Persona, Masks and Identity

Whoever looks into the mirror of the water will see first of all his own face. Whoever goes to himself risks a confrontation with himself. The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it; namely, the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor. But the mirror lies behind the mask and shows the true face.

“Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious”

Halloween is a time of the year when children and adults alike dress up in costumes. We change our appearances with makeup, masks and other things to change our identity. We get to become someone else. We can escape into a world other than our own. Children dress up as superheroes, monsters, princesses and other fantastical identities. Adults get to go wild and let off some steam. To quote Cady from the movie Mean Girls, Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” Once Halloween is over we take off the costumes, remove the masks and return to our real lives. Some people, however wear masks all year round.

We all wear masks in life, the mask is called the “persona”, we all show different sides of ourselves to people in social interactions based on how we want people to perceive us. The persona is the “social face”. To Carl Jung the Persona is used to impress others and or to hide our true nature.

Persona’s play an important role. We have different masks for certain life situations. Persona’s help us conform to social roles and expectations. Its role playing. However there are horrible situations were if unchecked and not balanced the persona can take over the true self.

People who hide behind a persona for much of the day come off as in-genuine. These people are what we call “phony” or “fakes”. You know what I am talking about, you have people in your family or in the workplace who are such fakes. They wear a mask to everyone, trying to promote an image to everyone. Once they clock out from work the mask comes off they flip a switch and are not the same person you think they were.

The workplace example seems to be a common thing. We all show our best face at work. However there are more extremes to the persona. When someone lives via a persona all day every day, never showing their true self to others this becomes problematic. The reason, the people who interact with that individual never get to know the real, true self of that person. True and honest friendships cannot be created. What happens is the person lives a life that is a lie. A false reality created to protect the true self, the real person behind the persona.


The persona is an old concept, which can be found in the stars of Astrology. The first house of a natal chart is called the “house of self”, this is the home of the Ascendant. The sign that is rising in the horizon at the time of your birth. This is the house of your identify, self image and is the mask we wear when we meet people. In many ways the ascendant reveals what our social mask is. I am a Leo with a  Sagittarius ascendent. One trait of a rising Sagittarius is a need to keep up their sense of humor. They manage to find humor in everything. Which is very true for me. I try to find the joke in all things and I refer to humor in times of trouble or discomfort.


In the tarot this is in many ways could be the 7 of Cups (at it’s worst). The 7 of Cups is a card of illusions, fantasy and escape from reality. The card is not planted in reality, but

in the dream world where anyone could be anything. That may be one reason the figure in the card is blacked out, he could look like anything. The 6 of Wands could also represent the Social Face, the figure on the horse is in the public eye. Everyone is looking at him. This man needs to show the best face he can to keep people liking him. This is a card which represents praise. For someone who wants the praise to never end, he or she needs to keep up a Persona that appeal to society.


Take out your deck and lets do some self-exploration.

Ask the following questions,


What does my social mask look like?

How does my social mask differ to my true self?

What do I use my social mask for?

How can I keep my social mask in balance with my true self?


-Angelo Nasios

Live Every Day The Tarot Way




The recipient of Tarosophist of the Year 2011, Angelo Nasios is a rising voice in the tarot community. Angelo is known for his popular YouTube channel in which he produces educational tarot videos. Tarot: Unlocking the Arcana, Angelo’s first book will be released by Schiffer Publishing.

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  • Donnaleigh

    Angelo, what an important blog. I did your spread with Kat Black’s Golden Tarot and got:

    What does my social mask look like? Heirophant

    How does my social mask differ to my true self? Empress

    What do I use my social mask for? Star

    How can I keep my social mask in balance with my true self? 2 of Coins


    The results weres so funny it actually made me laugh. Very, very true and accurate.

    My social mask is the Heirophant, the teacher, the one who organizes. I try to stick with good social rules as best I can. I’m a good girl by nature, sticking to society’s boundaries. Rather vanilla, but I follow convention for most parts (except for tarot).

    How does it differ from my true self? The Empress. I’m a mom first. Mom at home, but I also tend to mother other people and make sure everyone is safe and okay. I mother my pets, I mother the flowers, mom mom mom Mom MOM. lol

    What I use my social mask for: Star. I hope to create inspiration. By being positive and teaching with positivity, I hope to give others hope in their own skills and insights and lives. Inspiration is my goal.

    How can I keep the Heirophant/social mask in balance with myself/Empress? Funny: 2 of Coins. HAHAHAA. It is a balancing act, and it is asking me to pull each part into the other…to bring the social mask into the true self and the true self into the social mask. I’m asked to toggle between them and to use the one I’m in when the need suggests.

    Looks like I’m doing okay. So yes, you can now officially call me “Mom.”

  • Angelo Nasios

    Omg DL what great cards! So glad to see the tarot showing some humor haha. I can so see these cards in you. Thanks for doing the spread :) MOM!

  • Helen

    I really liked this post Angelo – very interesting and provokes some questions within. I loved Donnaleigh’s reading! I guess I should try spread this for myself! ^__^

  • Angelo Nasios

    Yes Helen try this out and let us know what cards you get.

  • Helen

    I used the Tarot of the Druids and pulled in this order:

    Ace of Wands
    King of Pentacles
    Queen of Pentacles
    Knight of Pentacles

    Right now my head is not clear and I haven’t sorted out what these mean for me – no doubt I will……^__^

    If you reply to this can you post on your fb page so I am notified, I don’t do RSS feeds. Thanks

  • Helen

    Today I see these cards more clearly:

    What does my social mask look like? Ace of Wands
    Yes, I think this may be true in that that I try to encourage others to pursue their ideas and take the actions necessary to see it through. The Ace tends to show me as someone who gets ideas and sets them in motion, someone who doesn’t mind trying out the new etc.

    How does my social mask differ to my true self? King of Pentacles
    I like my home, my stability and knowing what I’m doing and that I can do it well – so I tend to stay with what I know works for me,

    What do I use my social mask for? Queen of Pentacles
    I think I use it mainly to encourage other and help them appreciate not just what they have got, but what they can achieve. It’s like I like to help others on their way to achieving – almost a mother like instinct!

    How can I keep my social mask in balance with my true self? Knight of Pentacles

    By taking everything in my stride, recognising that the persona I show is not just for others but also perhaps to help me achieve, and so I stick to the practical approach in order to balance the two out.

    Hey look I got King Queen and Knight of Pentacles in regard to this set of question it all seems to lean towards the most practical approach to achieving what is best…

  • Angelo Nasios

    wow cool cards! Lost os Pentacles. You are in reality very earthly and like stability and safety. While with ur social mask you like to seem more fiery and little more spontaneous.

  • Helen

    Yeah you got it! ^__^

  • Tasha

    YES i knew you were a leo :)