. The Scribe
This is so interesting, because I need to let go of being the Hero to become the Scribe. I need to move from Fire to Air. The Scribe is a natural writer, librarian, and archivist of records, compared to the Hero, who is a natural leader. I feel this journey is indeed about me writing a new book and taking my literary dreams seriously. The Scribe is objective and collects information patiently. I need to exhibit all the qualities of the Scribe (ibis: widsom, bee: hard work, feather: inspiration) to convey my message. The Scribe feels like he is from another time. He has read and knows so much that he feels as comfortable talking about his present environment as about lost civilisations. The card is so inspiring, I will use it for meditation, asking the Scribe for further advice.
I hope you have enjoyed this reading. I think this will become one of my favourite spreads, maybe to do once a year. I can’t wait to try it on clients to reveal where they are on their live’s journey.