As always, there are many layers and many points along the “good-bad” spectrum.
We’ve got 4 of the 10 wands in the Crystal Tarot image making a pathway from rocky earth to a light-domed sky. Building on the belief structure we already have, we can find our way to a life with meaning. Or is the pathway narrow and restrictive, with the reflected triangles obstacles on our way?
Those triangles add up to a diamond, one of our western cultural symbols for precious value. Has mundane ambition supplanted values based in spiritual truth? Or does the diamond indicate pure values that have been tested under pressure?
They’re also alchemical symbols for fire above water. If we place our values above our emotions, we live true to our more lasting self. But we need to work through our transitory emotions to discover our values.
Do the structures on the image lead you forward to the re-evaluation of the weight of 10 of Wands to find the higher Ace that will encompass the entire group? Is the wand structure a gate to pass through to a higher level or a barrier to keep you out?
What would be the response of the Page of Wands, were she to find herself encumbered by the 10 of Wands? How does her fiery, youthful energy help her to move forward to the Ace? Does it hold her back in any way?
What if you, personally, found yourself embodying the 4 of Cups, with 10 of Wands demands being made on you? With more fire than water, how do you keep from turning to steam?
How would the three 0 The Fools we met recently respond to 10 of Wands? Does 0 The Fool naturally follow or lead into the 10 of Wands? Or neither?
Back to your life this week, how can you use the 10 of Wands to support you or move forward?
Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere . . . that darkest time of the year, when the sun “stands still” for 3 days. In that stillness, if we choose, is an opportunity to pause and explore our depths, to go within our own deepest darkness. We’ll need those resources in the cold time before us. There is no more harvest to be had; we’ll have to draw on what we already possess to make it through till the bounty begins again in the spring.
How to explore? Our earth, our bodies, are slow with cold, buried under snow – and parkas. Our water is frozen, immobilized. All the better to examine our emotions! Our fire’s been tamed, brought indoors to keep us warm. The spirit’s close to the hearth. The air is crisp and clear, as quick and vivacious as ever. Our minds and thoughts have additional clarity now, seeing anew, reflecting on what we see of ourselves in the stillness, keeping our passions close to home.
It’s not a journey for the faint of heart, so tarot can be our guide into the depths and back out again. For this solar landmark, our Winter Solstice spread puts the now into the context of the full lunar year (there are 13 cards in this big spread, honouring each of the lunar months of the year). Let’s look at a spread that takes us into our collective depths. Throw your own personal spread the day of the Solstice, or the day before or after. We’ll use Barbara Moore & Franco Rivolli’s Silver Witchcraft Tarot.
What’s at our depths? IV The Emperor
Whew! Right at the beginning of our journey we’re discovering that what’s at the bottom isn’t so bad. The Emperor gives us sovereignty over our lives while we retain our connection to others. As the lambs and ram attest, he corresponds to Aries, the beginning of Spring. Here at the Solstice, we’re already hearkening to revivification. As a society, we’ll be confronting our rigid and ineffectual systems, with opportunities to give them new life and make them more inclusive.
How can we reach them? 4 of Chalices
It’s always good to know the vehicle that will take us where we want to go . . . no sense getting on the wrong bus. Our dreams will be a help this winter. Guided meditations that relax the body to let the mind travel are excellent carriers. Following your areas of boredom and dissatisfaction (looking toward a traditional meaning of the card) can also be fertile roads to explore. Even falling asleep on the job will lead us down to the bottom. In the bigger picture, that says we’re part of systems that are failing; if we do nothing, we’ll be looking at the foundations. Since we’re being pointed to Spring again, we can expect our journey to be a long-term process.
What do we want to bring out with us? XV The Devil
Here’s the first intimation that there’s some scary stuff down there in the deeps. We’ll encounter some of our own dead zones this winter, as individuals and as a society. What have we let die through neglect? What have we killed and buried, thinking we were done with it? We’ll actually benefit from unearthing our self-destructive side. Notice when you hear yourself, or someone else, saying things like “I’d like to kill that guy” or “They deserve to just be blown away.” It’s a difficult thing to hear, especially from ourselves or the ones we love. Consciousness of those moments is bringing the Devil out of the depths.
How can we use it? 5 of Pentacles
And here we have what to do with our own killing energies when we bring them up: we let them go. As the maiden and crone are doing, we shed our robes, the actions and habits that have brought us to where we are now, in preparation for immersing ourselves in the flowing waters of Spring. Our connection to the Tree of Life and the rabbit of endless fertility and creativity is strong. We don’t need our self-destructive habits, as individuals, or as a society.
The side of using self-destruction that we all fear speaks to war, environmental degradation, ethnic cleansing – the global traumas that are all too commonplace in our lives. How does the technological availability of reports on these issues serve the call to bring XV The Devil out of the depths?
What will be brought to light? XVIII
XVIII The Moon keeps secrets, creating illusions and confusion. The Moon brought to light will show our illusions in the harsh light of day. Remember, sometimes that’s a good thing: what we thought was a threatening monster was just a duffle bag with a hockey stick propped against it. Other times it’s a little more terrifying: we find the plans we’ve counted on don’t have the foundations we thought they did. Or someone finds the key to our closely guarded secrets and shares them out in the open. Come Spring (XVIII The Moon’s association with Pisces is another reference to spring), much less will be hidden and much more will be clear. Apparently, Wikileaks will be having a field day.
