Tarot & Oracle Cards For Shadow Work: Healing The Dark Side

Shadow work is about looking at the repressed and hidden aspects of your psyche.

It can be a transformational experience, but it can also be hard.

Tarot and Oracle cards can be a powerful tool for exploring your Shadow —giving you enough structure to feel safe as you dive deep and heal the wounds below the surface. 

In this article, I will be sharing techniques on using Tarot/Oracle decks along with spreads and everything you need to know about using Tarot with Shadow Work. 

Why Use Shadow Work And Tarot?

Shadow work helps you recognize negative cycles and find their root causes. Shadow Work is about seeing the repressed aspects of your identity and finding a way to accept them.

Because shadow work is fundamentally a psychological activity, you don’t need any equipment other than your own thoughts. 

Learn More: Ultimate Starter Guide to Shadow Work

However, it can be constructive to use symbols, images, and archetypes as a mirror to help you see aspects of yourself you might otherwise be blind to. 

Tarot can act as an objective mirror —giving you a clearer perspective to uncover your Shadow. Tarot and Oracle Cards use symbols that can jog memories, expose shadow aspects of your identity and help you integrate your Shadow. 

tarot cards shadow work swords and crows

Self-reflection isn’t easy.

Especially if you are trying to look at the darker and uncomfortable aspects of your personality.

Tarot is like a friend that can give you advice and help you notice things about you that you won’t admit.

I have seen hundreds of people use Tarot Cards for Shadow Work. I know professional readers that center on Shadow Work, and personal users that have gotten a lot out of using Tarot.

I must believe in it… because I even created my own Oracle deck for exploring the Shadow (The Masculine Archetype Deck).

Journaling has also been shown to be beneficial since it serves as both a record of your feelings and a platform for analyzing the pieces of yourself that are hidden.

Utilizing both free-writing and Tarot/Oracle decks can be a powerful way to explore your Shadow.

Using Tarot/Oracle Cards For Shadow Work

The subconscious works with primordial symbols. 

An excellent example of how that works is burning a love letter from an ex.

I was once heart broke over the ending of a relationship. During our time together we wrote each other a lot of love letters. 

One night I took the love letters out and burned them.

My subconscious saw the symbol of the letters as “our relationship exists.” Once the letters were burnt up and a puff of smoke, the subconscious saw the metaphor and interpreted it as “The relationship is now gone and in a different form.”

Using metaphor and symbols is a way to unlock understanding that is deep down in the subconscious. 

Tarot and Oracle Cards use images to connect to the deeper aspects of the subconscious. When you are using a deck, you move around the symbols, giving voice to your subconscious. 

There are three techniques I like to use to connect to the Shadow during a reading.

Using a Tarot/ Oracle deck for shadow work:

  • Use a Shadow Work Tarot spread
  • Pick a card for your Shadow and journal about it
  • Pick a card to represent your Shadow and meditate on it

Specific decks are good for working with the Shadow, but you can use specific questions or spreads to explore your Shadow, no matter the deck. 

No matter what method you choose, I always recommend spending some time reflecting on what you uncovered and learned.

READ MORE: Shadow Work Rituals

Shadow Work Tarot/Oracle Spreads:

You can use the classic Rider-Waite Tarot or any tarot deck for a Shadow Work reading. 

What helps is doing a specific spread.

Here are three spreads I have found to be really powerful in exploring the Shadow. 

1. Shadow Work: What Am I Repressing Spread

This Spread works great with Tarot and Oracle decks. 

Tarot three-card spread for Shadow Work

Start by shuffling the deck and pulling three cards. I like to start with one on my left and go to three, ending on the far right. 

The three cards represent:

  1. What part of my identity am I repressing?
  2. Why am I doing this?
  3. How can I accept this part of myself? 

I like this Spread because it is an easy wat to see what the Shadow Aspect is and a way to start to accept it.

2. Shadow Work: Who Am I? Spread

When doing Shadow Work, you are trying to unveil who you really are. 

We often see ourselves as the hero of every story, but we can also be our own worst enemy.

This Spread helps see what part of the story you are avoiding your eyes. 

Start by shuffling the deck and pulling three cards. I like to start with one on my left and go to three, ending on the far right. 

