Sunday, October 11, 2015

Giving My Id A Little Breathing Room

Today's task for the Shadow Work October challenge was to complete a personal reading using an "Id, Ego, Superego" layout. I used the Tarot of Vampyres for this reading and I'm really enjoying the dark vibrancy, strength, and movement in the images.

So before I pulled my cards I wanted to refresh my memory regarding Freud's concepts of these three aspects of human psyche that impact the way we behave. I found some great images online that illustrate the way these elements interact with each other. In the end my understanding of each is as follows:

Id: my primal instincts, desires, motivations. This is the part of me that wants what it wants, that would relish free-reign over my Self.

Superego: my principled, socialized, "ideal" self that keeps my Id in check. This primarily stems from how we've learned to be through our environment, and always strives to do the right thing. This is the central source of the experiences of pride and guilt.

Ego: my practical, conscious self that forms something of a bridge or balance between the Id and Superego. It filters the Id's impulses through the Superego, ending up with something manageable within the confines of reality, or society. 

My cards are: Lord of Scepters - Daughter of Grails - 8 of Knives
This was a very intriguing and powerful reading for me in light of the spread positions, and also quite enlightening (and it made me slightly sad all at the same time). What struck me initially through this imagery is just how effectively my Superego keeps my Id constrained.

My Id is represented by the Lord of Scepters (King of Wands). I love the intense reds and blacks of this card, the energy of the horse leaping, the electricity in the lightening bolts streaming from the sky above. My Id wants to ride forth and be great, experience life in all its manifestations. This Lord is charismatic and vision-guided. He doesn't care what people think about him, but he naturally draws others to him like moths to a flame (whether for good or not!). He goes out and gets what he wants, claims his power as a birthright. 

Meanwhile the Lord's fiery essence is totally cut short by my Superego: the 8 of Knives. The correlation between the two cards is meaningful. The Lord sits confidently on his steed's back, the horns of his helmet upright, a symbol of his potency. The figure in the 8 of Knives also has horns, though his are down-turned, a symbol of powerlessness, and a knife is positioned over his genitals as if to block his raw power and force. Instead of the lively red of the Lord's card, we have a murky, yellow haze that confuses and obscures the surrounding environment. Who, or what, is out there? It's impossible to say. 

In the middle lies my Ego, the Daughter of Grails. She has a tough job of finding a way to balance the heavy demands of the Id and Superego. In the end she chooses a softer, far more receptive and easy-to-swallow demeanor. There is nothing forceful about her - she is calm, caring, and perceptive. She moves like water to adapt to the needs of others, thus she's quite pleasant to be around. But she doesn't look particularly satisfied, does she? Perhaps the chains of her Superego are bound too tightly. She needs to find a way to give her Id a little breathing room.

This is a fairly unexpected and painfully accurate representation of my personal experience. It's quite jarring to see it laid out so explicitly in these powerful images, and yet there is something cathartic here. In my shadow work thus far this month the theme has centered very pointedly around reclaiming my personal power, learning how not to run from conflict. Yet again that is present here in this reading, and it seems like each day I'm given a slightly larger view on the matter. The Daughter of Grails is a core part of who I am, but I need and want to tap further into the power of my inner fire. I see an imbalance here, and in order to address it I need to unpack the root of the 8 of Knives....

As I looked over this reading the idea of "playing small," from the Marianne Williamson kept running through my head:


  1. I have that same quote copied in my Inspiration and Quotes Notebook! And it is just as applicable to me as to you as to many others out there. I love how we both discover that passionate part of ourselves which wants to come out and be free
    Considering we are only 11 days on this journey and still have 20 more to go I'd say this is already a signifcant progress

    1. I love that, too! It's interesting how similar our discoveries have been :-) The rest of the month should be interesting!

  2. I love how you are able to be with the sadness this reading brings up while at the same time feeling it as cathartic and necessary. Shadow work is about bringing these themes from darkness to light which you've done so beautifully here. Thank you allowing us to journey with you a bit. And hugs to you, my dear.

    1. Thanks, Rose, for being a witness :-) I love the mysteries of shadow work and this is the first time that I've spent so much time focusing so intently on it. It's been very intriguing so far!

  3. Wow, this month is definitely an eye opener isn't it? I am deliberately holding back as I want to do this spread for my new moon spread.
    It is surreal, I think, to see your soul exposed like this though. I am guessing you were not surprised by what this spread said but knowing something deep down is very different to having it bought to our attention. I am a bit anxious about this spread myself.
    I love following yours and others journey through this month. Thank you for sharing. BB

    1. Yes you are totally right, it's like there are little nudges below the surface all along. I knew these things to be true but hadn't necessarily had it spelled out in front of me which is quite eye opening, to be sure! I hope your own spread gives you some deep insights as well :-) Blessings to you!