Look back to XV The Devil. How often do the destructive impulses you’ve encountered follow fear, confusion, or misunderstanding? How often do we think the solution to our problems is to kill something or someone?
What has been brought into balance? XVII The Star
In XVII The Star we have the masculine and feminine aspects of the Divine truly connected, with the spark of creation the product of that connection. The Star is a welcome beacon in the dark of night. We can find our way home from the light and position of the Star. I can’t help but think of the portion of Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel where God and Adam touch fingers. The Star awakens our individual and collective Divine sparks, calling us as co-creators. If we’ve been stampeding ahead into inappropriate action without listening to our inner calling, we’ve been out of balance. If we’re in touch with our purpose but haven’t found the energy to act on what we feel, we’ve been out of balance. It’s very good news that we’ll individually be feeling and acting on our personal missions here on our shared planet. What might our community or national or global missions be as a group? It will be beautiful to see the results as our sense of purpose is restored to the people of Earth.
What will be left behind? 8 of Swords
Traditionally, 8 of Swords is the card of being stuck. Those days will be over for us. How amazing will it be to have long term problems finally moving toward solution?
What I’m aware of in Franco Rivolli’s image is the threads that have already been cut, but are still attached to the tree. Earlier, in the 5 of Pentacles, we saw those strong threads attaching our women to the Tree of Life in the midst of change and letting go. Here the impending storm is so frightening that geese are moving on rather than hunkering down, and people have been cutting their threads to escape.
If we’re no longer cutting our ties to life, we’re staying to engage and deal with the storm. Could we see a more proactive attitude from greater numbers in the coming year? Could we see the literal suicide numbers decline? What a beautiful thing that would be, especially for the families of those in the Armed Services, where the numbers are astonishingly high.
What choices and decisions are now possible? Knight of Chalices
How many people do you know who would love to follow their hearts, but feel unable to for a multitude of reasons? Are you one of them? The Knight of Chalices has connected his mind to his heart. He’s following his heart as he makes choices and decisions. What will be possible as we bring compassion and emotional connection back into our lives? I’ll join the Knight of Chalices in a toast to a world where we’re individually and collectively making choices from the depths of our hearts.
What do we welcome into our lives? XI Justice
Your reaction to XI Justice is dependent on your perception of your “guilt” level. XI Justice is all about accountability and truth. It will help us deal effectively with the confusion and deception of XVIII The Moon. If there’s an accountability price tag to XI Justice in your life, what it purchases will be considered a bargain (remember, we’re welcoming Justice, not dreading it). Who doesn’t hunger for justice? Who hasn’t said “that’s just not fair!”?
This particular XI Justice image turns its attention to the dark pillar, appropriate for our quest into unknown depths. The butterflies indicate new life and transformation out of the darkness. Collectively, we could welcome steps toward economic justice or climate justice.
What do we release? XII The Hanged Man
Releasing is different from leaving behind. We leave behind what’s outmoded, we release what’s caged. XII The Hanged Man is the Philosopher, trapped by no particular dogma or world view, able to see and accept – and be comfortable with – a variety of perspectives. This can add to our growing store of tools to dispel misconceptions that lead to destructive actions. Knight of Chalices allows us to connect with each other via the heart, XII The Hanged Man brings us connection via the enlightened mind.
Can we understand and accept the varieties of perspectives that make up our complex individual characters? Can we learn about the perspectives of tribes other than our own? The release of XII The Hanged Man says “yes”.
There’s an interesting connection here to the 8 of Swords. The 8 of Swords is tethered with criticism, the mindset that we’re leaving behind. It is also a card of inactivity, stuckness. XII The Hanged Man is also tethered and inactive, but with a very different attitude. He has the patience to wait for understanding of a new perspective with an open mind. If we’re releasing him, has he now reached a level of understanding that allows for enlightened action?
What do we celebrate in the Winter season? VIII Strength
VIII Strength celebrates our own strength and stamina, our fiery Leonine wild side. The mask we wear is that of the Green Man, our nature archetype. We can celebrate our health, our vitality, our abilities as instinctual beings. Those of us with furry companions can celebrate the additional warm that cozying with them brings us.
There’s another function of companion animals – and of our instinctual selves: to keep guard, to defend our safety, our territory. A barking dog sets boundaries. As we’re developing understanding for those with other belief systems, other world views, we can still define ourselves as separate, without losing our sense of connection. We can celebrate a better sense of ourselves as individuals within the greater world.
The shadow side of these celebrations would be the martial displays that celebrate victory through dominance. Rather than engage with those, celebrate the true strength that is displayed when we are living our mission, our purpose. Celebrate the stamina required to continue living that purpose, even against opposition. Celebrate the instincts that tell us “this direction is my meaningful path, that path holds meaning for someone else”. Celebrate the victory of vitality over the self-destructive XV Devil.
