Psychosynthesis Explore your Shadow Spread

I was reading a book on Psychosynthesis the other day (A Psychotherapy of Love: Psychosynthesis in Practice by Ann Gila and John Firman) and a tarot spread jumped out at me that would be useful if you are feeling there is something central underlying several issues you, or your client, is experiencing and want to explore. So I thought I would share it here – It is a very powerful spread particularly when done with the Thoth. The repressed material is likely to be unrecognisable by the querant (you or your client) initially – but once you have the image and associated energies meditating on it and thinking on it over then following few days will help you release its transformative potential.

Before I go into the spread I will explain a little about psychosynthesis so you can understand the deeper intentions behind each spread position.

The following diagram is a model of how psychosynthesis sees the psyche

Psychosynthesis modelTo explain the terms:

Field of Consciousness and Will

This is our conscious self what we know of ourselves and what we want to do in life. Our motivations and our actions.

Middle Unconsciousness

This is our unconscious as connected to the present moment, things here we are not aware of but haven’t put any energy in to being unaware of them – simply they have not reached conscious level.

When we experience pain and trauma when we are developing it can be bad enough that we decide to not access certain parts of ourselves in order to keep ourselves safe. Jung considered this the Shadow. We seek then to actively repress this, all be it out of consciousness. We will tend to avoid situations that would bring our shadow to our consciousness. So if anger is something that was unsafe to express as a child for instance then we might seek to avoid conflict at all costs and loose also the positive ability to stand up for ourselves, to speak out about injustice and to express our thoughts or feelings if it would lead to real or imagined conflict in some way. Hence our shadow contains a positive and negative counterpart.

The Positive shadow tends to map to the Higher Unconsciousness and the negative shadow to the Lower Unconsciousness

Psychosynthesis is also concerned with our True Self – the transcendental part of ourselves this is beyond the physical, the ‘I am’, our pure consciousness in its highest form. Also there is a concept of sub-personalities in psychosynthesis. We can concieve of ourselves as having several parts of ourselves or viewpoints at once, each viewpoint may have a complex ‘personality’ of its own. Examples would be Inner Child, Inner Parental voice, Saborteur, inner Spirual being etc. When we are in harmony with ourselves we can see this like an orchestra playing well together, sometimes we are out of balance, the violinest is justtaking over too much or someone it out of time with the rest and not listening.  I decided to include this idea in the spread also.

So with this background the spread looks like this:

1. Field of consciousness and will: What I know and want in the present situation
2. Middle unconscious: What my subpersonalities are saying, how they are getting on
3. Higher consciousness: What positive qualities are still repressed partially or completely from the distant past that are relevant to the current time
4. Lower consciousness: What negative qualities are still repressed partially or fully from the distant past that are relevant to the current time
5. What I am avoiding in life circumstances to keep the positive and negative shadow hidden
6. The true Self guidance
7. Outcome


.            5.

1. 2.                 7.

.            6.


I like the arrow shape as it symbolises movement forward.

I have found this spread very powerful – it gets into the depths of the psyche and will usually take some working with to fully heal. Often the cards’ energies in 4 and 3 are not recognised as they represent shadow material which is actively repressed by the psyche, so by definition we are going to find the meanings here hard to access intially. However if we hold these cards in our mind over the next few days and weeks, and also meditation on their meanings and relevance often inspiration is sent to us and it can feel like a doorway has opened out into our mind and things start to shift positively, sometimes miraculously.

Please feel free to have a go with this spread and comment on how you find it for yourself or in your work with others.

Working with ‘difficult’ cards

This month I have decided to make the blog connected to working with the cards with the more challenging keywords. Many people are put off using the Thoth because they are not sure how to handle these cards – either the receiving of them themselves in a reading and or the delivery of a message that is challenging to the client. In the video clip I explain how these cards can be read, focusing on the fears they are, which can, in some circumstances, lead to the creation of the very event that is feared – but the arrival of these cards in a reading actually helps us choose differently and face our fears and so avoid the manifestation of the feared outcome.

