First, a prayer-spell for the US election day:
Lady of Power, Lady of Grace,
We ask you to spread your cloak
Of cobalt blue over the country
On this election day.
May there be peace.
May there be kindness.
May there be gratitude
For all election workers and officials.
When the votes are counted,
May Democracy be upheld.
May Equality become possible.
May Justice and Truth prevail.
From Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s Dark Goddess Tarot
The Black Madonna’s saying is: Compassion and devotion make the impossible possible.
In a presentation years ago at the Readers Studio Tarot Conference, Tarot Writer and Community Builder Theresa Reed described how she imagined any clients who came to her agitated as if surrounded in a cloud of cobalt blue. And this practice worked to create more calm for the reading. On Election Day 2020 for the US I imagined this cobalt blue spread all over the country. I don’t think my prayer was the reason that the election was surprisingly calm, but maybe the practice—along with the prayers of others and devotion of election workers—added a drop of helpful consciousness into the day.
Now Election Day 2022 is here, and I think it is safe to say that we’d all welcome more calm. I would and I don’t even live in a swing state!
I’ve done my text banking for candidates with values I support and voted early so my task list is coming down to prayer and petitioning the Greater Than for help with a smooth election.
I’ve woven election prayer and petition into my practices for the days of ancestral remembrance—which I count as the 12 days from October 31st, All Hallows Eve, to November 11th, Veterans Day. Just yesterday I was at my grandparents’ grave calling on their support from the other side for peaceful and just elections. After all, I learned about the importance of voting from them.
They were young immigrants during the Great Depression and saw that government had a role to play in ensuring fairness and distributing resources to make society work for all people. As naturalized citizens, they had to earn the right to vote and viewed voting as a serious responsibility.
Also my Nana was the first feminist theologian that I ever met. She said, “Sure Jesus cured Simon Peter’s mother—so she could get up and make them dinner.” Her degree was from the School of Hard Knocks, she explained. I’ve been asking her to watch out for women this election cycle and to gather the grandmothers in the Beyond for whispering in their descendants’ ears how to make the best choices for upholding the rights of women.
Of course, all over the world we are in the time of the full moon associated with the Tarot’s Hierophant (exact on the 8th at 6:02 am ET; full post below) during the moon cycle when we walk the transformational path of Death. This pathway opened up for us during the October 25th new moon coming on the Astrological Wheel of the Year at 2 degrees of Scorpio, the sign associated with the Tarot’s Death card.
On November 21st, we return to the same place on the Wheel of the Year for the dark moon phase where we are invited to connect with the nurturing darkness for reflection and releasing what we don’t want to carry into the next cycle.
How appropriate then that November 21st is the first day of the retreat-in-everyday life, Descent and Return of the Light. The Winter Solstice is this e-retreat’s center as we soak in the nurturing dark in the four weeks before its arrival. Then we tend the Solstice’s Seed of the New during four weeks in January.
This will be my 9th year making this offering. I created it because I needed the support of its container to balance the busyness and commercialism of the holiday season with my longing to sink into the dark nurture of the season. I knew there were gifts there for tending my grief, growing my creativity, or tuning into my own inner wisdom depending on the year—sometimes all three. Each year I am grateful for the group of seekers that gather to walk this seasonal path together. Some come because they love the dark. Some come to get more comfortable with the dark. All of us emerge changed.
I call this a retreat-in-everyday life because you don’t have to leave your life behind to participate. Instead Descent and Return becomes a flexible container for bringing contemplation, ritual, Tarot play, and wisdom seeking into the life you have.
The retreat comes in multiple formats so you can participate in the way that works best for you to tend your soul, including one, two, or all options:
~ An overview booklet so you can see the flow of the whole season and the prompts for the weekly rituals. You can use this to guide you in a Hermit experience of the season that you do entirely on your own.
~ Eight weeks of daily emails with images and words of inspiration to invite you to reflection and/or daily small rituals. You might read these every day, some days, or be so captivated by one day that you spend a week or more with its invitations. You can’t fall behind. You can just trust yourself to tune in to what you most need to tend your soul.
~ Weekly Sharing Circles held via Zoom on Sundays at 4pm ET (time zone converter) to explore the weekly themes, enact ritual, and experience guided meditations as you connect with fellow seekers. Recordings that include theme info and meditations (but not group sharing) are available for those who can’t come on the live session. You can arrive at these circles with or without having done the ritual prompts throughout the week.
