New Moon Gateway: Balancing Death, Healing Dreams


For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Sanctuary – Seasonal Observances

Balancing Death

This morning I stood under a tree shedding its leaves. There was no wind. There had been no storm. It just was time and the tree followed a call to release. The release is tethered to hope of spring’s renewal, but who knows what will happen over the winter. The tree must trust into the unknown to reach for the future.

Trees can be inspirations for walking the path of Death this moonth which begins Monday, the 13th (exact at 4:27am, time zone converter). They know Death as part of a generative cycle where Life and Death are collaborators in continuance of the season’s turning Wheel. In the section below you will find musings on the role of imagination for the turning of the Wheel as well as the reading of the moonth.
The Wheel’s turning is a natural flow, but we seem to be in unnatural times. Wars rage, those on the front pages of papers and those forgotten. Children die, slaughtered with guns and bombs.  Species disappear and the planet’s biodiversity shrinks, even the trees are stressed.  Life and Death are not in balance.
As I’ve been contemplating this imbalance, I’ve been remembering Justice. Last moonth we encountered this archetype in the form of the Shining Tribe’s Shadow Woman of Justice, She who seeks the cave’s deep darkness to regenerate when ignored in public spaces. In such times, Shadow Woman steps away from the received knowledge, the known way of doing things, the strategies that have led to intractable violence, And She listens in the dark. Like the trees she trusts into the unknown to reach for the future. 

In the dark, She releases from Her consciousness the voices of the leaders, thinkers, and fighters who have created the crises as well as the silence of those now profiting from the misery. She listens for different voices: the foolish-seeming, the indigenous, the ancient, the grieving, the visionary ones. She takes their voices into Her mind, Her heart, Her whole being.She receives and balances all the voices even as they complexify reality. She will not be pushed into the limit of dichotomies. She rejects false choices of: calling for the preservation of Palestian life vs rejecting antisemtic hate; of having good jobs vs. a healthy environment; of setting up one religion to be superior to all others.

She desires order, beauty, truth, and fairness for all. She is horrified when these are shattered. There is no timeline on her horror, she remembers deep into history. She shouts out from the edge of the cave even when no one will listen.

She travels between the edge of the cave and its dark depths to rest her voice and gather in the complex web of voices that will renew her and give Her the energy to step into the public square again.

She invites us to join Her in the cave. To listen alongside Her. And to speak. She’s ready to hear your broken open heart, your mind straining against the madness, your soul in its longing for truth, beauty, and balance.If you would like to join with others for this listening in the dark, you are invited to this year’s Descent and Return of the Light, the 9th annual retreat-in-everyday life designed for the release and renewal that comes from working with rather than pushing away the darkness of Winter Solsticetide. We begin our 4 weeks of traveling toward the Solstice on Monday, November 20th (next week!).

Descent and Return of the Light offers a container for seeking that is supported by daily emails, an overview booklet, prompts for engaging in candle ritual and Tarot/oracle play, and weekly sharing circles. Each participant decides for themselves what supports to use or discard and how to best meet their own needs.

This year we will begin Descent and Return of the Light with an invocation to the Shadow Woman of Justice. Participants may choose to take her as a special guide as we move through our 4 weekly themes of gratitude, connecting with the ancestors, dark nurture, and release and renew to prepare to celebrate the Solstice.

Exploring the astro-Tarot correspondences of Justice and Death next to each other on the seasonal Wheel has given me insight and energy for moving through the increasing intensity I am feeling from these times we live in. I wondered what other other divinatory practices might yield about their connection so I did some playing with the numbers.

Death 13 + Justice 11 = 24 which reduces to 6, the number of the Lovers. When Death exists within the balance of Justice, Love is the result. Yes, we suffer loss of loved ones to death, but when we are able to grieve and honor their memory, we find that Love is eternal.

In some traditions, Justice is the 8th Major Arcana card. Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s Tarot of the Crone’s Justice is numbered 8 and offers us a spider spinning her web as the wisdom figure. Ellen gives voice to the spider: “The Web is your judge.” The invitation is fierce: Let the web of life be the judge of my actions in these times.

Death 13 + Justice 8 = 21, the number of the World, known also in the Shining Tribe as the Shining Woman.

If we look at the Major Arcana as a journey—many call it the Fool’s Journey—we see a development from the Shadow Woman of 11 to the Shining Woman of 21. This half of the Fool’s Journey is the most challenging. We pass through Death and the disaster of the Tower; must adjust to the shifting light of Star and Moon and Sun; and then answer a divine call. When we take on this challenge the reward is the shimmer of the Shining Woman. Deck creator Rachel Pollack begins each description of the cards with a poem about the wisdom figure depicted. The promise hidden in the connections and cards and their numbers invites you to be the Shining One when you hold Death and Justice together. Then you can say:

I know all the stories.
I give shelter to turtles.
I open my arms.
I shimmer with laughter.
We may be at the edge of this season’s dark cave, but the shimmer is promised. We must not passively wait for the promise. We must actively bring Justice to Death, and as we do—the work need not be complete to be felt—the shimmer will unveil itself to us and in us and through us.
[Want to try out your shouting-from-the-edge-of-the-cave voice? The White House has a comments page. You can send an email at any time (I just sent one) or call to leave a comment Tuesday – Thursday from 11am to 2pm. ]

Healing Dreams

Death comes in the middle. 