What mysteries will we contemplate? 2 of Wands
2 of Wands is the card of Winter Solstice. The mysteries of the season itself, as well as the mysteries that are revealed by living this spread are indicated. We’ve got another companion animal in the Silver Witchcraft 2 of Wands. This cat is asleep, relaxed in safety. We’re safe here, free to reflect, to contemplate all that we’ve laid out in our Depths of Stillness spread. What are the possibilities for expansion in the coming year? Which goals will bring us a warm glow? Which values will light our way? Who can we partner with in our cherished projects? How do our beliefs help create the world around us?
Who will we become? 7 of Chalices
7 of Chalices lays our choices before us, as coloured by our hopes and fears. Will we waste our Knight of Chalices potential to follow our hearts on the passing desires that are little more than temptations set up by external advertising? Will we recognize when we’re choosing out of fear? Will we meet the testing aspect of 7 of Chalices with the knowledge of our own sacred mission, to make choices that support that mission? Will we recognize that our purpose is just one individual purpose amoung a world of individuals, each with her own mission?
An exploration into the depths this Winter Solstice brings us to a crisis point. We can be lost in delusion, endlessly looking for the next thing to make us happy. Not the outcome I wish for any of us. Or, we can become someone with a sacred heart, a heart dedicated to our personal purpose in this lifetime, harvesting our most meaningful dreams.
I wish you all the warmth and beauty of a sacred Winter Solstice.
4 of Cups gets a bad rap in many tarot traditions; it’s seen as the card of boredom, discontent, missed opportunities. Since creativity and emotions, the watery stuff of our lives, like to flow, the stable 4 can be seen as a dam interfering with movement. And, yes, 4 of Cups can have that side to it.
But stability and manifestation in emotions, relationships and creativity (from Tarot . . . It’s Easier Than You Think) has its positive side, too. Water likes to pool as well as flow, so Cups as water (from Tarot 2 . . . We’re Not in Kansas Anymore) don’t need movement to be enjoyable.
It’s interesting that only 3 of the cups in the Herbal and Rider Waite Smith illustrations have come to earth. The other cup is being offered by a Divine hand. The stability and manifestation of the 4 is a gift we need to accept (the receptivity of Cups). Is that solely an external opportunity that we can miss? Or is inner contemplation and stability also a factor?
In creativity, it’s especially exciting when a project takes form. Four of Cups is that point: manifestation. In relationships, we’re not always looking for something new; most of us count on stable relationships. And what happens when we reach a point of stability in our emotions? Those rare moments are the aim of many forms of meditation.
The end of the spectrum where the 4 of Cups crosses into the negative is when we reach stagnation, when it’s an over-used energy. If our creativity gets stuck in habits, if we aren’t receptive to the 4th cup of Divine inspiration, we’re in the downside of the card. If our emotional boundaries or relationships never allow anything to shift and grow, if we aren’t receptive to the hand of the Divine in our lives, we’re putting security above all else. And that’s where we run into isolation and boredom.
We’re meant to have stability and change in our lives. As long as we’re building on our emotional, creative and relationship structures, we’re keeping the balance that allows the 4 of Cups to be a beautiful part of our lives. It’s okay to be contented and emotionally fulfilled sometimes. 4 of Cups is one of those times.
Delight in contentment and creative manifestation!
If you’d like to use the beautiful images of the tarot to help you take the next leap in your life, you know where to find me. You can also get in touch for individual and group lessons.
We’ve come full cycle: we’re back to the new moon.
Today, western Tropical astrology has the moon in Aquarius, which corresponds to 7 of Swords.
(Just to add to your connection to the moon, there are three other tarot cards with moon correspondences: 6 of Pentacles, which corresponds to moon in Taurus; 4 of Cups, corresponding to moon in Cancer; and 9 of Wands, corresponding to moon in Sagittarius.)
We’ve looked at 7 of Swords before, so let’s deepen with a look at the connection between tarot and astrology.
Very briefly – and very superficially — remember that each suit is connected with an element: Pentacles with earth, Cups with water, Swords with air, and Wands with fire. And remember that the 12 signs of the zodiac all have elemental correspondences: Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are the fire signs, Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are the earth signs, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are the air signs, and Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are the water signs. So, Pentacles will have cards associated with Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, Cups will have cards associated with the 3 water signs, and likewise for Swords and the air signs, and Wands and the fire signs.
Let’s check: Swords are associated with air signs. Yup, Aquarius is an air sign.
Air and Aquarius have a cool, impersonal, um, air about them. And you can think of the quality of freedom associated with them both. Imagine air getting into pretty much anywhere it likes. If you’ve ever tried to close up all the drafts in your home, you’ve been up against the difficulties of containing air. Just as difficult as containing your thoughts: the monkey mind that spiritual disciplines talk about. Oops, more air: spirit, speech.
Play with the concepts of Air/Aquarius and the moon and see what kinds of combinations you come up with. See how they fit with what you’ve learned about 7 of Swords to deepen your understanding of the image.
Then consider the side of you that you keep hidden from the public, and let your mind wander. See if you can discover your hidden intentions this week.
To step it up a notch, choose one to build on. How can you make that intention into something your public can see by the next full moon?