The three cards represent:

  1. What desires am I repressing?
  2. What am I scared of the most?
  3. How can I accept myself as a whole? 

3. Discovering the Shadow Spread

This five-card spread can give you a little more depth in your reading. I also love the inquiry of how to express the Shadow in a healthy way. That prompt has been a goldmine of personal growth. 

Start by shuffling the deck and pulling three cards. I like to start with 1 on my left and go to five, ending on the far right. 

  1. How can I best access my Shadow Self?
  2. What is preventing me from accessing it?
  3. How is my Shadow a problem in my life?
  4. How can I express my Shadow in a healthy way?
  5. What progress will be made?

PRO TIP: Take a photo of your reading and add notes in the name of the photo. Great way to review and reference. 

Questions when Drawing Cards

You don’t have to be limited just to spreads when working with Tarot / Oracle cards. 

There are a few prompts that I have used with myself and others that have led to potent revelations. You can use one prompt for a one-card draw or mix and match to make your won spread.

  • What do I need to know about my inner child?
  • What am I trying to keep hidden from myself?
  • What am I projecting onto others?
  • What characteristics do I project onto others?
  • What is causing me discomfort?
  • What’s the best way for me to integrate my Shadow?
  • What truth am I currently avoiding?
  • What is my greatest fear?
  • What progress have/will I make with my Shadow?
  • What needs to be acknowledged within my shadow self?
  • What lessons can I learn from my shadow self?


These inquire can also be used as Journal Prompts.

One of my favorite activities is to pull a tarot card with one of these questions. After contemplating it, I start doing free writing. This has led to some big shifts and awakened me to some deep pathways to healing.

Tarot and Oracle Decks for Shadow Work:

You can use any deck for Shadow work, but some work better than others. 

Every deck has a “theme” or “mood” to it. 

Some decks are light and fluffy, and some are dark and mysterious. 

I have used A LOT of decks over the last decade. Out of all that I have used, these three really stand out. 

1. Deviant Moon Tarot Deck

The Deviant Moon Tarot Deck is perfect for Shadow Work. 

The artwork invokes the hidden aspects of the psyche. It gives such a whimsical space for exploring the darker aspects of your identity. 

The deck is based on the Rider-Waite system, so the cards should be familiar with a little twist.

>>> Check out the Deviant Moon Tarot Deck

2. Masculine Archetype Deck

Ok… I need to come clean… I am the creator of this deck. 

I specifically made the Masculine Archetype Deck deck to help anyone explore their Masculinity and face the Shadow Aspects of their Psyche. 

The deck has five Masculine Archetypes, and each of those has two Shadow Aspects. The deck can be used to explore the shadows of Masculinity.

The Guidebook includes spreads for Shadow Work and ways of exploring the Shadow. 

If you are specifically interested in your Masculinity and Shadow work, this is the perfect deck. 

3. The Lantern Oracle 

The Lantern Oracle is an Oracle Deck that uses symbols that speak on a deep soul level. The deck brings in aspects of the Trickster, Emptiness, Metamorphosis, and other themes that are useful in exploring the Shadow. 

The Guide book has a lot of wisdom and adds depth to this deck. 

>>> Check out the deck

In Conclusion:

Tarot can be a powerful tool for exploring the Shadow.

The imagery and symbols of the Tarot have a way of zooming into the hidden aspects of the identity and giving you a powerful place for self-reflection.

When I first started uncovering my own Shadow, I found myself turning to Tarot / Oracle cards a lot. They created a safe space for me to contemplate these darker aspects of my personality. 

I remember a few readings that totally broke me open.

They gave me deep wisdom to implement in my life. Without those readings, I would not be the person I am today.

If you give yourself time and am willing to go deep, the Tarot will be an amazing ally on your journey.

If you are interested in working with your Shadow, here are a few articles that can help:

Isaac Cotec
Isaac Cotec
Creator of HeroRise, Isaac Cotec has dedicated his life to empowering others through art and creativity. He is a scholar of the subconscious and has studied the power of symbolism to help create enduring change.

Related Posts

Share this article:

Share on facebook
Share on tumblr
Share on email
Share on twitter