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.

Knight of Swords

In this card we have the aspects of fiery air. So hurricanes and storms, forces of passion built in the mind. This knight is the knight of ideas, goals and plans. He is able to focus and follow his inspired ideas. The ideas come inspirationally, but once there acquire a force of their own. The knight sets about doing what is needed to carry them out.

Knight of Swords

This knight rules the decan from 21st degree of Taurus to 20th degree of Gemini – so we have the energy of the mind in Gemini with the influence of the stability and determination of Taurus. Ideas are solid and committed to without wavering.

The birds flying alongside represent the inspirational source of the ideas, and the knights ability to hear and listen to their guidance as he moves forward, making micro-adjustments as he needs to to overcome potential blocks and set backs. Knights are connected with Chokmah on the Kabbalah and so are also linked to neptune through this association, so knights all have a wisdom about them and this knight of Swords shows his wisdom in the form of his thoughts and ideas. He is a good problem solver through the aha moments in the bath or whilst on the move.

There is a feeling of speed and travel with this card- particularly flight, so on the mundane level trips abroad and anything connected with swift movement through air is indicated here.

A person represented by this card is someone who is clever, skilful, subtle and also follows their own inspired thoughts for good of bad – there is a sense of attack in some situations – whether it is attacking a problem for the good or a more forceful manner than is actually needed. The side it falls on can be told from surrounding cards or intuition. This person does think things through and gathers data to back up his plans, but everything is done very quickly and with great focus. There is not the slow deliberation that is associated with more earthy characters. With this speed there is also the possibility of changes in direction – not in a scattered way so much as the ability to be flexible when the need arises.

3 Wands

This month I am looking at the 3 wands. This card is a personal favourite of mine and for me in readings for myself it often represents my family. The 3’s are the creation of 2 into a third Kabbalistically we have the separation from oneness (aces) to the 2’s and then in the 3’s the 2 come together and create offspring – a third. So all the 3’s are connected with creative principles in some form. Chokmah – the idea (2’s), is built upon in Binah(3’s). Something is manifest from a thought.


In the suit of wands we also have the concept of passion, spirituality and raw energy. So 3 wands is also related to creating something of great meaning. In the Thoth it is linked to Sun in Aries. Sun in Aries is a very active sign – there is lots of energy and passion to get things done and make things happen. there is also a good deal of leadership power. An Aries character can be related to a youthful warrior, perhaps a little over keen at times, but strong and courageous and able to forge ahead fearlessly even in the face of opposition. Aires is also a representation of the beginning of spring.

We have the culmination of personal power in 2 wands being acted upon and bring forth new life in the 3 wands. According to Snuffin the lotus wand is associated with Isis and symbolises the power of creation. It can also be seen as a magickal tool used in creative magick, to bring forth our will into the physical reality.

So this card is a very creative card and in a wide sense, not simply self expression but the bringing into being of many different types of things, I often see this as the creation of something in the workplace that you have great enthusiasm for. It can come through the partnership of a few people too, rather than simply a sole endeavour.



2 cups – love

A beautiful card for us to explore for the new year. Just a reminder all my courses run on a one to one basis through a private forum, so as soon as you are ready to explore the Thoth and your own intuitive connection to it then let me know and we can start your training. Full details of all the courses and aspects I cover are on my website (see the link at the side).

Now onto the 2 of cups

2 cups

In the Kabbalah we are at Chockmah with this card and it is the wisdom of the world of the cups, emotions and feelings, how we flow with things or not. It is connected to the wisdom of water. When this card arises we can make a lot of progress by simply watching water and how it interacts with things around, and liken this to ourselves how we flow in our connections to others. On the card we see depicted the flow from spirit to earth – from the oneness of everything into duality – from our wholeness into relationship with another, so we can see ourselves more clearly through the reflection of our own nature another brings to us.. very often there are the lessons we learn the most strongly in our relationships and this is the card of relationship with that someone special, as well as all forms of partnership. Usually seen from it positive angle that differences are appreciated and add to the relationship rather than cause destructive energies, we allow ourselves to be like the fish – both living in the water, flowing with it, yet separate from it. Taking something in – the nourishment we need, and releasing all else. In successful relationships of all kinds this is the process we all go through – taking what we can learn from another but leaving the energies that are not truly ours. We allow the resonating parts of ourselves expression and simply accept as part of the other person all that which is unlike us. In truth we all hold everything in us – all potentials and possibilities are there, however we also discern what our soul is asking us to express in any particular moment and make our choices on how to react to the environment to reflect this inner truth. Sometimes we do the same as someone else – other times we are uniquely different and vice versa.