My You Tube video explaining

When delivering the challenging message to a client we also have to be aware that these areas will be very sensitive to the client – after all the reading is saying there is a fear to be overcome – so there very likely will be a tendency of the client to see the difficult cards and not to take in the positive messages that may surround it – however rosy they actually are. So it is a challenge to us to present both the truth of the message, and also enable the client to have the best possible change of hearing the full and balanced message and not to skew the message from their own fears arising.

How do we do this?

Well firstly the awareness of this issue will go a long way to help us word our sentences and structure our delivery of the message in an uplifting, honest way. In addition to this we can watch how we talk of the cards. If we call the 7 disks,  failure, frequently through the reading then we are emphasising this keyword, if however we refer to it at the 7 disks then the word ‘failure’ is less likely to become a negative affirmation. If we also emphasise the positive that is present in the reading, and also the results of facing the fears, then we are giving these energies as an affirmation rather than the difficulty itself. Indeed actually leaving a client with a positive affirmation which is connected to one of the cards of the future is a good way of helping this process. It is also a good practice, if a reading ends on a difficult card, to take another card for how the world will look or being experienced, once the fear has been dealt with. If this is another challenging card we are shown the process will be a longer one, and another card can be taken until the resolution energy appears. If a positive card results then we have the affirmative energy to give to the client as a way of bringing in and getting through the challenge ahead. The sense of hope that carries one through the work.

As we work with this sensitivity we can present readings that deal accurately and honestly with challenges that arise in life and also help guide ourselves and our clients forward into the challenge and out the other side.

Living With a Card

Often when we read tarot for ourselves with the Thoth, we have a position in the spread which is the main focal point – it might be the outcome card, it might be the ‘card to focus on’ it might be the ‘key’. Whichever it is the card that we are most drawn to and seek answers from. Sometimes in readings this card is the very one that we understand the least – or in this particular reading it seems not to provide the direct answers we usually gain or expect. This is a good time to build your tarot knowledge, both in a traditional way and in a very personal way.

These, perhaps confusing, yet central cards hold a key for us. There are a number of different ways to approach this:

  • the academic study
  • the meditation
  • the journey
  • the holding the card with you through life

I want to focus on the last of these here this month, but before I do I will briefly talk about the others to give you an idea of what I am not meaning with the last one.

The first is to go to the books you have, the online resources you have access to and to read all anyone has ever seen in the card and go with those statements and concepts you have an intuitive reaction to. You are starting to gain a deeper understanding of the card and how it relates to you specifically in your situation and you are adding to your remembered bank of card meanings.

In this section I would also include studying the things that have been associated with the card by the deck creator, so you may also be going to references about the astrological associations of the Thoth card you have, the Kabbalistic position of the card, the meanings of the sephiroth or path connected to the card etc. Perhaps even looking further into that into the associations from the Kabbalah correspondences.

All of this can lead to great depth and often when we experience a one of card’s many meanings it stays with us much more strongly than others we have just read about. So picking out the parts that you feel a ah-ha with of a click is a powerful way of learning.

Then we come to the second way of working with the card – to do a traditional meditation on the card – sitting quietly and still in front of the card and allowing the different parts of the card to draw you and to wash over you – once quiet within and at peace with the card then you can allow intuitive understanding and inner wisdom to arise within the session. Also within this there is the Inner Discursive method of meditation where you can allow yourself to first describe the images you see within the card and the to allow yourself to think about what this image means and what other concepts and situations also are connected with the image.

There is then the creative visualisation, pathworking or journeying technique where you prepare yourself for an inner journey in your usual manner and then allow yourself to walk directly into the card, initially seeing some or all of the pictures on the card but as you progress you see the environments change and you may travel on a very personal journey into different terrain even with the same card on separate occasions. This gains you intuitive insight as you assess and reflect on your journey after you return you ordinary consciousness.

Then we come to allowing the card to work with you.

In many ways this allows all the above to process within you – but it can also be done on its own. You look at the image and see it clearly in your mind’s eye, then you take it with you in your mind as you go about your day-to-day activities. You set your unconscious mind to work on the issue of finding this cards true message to you. As you intend this you then can forget about the card and watch out for patterns of action, behaviour or events around you in your day. Any time something stands out to you hold the card in your mind and against the activity or event.

Ask yourself what is the connection between these two things – if any?

