About the Tree of Life Spread
This spread is totally MASSIVE, and I highly recommend preparing a large space for it, even if you're working with a mini-deck. There are a total of 24 card that cover a large area both vertically and horizontally. Maybe clear off the kitchen table or dedicate a section of the floor so you can easily behold your shadowy masterpiece.
I see this spread as a starting point for an extended period (or periods) of shadow work. Because the spread deals with so many aspects of the shadow -- and delves a bit into each -- it begs for further exploration into the various roots and branches of the tree.
Each card thus represents both an answer and raises new questions about the shadow that you can and should probe in your own time and in your own way. I strongly suggest breaking up your dedicated shadow work into a few manageable periods that focus on certain parts of the spread so as to avoid mental and emotional exhaustion.
For what it's worth, I usually dedicate 14 days at a time for shadow work. You should definitely find a time frame that is suitable for you. Also, please make sure you are mentally and emotionally ready for shadow work. It can be an intense process, and having a stable mind-state from he get-go will allow you to really see how parts of the shadow affect you. If you feel so called, having a support network in place might also be a good idea.
The Tree of Life Spread
This spread is aptly called "The Tree of Life." Its roots show the figures and conditioning of your past. The branches show areas that are affecting you now and how you can deal with them. The trunk summarizes key points in your shadow.
The image of the spread (and later, the positions) are from my personal Tarot Spreads Notebook, a collection of spreads both of my own creation and those I've come across from others as I walked my tarot journey.
Well, here it is!
So what do these numbers mean?
The Card Positions
Again, these images come from my Tarot Spreads Notebook.
My handwriting is a hot mess, so if you can't read it, here are the positions in clear text.
- Childhood. What facet of my childhood have I overlooked or need to reevaluate?
- Home Life. What aspect of my home life might I benefit from taking into consideration?
- Mother. What element of the mother archetype might I benefit from considering?
- Father. What element of the father archetype might I benefit from considering?
- Siblings. What element of my childhood companionships might I benefit form exploring?
- Upbringing. What aspect of my upbringing might I benefit from taking into consideration?
- Culture. What aspect of my cultural conditioning might I benefit from taking into consideration?
- Religion. What aspect of my religious background might I benefit from taking into consideration?
- Society. What aspect of my societal influence might I benefit from taking into consideration?
- Experiences. What past experiences have I repressed, glorified, or otherwise need to fully process?
- Ego. What quality of my self-image might I benefit from evaluating?
- Fear. What fear(s) might I benefit from considering?
- Attachments. What attachments(s) might I benefit from letting go of?
- Aversions. What aversion(s) might I benefit from confronting?
- Habits. What habit(s) might I benefit from analyzing?
- Ambitions. What ambitions would I benefit from reconsidering?
- Thought Patterns. What quality of my thought patterns might I benefit from realizing?
- Belief Systems. What aspect of my belief system might I benefit from contemplating?
- Desires. Which of my desires would I benefit from exploring?
- Current Condition. What quality of my current condition is being most heavily impacted by my subconscious?
- Relationships. What about my relationships might I benefit from evaluating?
- Projections. What do my projections say about me?
- Reflections. What do my reflections say about me?
- Shadow. What aspect of my shadow might I benefit from working with?
Working with The Tree of Life for Shadow Work
As you can see, there are lots of parts to the spread, but you can break it down into smaller sections for an in-depth exploration of that aspect of the shadow. If might be a good idea to handle one section at a time, diving deep into you shadow each time before looking for larger, overarching trends that run through all of them.
This is how I personally would break down the roots and branches of The Tree of Life for manageable periods of shadow work. Keep in mind, this is not a hard-and-fast way to tackle the spread. It's just the patterns in it that I see.
2-5: Personal Past
This is the area where the people, archetypes, and relationships in you past have had an indelible effect on your psychic subconscious.
6-9: Past Surroundings
This is the area where the institutionalized social norms have had a major effect on your subconscious condition.
1, 10: A Summary of Childhood and Adolescence
These two cards are an at-a-glace descriptor of your youth, and it might be interesting to see how they compare and contrast with each other. I feel that Card 1 is more of the starting point, whereas card 10 is more of a summary.
12-15: Present Restrictions
This is the area that keeps you from moving forward in the present. Regaining control over aspects in this area is part of a major step toward a more complete and free self.
16-19: Present Ways to Move Forward
These are the aspects you should consider very carefully so that you can go on to live your life in a healthy and satisfying way.
11, 20: A Summary of the Ego and Subconscious
These two cards focus on how your ego and subconscious interact to hold you back or allow you freedom.
21-23: Ways the Shadow Manifests Itself in Life
These cards show how your shadow and subconscious act on and influence your interactions with others and yourself. Understanding these cards will empower you to change any negative patterns that appear in your life.
24: The Shadow Aspect
As the card position says, this is the aspect of the shadow that you can most benefit from working with. It might be an aspect you like or one that you consistently resist. Whatever the case may be, confronting, understanding, and fully welcoming this aspect into your life in a healthy way will be the key to your self-power.
This is just how I would approach it. You are, of course, free to work on parts of the spread or cards as you feel so called to address them.
And definitely don't feel that you have to start at any one place. If you don't feel as if there are shadows to address in your childhood or upbringing, you can save them for last or skip them entirely. If you feel an area of strong resistance, you might want to start there or do it down the line once you've gotten a good feel for how to conduct your shadow work. It's all up to you!
I hope this post has been of service to you!