This card represents Crowley’s main dictum – “Love under Will” where we have the purest form of love. We use our will – our connection to our soul – to direct our action towards the expression of love on this earthly plane. Hence its common connection with romantic relationship, and one that is flourishing.

The card astrologically is linked to Venus in Cancer – a positive placement with love abound in familiar relationships.

The fish have different coloured eyes, golden (sun) and silver (moon) so represent the balance of the masculine and feminine energies – within oneself and within the relationships we are involved in. There is no power struggle, or conflict between what we feel to be true and how we act. As such we attract people to us who mirror this also and so we find ourselves amongst more loving relationships then we may have experienced before.


Queen Disks

I apologise for missing a few blog posts over recent months – things have been busy with me. I am here this month though and we are going to take a look at one of the court cards – Queen of Disks..


copyright US Games
copyright US Games

She sits amongst the richness of an aspidistra plant looking back over a winding path with little vegetation. So often this card indicates in practice that someone is reflecting over the past – which has been an arduous journey. There has been little sustenance on the way and little support as well as the feeling that the direction or destination is either unknown or constantly changing – just when you think you have an idea whats coming then life takes a whole new turn. However in this card it is over – that journey is now being reflected upon and the path can be seen as a whole and how everything was really for the best as it has brought you to your current place of abundance of nourishment and a deep trust in yourself. You got through it, supported yourself and were able to overcome challenges. As you recognise this consciously now you find future challenges less onerous as you know you can believe in yourself and in the natural unfolding of the way forward – even as it twists and turns unexpectedly.

The shield is a natural protection you have won for yourself, the goat a symbol of being able to move easily in otherwise difficult terrain, and also of creativity and the support of nature. The headdress a connection to higher realms as your guiding impulse and the septre of power you have earned. All is well – though there may be tears shed of sadness, or relief, of release of holding it all together. This passes easily and the strength in you remains. You have learned going with the flow of life as a step of power.

These are my initial feelings about this card, and very often how it shows in a reading – if we look at the technical aspects and correspondences we can see how these add or fit to this initial viewpoint and experience of the card.

So the wand has a hexagram inside a cube on its tip – this is representing the sun in the earth and as such the fertility of the land – we have come to a firtile place. a place of confidence and self esteem (Sun)  in practical matters (Earth). The goat on the orb is Sun in Capricorn – part of the decan this card covers, and as such represents the hard work, creative energy, and determined focus of Capricorn. We traveled the path, working hard to move along all the way and now have honed our ability to work at our creative pursuits on an inner and outer level. She is the watery part of earth and so uses intuitive understanding to help manifest things in their material form. She is also a nurturer, as the planet earth nurtures and provides for us so she represents being nourished physically – with food, exercise and healthy living, though can also indicate unhealthy consumption of food or natural drugs if positioned in a difficult place in a reading. She does generally represent the idea of surrender to the flow of things being a power. As Crowley said “She represents passivity, usually in its highest aspect”

4 disks – Power

This card is all about structure, solidity and strength in the physical world. Things have certainly manifested in the world in the fours, the first step downwards from the spiritual planes on the Kabbalah. Here we see strong square shapes and an image like a fortress. So we have a sense of power in keeping things out and also in keeping things in – the draw bridge shows the control we have on what and who we let in and what and who we keep out. We use our personal power to make these decisions. Sometimes it is needed that we shut the door on the world and keep our own counsel, sometimes we need to allow others in – those close to us and who we trust into our inner sanctum. The turrets have the symbols of the various elements on them – earth, water, fire and air. Spirit is missing, and there is a sense that this is a very material card. and all the elements come together to make the material world – we could get too caught up in the physicality – the ‘thing’ we have and would like, the practical things we have to do, and we forget to use these ‘things as vehicles to reach more spiritual perspectives. The castle as sanctuary where we find the space to hear our inner voice and the voice of spirit, or the castle to show off to others.

4 disks

This is sun in Capricorn which also has this dichotomy – often associated with hard work and reliability, Capricorn is good at being self motivated and making income and a secure life financially. Often forgotten is the aspect of sun in Capricorn which is highly spiritual and that the need for solitude contemplation, quietness and stillness are equally important to Capricorn’s balance. We see this balance here in the card in the form of having the choice to create the life we want by using our personal power. As we do so we gain the space we need and protect it at all costs, we also gain access to our own inner worlds and know how to use our emotions as information to aid our protection and access our intuition.

