A Study in Black and White



Hello, Beautiful People.

I’m taking my cue from Love Actually: at Christmas, you tell the truth. So, here it goes:

This is the third time I’ve attempted this post.

I don’t know if it’s Mercury retrograde, the madness of the holidays, or a classic case of “overthinking it,” but I couldn’t manage to say what I wanted to. I was planning on relating the myth of the Holly King and the Oak King to the relationship between The High Priestess and The Hierophant (dammit, it would have been amazing!), but I kept fumbling the ball. To make matters worse, I experienced a random “shadow attack”–a psycho-spiritual assault where the pain of past trauma rises up again–and each time I sat down to construct my magnum opus, I couldn’t concentrate. I didn’t let that stop me, though. I continued to struggle with the thing, convinced that if I worked hard enough I’d blow past my blockages and tie everything up into a nice little bow. But it wasn’t in the cards. It took me a couple days worth of writing sessions to reach a point of frustration that only meditation could cure. So I set up my altar. I put on my mantras. I poised myself in half-lotus and closed my eyes. Still, I was distracted. I kept sneaking looks at the cupboard where I keep my tarot cards. They were practically begging me to play with them. Twice defeated, I pulled out The Wild Unknown. I had neither time nor inclination to shadow work, but it seems that the universe had different plans. I arranged my cards in The Shadow Work Spread:


1. Your present point in the shadow landscape.
2. Uncomfortable truths lurking in the subconscious.
3. Psycho-spiritual blockages veiling those truths.
4. The source/cause of these blockages.
5. Lifting the veil: actionable advice for removing blockages.
6. Shadow triggers and how to cope.
7. Self-love and self-care: advice for feeding yourself good manna.
8. Moving forward with the healing process.

I paused. I considered. I pulled out the guidebook, because general card meanings help me remain objective when I’m reading for myself. I flipped through and read the corresponding text, but nothing spoke to me. I felt like I was facing a cement wall and unceremoniously slamming my forehead against it. Even though he didn’t appear in my spread, it was clear that I needed to heed the wisdom of The Hanged Man: I must accept the fact that the post I wanted to write didn’t want to be written, and that the answers I needed wanted to remain in shadow. It didn’t matter that I had the cards and the spread, it didn’t matter that I had the focus and the ideas, things simply weren’t working. Sometimes, they don’t. In this case, the best thing to do is take a step back and regroup. And if that meant spending a day or two stumbling through my subconscious, so be it.

It’s times like these that I reach out to a reader in the community, a fellow cardslinger I respect who can shed some light on the situation. I keep a list of those beautiful souls I’d like readings from and when the time is right, I consult them. I’m still not sure who I’m going to for this particular reading (the subject matter is painfully personal, and sharing it with a colleague isn’t easy), but I know that I need an objective opinion. As a lightworker, there are days when I’m blind to the circumstances of my own situation, and I’m forced to be humble in the presence of a problem I can’t adequately address. All of us walk in the realm of shadow from time to time, regardless of how far along we are on our journeys. Even the best-laid spread can reveal nothing if we’re not in the position to access that information, and guess what–that’s okay. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we do what we do, why we hold space for one another and offer our guidance. We’re called to do it. And sometimes, we’re called to receive it.

This humble message is a jumble, a product of the shadow itself. It wasn’t the message I intended, but shadow seldom gives us the precise message we desire. Today is the darkest day of the year. It seems fitting that I’m spending it in shadow–by rummaging through the attic of my mind, I’m paying homage to the darkness, that which lies behind the veil. Tomorrow will be a brighter day. Tomorrow marks the path towards greater clarity, greater illumination. And I’ll welcome it in stillness and humility.

Much Love,


Need some objectivity? Book this reading.


18 Replies to “A Study in Black and White”

  1. “All of us walk in the realm of shadow from time to time, regardless of how far along we are on our journeys. Even the best-laid spread can reveal nothing if we’re not in the position to access that information, and guess what–that’s okay.”

    That really spoke to me because sometimes we can frustrate ourselves beyond the telling of it when what we want to know refuses to come to light. It comes with a sense of failure at times but it is always powerful to remind ourselves that life is a journey and with all journeys, it can take time to get from one place to another.

    1. Absolutely. Sometimes, we need to wait until we’re ready to receive the messages. Other times, we have to rely on someone else to deliver them to us, and hope that we’re ready to process them! Much love, and thank you for reading <3

  2. I hope the tomorrow that has already arrived is a happy and bright day for you – though I loved your thoughts in the dark ‘attic’, as well! 🙂 And the Wild Unknown deck was a perfect match!

  3. Great spread Jessi, I loved how you said about** rummaging through the attic of my mind, I’m paying homage to the darkness, that which lies behind the veil.**
    I think we definately all stumble around in the attic of shadows, its the shitty part of being human LOL And its only when I come back from the attic that I feel all nostalgic and almost melancholy for the darkness. Because when I’m in the light it feels lighter because of the dark.

    Much love and blessings to you

  4. What a beautiful, honest post! The spread is lovely, and I know that sometimes when I look back at a reading, it suddenly makes sense… In the meantime, may you nurture and support yourself in whatever way feels best 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! The reading is already beginning to make some sense, honestly! I was just in the thick of it at the time, and it’s so difficult to get perspective when you’re there! Thank you so much for reading, and I hope that you find the spread useful!

  5. Very insightful spread questions for each card. I can definitely see why you felt in a jumble and blocked from resolving shadow issues, but, hey, exploring in the dark can involve a bit of stumbling about.

    I certainly feel better knowing that you (and I assume other readers) run into these “what the hell is the Universe trying to say here?” draws that don’t make sense at first (and sometimes ever). Especially when trying to read for ourselves.

    I wish you blessings, peace, and a light in the darkness over this next week. 🙂

  6. I love the Wild Unknown – I really must use it more often 🙂
    I often have the problem of not knowing what to write for these things. i ten towards the “let it write itself” approach – just start writing and see what come out. Seems to work OK 😀

      1. I’ve always found the rapidly approaching deadline and resulting mild panic for these things focuses the mind wonderfully 😀

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