Full Moon Revelations: Meeting the Lion


For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Sanctuary – Shining Tribe Tarot

The height of this moonth’s cycle comes on Sunday, the 5th (exact at 1:28 pm ET,  time zone converter), and offers a revelation about how the lunar energies initiated on the January 21st new moon are developing. The new moon, guided by its association with The Star going through the passage of the Five of Swords, invited us to Active Hope in Violent 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 lunar cycle.  

The exact moment of the moon’s fullness comes in the sign of Leo associated with the Tarot’s Strength card. 

In the iconic Rider Waite Smith deck and those decks it inspires, Strength is often a lovely image of a woman bedecked with flowers astride a gentle lion. But the placid image can obscure how challenging the work of this archetype actually is. Strength calls us to stare into the sharp-toothed mouth of the lion and learn how to be with its wild power. We must adjust ourselves to work with the lion—not to beat back its fierce nature, but to work with this energy.

In the Shining Tribe, just the lion appears standing before a Tree of Life.The red-bodied beast is not gentle but baring its teeth You can imagine a threatening growl. This  lion is not subdued in any way, but instead dynamic, perhaps drawing energy from the roots that reach down into a mound of green earth.

 In the Shining Tribe Companion book, Rachel Pollack writes that this lion shows us “the strength that comes from the harmony with life.” 

Contemplating the card during this lunation that began with both the horror of another mass shooting and the joy of the lunar new year, the question came to me:

What does it mean to be in harmony with life in a time of violence? 

This question is a lion charging at me.

I want to run away from the violence. I’m sick of writing about it and imagine you are tired of hearing about it. And maybe violence is actually decreasing if we look back through the long sweep of history. In The Better Angels of Our Nature Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker shows the historic decline in those killed in violent conflict that stems from wars and says we live in the most peaceful time in history.. And if we put aside what is happening to women starving in Afghanistan, or killed by the police in Iran, or unable to find reproductive care here in the United States, then this may well be the safest time in which to be a woman.

But look what just happened, we pushed some—many—women aside to accept a decline in violence. This was not taming the lion, but killing the lion. In The Forest of Souls, Rachel Pollack reminds us that some of the earliest versions of the Strength card show Hercules killing a lion, the animal who is the partner or even the manifestation of Goddesses like Babylonian Ishtar, Egyptian Sekhmet, and Indian Durga.

When we kill our lions, we kill a deep and ancient source of our feminine power. 

Instead on this full moon, we are invited to let our lions come toward us. To look into our lion selves and meet the places where we are still hungry for peace and raging against the violence in our personal and collective lives. To feel the deep grief that in times of violence we feel thwarted from living in harmony with life.

To meet this invitation, create a container of support for experiencing these wild lion truths. Make a circle of protection around you by imagining light of a color that inspired you flowing around you in a circle, or use actual rocks or candles or rainbow yarn to create the space. Use prayer or breathe or petition to begin. Move like you imagine a lion moves. Let all your hopes and fears, rage and grief spill out of you. Dance, write, scream, stomp, or break something open. Then stop and be. Imagine  the lion at rest.

What flows out of you at first will be messy, marked by the lion’s big teeth, sticky with spit, covered in dirt. You might be a little worse for wear, too, so take some care. Drink some tea or let yourself sit. Follow your breath. You have survived this encounter.

Let yourself look at what has flowed from your encounter with the lion.Amidst the mess, there are jewels. Maybe a few words that are true and sonic to become a poem. An image to guide a creative project. An insight into a relationship that you want to repair. A renewed commitment to bringing forth a world where we recognize none of us live in peace until all of us live in peace.  

Alternately or additionally, you are invited to one, some, or all of these regular full moon practices to encourage a revelation on these themes as we journey through this moonthly cycle,:

~ 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 Star  and Strength 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.

~Reflect on questions such as: What lion wants my attention? What message is this lion bringing to me? How to cultivate the strength to meet the lion within? How to cultivate hope? How best to harmonize with life? You could, of course, pull cards as responses to any of these questions. You may want to engage in Visio Divina to 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 18th offer your gift to the world.

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