(First things first: how adorable is my cat, Nanners? Really damn adorable, I’d say.)
In ‘Finding Your Own North Star,’ Martha Beck suggests that we all have two aspects: our essential self, and our social self. This resonated with me on a deep level as I’ve been observing these two parts of myself for several years now!
The essential self is your innermost spirit, your core. This is the part of you that would be consistent regardless of what year or place you were born. The essential self represents the things you would do and the way you would react if you did not have social conditioning. The essential self is free flowing, your untamed energy – much like the Fool.
The social self is the part of you that has learned to adapt to external demands. This is the part of your personality formed based on culture, education, the values of society. This is the personality that is the easiest for most of us to show to the world. The social self has strong will-power and is self-filtering – similar to the Chariot.
Your social self can become overpowering and cause you to lose touch with your essential self. I was unhappy for several years before I realized this was the cause: I was under the staunch control of my social self. My life began slowly shifting as I started taking steps to evoke my essential self.
Many people in the tarot/personal growth/spirituality arena are already strong advocates of empowering the essential self. I think this is great! We’ve had a strong value on the social self for so long, it’s time to actively encourage the pendulum swing in the other direction.
However, it is important to remember that the social self is not the enemy (Martha Beck makes a big point of this in her book). Your social self is just as important to your whole being as your essential self. You need to encourage your essential self to come out to play, but there’s no need to exile your social self!
Neither one of these aspects are effective without the influence of the other. If we only operated using our essential selves, we would daydream, react impulsively, and have a hard time channeling our energy effectively. On the other hand, if we let our social self run the show, we would focus only on getting ahead, gaining approval, and staying inside the lines.
According to Martha Beck (and I agree), the key is getting these two aspects to communicate openly and work together. But how in the heck do you do that?!
Encouraging peace between the different aspects within you is a lifelong practice, there’s no ‘quick fix.’ Tarot is a tool that will aid you time and time again on this journey.
The social self can be ridiculously stubborn. A lot of us have a hard time getting it to quiet down enough to let the essential self break through the noise. Tarot helps by giving a voice to the essential self, and creating an atmosphere in which the social self is willing to listen and interact.
Your essential self speaks the wordless language of symbols, feelings and intuition.
Your essential self resonates with the timeless archetypes embedded in the realm of tarot.
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Tarot can foster the unfolding of your essential self, giving it a means to express its perspective.
The Social Self is also integral when working with tarot. This is the part of us that puts the reading into words. The social self gives form to the untapped energy and messages in the cards. Without the participation of both selves, a tarot reading will not reach its maximum potency.
This is the reason you feel integrated after a well-done tarot reading. Your essential self has been heard, and your social self had had its say as well. You walk away knowing that both of these internal aspects are validating each other. They are both on the same team…at least for now!
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