This moonth we are invited to walk the path and receive the wisdom of what is most commonly named as The Hierophant, the Major Arcana’s 5th card associated with Friday’s new moon arriving in the astrological sign of Taurus (exact at 11:53 am ET, time zone converter). Hierophants are teachers of, and conduits for, what the Greater Than.
In the earliest Tarots and the iconic Rider Waiter Smith, the Hierophant’s central figure is a Pope of the Catholic Church who, since St. Peter in the first century CE, has led the institution upholding its doctrines and teachings.
The Shining Tribe Tarot, however, invites us into a more ancient understanding of this archetype. The 5th Major Arcana card is renamed Tradition and gives us an image without human figures but rather a circle of rocks.
Rachel Pollack, the deck creator, names the rocks as embodied Spirits who meet to uphold the world. She based the image on real rocks she saw at the edge of the Dead Sea but thought her seeing of Spirits within them as a fantasy.
In my contemplation of the card today, I am called to think back millions of years ago to the time before institutions and writing existed, to the time when our furthest back ancestors had only the Earth as their teacher of the Greater Than. The seasons, the plants, the animals, and, yes, the rocks all must have been their Hierophants. Without written ways to pass on knowledge between people and generations I imagine them discovering anew the power of the Earth and the Greater Than. Over and over again they approached life with new eyes and fresh awe.
They perceived differently than we moderns. Perhaps with their awe attuned eyes they always saw the Spirit in the Earth, knew Earth as full of Spirit. Then Rachel’s vision of Tradition’s council of rocks gathered to protect the Earth is true, not a fantasy.
With Tradition as our Hierophant, the Earth is our teacher and conduit for the Greater Than. Adhering to this understanding may take us outside of established religious traditions—or not. We might stay within a tradition and bring the Earth perspective into it. In this way we would be returning a tradition to its origins as so many—all if you go back far enough, I would guess—grew from the earthly. And the mystical strains of traditions can offer us back earth-honoring practices preserved through the ages. When we tend these connections, we invoke the circle at the center of the Tradition card.
If you just can’t stay within our traditions—I myself have tried and failed—then the Earth can be your Hierophant. The Earth is a loving guide giving us the abundance of life, but Earth is also a teacher of limits. Right now, we are being offered intense lessons about limits to our modern lifestyles through the chaos of a changing climate. Flood and fire, tornado and drought are prophets to which we are called to answer.
How can we answer these prophets? How can we respond to the Earth?
The Knower of Birds is our guide to emulate on Tradition’s path. Their way on the path is one where feet are firmly planted on the literal earth even while opening to the spiritual and the formless Greater Than.
The Knower’s feet pass over ground that is marked with mostly tracks of mammals and birds but also a few symbols. About this image, Rachel writes of how the tracks of creatures observed and noted as having patterns evolved into divination. The markings and the patterns that appeared over and over again became symbols. Writing itself, she posits, may have evolved to pass on meanings for divination.
The few symbols on the earth are mirrored in the sky and new ones float there, too. The Spirit world it seems is filled with symbols, and if we would open up to receive them, they could help us live our lives, to move with the help of the greater patterns. Two rays—one from the left and one from the right—enter into the head of the Knower showing their ability to perceive and welcome this form of communication from the Greater Than
The Knower of Birds stands between worlds drawing guidance and power from both. This brings us back to how to respond to our prophets of climate change.
Because climate chaos is human made, we need to take action within our human systems. To make the impacts that are necessary to address the scale of the problem, we need to join with others to shift systems and institutions.
Just as the ground on the Knower of Birds is filled with different kinds of tracks, different approaches and strategies are needed to create an ecology of change making. If you are a fiery type, join a direct-action group. If you are patient and detail oriented, follow a policy-oriented group. Creative? Create art out of the urgency of now and let it be used alongside organization’s calls to action. Not afraid to talk about the money needed to do the work? Be a fundraiser. Everyone is needed.
Along with the tangible action, we who seek to emulate the Knower of Birds on the path of Tradition can call upon the Spirits who uphold the World to guide us and aid us. We can ask them to look with compassion upon their “troubled children” and put their energy and power behind our actions to turn back climate chaos.
We might do this work through prayer or ritual. May seek guidance from divination. We can wisdom wander or make a pilgrimage and listen to the voices of the Spirit in the Earth. We can report back to our groups and gatherings the messages we receive. Rachel says that when the Knower of Birds appears we may have psychic visions and also the ability to communicate them clearly.
Will we make it?
Our passage card this moonth, the 7 of Stones, does not forecast victory or defeat, but lets us know that the only way out is through and into the new.
The toad in the foreground resembles a woman squatting in the birth position. The rainbow-colored ribbons are inspired by a medallion that Indian women place over their birthing beds. These real natural phenomena have taken on symbolic meaning. Archeologist Marja Gumbutas identified the toad as an epiphany of the Goddess from Old European culture. The colors of the rainbow ribbons are the same as the colors of the seven chakras of Hindu and Buddhist tradition.Earth and Spirit are integrated in this image invoking the birthing process. Our passage this moonth—and in this time of climate chaos—is one of birthing. We are in hard labor and being called upon to push. While we are pushing it may seem like this will never end, but we have no choice but to push.
And we may well be further along than we think. The number 7—and so all the cards associated with it—are odd pauses. In the 7, we can feel like nothing is happening because we are at a moment of tension. But if we work with the tension, we will move through. At 7, we have already done so much work. The new is not as far away as it may seem. Gather energy from the Earth, call upon the Spirits for their support, and keep pushing toward the birth. This is how we will make it.
This moonth’s questions for reflection / reading are offered to support our renewal are:
EARTH: What teaching is the Earth offering me this moonth?
SPIRIT: What message is coming from Spirit to me this moonth?
BIRTH: What will integrating the teaching of Earth and the message of Spirit birth within me?
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.
If you’d like to activate your inner Knower of Birds, you are invited to join us for the Solstice-hinged Walking the Ways of the Summer Light Retreat-in-Everyday Life. We start on Monday, May 22nd.