The height of this lunar cycle comes with a full moon arriving overnight February 8th into the 9th (exact at 2:33am ET on the 9th), and offers a revelation about how the energies initiated on the January 24th new moon are developing. That new moon, guided by its association with The Star invited us to live in hope despite the turbulence of our times. Out of the full moon revelation about this developing energy, we are issued an invitation to return a gift to the world in the final weeks of the cycle.
The astro-Tarot correspondences align this full moon with Strength. The name clearly states the card’s meaning – no enigma here – but the iconic image of a woman tenderly holding open a lion’s invites us into a deeper exploration of what constitutes true strength.
When I do Tarot sessions or e-readings, I often start with the prompt of: What aspect or detail of the image most captures your attention? As I consider the current lunar patterns, I am most captivated by the lion, the open mouth, teeth, and tongue. And find myself pondering the lion as both an inner and an outer force.
Outer lions are dangerous. Lions in nature are territorial, keen hunters, and known to even kill humans. A lion is not to be trifled with. Looking into a lion’s mouth is recognizing danger – and not looking away.
Earlier this week at the U.S. presidential impeachment trial, Senator Mitt Romney looked into the lion’s mouth of his fellow party members’ scorn and presidential retribution. But having examined the evidence and found the president’s crimes rose to the level of high crimes and misdemeanours, voted to convict. He explained that his faith compelled him to do so: “As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am.”
Across the Capital in 2001, Representative Barbara Leetook an even lonelier vote. In the days just after the September 11th terrorist attacks, she was the only representative – of any party – to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). She believed it gave the president too much unchecked power to wage war and in explaining her decision quoted the Rev. Nathan D. Baxter dean of National Cathedral: “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.”The lions she faced were media attacks and death threats. AUMF has been used to launch 10 U.S. military interventions around the world, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In Iraq two oncologists at Baghdad’s Children’s Welfare Teaching Hospital (CWHT), Dr. Salma Al-Hadad and Dr. Mazin Al-Jadiry,face many lions in their work to treat children with cancer. The cancer itself, of course, but so many more lions. The team works without adequate resources in deteriorating conditions due to sanctions, war, occupation, and isolation from the international medical community. Fifty percent of Iraq’s doctors have been killed or left the country. Dr. Salma offered thoughts on why she stays in such difficult conditions: “If I leff who would take care of these children? I determined that even if I could not improve their survival at least I would share their suffering. And this has been my policy until now.”
I know about Dr. Mazin and Dr. Salma from a friend who lives here in the Western Massachusetts: Claudio Lefko.Since 2001, she has attempted to support CWHT and its patients. First through an art exchange between children in the US and at the hospital, and then in working to bring about an international collaboration to improve cancer care in Iraq. They were unsuccessful in finding a collaborator. Claudia’s lion may well be the indifference of the US and global community – we’ve forgotten about Iraq – as well as an inability to recognize the extreme reality at the hospital. But Claudia knows what is happening and while she can’t fix the situation, she doesn’t turn away from the doctors. The relationship between them is based on commitment, connection, and collaboration. Isn’t this a true measure of friendship?
When I started this piece, I thought I would keep it short, but there are so many outer lions circling us now. I imagine you have met your own out in the world. They circle us constantly. Are too hard to ignore. But within these stories of outer lions, inner lions also move – and invite us to their power.
The inner lions give these people – and all of us – the courage to be the lone voice, to persist in necessary work, to care in difficult situations.
The inner lions are faith and devotion to the Divine, a commitment to values, a capacity to care, friendship.They are quieter lions than aggression, force, and dominance. But these inner lions can be powerful companions when we consistently tend and gently nurture them. They don’t respond to force, but instead to love and attention.
This moonth began with the initiating energy of The Star, a symbol of hope coming after times of turbulence and breakdown seen in the card that proceeds The Star: The Tower. When we are living the Tower, we are truly in a broken place. We can not leap to the hope of The Star without being for a while in the reality of the Tower. In the stories above there is no denying the ugliness, destruction, and death resulting from what is in collapse. And the Towers of our personal lives have the same impact, even if not existing at the same scale.
So then, how do we find our way to the Star? We come into relationship with our inner lions. We don’t control these lions; they have a power of their own. But as we reach toward them and let their energy flow into us, we are. filled with their power. Energized by our inner lions, we become co-creators of the world we want to live in. We act to create that world not because our success is assured but because we have the strength to keep moving toward the vision. And as we move, hope may grow. As we move, The Star may become clearer.
Hope is not a condition for Strength. Strength instead is the catalyst of Hope.
To connect with your inner lions to bring forth the hope of The Star, you might do one or combine all of these practices:
- Take out any reading or your reflections from the new moonand look at them in a new light. How does your understanding of the cards shift now that time has passed and light has shifted? (If you haven’t done a reading yet, no problem, just do it now under the light of the full moon. You can try the one included in the new moon post.)
- Bring out the Star and Strengthcards from your Tarot deck and connect them to your new moon reading / reflections. You could place/imagine these cards on either side of your reading or above and below, and then look at how they add meaning into the story your original cards offered you.
- Moon batheby sitting or lying under a window or outside on the ground. Feel the unique strength of the moon’s light. Let go of your thoughts and soak in the light.
- Reflecton the questions raised from the alignment of The Star and Strength:Who are the inner lions I am in relationship with? What new inner lions do I want to cultivate a relationship with? What are my inner lions calling me to do to cultivate hope?You can, of course, pull cards connected to each of these questions. You may want to engage in Visio Divinato find the layers of wisdom within the cards.
When you are done, remember to offer gratitude for what you have received. Consider what gift you now want to return to the world. Pulling a card for guidance on the gift is always a fine thing to do. In the coming weeks and before the moon returns to dark around February 21st offer your gift to the world.