Very often when this appears in a reading we are looking at a situation where we need to get down to making some pragmatic and practical decisions and also we are needing to be strong in our beliefs and what we hold as correct. We are challenged not to give our personal power away, but to take it fully and act in the world to make our lives as we need them to be. We need discernment in order to understand where and to whom to say no. Sometimes drawing up the bridge and taking space even if others want more of us.




The Magus

This post I will talk about the Magus of the Thoth deck – some decks come with three versions of this card, they were never intended to all be used but were there as consideration for the owner to either pick one or to just appreciate other versions that were created by Frieda Harris. In those times there were two extra card slots for printing which weren’t needed and so for some publications they decided to make the alternative versions available.

The Magus

I came to the Thoth initially through the Gerd Ziegler book whilst I was also training as a counsellor so the psychological approach of Zeigler, being a Jungian therapist, appealed to me. He had made the decision to include all the magi in the deck and simply make the two be the skewed meanings of the magus as a whole – the unexplored extremes of ourselves – our complete light side and our complete dark side. The central and commonly defined ‘correct’ magus as the integrated dark and light sides of ourselves – the magical flow of life we experience when we are true to ourselves and incorporate information from our dark and light sides in our decisions and mapping of our life paths.

I found the approach useful to point out when I was being unaware that my shadow had taken over my actions, or that I was purely looking for the good in things and becoming unbalanced in doing so despite my good intentions, and of course where each of these were appropriate actions, or influences to allow.

I mention it in this month’s Thoth tips as there is often a discussion in the Thoth community around the three magi and some purists to Crowley’s wishes feel one should not use all three. It is my belief that we can and should follow our own heart about their use whilst keeping our eyes open for where we may delude ourselves. As with all things we need to find the path that is right for us at the time.

I have on previous posts talked about the White and Black magi alone so here I will expand up on the transcendental Magus.

This Magus walks the line between that which could be seen as good and that which could be seen as bad – having full awareness of both he knows when it is for the highest good – or in line with his true will – to keep a secret, to lie even for the right reasons, and when it is necessary to be impeccably open, when he needs to communicate in a adapted way to present his ideas and when he can simply be himself. He uses his ability to read and empathise with others to enhance his communication and to be heard in the essential things, even if some of the things he could say he leaves out. He is an excellent salesman, as long as he believes in what he is selling, he doesn’t not worry if he can not explain all the points – just to explain why it is good in the terms the person will understand, is enough. He is our own expert communicator. He appears relating to writing, data, the transmission of it, so the internet, travel to many places and quick movement. This card is connected to mercury – both the flexible communicator and the swift mover. He brings messages from afar and is playful and can be like a trickster. In the transcendental Magus we see the sacred clown archetype. How we can ‘get away with’ a difficult message by using humour – the person is able to receive the meaning without casting out the messenger as they might otherwise.

He is a creator and uses the power of speech to create his dreams – as we think things into being the speaking of our dreams brings forces together to make them happen – whether we are talking through the use of spoken ritual – or simply the talking of our dream to travel the world with our friends to find someone has synchronistically offers to remove some or all the obstacles you felt were barring you from living out the plan. What would I do with my house – oh I know someone who is looking for a 6 month let who loves plants so can care for your garden  too etc. Things that would not come to light had you kept quiet about your intentions.

The Magus aligns his intentions with his true Will and each other and thus creates easily, as all his energy is focused to a point. This concept can be seen very easily on this card image, there is a balance yet with flexibility; it is very well depicted as he stands almost dancing on his toes, able to use all that is around him to create.




The Hanged Man

This month’s card to explore is the Hanged Man.  This is the 12th card of the major arcana and shows a man suspended by one foot from an anhk, held there by a snake.

Hanged Man

The card is associated with the element water and is about baptismal initiation rights. It has obvious associations of seeing the world from a different perspective and the idea of voluntarily giving up action in order to achieve a more enlightened attitude even if it may require going through some discomfort or pain.

In the Thoth this is taken another step and often challenges us to release old patterns of behaviour and trust in something higher to guide us into the unknown – ie our life without our known ways of responding, defending and behaving. So it is a powerful card of inner transformation and surrender.

The crossed leg shown below the cross also has relevance in that a triangle below a cross indicate our sinking into the unconscious – the darkness – in order to retrieve our true selves and be born into the light anew. The snakes on the card lend themselves to this idea also.

There is a connection with eternal life and a feeling of permanence of spirit with this card too – as we release our inner fears, including the fear of death, so we are truly free to life each moment in the eternal now and are not as focused on the past or future, we are free to be completely in the present.