Each year the main themes, rituals, and arc of Descent and Return stays the same, but because we are different and the moon’s dance with the sun is different—this year the Solstice is on a dark moon, which will make things dark indeed—new revelations and releases occur each year. I also will be adding new inspirations out of the pilgrimage I made to Greece to daily and weekly offerings, especially when we get to Tending the Returning Light.
I offer a sliding scale to make this offering as accessible as possible. Choose what fits your reality in this crazy world.
I am most happy to receive your questions so you can decide if this is a good match for you. Or sign up today, we are just 13 days away from the start!
Finally, here is a fun way to help Rachel Pollack, our Tarot teacher extraordinaire, and get something for yourself. Linda Marson of Global Spiritual Studies is sending the full fees collected for all of Rachel’s virtual classes directly to her.
The height of this moonth’s cycle comes with the full moon arriving on Tuesday, the 8th (exact at 6:02 am ET, time zone converter), and offers a revelation about how the lunar energies initiated on the October 25th new moon are developing. The new moon, guided by its association with Death, the 5 of Cups, and King of Cups invited us to contemplate the power of grief to transform. 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 lunar cycle.
The exact moment of the moon’s fullness comes in the sign of Taurus associated with the Tarot’s 5th Major Arcana card: the Hierophant.
Hierophants were the chief priests for the Eleusinian Mysteries, the nine days of rituals and ceremonies in ancient Greece that initiated seekers into the tradition celebrating the Goddess Demeter’s rescue of Her daughter Persephone from the Underworld.
Although enacted for two millenia, what happened at the height of the initiation in which the Hierophant played an important role was kept a secret. In Greek Poems to the Gods, Barry B. Powell describes some of the little we know about the Hierophant’s actions:
[T]he initiates entered a great columned hall called the Telesterion in the center of which stood the Anaktoron (“palace”), a small oblong room off-center in the Telesterion with a door on one of the long sides. Only the hierophant, the “revealer of sacred things,” could enter the Anaktron. Sacred objects were stored there. There was a sacred chest (kiste) and a lidded basket (kalathos) but what these contained is unknown.
The rites inside the the Telesterion had three elements: the dromena(“things done”), evidently a dramatic reenactment of the Demeter/Persephone myth; the deiknumenea (“things shown”), when sacred objects—perhaps among them a grain of wheat—were displayed from the kiste and kalathos; and the legomena (“things said”), which accompanied things shown. Nothing more is known about these rites.
The way toward where the Telesterion stood in the ruins of Eleusis
While we don’t know the details of the rites, we do know something of their impact: those who were initiated were said to no longer fear death.
And while Hierophants have a grand name and undertook actions shrouded in mystery, Powell’s description brings to mind people I know and I bet you do, too: the ones who bring the candles and the cards, set out the decorations, choose the perfect poem to offer inspiration or comfort, and schlep tables and chairs, too, if needed. This wisdom figure is not so distant from us today.
Some of those that remind me of the Hierophant are ordained/initiated priests and priestesses while others stand outside of one tradition. Many of them are Tarot practitioners.
One of the great appreciations I have for the Tarot community is its openness to the reality of Death in our lives. When my partner John died suddenly in a car crash 10 years ago, I felt those in the Tarot community were able to move toward me with open hearts rather than back away in fear. I suppose it is all that practice with pulling the Death card, which, we are quick to explain, means transformations of all kinds but, yes, does sometimes include physical death. Any time we work with the Death card, we can become a “revealer of sacred things.”
I want to show you a sacred thing.
This is an image from my trip to Acadia National Park to mark the anniversary of John’s death on November 3rd. One morning I made it to the Ocean Path around 7:30am and what happened there is what happens every day: the sun rose. But a broken stone gathered the light into my line of vision, the camera played its tricks, and I was offered this revelation of rebirth.
There were other sacred things: the moon, a dragonfly in November, blacks rocks in the shining sea, and every pinecone and needle. Everything I saw and the invisible just beyond the surface of the seen is sacred. Yes, everything is sacred as it flows through its spirals of becoming and dissolving and becoming something else again.
To support a full moon revelation as we walk the path of Death this moonth, you are invited to one, some, or all of these practices:
~ Moon bathe by sitting or lying under a window or outside on the ground. Let go of your thoughts and soak in the light.
~ Take out any reading or your reflections from the new moon and 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 from the new moon.)
~ Bring out your Death and Hierophant cards 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.
~ From your own deck/collection or a Google search, find a Death card that inspires you and let it be your Hierophant. You might engage in Visio Divina to become with more familiar with Death and lessen your fear of its powerful transformations.
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 November 21 (the first day of Descent and Return of the Light!) offer your gift to the world.