The cards of the moonth compel me to speak the truth that I see. We are in a time of emergency brought on around the world by the pandemic and here in the United States by political violence challenging democracy itself.
Holding the enormity of that truth, I still find guidance and support to share with you for moving through by looking at the cards of the moonth. I end with suggested prompts for Body, Mind, Spirit, Community practice for these times.
The new moon arrives overnight the 12th into the 13th (exact at 12midnight ET on the 13th) moving us through the passage of the 4 of Pentacles.
Passage: The 4 of Pentacles
In the iconic Rider Waiter Smith image, a nobleman—the king? —sits on his throne with each foot tamping down a pentacle, the crown topped with one, and arms wrapped around the fourth. Both the flow with the Greater Than Above and the Heart’s Love is blocked by this grasping after wealth and power. Remind you of anyone you know? This is not an image to emulate.
But each Tarot card holds a whole range of meaning. And Dust II Onyx invites us into another more connective possibility for the Four of Pentacles—called Coins in this deck. In the image, we see a figure standing in front of adobo structures: the dwellings and grain storehouses of the Dogon people of southwest Mali and Burkina Faso. The figure is a guard protecting the village.
The grain storehouses deserve protection not just because they contain food as necessity and wealth, but because the Dogon honored this smallest element of earth as reflective of the whole of the universe. In the Dust II Onyx guide, Courtney Alexander shares with us the richness of the symbolism (I’m just sharing a taste of it here):
The granaries are artistically constructed as a metaphor for the structure of the Universe, the human body, and the generative power of women. The circular base represents the Sun and the square top is the sky. … The exterior parts of the granaries symbolize the species of the world, the offspring of the eight great ancestors.
By guarding the granaries and homes, the Four of Pentacles figure is protecting what is most important not just for themselves but the community and even for the preservation of a universe in balance. The Four of Pentacles passage calls us to do the same.
What are the structures important to protect of your personal and communal life that carry a significance beyond their everyday use?
Certainly, the US Capital is one such structure for the United States. Its function is to serve as the workplace of lawmakers while the iconic dome, collection of historical statues, and paintings of historical and allegorical figures imbue it with its symbolism as a beacon of democracy.
On Wednesday, the 6th, the Capital was not sufficiently guarded. A violent mob battered doors, broke windows, and overran the police they encountered to gain control of the building with the intent of stopping the certification of the election, violently disrupting the democratic process. As accounts of the day emerge, we are learning just how violent the attack was (examples of accounts from reporters and about lawmakers and aids calling for help).
Path: The Devil
Given these events, it may not be surprising to hear that we are already on the path of the Devil and will be there for the coming new moon.
In the Tarot, the Devil’s meanings are illusion, addiction, bondage, compulsion.In the oldest Tarots the Devil is made up of strange parts cobbled together presiding over figures that are tied at the Devil’s feet. As their bonds don’t look that tight, we might wonder why they do not break free. So, although this Devil is a bit of a buffoon, it is clearly dangerous, not just for what it might do on its own but for what it might incite others in thrall to its power to do.
From The Tarot of Marseille
This Devil is a warning to us when we are acting as Four of Pentacles guardians. There is real danger. We must prepare to meet it.
Like the Four of Pentacles, there is a range of the meaning for the Devil as well. The Devil can also be a guide for our soul tending when we follow the inner work of this path by meeting our Shadow.
The Shadow is made up of parts of ourselves that we have difficulty accepting.Most often we are not even aware of these parts as existing within us. Of course, these are challenging parts (fears, addictions, blind spots), but they can also be positive parts (power, courage, the ability to change). We can get clues about what our shadows are by our strong reactions to others. When we judge “he is so controlling” or “she is so eloquent” we are invited to consider these as parts of ourselves that you are projecting onto others. Not always but searching your thoughts for a clue to shadow can be fertile work.
I attended a seminar on Jungian principles for advancing spiritual growth where the presenter said, “The only way to truly grow is to integrate the shadow.”When we own all the parts of ourselves, we become more fully who we are. We no longer have to expend energy hiding who we fully are.