The Hermit

This month we look at the Hermit. This is connected to Wisdom through it’s attribution of Yod – the Hebrew letter, which is the first letter of the name of the Godforce YHVH. So we have associations with creation and father too, you can see this in the card in the image of the sperm and egg. The card is also attributed to Virgo and so Mercury(being the ruler of Virgo and exalted in it’s domain), in a high form, is represented here. There is good communication and also a tendency towards service for the higher good. Mercurial energy here is not wasted on chit chat but only used to further express truths and heal the self and others.


So in a reading we can see the Hermit heralding a time spent in self healing, self discovery and a withdrawal from the mundane world as one would expect of a hermit, and also a time of giving or receiving healing or advice to others to aid them on their way. The hermit might be a therapist you visit to help you overcome issues that are troubling you, or he may represent your own therapeutic skills in working with others.

He is independent and doesn’t need reassurance from others as he follows his own inner light.

On the Kabbalah we see this card as the balancing of the energy of love and mercy from Chesed (4’s) and the more practical expression found in Tiphareth (6’s). So we see the choice to express the deepest spiritual feelings and use one’s Will in this way. Heart is the way, rather than logic or practical knowledge, the person acts from their very spiritual centre. The effects are very present on the physical plane though and not just ethereal in nature, hence the idea of a deep healing. You can see the practical effects depicted in the wheat harvest in the card image, reminding us of both the symbolic food from inner work as well as the manifestation of good results on the physical, earthly plane.

Cerberus on the card represents the guardian of the underworld, the hermit has tamed him and so leads souls through the underworld safely, also the three heads represent speech, action and thought and the full command of these faculties that the hermit has.


Queen of Swords

This month’s card to explore is the Queen of Swords.

Queen of Swords in the Thoth (a well shuffled version!)
Queen of Swords in the Thoth (a well shuffled version!)

The queens in the Thoth are connected with Binah and so a mature feminine force. Binah is often considered restrictive, as the womb is restrictive it is also a place for growth and the new – but with boundaries. The queen here is also very boundaried and in the realm of the swords we see the mastery of thoughts, used in a way to nurture the self and others. We see her removing a mask, it is as if she is able to remove the mask she herself may have worn once, the thoughts she used to conceal her naked vulnerability from herself and the world. Now she can be seen in full and is facing both her own truth and sees the truth in those before her too. She weld the sword of discernment and will cut away all the superfluous untruths and allow the raw core of things to be seen unfettered with apology or judgement.

As such often she represents someone working in the field of counselling or psychotherapy with the ability to cut to the core of things, the ability to be genuine, yet boundaried, with clients and the insight to understand and help change thought patterns that are unhelpful on the path to ones own truth and Self. She nurtures the birth of the true self in our thoughts. She is the watery aspect of air so emotional logic which connects well with the field of psychotherapy and other emotional therapies.

She also represents a trustworthy honest friend who can witness our journey without casting judgement or needing us to do things their way.

her openness and vulnerability are her strengths and allow her to step outside of a situation and view it dispassionately whilst also holding her own person response. Her position on the clouds in the image reflects this perspective well also.

As court cards are also parts of us and not just who we find ourself attracting, though the process is the same – we attract people who show us parts of ourselves. in the same way in a reading this card can be both someone in the life of the querant as well as the querant themselves.

So the querant will have all these qualities coming from within themselves and using them to navigate the world. There is a need to drop masks to allow the vulnerability to be their strength. To get to the truth of the matter and to see their own thoughts truthfully, discerning what is mental chatter and discomfort and what is actually at the core.

It may well be that the querant has to use their ability to hold their own thoughts and perceptions in one hand and listen clearly to another with empathy through the other before making any response. And when a response is made it is not to be judgemental but discerning, having compassion and seeing that the others perception is likely to be spot on from their point of view, but your own point of view might tell a different story for you and you follow your own perceptions allowing the other theirs. Conflict is sorted by owning one’s feelings and acting for oneself, listening well and ensuring that what you have heard it is communicated back – even if it is something you actually disagree with. you don’t have to go along with someone’s ideas to listen to them fully.

She is the master of intention and able to think clearly about what is best in a situation. Insight and discernment working together well. She often is seen in service to others as she is one who, having seen, wants to take action to help another’s position.

Some may see her as cutting if she speaks a truth that is not ready to be heard, though it doesn’t bother her that someone has a negative opinion of her, she is more concerned with having the truth out, knowing the truth sets us free even if it is a painful birth sometimes.