      <li”>Sometimes a connection will clearly be made and you can log this as a confirmation of a certain slant of meaning of this card at this time for you.

<li”>Other times there is a tenuous connection – this you can hold in a ‘maybe this’ pile and wait for further confirmation or a missing link between two things the card and that event to show itself to you.

  • Sometimes there will be no connection – here you can leave the situation as being about a different part of the process you are in currently – perhaps it relates to one of the other cards in your reading, perhaps it is just in a different realm of your life.


You can also look out for connections between your thoughts on the topic you have asked about, when you find yourself reflecting on the issue and exploring it in its own nature then remembering the card and looking for these same connections, the card its images, energy and possible meaning and the relation of this to your situation of enquiry.

As you work through the process of a card you can find its meaning and your understanding changes, you begin to see the whole story of a card rather than just the initial concepts your intuition and mind was able to latch onto. When flowing at its best you can experience moments where everything feels very connected – both in your life as well as how it is mirrored in your reading and this specific card.

As we set intentions like this with our unconscious often these processes of inner analysis take place almost by themselves, we come in and out of awareness of the process through our day. As we become more conscious of this process we start to become conscious of our own intuitive and inner being knowledge making its voice known in our conscious world – we come to know what we have been seeking for, often triggered by the tarot, and sometimes feeding back into a depth of knowledge of the tarot for future use with others.

You can encourage this process by having the image of the card about you – perhaps as a backdrop on your phone or desktop on your computer, or just out by your side when you are working.

Have a go at this process yourself, see it working in your life. All the processing of understanding the meaning of the card to you are valid and worthwhile, and if we use them together then our learning process becomes a very rich and personal experience which accelerates our own inner growth and the skills we have to offer others.

Thoth and the Weather

Thoth and the Weather
This is something I am recently working with, as I go out into the mountains on regular occasions I have decided to see what the Thoth has to say about the weather – from time to time I will update you to my findings. Please feel free to discuss your own findings on this thread.

So last weekend there were two choices for walking in the Brecon Beacons I picked a card for each, 

The Black Mountain area – Queen of Swords
The Beacons themselves – Hanged Man

This was for the physical experience of the mountains rather than our personal or emotional experience. 

The Associations that came up for each were as follows:
Queen of Swords:- She is sitting on the clouds, has her head in the clouds, there is a feeling of height and being able to see the view below. So I felt this was a good indication of the cloud cover being high and we would be able to see around us for the most part of the walk. She is also someone who is quite detached and cool headed in things which I associated with it being colder than usual – or than it had been recently. 

Hanged Man:- He is upside down, perhaps we would experience an inversion – a relatively unusual occurrence where the top of the mountains are in clear sky and the clouds are below in the valley, This is a card of water, so there is suggestion of rain or fog, and with the ideas of trust and surrender I have the association that we wouldn’t be able to see where we were going but would have to trust in our skills. So low cloud, some rain and fog, possible inversion too. 

We chose to go to the Black Mountain area, and experienced a small portion of the time in some mist, but overall the day was clear we could see far across the land – there was snow on the tops which was unexpected, yet not from the Queens indication of cold. We could also look across to the Beacon area from where we were and there was indeed some inversion going on around the peaks there and a lot of white cloud which would be experienced as fog, with possible drizzle. 

A positive set of associations with these cards I feel.

Beginning to work with Astrology and the Thoth tarot

Beginning to work with Astrology and Thoth

Many of the Thoth cards have astrological symbols on them. Looking at how the astrology connects with the card meaning can help us read the meaning of a card in the spread, especially if certain signs or planets reoccur through the spread giving an indication of how the planet’s or sign’s action is influencing the situation in the reading. 

When reading a planet in a sign think of the sign being the arena that the planet is acting in. So Venus in Cancer can be thought of as the creative, beautifying, sensual energy of venus acting in the arena of Cancer, the place of family ties, loyalty, home, protection and safety. So we have the feel of ties between people being pleasurable and the idea of attraction – ideal for the card 2 of cups love. 

