The arrival of the new moon stamps the moonth with an initiating energy that shifts and develops through a cycle of growth, fullness, and descent. Each moonth I look to the Tarot’s astrological correspondences for the new moon to find 3 cards (a Major, a numbered Minor, and a court/people card) to guide musings on soul tending as well as creation of a moonthly reading. The reading can be done any time, but ideally between the new and full moons. Revisit the cards you pull periodically up until the next lunation to gain new insight as the light changes. This new moon arrives overnight December 25th to 26th (exact at 12:13am ET on the 26th) . The full moon arrives January 10th.
In addition to being a new moon, we’ve experienced a solar eclipse, which means that this energy ripples through the next six months. Eclipses offer us the invitation to break negative patterns.
This moonth we meet The Devil on the path. And like it or not, this wisdom figure is the one to usher from this decade into the next. The Devil is a guardian at the gateway of this transition time.
In Western culture, we like to make our Devils simple, to have them be the singular repository of evil.
But the image of the Devil – in the Tarot and elsewhere – is complex and made of many parts: curved horns, bats wings, chicken feet. When we unravel the Devil’s parts and take a few moments with each’s origins and inspirations, we find positive power and potential layered into this image.
Horns are markers of vital deities across cultures. Hathor, the great Mother Goddess of ancient Egypt, is shown with cow horns that hold a symbol of the sun she is said to give birth to each day. The Greek God Pan sports horns as he makes music through field and groove. Cernunnos, the Celtic God of fertility, rules over the natural, animal, instinctual, and sexual forces of life. So peel back our first fearful reaction to the Devil, and we find horns calling us to notice the feminine, playful, and natural powers – and to reclaim these powers from how they have been demeaned and demonized in our culture.
Bats are classified as unclean and detested in the Bible, perhaps leading to an association with the Devil. I had a bat encounter where I admit I was afraid as one flew right for my face before swerving. But in many cultures what scares or is strange is not categorized as evil. North American Native Peoples honored the interconnection of all and observed bat behavior to find the teaching offered. They realized that bats can travel easily in the dark through a connection made by sound to its surroundings; bat then becomes a guide to dreams, intuitions, and vision. Bat is also associated with the Greek Goddess Persephone who descends to the dark of the Underworld for part of each year so that new can be gestated in the womb of the earth. Aware of these associations the Devil’s bat wings guides us away from our fear of the dark and the Divine Feminine to find our way toward their gifts. (Hmm, yes, this is the second instance of the Divine Feminine hiding within what is deemed to be bad and waiting for us to connect with her true power.)
The chicken feet remind me of The Raziel Tarot’s Devil. Drawn from Jewish lore, mystical teachings, and traditional stories, the Raziel offers a Devil who is a trickster but has limited power. Deck creator Rachel Pollack enlightens us about the difference between the Jewish and Christian conceptions of the Devil: “Quite simply, the idea of an all-powerful Devil … does not exist in Judaism …. No great Devil holds the souls of all humanity in its grip.” Pollack relates the tale of the Devil displacing and then masquerading as the wise ruler King Solomon. But Solomon sneaks back to court disguised as a beggar, reveals the Devil’s chicken feet, and regains his throne. The Devil can be defeated by the humble human; time to stop giving the Devils in our lives so much of our own power.
On the surface, the Devil is a mess, but below that strange puzzle of parts great powers waiting to emerge. And isn’t that frequently a reflection of each of us? We are an assortment of quirks and wounds, conflicting desires and internal voices, and addictions both small and large.
We may try to present a perfect face, but each of us a part of the larger world, which, let’s admit it, is a mess. But if we dig into rather than fear these strange parts, we can move more fully into who we are. We can acknowledge the challenge of a part but instead of fighting it channel our energy toward developing the gift it contains. And as we do, the untapped power waiting within can emerge to support personal and even planetary healing.
So what is the part of you that seems ugliest, that you hide the most? During the moonth and the whole first half of the year, spend some time finding the gift in this part and encountering it as a tool for transformation.
Passage and Practice
This moonth’s path takes us through the action of the Two of Pentacles. In the iconic Rider Waite Smith image, a figure stands – dances? hops? – on one foot while juggling two Pentacles, the symbols of the suit of earth. This card offers up a mirror of us doing the busy juggle of our lives, often just barely balancing conflicting priorities but sometimes excited to find ourselves in flow of task achievement.
The Pentacles are connected by the lemniscate, a symbol of eternity also featured on the Rider Waite Smith Major Arcana cards of the Magician and Strength. The repetition of the symbol invites us to recognize a greater potential in the Two of Pentacles message. Perhaps our daily struggles that seem small are really part of something larger and more meaningful. Perhaps we just need the strength to recognize how we can make magic in the world with our daily actions. Then we can choose what actions to take and which priorities to focus on in alignment with the impact we would like to make on the world around us.
To cultivate that strength to make magic with your daily actions, you might begin your yearly planning or resolution-setting by focusing on what you most seek to serve – the Divine Feminine, Justice, increased civil discourse, greater creativity; these are just a few service examples – and then identify the action steps that support your focus. Pare away what does not serve your focus to avoid juggling too many things at once.
There is one final connection to make. In mathematics, the lemniscate can be called The Devil’s Curve. When we add the Devil into the mix, we can say that the Strength to make Magic comes from meeting and integrating all the strange parts of ourselves. This is no doubt a life long process. There is no ultimate state to reach because when we arrive at such a feeling the Devil will appear to show us something ugly that can help us grow.
The Queen of Pentacles shows us that the place to manifest our strong magic is on the earth. She sits amidst a lush garden; her partnership with natural forces has brought forth abundance and beauty.
She wears red the same color as the Magician’s cloak. Her loving gaze directed toward her Pentacle is similar to the gaze of the Strength woman. And her crown is topped with … well, they rather look like horns! When Queen unites these disparate energies with herself and the world blooms.
Her magic is elemental and manifest for the good of the Whole. She invites us to the same way of being.
Reading of the Moonth
These questions are offered for reflection and to spark practice throughout the moonth. Pulling Tarot and oracle cards in connection to these questions is appropriate, but not absolutely necessary. You might carry a question with you on a walk for example and observe what is happening in the natural world as a way to find insight into the answer to the question.
MAGIC: What magic is yours to make at this time?
STRENGTH: How can you cultivate the strength to bring forth this magic?
MANIFESTATION: What will you be able to make real?
I do offer this as an e-reading in my collaborative initiative format for $23. Sign up with Pay Pal or email me about sending a check. When I receive notification, I’ll be in touch to let you know about when to expect to receive your reading by email.The work of cultivating truth isn’t completed just at the time of the new moon. When the full moon comes on January 10th, we will open up to an emotional and mystical flow blending with the devilish and earthly. As this is an eclipse new moon, its ripples could extend over the moons of the first half of the year. People on my list receive more timely new moon missives and often full moon inspirations for ritual as well. Sign up if you’d like to receive those.