Shadow Work, Journalling & Enneagrams

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned shadow worker, the Enneagram test can help enlighten parts of your shadow self, giving you a jumping-off point for shadow journaling, shadow tarot/oracle readings and more.

The Enneagram is a personality typing system consisting of nine different types. Additionally, your personality type has a ‘wing’ which shows whether you’re most like the type before or after yours, kind of like a cusp in astrology.

The most useful part of this typing system is that it lists variations of the personality type based on nine levels of mental health. Additionally, it lists strengths and weaknesses of your additional type which can be used in shadow work. Even positives can be hidden in the shadow self if you refuse to believe it, or don’t associate with it much.

You can take the Enneagram test here.

Once you’ve figured out your type and wing, I highly recommend using this website to further your knowledge about what your type means to you:

The description of your type lists your basic fear and basic desire. These are great points to start your journaling.

  • How do you feel about the basic fear your type assigns you? Do you relate to it? How and why?
  • How do you feel about the basic desire? Do you relate to it? How and why?

Then it lists key motivations. These are what motivate you to reach your goals.

  • How do the ‘key motivations’ align with your current lifestyle?

Next, it goes into a lengthy overview about your type. Since this is packed with so much information, I like to go over it with a fine-toothed comb and, either by hand or digitally, go through each statement and write the first gut-reaction that pops into your head, or that you feel.

Pay most attention to the things that resonate deeply with you or do not resonate with you at all. These will be your most important takeaways.

Then, take some time looking into the levels of development to identify where you fall now.

  • Which level of development do you most relate to? Is it healthy, average or unhealthy? Why do you think?
  • Identify a time in your life when you related to a more negative level of development, if applicable. What was going on then?
  • Ask yourself what you can change to ascend to a healthier level of development.

Finally, the website lists personal growth recommendations that are basically little pieces of advice based on your type. There’s usually only a few, so I would take each one and use it as a journal prompt.

  • Do you already follow some of these guidelines?
  • How do you think you can follow them more closely?
  • Which ones resonate with you most? Which ones resonate least?

This is a lot of information to digest. I also recommend taking the Enneagram test at least once a year, to see if your type changes. If you decide to do this, bookmark this post (or just the website I linked above to take the test) to ensure there is consistency and you are using the same test each time. Lots of websites offer free Enneagram tests but the one I linked above has been the best and most thorough I have found thus far.

Have you taken the Enneagram test? What is your personality type? Have you found the information it provides you helpful with shadow work? Leave a comment below!

What is “Shadow Work”?

If you’ve been relatively active in the tarot community, there’s no doubt you’ve come across the term ‘shadow work’. It’s not as magical and mysterious as it sounds, but it can be dark.

The term ‘shadow’ refers to the dark or hidden sides of who we are. It refers to parts of ourselves that we deny.

Shadow work refers to the work we do to bring light to these parts of ourselves. It is a solitary journey, one in which we ask ourselves important questions and answer them honestly.

I like to think of shadow work as self-therapy.

A popular way to begin shadow work is simply journaling. You can search the internet for prompts relating to shadow work and you’ll likely come across prompts like these:

  • Which emotion do you tend to deal with in unhelpful/destructive ways? Write about the way you usually deal with this troublesome emotion. Then write about what your life might be like if you dealt with it differently.
  • What qualities irritate you about others? Do you see any of these characteristics in yourself?
  • When you silence or suppress one part of yourself, how does it feel?

Answering questions like these can bring parts of your personality out of the shadow and into the light.

Tarot is also a great way to do shadow work. Many practitioners have a deck or decks that they specifically use only for shadow work. These decks can be (but don’t need to be!) darker or harsher in imagery to better reflect our shadow.

An important part of shadow work, many will agree, is setting aside a time and specific intention to practice. It’s not necessary, but it helps us build focus to have a ritualistic and intentional approach.

Below are some resources I’ve found if you’re interested in delving in to your shadow. It can be difficult to just jump in without some direction, so I’ve included some websites with overviews about shadow work as well as journal prompt lists to aid you on your journey ahead.

Shadow Work Resources:

Deck Review: Karma Cards by Monte Farber

Today I want to do a quick review of an oracle deck I recently acquired called Karma Cards. These cards are heavily based on astrological correspondences.

It is highly unique to other decks, and not in a way that makes it difficult to use.

This deck is actually three decks of cards. One consists of planets, one of astrological signs and one of astrological houses. Each of these mini-decks are meant to be shuffled and dealt separately. They are also intended to be read in spreads of three cards, one from each deck. Together, the words on each card actually form six different sentences, three in red and three in blue.

