The Tarot’s Sun Card:

Your Bright Shadow

By Geraldine Amaral

The Sun depicts the life force and unlimited energy that is within us waiting to be used and expressed. Integrating and applying our creativity in both magnetic and dynamic ways allows us to experience the unlimited aspect of who we are. - Angeles Arrien, The Tarot Handbook


Who do you admire and emulate? Who has attributes and qualities that you want to achieve? Perhaps those qualities that you admire in others are aspects of what Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist, called the "Bright Shadow" or the "Golden Shadow." Jung postulated the notion of the dark shadow, as well, which contains our fears, negative self-image, low self-esteem and other destructive capacities. In the dark shadow, we deny these negative attributes in ourselves, and project them onto others. Often, criticism of others is really self-criticism projected outward. In the Tarot deck, the Sun card personifies Jung’s Bright Shadow and the Devil card personifies the shadow.

The "Dark" Shadow and the Bright Shadow work in a similar way. Just as we have a dark part of ourselves that we project onto others, we also have more positive aspects of ourselves that we see in others. People we admire, emulate and respect reflect potentials within ourselves such as aptitudes, abilities, talents, creative urges and creative ways of thinking. These neglected pieces, that which never had a chance to develop, reside within, hidden in the psyche’s inner recesses. Could the person you most admire be a projection of your Bright Shadow?

The meaning for the Sun as the source of earthly life reflects the promise of the Bright Shadow. The Sun card captures the essence of the life force and the capacity for growth within each of us. The nude child portrays the innocence and ebullience of this capacity that we had as children. Like the Star card, which also pictures a nude figure, the naked child represents unabashed self-acceptance -- complete self-love. The child plays in the warmth of the sun, expressing a simple, joyful and happy experience of life. Unlike The Moon card (which portrays hidden influences and subterfuge), there is nothing hidden here. The Sun card heralds a new day dawning, a day filled with liberation, attainment, truth, happiness and contentment. This card depicts pleasure derived from the simple things in life. The Sun card brings rebirth, warmth, happiness, light, love, contentment, freedom. It shines light into your veiled potentials.

When the Sun appears in a reading, it usually means happiness of all kinds: truth, revitalization, attainment and a joyful affirmation of life. It may also suggest that a rebirth of some kind is about to occur. It brings a message of glory and respect to Spirit. It may also assist you in enjoying the simplest pleasures in life. It suggests that your obstacles are behind you in the current situation. It beckons you to have a positive, upbeat attitude regarding whatever situation you are embracing. Like the Star card, when the Sun card appears in a reading, it is a very good sign. The symbolic warmth of this Sun brings healing and renewal.

When the Sun card appears in a Tarot reading, it may be guiding you to explore some part of yourself that you have not nurtured in the past. Perhaps you’ve felt drawn to flute-playing, photography, dancing, or pen and ink drawing. In the Tarot spread, you would look to surrounding cards for clues as to how and in what direction the Sun is guiding you in developing these hidden talents or abilities (See the Tarot spread that follows for a framework for using the Sun card as a guidepost to these hidden talents).

The "random" appearance of the Sun card is one method of working with the positive gifts of this card. You would use the guidance revealed in the spread for direction. Another way of working with the benefits of the Sun card is to consciously choose to use it as a means of uncovering your own unexpressed potentials and talents. You could meditate on this card, carry it with you, put it under your pillow at night or place it in any strategic place in your life in which the rich imagery of the card will enter into your conscious and unconscious mind. The goal is to allow the symbolic meaning of the Sun in its role as the Bright Shadow to help uncover and release the potentials locked within. Gently allow the symbolic warmth and light of the Sun card to nurture and nourish your inner abilities.


THE BRIGHT SHADOW SPREAD - Created by Geraldine Amaral and Lola Lucas

This spread is based on Jung’s concept that the dark shadow has an equal counterpart: the bright or golden shadow which contains our highest potentials and abilities, the inner aspect of ourselves which is our best and brightest aspect, our finest potential. These potentials may not yet manifest themselves in our life and this spread is meant to guide you to where these higher abilities reside.

THE FIRST STEP: The Seeker begins by thoroughly shuffling the deck as she contemplates the question: "Where do my highest potentials and abilities reside?" Then the Seeker will cut the deck into four "randomly" divided piles as follows:

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Physical Realm Mental Realm

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Emotional Realm Spiritual Realm


Each pile represents an aspect of ourselves: physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

THE SECOND STEP: Now look through each pile until you find The Sun card (which signifies the Bright Shadow). The pile in which you have found The Sun card represents the area in your life which contains your highest (as yet untapped) potential. Take a moment to contemplate this area in your life.

THE THIRD STEP: Take this stack of cards in which you found the Sun Card and set the other three piles aside. From here on, you will be using just this stack of cards.

THE FOURTH STEP: Shuffle this new pack again and cut it into three more piles. The first addresses the question: "What aids me in developing my Bright Shadow?" Chose one card to answer. The second: "What hinders me in developing my Bright Shadow?" Choose a second card. The third shows you the possible outcome once you have found and developed your Bright Shadow. chose your final card. Read the cards within each group with emphasis on encouraging the Seeker’s achievement of her highest possible potential.

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What Aids You     What Hinders You     Likely Outcome of Bright Shadow’s Development



About the Author:

Geraldine Amaral has been reading and studying the Tarot for over 25 years. Through her studies with a Hawaiian "Kahuna" and her education in psychology and the humanities, she has developed insight into the symbolic and psychological nature of the cards and a deep understanding of their esoteric principles. Her workshops on the Tarot emphasize its relationship to Jungian psychology and guide the participants in using the Tarot as a tool to communicate with the unconscious mind. She is the author of Tarot Celebrations: Honoring the Inner Voice. She resides in Arlington, Virginia, with her three cats, Sweet Baby, Neshamah and Spirit. For a complimentary copy of Geraldine's Tarot journal, "Celebrating the Tarot" please email Geraldine.

Review copyright Geraldine Amaral 2000

Page copyright Diane Wilkes 2000