However we can also take this further and look at some of the other attributes of Venus and cancer together and see that in some spreads this card could also indicate an artist – perhaps someone who works from home and expresses homely ideas through their art. The connection to the home and beauty in this card can also represent making a home beautiful, furnishings and colours, comfort and sensual place to be in. 

Someone who is very generous (Venus) with their family (Cancer). Venus also represents values, how we value ourselves and others, so in the playground of cancer we are looking at self value within the family, family position. We can also see a possible avoiding of looking at the truth with cancers sidestepping nature and Venus’s ability to please others even if ultimately it serves our own needs. Perhaps too you might say that love is maintained by using tact and diplomacy coupled with a high self value. 

There is a tendency of cancer to hold onto things and Venus is about emotional things, so we have the holding of relationships, a possible clingyness and a tendency to go over the past. There can also be a link to historical interests, archaeology, and the like. 

There is a love of food and music with Venus, and in the realm of cancer then family gatherings, particularly the women of the family (Venus also) gathering to enjoy good food, most likely in a home or very homely setting. 

You can discover other connections looking up attributes of both cancer and Venus and allowing your intuition to combine them to bring further meanings to this card and spread in which it is found. If you also are taking into account other attributes such as numerology and Kabbala then you can further refine and understand both the card and your intuitive messages from it at a specific time.

Learning the to read with the Thoth tarot Deck

Learning to read the Thoth deck
Why read with the Thoth tarot deck? Often the deck we chose to read with is just a personal choice of what we are drawn to and this is reason enough, if you are drawn to the Thoth then it can work for you as a deck. It may be it is the beautiful imagery, the knowledge that it has been designed with many layers of correspondences or the reputation that this deck will give you very direct readings that appeals to you, or perhaps it is just a feeling it wants to work with you that has brought you to consider owning this wonderful deck.

I feel this deck is indeed a very powerful tool, there are so many systems of thought represented in the deck in so many ways that it can tap into our collective unconscious very easily and bring us to intuitive meanings easily particularly if you are focused on your inner world and how we can better manifest our potential in this lifetime. The deck is balanced with its depictions of the happiest times of our lives and also the hardest times of our lives. So you can build a trust in this deck that it will tell you the truth of a situation. When it is difficult it won’t pull the punches however it also shows the way to work through and overcome the difficulties through working on ourselves. Every situation we experience externally brings with it a lesson we can learn from and by using the Thoth tarot to help us work through these lessons it opens the doors to our inner wisdom and healing. 

So it is balanced, beautiful, multi-layered, direct and has no taboos – all topics can be expressed through this powerful deck. Crowley, I feel, was an excellent scholar of so many esoteric pathways, he also practiced all he learned and, though he had his own issues, throughout his life he was strong enough to follow his own heart and direction searching for the truth in all things despite being bedeviled. By using the Thoth we are given his study in correspondences through so many systems as a starting point and we then begin our own journey into our inner worlds to find our personal connection with the realms beyond the mundane.

Many people however, despite the attraction of the Thoth – find that they don’t know where to start once they have the deck in their hands, that somehow there is a resistance to working with it. It might be you have tried to read with it and have been put off by the direct keywords on some of the cards and the feeling of darkness that may be alongside these words. It might be you have read some of the books about the deck and have found the information from so many systems of thought coming together in one deck just seems overwhelming, how will you learn all these things and be able to use the deck. Perhaps you have heard of the reputation of Crowley and are nervous to be associated with some of the darker sides of his life. So the first place to start with reading with this deck is to look at your associations with it in the beginning and see which of these are really true for you and which are just getting in the way from someone else’s viewpoints that you have taken on as true. 

Once you have acknowledged your misgivings and possible blocks to using the deck you can then move forward. You can start working with the Thoth from wherever you are at the time. You bring to it your current knowledge even if incomplete and allow your intuition to grow from your current place. You may know some astrology, or be familiar with the Kabbalah and these can help you access the cards intuitively as well as your own life experience. When you see an image on a card you can allow yourself to free associate with it, this loosens up any tendency to censor our intuitive thoughts and though many freely associated images my be relevant only to ourselves initially, in amongst this you very often find something close to an intended meaning for the card. With practice and continual self awareness you can come to know the sense of true intuition in you as opposed to wishful thinking or projected meanings. 

