|Way of the Horse Oracle by Linda Kohanov|
This lovely card from Linda Kohanov's Way of the Horse Oracle depicts a beautiful black horse prancing in slanting grey light, its hooves kicking up a powder of fine grey dust. Look closely and you will see the horse is looking at her shadow on the ground, dancing with it. All blacks, greys, and silvers in this card. A card without colour, with no sense of place. A card of the shadow.
When pagany tarot-types talk about 'the shadow', they often mean the dark, hidden side to the self, the fears that we don't want to face, the aspects of ourselves that we reject. The shadow can be scary, but, we're told, it ultimately can heal us.
'The shadow is essentially a catchall for what we've suppressed through social conditioning,' writes Kohanov. Black Horse Wisdom is different from the 'potentially malevolent aspects of the shadow.' It is not necessarily the dark side of ourselves, but those aspects that are not socially correct, or politically acceptable, or generally accepted as 'civilized.' Kohanov calls it 'knowledge rejected by the mainstream': instinct, emotion, intuition, sensory and extra-sensory awareness and the human-animal partnership associated with tribal cultures.
So the shadow doesn't have to be the Big Bad that looms in our psyches, seeking to teach or devour. It could also be all these other suppressed but important things. Kohanov quotes from a book by Robert A Johnson, Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche: 'The ordinary, mundane characteristics are the norm. Anything less than this goes into the shadow. But anything better also goes into the shadow! Some of the pure gold of the personality is relegated to the shadow because it can find no place in that great leveling process that is culture.'
If the Black Horse came to you today and invited you to dance with your shadow, what would you do? What would you find?