When we return year after year to seasons that evoke recurring themes, we learn the same lesson in new ways. We are tempered by time and our wisdom deepened.

Following the moon’s cyclical shifting through the consistent solar year invites us to step on a path of spiraling, ever evolving learning. And so now, as we do each year, we encounter Death—through this Tarot card’s correspondence to the astrological sign of Scorpio—to be changed and shaped again by the symbols, wisdom figures, and layered meanings offered by this image. This soul shaping path of Death opens up for us starting with the new moon arriving on Monday, November 13th (exact at 4:27am, time zone converter).

From Tarot Roots of Asia

 Death comes again. Yes, death comes in the middle of our lives.

This has long been a description of the Death card that I have offered to people confronting one of the Tarot’s most notorious cards. When I taught a class or welcomed visitors during open houses at my studio, I’d point out the 21 super-sized Major Arcana cards displayed on a wall, and, yes, at card number 13 Death pretty much was in the middle. Of course, I’d follow up with the usual caveat that the Death card’s meaning isn’t really about physical death, but more about transformations that renew our lives and society.

But in November 2012 Death broke into my life. My partner John died in a car crash and I encountered Nothing. He was utterly gone. Death in my life had brought me to the End. Hard stop.

Death shattered my beliefs. I hadn’t thought that we retained our earthly personalities after death, but I thought there would be Something. Instead Nothing closed around me.

And then I had a dream.

I dream a field of wild grass blowing, dry, but with the slow whoosh of blades bowing.

A cottontail crosses my path.

I follow the rabbit to a room without walls. Rise up into this place with a table, old wood polished. I leave something on the table as I pass through the room. I hear it land with a clank.

And beyond, finally, John is sitting there wearing an electric blue T-shirt, the usual cap.

He is holding a box. He is reading a food label. He is saying: “There can’t possibly be any tomato in this thing – and it’s not organic.”

And I am moving toward him as he is reading and talking. I am reaching like you would reach for a cat you don’t want to escape under the couch. I am grasping his arms and looking into his eyes, saying: “I love you. I love you forever.”

He looks a little surprised. He had, after all, only been talking about a tomato.

I woke with a wet face, but these tears were refreshing. So absolutely himself from his cap to his tomato reprimand, John was there. He wasn’t alive in body, but I had encountered him in a distinct way. A feeling of connection was as bright within me as his blue shirt. Nothing became Something.

The Something that came from the Dream was Love. Death doesn’t end Love. Love returned Death to the middle of my life. I began moving again, feeling my way toward tending this loving flow between John and me. (More of this story and practice prompts for doing the same with your beloved dead are in Speak Soul to Soul available on the Soul Path Sanctuary site.)

I am telling you this personal story because it aligns with this new moon’s invitation to the collective, to all of us. This moonth’s path of Death passes through the place on the seasonal Wheel associated with the 7 of Cups. This is the card of dreams and fantasies, those strange visions that arise from the depths of our desires and bring us to new places.

The Shining Tribe version of the 7 of Cups

Dreams and fantasies are derided by mainstream society’s rational culture and norms. The powers that be frown upon daydreaming and reading fantasy novels. They’d rather we were productive. Why? Maybe deep in their subconscious they know that dreams and fantasies are truly powerful. They break the spell of control they’d like to exert over us. When we dream beyond the way things are, we lay the foundation for transformation of current reality. 

In recent years the convulsions of our collective death experiences are shaking the foundations of systems that once seemed secure. For some this is frightening, an end to the only life they have known. Others never experienced the security and have known the foundations were weak. They’ve long been the dreamers of a new life emerging. The opening is now there for more and more people to join in the imagining of Something Else.

Artists and writers have been spokespersons of the Something Else. When the science writer and poet Ursula K. Le Guin accepted a lifetime achievement award in 2014, she cautioned against the commodification of literature and reminded those gathered:

We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable — but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

This moonth the 7 of Cups invites us to dream the Something Else that exists beyond Death.

Of course, dreaming alone does not complete the transformation. We must act. The model for our action this moonth is the Knight of Wands. Knights are dedicated to their causes. They move at different speeds, motivated by different elemental forces, but they are united in constant movement toward what serves the good of the Whole.

Knights of Wands, when they are in their most powerful flow, are in touch with their passions, own even their wildest desires. They are undeterred by being told that is not realistic. They gather their energy and move out into the world willing to act, to speak, and to experiment.

The version of the Knight of Wands from the Gaian Tarot

 Knights of Wands bring their dreams out into the world and unite their energy with others to make those dreams real.

The reflection questions / reading of the moonth is offered to support dreaming through Death are:

DEATH: What ending is opening up in the middle of my life?

DREAM: What dream can come through the opening made by Death?

REALIZING: How can I best step into making the dream real during this moonth? 

I do offer this as an e-reading in my collaborative initiative format for $32.  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

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