Overview

This game is a fun thing you can do alone or with any number of people in a group in order to learn more about yourself. It works best with a smallish group of no more than 6 to 8 people.

As a caveat, I would recommend that you play it only with people you know, like, and trust, because you may end up talking about potentially sensitive and painful subjects.

by Marina Michaels

The game came about when three friends were visiting. I was showing them the Gods and Goddesses deck of cards I had recently purchased from Mandala Publishing in San Rafael, California.

You will need that deck of cards in order to play this game.

About the Gods and Goddesses Deck

The Gods and Goddesses deck comprises 52 gorgeously illustrated cards, each of which illuminates one of the gods or goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. The cards are double-sided; in other words, instead of having one side the same as all the others, each card is unique. On one side is a full illustration of the god or goddess who is the subject of the card, and on the other side are a prayer, a brief explanation of what this god or goddess is about, and a list of blessings given by this god or goddess.

Some of the gods and goddesses on these cards are avatars of other gods or goddesses. An avatar is the earthly incarnation or embodiment of a powerful being, such as a god or goddess. Thus, for example, though this isn't generally the language used, from the Christian point of view, Jesus was an avatar of the Christian concept of God.

The deck of cards has many possible uses. You can enjoy the beautiful artwork. You can learn something about the HIndu pantheon and religion. You can use the cards as inspiration or to draw guidance, such as by drawing one card each day and thinking about its message. It is this last use that led to the game.

About the Game

The game came about while I was showing this deck of cards to my guests. I received the instructions step-by-step as internally heard suggestions from my spirit guides; not "heard" as a voice in my head, but as internally received sentences. Here is how the game goes:

  1. Go through the deck and choose one or more cards (though I recommend no more than three total) that you are most strongly drawn to, or that you like the most, or that you find the most attractive to you. Try not to think about it too much, or to talk yourself into or out of any particular card. Try to use the illustration side only. (Though it is perfectly okay to look at the writing on the back of the cards. Just don't let the words engage your thinking mind so that you set aside a card that you were more strongly drawn to in favor of one that appeals to your mind more.) Keep your card(s) out.
  2. It is okay for two or more people to choose the same card, so if someone has already taken the card you are most drawn to, just say that that card is also your choice. Our experience, however, was that each of use chose unique cards.

    Also, at first you may find yourself drawn to a large number of the cards. That's okay! But narrow it down by comparing two cards side by side, choosing the one you like best each time, until you have one or just a few cards.

  3. When everyone has selected a card (or a few cards), take turns explaining the following:
    • Why did you feel drawn to the card(s) you chose?
    • In what way or ways do you feel like you are like the god or goddess represented on the card(s)?
    • Is there anything you want to do or can do to make yourself more like the god or goddess represented on the card?
  4. The next step is to put all the cards back in the deck and to go through it again, this time choosing the card(s) you are most repelled by or that you find the least attractive or that you like the least. Just as with the first step, don't over think your choice.
  5. When everyone has selected their second card or set of cards, take turns explaining the following:
    • What didn't you like, or what repelled you about, the card(s) you chose?
    • In what way or ways do you feel like you are unlike the god or goddess represented on the card(s)? What are some of the characteristics or aspects of this god or goddess that you feel you just don't have?
    • Is there anything you want to do or can do to make yourself more like the god or goddess represented on the card?

What It Means (Don't Read This Until You Play The Game!)

The reason I call this game “Light and Shadow” is that it reveals what Carl Jung called your shadow. Your shadow is made up of all those characteristics about yourself that you are unwilling to admit are true about you.

Many people have heard about Jung's concept of the shadow; unfortunately, most people hold a very common misconception about this concept. The common misconception is that the bits of you that are in your shadow are universally unpleasant, bad, wrong, ugly, and otherwise things to be ashamed of. Although this is definitely a large part of the shadow, Jung also said that your shadow can hold pleasant, noble, even powerful truths about yourself that you are unwilling to accept. For example, someone who might make an excellent leader, but is afraid they would do poorly, might be unaware of the fact that they in fact have true gifts of leadership. Their shadow, therefore, holds these gifts of leadership.

This game helps bring to light those positive things about yourself that you have hidden in your shadow.

How It Can Help You and the World

The shadow. according to Jung, is a powerful source of wrongdoing in the world. One practice that arises out of not confronting and acknowledging your own shadowy aspects is what is called projection. Projection is where you see in others the demons that actually reside in your own psyche or, conversely, where you see good in others that is actually inside yourself..

To illustrate the concept of projection, let us invent a woman named Judy. Judy sees herself as a kind, caring, and loving person who only wants to help others. Unfortunately, the truth is that she is bitter and mean-spirited, and often makes remarks to others that are designed to make those others feel bad about themselves. Most of those around her buy into this lie. But when someone comes along who threatens this false self-image, Judy lays into them, accusing them of being unkind, uncaring, and unloving; accusing them of trying to make her (or those around her) feel bad about themselves. In short, she accuses the other person of being and doing what she herself is and does. That is projection in a nutshell.

Fortunately, not everyone uses projection as a way of dealing with their shadow.

But what happens with projection if you have something good in your shadow? In those cases, you project those good traits onto others; you might even idealize those others. This may sound like a good thing, but it can cause problems too. For example, what happens when you idealize someone (or perhaps idealize a group), and they slip up and show they are human? Then you feel betrayed, and may be tempted to demonize them.

A Path Into Light

Jung didn't just identify the problem of the shadow; he also suggested the path into light. One of the bravest and hardest things a person can do is to reclaim their shadow, whether it is good or bad, so that they stop projecting that shadow onto others and instead have all those traits and characteristics under conscious observation. By making the shadow conscious, it loses a great deal of power immediately, and also comes more fully under conscious control. As Jung said,

If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow. Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that “they” do this or that, “they” are wrong, and “they” must be fought against. He lives in the “House of the Gathering.” Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day. (source)

In short, when you work on seeing and acknowledging your shadow, you start to accept full responsibility for yourself. You stop blaming others. You stop being a victim, and instead start taking charge of your life. You may already be on this path, which is wonderful. Even if you are, and especially if you are not, the gentle nature of this game can help you move further along.