The depth of information included in this deck doesn’t have to be known fully and intellectually to use the deck well – the images are universal, though we may know nothing of the connection of venus to love, or what the symbol is for venus we can know the keyword love, we understand the colours are soft and bring a feeling of love in the 2 cups for example, we see two sides to a water feature perhaps in the card, each necessary for the balance of it yet each is both separate and connected. Already we have gained much meaning from the associations on the image as well as with the keyword and the feeling from the colours. We have a start to the energy of the card. When we add the association of water with emotions and the number two for partnerships, the meaning develops further.

Self awareness if important though I feel, through self awareness we gain access to the fullness of ourself. Our shadow side – the parts of us we would like to deny – often hold the greatest ‘gold’ for us. As we get in touch with these, the anger, rage, jealousy, we would rather not have, acknowledging their existence, it makes us whole and shows us how we can be more of who we are – for every part of us we lock away and declare is not good enough, we also lock away some gold of our true nature which to be balanced we need. As we lock away anger we also lock away our ability to stand up for ourselves in the face of a bully for example. As we access our own shadows we are less likely to see them – or project them into others and thus we will see our clients more for who they are rather than who we are projecting onto them.

Another method of accessing your intuition is to journey into the card using a guided visualisation technique and to meet and converse with the characters and elements depicted in the card. People often experience the card landscape changing as they do this and additional images and messages come to them through the cards journey. This technique is good to open out your intuition in a general sense as well as when connected to a specific card image. It is also excellent to use to develop ourselves and our lives, clearing out issues and projections in our outer worlds, and also making our intuitive channelling for others clearer and more accurate.

Often when we are using our intuition we are tapping into what Jung called the collective unconscious and here lies the archetypal energies that the tarot embodies in itself. These energies are also represented by astrology and also the Kabbalah and consequently when the images on the Thoth were created the symbols associated with these archetypes were represented on the cards. This is the case to a greater and lesser extent with all tarot as each card can be said to be an archetypal energy – however with the Thoth the correspondences are well worked out and can be seen in so many different systems that there are many different access points to the cards energies. We just have to allow our thinking minds to step back enough to access the collective and so be shown the meanings needed.

When I work with the Thoth I start from the Jungian approach suggested by Gerd Zeigler in his books on the Thoth, this gives a good starting to point to understanding the depth of process that goes on within us and also how the tarot relates to this – it also shows us how to gain the healing potential from the most difficult of the cards. Sometimes if we work with the tarot for ourselves it is very hard to see how a card which on the surface is very negative is not actually gloom and doom for us – whilst it is telling the truth of a difficult time it is also pointing the way to work with this within ourselves to create healing and thereby bring peace within us. 

I feel to work with the Thoth in this way on your own personal journey also adds to the ability to have to work with others in their lives and be able to stand alongside another and indicate the way forward when you have covered the terrain yourself – for you to ‘know’ the card on a deep level and how it acted within your own life you are then able to have a deeper knowledge of it when it is active for another in a reading you may be doing. 

Using all these techniques you can then form a truly personal relationship with the deck, no longer soley based upon someone else’s meaning or an accepted meaning of a card, you have your own library of experience to draw upon as well as your intuitive access to the card and its archetypes. 

From this stage of development you can then gather your own associations for cards from others use of them and how they work for them in their lives – you can add to your system of knowledge information from traditional sources – taking a deeper looking into the astrological correspondences and understanding how the astrology on a card can add another layer of meaning to it. Here too additional practical situations, issues, people, places, careers etc can be linked to cards through the astrological association. Similarly with the Kabbalah, Hebrew etc. Each system you are drawn to learn and use adds yet more information you can intuitively draw upon in a reading. By coming from this intuitive approach you can prevent yourself being blocked by the intellectual systems as you approach a reading, allowing the things you have learned intellectually to spring up from within you when they are needed rather than feeling overwhelmed about what a card could possibly mean from your intellectual mind. 

So get out your decks and have a go, ask yourself about your blocks to the deck (perhaps even ask the Thoth itself too through a reading) and allow yourself to get to know your deck intuitively. If you are interested in an online course to do this within then take a look at my website for details of what we offer and how to apply for a place.