The arrival of the new moon stamps the moonth with an initiating energy that shifts and develops through a cycle of growth, fullness, and descent. Each moonth I look to the Tarot’s astrological correspondences for the new moon to find 3 cards (a Major, a numbered Minor, and a court/people card) to guide musings on soul tending, selection of prompts for personal/spiritual practice, and creation of a moonthly reading. The reading can be done any time, but ideally between the new and full moons. Revisit the cards you pull periodically up until the next lunation to gain new insight as the light changes.
Starhawk, Truth or Dare
The March 21st new moon (exact at 1:23pm ET) starts us on the path of the Emperor, who calls us to renew our vision of power. Wiccan teacher and activist Starhawk offers a model for encountering the fullness of power by naming 3 different aspects:
Before you read my musings on these forms of power or Starhawk’s original ideas, take a moment to let this way of naming power work on you and evoke your own feelings and ideas about power. What surfaces?
Then read below and/or check out Starhawk’s ideas and think about: What resonates with your ideas? What do you disagree with? How might your ideas be synthesized with these other ideas? This reflection can support you to articulate your own understanding of power and how you use it in your life.
Using the Motherpeace Tarot cards associated with the new moon moment—Path of the Emperor through the Passage 2 of Wands in the Posture of the Queen of Wands – we see examples of each of the different aspects of power Starhawk proposes.
The Motherpeace Emperor wears the mask of power-over. This type of power operates through domination and grows from an understanding of the world as one of separation and hierarchy: God is removed from and above the human; the human is removed from and above the earth; people from different tribes, groups, or nation are in competition with each other, viewing their own group as superior.
Control, and violence – both in overt forms such as war and subtle ones that shape and limit our consciousness – are the tools of power-over. The Emperor contains this power-over energy within its range of meaning. In the Motherpeace deck, the Emperor shown is Alexander, the Great, who ruled much of the ancient Western world after taking control by conquest. Today’s authoritarian leaders across the globe are echoes of Alexander and employ the tactics of power-over.
Some of them are quite good at their brutal game. If we fought them with their tactics, we would likely lose, but there is more than one kind of power.
The vision of power-from-within is shown on the Two of Wands. A woman tunes into her inner sight and from it flows a vision of another to teach her a skill she needs to learn. This teacher might be her own wisdom that emerges when she steps away from the critique and noise of the wider world. Or it might be an ancestor offering her needed guidance. No matter the source, the gift offered will sustain the woman and her community.
Attuned to power-from-within, we are able to bring forth our unique spark of wisdom and offer it to the world. This kind of power is visionary, creative, connected. When we flow with power-from-within we fully trust our inner voices of guidance as well as recognize a connection to something greater than ourselves. There is no disconnection between serving the Whole and being ourselves. Energized by power-from-within, people manifest their visions.
The Priestess (Queen) of Wands shows us how power-from-within supports a third kind of power: power-with. The Priestess does not walk alone; she walks naked with a lion. Her nakedness here is an expression of her comfort with showing off her power-from-within. No need to hide her light! She is joined to the lion. They support each other on the journey, becoming more powerful through their connection. When we, women and men, who embrace power-from-within join together, we can overcome the tactics of power-over.
There is no sure fix, linear progress, or quick timeline for shifting power dynamics. Power-over, after all, has been dominant for millenia. But power-over is not the power that makes change. Power-over wants to preserve the Towers it has built, but when dramatic change comes and knocks down the Tower, it is power-with that repairs the destruction. Power-with generates the needed change.
The last time we were initiated by this moon position, we were in the first days of the March 2020 pandemic lockdowns. Those of us who could stay home stayed home because it was the only strategy we knew of to flatten the curve and save lives. Our separation became connection. As the pandemic continued, mutual aid groups in neighborhoods and on social media formed to ensure all received support. These groups were guided by principles of solidarity rather than charity with those in need driving decision making. Meanwhile the government response was chaotic and the messaging confusing.
Stuck in our houses and glued to our screens, we watched with our own horrified eyes as police murdered George Floyd. The streets swelled with protestors and a broad cross section of people embraced Black Lives Matter. In cities and towns across the country, people began pressuring for change in their local police departments, knowing they wouldn’t change by themselves.
The power-over Emperor wasn’t coming to save us so we had to save ourselves. As we saved ourselves, we created new webs of power-with connections.
Social commentators and the media have questioned the staying power of these power-with actions of 2020. Rightly they have noted that many mutual aid groups have dissolved and Black Lives Matter activism declined. I sense a judgment of the groups as failures because they have not sustained themselves or achieved certain policy goals. But the judgment is misplaced. It is really the power-over institutions that have failed to sustain and adapt the innovations of mutual aid and the policies of the Black Lives Matter movement.
And the power-with connections are not lost. Connection is not like a Tower that can be smashed and broken. Connections ebb and flow, but they can be returned to so they once again flow into groups that meet the need of the moment. Mutual aid societies, for example, are not new. They are perhaps ancient and certainly have roots in the US in the late 1700 when formerly enslaved people organized themselves into the Free African Society. The Black Lives Matter movement came into being in 2013. Was the first time it was declared “dead” in 2014 or was it later? Well, then certainly it was resurrected in 2020.
The strategist Bill Moyer mapped eight stages of social movements and detailed how it is often when a movement is closest to victory it perceives itself to have failed. Because we can’t know if we are on the cusp of victory or a true defeat, we are called to contribute our power-from-with to the power-with efforts. If we don’t, the only clear winner will be the power-over Emperor.
Reflection Questions / Reading of the Moonth
These questions are offered for reflection and to spark practice throughout the moonth. Pulling Tarot and oracle cards in connection to these questions is appropriate, but not absolutely necessary. You might carry a question with you on a walk for example and observe what is happening in the natural world as a way to find insight into the answer to the question. You might carry cards pulled, too, and see what they want to interact with in the world.
POWER: What is your power-from-within that the world needs now?
EXPRESSION: How to express this power?
MANIFESTATION: What can you manifest to tip the balance ever more away from power-over to power-with?
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.