The way Farber describes it in the guidebook is this:

“If you want to know the outcome of a situation, read the BLUE panels. If you want to know what you should do about a situation, read the RED panels … for the answers to ‘What should I keep in mind when I…”, read the RED (action) panels, and for the answers to ‘What kind of situation/mood/atmosphere can I expect to encounter or prepare for…’ read the BLUE (action) panels.

As a sample reading for this post, I drew Pluto in Virgo in the 12th house. It gave me the following advice:

Red:

  • Resurrect the serving of others seeking oneness with all there is.
  • Get to the heart of the details of philanthropy.
  • Do or die! You must do what you must do and keep your involvement hidden.

Blue:

  • The need for control of methods for the healing power of your faith.
  • An obsession with the analyzing of hidden tendencies.
  • A power struggle resulting from the perfectionism of large institutions or overwhelming events.

Okay, so it can be a little wordy and obtuse but they can be fun to deconstruct, kind of like poetry.

The guidebook offers in-depth and astrologically accurate interpretations on the specific planets, signs or houses you draw. I love how a single reading gives you so much to read and think about. In that way I think this deck is most useful for shadow work or other in-depth readings.

If you’re at all interested in astrology, I highly recommend this deck!

My witchy origin story

Like most others, I discovered witchcraft in junior high school. I think it was sixth or seventh grade. A girl in my class had told me about Wicca, and showed me spells on very 90s-esque websites. I didn’t get into it then, but to say it piqued my interest is an understatement.

I first approached witchcraft seriously in 9th/10th grade. I started taking witch books out of the library as well as books on divination and anything else I could get my hands on. I had a friend in real life I could practice and share knowledge with. We bought all of our supplies from the Dollar Store. Sometimes we would walk into the woods, sit down in a clearing, burn some incense and just listen to nature. I really, really liked this. I didn’t really consider it as a religion or spirituality, though. It was more of something I liked to read about, but I didn’t have the freedom or the resources to practice often.

When I was 18 years old, I really got into tarot reading. I loved everything about it and I finally had the resources to buy my own decks. I became email “pen pals” with a girl I met online who offered to trade readings with me. We wrote each other long e-mails, sharing the different nuances of our paths. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have some sort of companionship on your path, even if you’re a solitary witch. It makes a world of difference.

This was really my first true, wholehearted experience with witchcraft, spellwork and deity work. I believe at the time I labeled myself a Dianic Wiccan. I don’t subscribe to this title any longer, however I still feel more comfortable working with female deities over male ones.

I’m only 27 now, so I’ve been on and off with witchiness and reading cards for about 10 years. It’s hard to keep something in your life permanently, when everything else is fighting for a space. I work full-time now but I’m not going to school anymore which affords me more free-time and I feel like I’ve truly found my place among witches at last.

Part of the problem for me was overcoming my own anxieties and insecurities about being a witch. I felt like I would get made fun of or laughed at by my friends. My friends have changed a lot in the past ten years. Luckily, everyone currently in my life accepts me for who I am. I can only deny who I am for so long, and it feels like I am finally coming clean.

Why tarot “works”

I’ve been reading tarot for over ten years on and off. I’ve gotten a handful of readings from professional readers both online & in person and I’ve gotten even more for free from friends in the tarot community.

The cards can be eerily accurate, or cryptic (and usually eventually accurate) but what makes the cards ‘know’ things about us?

There are generally a few theories ranging from psychological archetypes to communing with/via spirits and deities.

Personally, I believe that since tarot is such a visual tool, it allows our brains to process the information the cards give us in a different way than we might if we were just giving advice. Since we are using the right-side of our brain in this interpretation, it allows readers to meld their own intuition with the interpretation of the card.

I used to hear the word ‘intuition’ and thought it meant nothing, or something irrelevant. I know now from copious personal experiences what intuition is, and what it feels like. Intuition is like imagining or dreaming about a situation happening in a particular way, and then it does. Or thinking about someone you haven’t spoken with in forever and then they reach out to you, seemingly out of the blue.

Whenever I start really ‘tuning in’ with my intuition, I can notice a difference right away. I become more sensitive in a way I can’t quite explain and it allows me to sense things I might not otherwise sense.

I believe using tarot with a heightened sense of intuition allows you to perform readings not just for yourself, but for other people, even – and especially in some cases – complete strangers.

Tarot cards have interpretations but there are multiple different meanings for every card. This is where intuition comes into play – having a particular feeling that one meaning is standing out bolder than the others.

This is the interpretation I subscribe to, but that doesn’t mean it’s “right”! There are loads of different tarot readers who approach their tools differently.

I’m a “witch”?

I suppose sooner or later, a witch needs to come out of her broom closet.

I’m a witch. But what does that mean?

Witchcraft is a practice, and witches practice magic. When I say that I practice magic, I mean that I perform little rituals and spells, with a goal of making something change. Sometimes the changes are small: I might cast a spell to give me enough energy to do the dishes, or I might draw a sigil to make me feel more creative and motivated.