We have both personal and collective Shadow. As a country, our personal and collective shadows of white supremacy and racism within intuitions are swirling and pushing against efforts to tamp them down. Finally we are speaking the truth that the Capital we talk of as a symbol of democracy was built with the labor of enslaved people(the wages paid to their enslavers). This week we are reminded how there is a clear and continuous thread of our history in which white supremacists are tolerated and amplified when useful while Black, Ingenious, and People of Color who nonviolently reach for their rights—which would improve democracy benefiting us all—are met with violent force (read Cori Bush’s powerful words from her first week as a legislator). If we accept this as our Shadow, we can redirect our energy from suppressing the truth to being effective guardians of what matters most.
Posture: The King of Swords
This moonth we are invited to emulate the clear mind and focused purpose of the King of Swords.
From Tarot Roots of Asia
We can’t ignore the feelings that will surge through us during this time, but we can let them pass through and then be guided by a mind that seeks out facts, examines, possibilities, and speaks out.
We will not use literal swords. Instead our voices speaking out about the need to protect what is most important—to our legislators, our family, our neighbors, our community—will be our best tools. With the King of Swords as our guide, we cannot be silent.
Prompts for Holistic Practice in This Time of Emergency
It is the most basic element for us to protect: our body and the bodies of those around us. In a pandemic, protecting our bodies means eluding the virus with distance, masking, and staying in place as much as possible. I bet you know this. You are hearing the message from at least some authorities and the message should get clearer with a change in administration.
But we get less external guidance for protecting ourselves from the also invisible tension that builds up in our bodies in times of emergency. Do check in with your body, and daily—maybe hourly on some days! —find ways to discharge the tension. Some days it may need to be a little dramatic like shaking your whole body and giving a yell to release what is inside. Other days, it could be quieter. You might close your eyes. Imagine you can see the tension inside your body, then reach your hands to the ground. With your imaginal eyes see the tension draining out of your hands and feet and going into the earth. Knowing the earth receives all things and can shape shift them into new forms.
You need to provide your mind with the just right amount of good information. Because we are alerted by the Four of Pentacles to our need to guard what is most important, we can’t just turn off the media, but instead choose our sources with care, perhaps a mix that includes a national newspaper, a group you belong to, a source of local information, and educational event (for example, this event on Wednesday about building power to confront white supremacists attacks on elections). It is wise to expand beyond your usual bubble to include a source that you watch to know what others with different opinions than your own.
Even though this is not a time to ignore the news, you can create boundaries around when you consume it. You might limit it to a certain time of day or examining one source at a time. Your consumption of media could be bounded just like a daily spiritual practice is bounded with an open with intention setting and a closing with petition or prayer.
I have been starting each day with the reading of a poem from a book before I do anything else. Poetry’s language provides a balance to the political and journalistic language that I read throughout the day. Reading a page of history or signing a song could provide a similar balance for your mind.
We can pray or offer words of petition during times of emergency as an element of protecting what is most important. What prayers of protection could you offer?
You may have heard the story of how I found the rosary that was in my grandfather’s pocket the day he died. I have been using it with modified words. Here is what I have been praying in these days:
Hail the Great Mother, full of power, full of compassion.
I ask you to heal me,
to heal the country
to heal the whole
in a way that serves our souls.
Please spread your cobalt blue cloak of calm
across the country and especially DC in this time of emergency.
This is a time to join with others to protect what is most important. This is hard in a pandemic, but still we can reach out through the ethers!
— Call your legislators. You might start by asking how the person on the other end of the phone is doing. They may well have been caught up in last week’s violence. Let them know you are watching, you are concerned, share your ideas of what you believe should happen.
— Connect with others. This might be a Zoom circle just to check in with friends and family. Talk together about what is happening. Help each other process. Talk about how you might protect what is most important.
— Act with a group. This could be a national or local group. You might spark a conversation with a local group about how you might respond. I follow, do events with, and take up the actions of The Frontline, a multiracial coalition of groups. I work with them because I think they are effective. Also, they are fun! There is often music, or a practice and speakers tell the truth while connecting us to possibility. I leave calls and sessions inspired. Finding a group that inspires you is vital!
And as always, you can turn to the Tarot for guidance and inspiration. Here is a reading for this moonth that starts on 3th, brings us through the US Presidential Inauguration, and ends with the dark moon on January 27th:
PROTECTION: What is most important to protect?
CONTRIBUTION: What contribution can I make to protecting this?
GROWTH: What can grow out of this work of protection that I do?
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. I generally have openings to do these readings on Mondays and Saturdays.