What can hold us together when things are falling apart? The sun and the moon and the stars still dance the earth around. Perhaps we can turn to these cosmic dancers for guidance by watching their movements and relationships, by feeling a connection through them to something larger than ourselves. But I need something‚ÄĒa kind of translator‚ÄĒto bring their vast offerings into focus for my human mind to grasp and use.¬†
For me the esoteric arts of astrology, numerology, and the Tarot are translators. When combined and mapped against the movements of sun and moon and stars, I find messages and patterns that direct me toward the potential in these times of sharp decay and slow birthing.¬†
This year‚Äôs celestial correspondences show us a dance between leaders who mediate the human-spirit flow with the universe‚Äôs healing directly offered to each soul. These dancers are called The Hierophant and Star. Also in the swirling dance, we find the potential of transformation mixed by Temperance and an offering of Strength to see us through.¬†
I describe the dance in four movements, but they are not linear but pulsing and overlapping all throughout the year:¬†
- Solar Surface
- Lunar Healing
- Alchemical Eclipses
- A Final Illumination
From my exploring of the movements, I‚Äôve found a key question of the year: How will you answer the call to a new kind of spiritual leadership in 2021?¬†
The number of the solar-aligned calendar year is five: 2+0+2+1=5. In the Tarot‚Äôs Major Arcana, 5 is the number of The Hierophant, leader of spiritual institutions and initiate into traditions passed down through generations. In the iconic Rider Waite Smith deck, this is the first Major card that shows a group rather than just a single individual (as people in my Tarot circles have pointed out to me). Although named for the central figure, the importance of the collective is central to this archetype‚Äôs wisdom.
Like all of the cards, The Hierophant has a range of associations and meanings. As keepers of rites and rituals, Hierophants play a vital role in moving individuals and communities through the passages of life and death, celebration and mourning. The practices they teach have been tested through generations‚ÄĒsometimes millenia‚ÄĒand can serve seekers well on their own spiritual journeys¬† But people have a strong negative reaction to this iconic figure when they have experienced dogma, rigidity, or even abuse within religious institutions. This shadow side of spiritual leaders stifling the evolution of their institutions or misusing their power is a reality that cannot be ignored.
The moon‚Äôs movements through this year also direct our attention to the collective. Two full moons in a row this summer come in Aquarius, the sign of the humanitarian and the astrological house of information about friends and groups. Aquarius corresponds to The Star card, and in most versions of this image there is once again a single human figure. This figure is, however, surrounded by stars. The companions are celestial, connecting the Star figure to the vastness of the universe and a spirituality transcending human institutions. Inspired by the Star, we are invited to the same connections.¬†¬†
From The Numinous Tarot¬†
The Star, Major Arcana 17, comes after the destruction of card 16, the Tower. Most Tower images include dramatic lightning strikes, a shattered building, and people in freefall from great heights. The structures and institutions that formerly seemed solid are broken. There is no way to ignore the damage that has been done. Looking back at 2020‚ÄĒthe year of the Major Arcana 4, the Emperor, leader of mundane institutions‚ÄĒwe saw the failure of our governmental institutions to meet the challenge of the pandemic. The failure has been deadly. The grief enormous.
The Star follows from the Tower. In the landscape of the Star, we find a place to pause and rest, a connection to the Greater Than, an invitation to draw upon the healing of the natural world. No person or institution controls these gifts. They are given to all equally by a generous universe. The Star accompanies everyone in their grief.
The light of the stars can not be dimmed, but it can be hidden. Clouds of memory, the mind, or manipulation can obscure the star light, cut off the hope that flows. But the cut is never permanent. Each night brings a new opportunity to seek the hope and healing of the Star.
The archetype of Temperance also flows through the year through its connection to both the Hierophant and the moon. As Major Arcana 14, Temperance‚Äôs numbers added together reduce to the Hierophant‚Äôs 5:1+4=5. And Temperance corresponds to the astrological sign of Sagittarius, and this year a May new moon lunar eclipse in May and full moon solar eclipse in December come in this sign.¬†
With determination and focus, Temperance melds opposites into a whole that draws from its constituent elements but brings forth something entirely new. To highlight the profound transformations possible through this work,¬† this card is sometimes renamed Alchemy, calling to mind the medieval alchemists who sought to transform lead into gold. In the 20th century, psychological Carl Jung theorized that this was a spiritual rather than material quest.
Eclipses interrupt the usual dance of the sun, moon, and earth. During an eclipse, a shadow is created by blocking the usual flow of light. Stepping out of the ordinary into this strange light compels us to look again, to think anew about what we thought we knew. Shadow exposes shadow. And when we recognize that something we see no longer serves, it‚Äôs time to break the pattern, heal the damage, set in motion the transformation.
With eclipses come along the Temperance-Hierophant continuum under the light of The Star, profound¬†healing and transformation related to our spiritual life, how it is organized, and who yields power within this sphere are possible.
Deck creators who have reimaged the Hierophant as Teacher, Messenger, or Singer show us how the Hierophant might be transformed.¬†¬†
- The Gaian Tarot Teacher may be the humble human figure offering a healing weed you need to tend your body. Or maybe not. The tree, the coyote, the heron are just as likely to offer the teaching that illuminates.
- In the Next World Tarot, the Messenger questions the status quo and exhorts you to as well. She calls out the policies and practices that seek to control through fear and reminds you already know that this is wrong, that there is a better way. She is the spokesperson not because she alone has the solution, but because she has listened to the many, synthesized their wisdom, and reflected back the truth of the community with eloquence.¬†
- The Minoan Tarot‚Äôs Singer has been taught the traditional songs. She knows that the singers of the songs become the voices of the Goddess. She does not sing alone. She teaches the songs to others. Helps each singer to find their own grace and range. Then guides the disparate voices to join together into a beautiful whole.¬†
These versions of the card emphasize humility and collective wisdom as well as highlight the source of this archetype‚Äôs wisdom as flowing from the Greater Than the individual.
With institutions so broken by the Tower experience and the need of a grieving planet so great, we will need many spiritual leaders to help us¬† through and birth the next becoming. The patterns of the year inspire me to believe that is possible if we will answer the call. We all have a part to play. How will you answer the call to a new kind of spiritual leadership in 2021?¬†
This year’s Summer Solstice-hinged retreat-in-everyday life, Walking the Ways of the Summer Light, takes inspiration from this re-envisioned Hierophant and seeks to ¬†nurture the spiritual authority of each participant. Find out more and sign up to walk the ways with us from May 23rd to July 4th.¬†
A Final Illumination¬†
The moon offers the message: We have the strength to do this.
Just as numerology creates a connection between Temperance and The Hierophant, The Star, card 17, implies Strength, card 8. Strength is one of the simplest cards to interpret. Yes, it invites us to be strong. But the real wisdom of the card is the lesson that we become strong not by exerting power over others but by cultivated power from within. This kind of power springs from coming to really know and accept all of ourselves: our shadows and fears as well as desires and wild emotions. This acceptance and alignment‚ÄĒa constant balancing act‚ÄĒhelps us to shine and offer our gifts to the world fully. It makes sense that this card is associated with the joyful, radiant astrological sign of Leo.¬†
When Sheilaa Hite of the Center for Practical Spirituality cast a chart for 2021 she found a Leo moon at the highest point of the year‚Äôs chart I take this as a guiding light and a blessing of strength for us as we embark on a year of remaking spiritual leadership to truly bring forth hope and healing in our broken open world.
Finished under the Leo full moon, January 28, 2021