Witchcraft is a practice, and witches practice magic. When I say that I practice magic, I mean that I perform little rituals and spells, with a goal of making something change. Sometimes the changes are small: I might cast a spell to give me enough energy to do the dishes, or I might draw a sigil to make me feel more creative and motivated.

I’m not a wiccan, but my beliefs align with the wiccan rede: ‘An ye harm none, do what ye will.’ I don’t aim to hurt or change anyone.

The spiritual aspect of being a witch is a little difficult to explain, however. I don’t ascribe to one particular religion, yet I’m not completely secular. The deity I feel closest to at the moment is Bast, the Egyptian goddess of protection (and cats).

The basis of my belief in magic, and even deity work, is energy. I can’t really explain what energy is, and if I could I’m sure someone else on the internet has worded it 100 times better than I could.

I’ve always considered myself a skeptic – I’m a Capricorn rising, if that means anything to you. Taking into account the sheer size of the universe, the existence of Earth, it’s hard not to believe that there’s something else at play, linking us together, influencing our lives.

I also have a tendency to be a little pessimistic. I have a nihilistic streak in my past and nothing makes me sadder or angrier than thinking that Everything is for Nothing.

Despite what’s real and what isn’t, my belief and work with magic helps to restore an imbalance inside of myself. It makes me feel a little bit more in control. It helps me see the bigger picture.

So, even if in the end, Everything really is for Nothing, at least I’m in a mentally better spot than my usual default.

How to make a digital grimoire

A book of shadows, or a grimoire, is a book that witches use to keep information about their craft including tracking spell efficacy, moon phases and signs, tarot logs and more.

There aren’t a lot of options, especially if you want something customizable. I do have a physical grimoire, but it’s mostly for my own art and reference pages that won’t need to change in the future.

The first thing you should do is list out what you’re looking for in a book of shadows. Do you want someplace that just stores raw data, and doesn’t need to look too fancy? Do you want something that can be shared to others’ or is kept completely private? The digital format isn’t for everyone.

One solution that worked well for me for a while is Google Docs. It’s easily accessible from any computer or mobile device (which was important to me) and it was pretty easy to keep things organized… for a while. Soon I had so many docs and folders, it was getting a little unmanageable!

Then I started using a web application called Notion to keep track of the notes I took while learning programming. This was especially useful to me in the context of programming because they are one of the few ‘notepad’ web apps that support syntax highlighting, which makes all of the special programming words light up according to a specific color scheme.

I saw a few posts around for people who use Notion as their bullet journal, which is also a really cool idea. I have a section that I use kind of to that effect. I think it’s important to mention that I believe Notion projects are public unless you add privacy rules – which I highly recommend if you’re to do journaling of any kind.

Let’s get to the witch stuff

It didn’t take long before I started considering using Notion for witchy things. It started with Astrology. I was originally keeping this giant document relating to my natal chart inside of a Google Doc. It became difficult to find things, so I worked on moving it over to Notion, in a more organized way.

It occurred to me that I could also use this app for recording my Tarot entries. I love to keep track of how frequently a card comes up, and I feel that I always benefit from writing down my interpretations. I use Notion for this too, because they have a ‘journal’ page template that lets you write & tag entries.

I tag my entries with every card I pull and I have a separate tag for which deck I used!

Here are a few pages (and subpages) I have designated under my ‘Grimoire’ folder:

  • Astrology
    • natal chart & interpretation
    • info about transits
    • info about planets/houses/signs/elements
    • everything about the moon
  • Tarot
    • log of every self-reading
    • individual card correspondences
    • list of decks I own/decks I want
    • list of tarot spreads I’ve created and want to reuse
    • tips for getting to know a new deck
  • My Deity (Bast)
    • list of correspondences
    • prayers I’ve found/created
    • collection of epithets
  • Spellbook
    • list of spells I’ve done, ways in which they did/didn’t work
    • list of spells I want to do
    • common spell correspondences (herbs, candles, etc.)

As you can see, I can pretty much put anything in here! The best part is that it’s synced to the internet, which means I can edit or reference it from anywhere whether I’m at work or home, or at a friend’s house. There are also apps for iOS and Android to access the app and comfortably edit/add more information!

Notion is only free up to a certain number of ‘blocks’ of content. You can have up to 1,000 on a free plan, but if you like to go crazy organizing and tracking info like me, you can upgrade for $48 a year.

Since I use this not only as a digital grimoire but as a regular journal, a financial tracker, and a general all-purpose notebook, I think it’s pretty worthwhile.

I should note that I’m not endorsed by anyone or anything whatsoever, so this is just a recommendation based on my own experiences.

Have you ever tried keeping a digital grimoire? What did or didn’t work for you?