Mar
11
2024

New Moon Gateway: Between the Pillars of Certainty and Uncertainty

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For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Poetry – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Sanctuary

The March 10th new moon (exact at 5:00am ET, time zone converter) sets on the path of the Moon. The first person we encounter as we walk our way is this guy sitting before a strangely high table with his nine goblets.


a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley and retrieved from Sacred Texts. Deck available from US Games

What is really going on in this image from the iconic Rider Waite Smith deck? 

Tarot practitioners often say that there are no good cards or bad cards, but with some cards we, too, fall into seeing only the challenge or the gift. The Nine of Cups is one of those seeing-the-gift cards. Who doesn’t want to celebrate having all your cups filled?

But Pamela Coleman Smith, the artist responsible for the images, complicates the card’s surface meaning with the strange table, the rather defensive posture, and ambiguous expression on the figure’s face. She opens the door for a more complex reality to exist so that when we are thrust into such a reality we can recognize it, find ways to move within it, and even continue to grow our souls.

In years past when the moon has been new in this slice of astrological wheel, I’ve identified this smug guy with overconfident leaders starting wars that they think will be quick wins like Russia’s Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine of 2022 and the US President Dick Chaney in the Iraq of 2003.  But the violent pursuit of grabbing all the goblets for themselves unleashed long wars. Their certainty caused great suffering

This year I am still thinking of a different leader, the US President, and also asking myself: “What is under that table? What is he hiding there?”

As the war in Gaza continues at high intensity and talks for a ceasefire that would allow for aid to flow to the starving and hostages to be released have slowed, well-organized protests have put the pressure on President Biden to use the US’s considerable influence with Israel to implement a ceasefire as a start to a political rather than military process.

In the past week especially, the US administration’s language has changed and President Biden has touted the air drops of food and the US’s construction of a pier to allow a marine corridor for aid to enter Gaza. These are the goblets being offered. 

That this kind of relief is insufficient and inadequate is frustrating, but what is most maddening and mind-bending—fracking stupid!—is that the administration is providing the arms that are making necessary the need for aid. Bypassing Congress for the most part, over 100 military sales have been made to Israel since October 7th. This is in addition to the usual sales and over $3 billion in aid sent annually.

What is under President Biden’s table of goblets? The US guns and bombs that have been used to kill (as of today): More than 30,000 human beings in Gaza. Forty percent of them are children. They are not just numbers. I do know a few names, those of poets buried under the rubble: Hiba Abu Nada, Refaat Alareer, and Saleem Al-Naffar. Maybe US bullets were in the weapons of the Israeli Defence Forces who killed three unarmed and shirtless Israeli hostages they encountered while fighting: Yotam Haim, Alon Shamriz, and Samer Talalka.

President Biden presents us with an image of what is certainly good—humanitarian aid—but that image collapses when we draw back the table cloth to find the weapons of war beneath. 

We’d best cultivate our capacity for uncertainty in this time ruled by tricksters. We’d best challenge those who seem so sure in the solution they offer. Our practice in this time of delusion is to look behind the curtain to find the deeper truth.

In my posts of years past, I examined for a while the danger of certainty, on how it limits our thinking and strangles creativity. I’d quote the Belgian-Russian scientist Ilya Prigogine: “The future is uncertain—but its uncertainty is at the very heart of creativity.”

Then I would hear the voices of those whose lives are upended by war. Uncertainty is trauma for them. The uncertainty of finding food in Gaza is killing them.

My own Nine of Cups certainty about uncertainty as the way fades. Then I truly am on the path of the Moon.

On this path the moon’s light invites us to a different kind of sight. Less distinct than the sun’s illumination, what is revealed in moonlight lacks clear edges. What is in the distance is indistinct. And what we think we see on a full moon fades when the dark moon comes. We are called to constantly adjust as we walk a lunar path.

Our adjustment happens between the two pillars of the Moon card. We could name them as the pillars of Certainty and Uncertainty. When we think we know for certain that we are right or know what is coming, it would be beneficial to test our assumptions. To gather different perspectives. Think about the repercussions of our actions.

When we are confronted with uncertainty, we can meet the worry and fear that arises. Acknowledging these difficult emotions, we can use their energy to move forward but not be controlled by their flow. We can dare to be brave in the face of uncertainty.

Certainty and Uncertainty may be the forces pushing us forward in the lunar landscape, but they are not the “inner light” that keeps us true to our own soul’s path. That inner light comes from a connection to the Greater Than Ourselves that we have forged through practice and commitment.

Knight of Cups is our guide for keeping the “inner light” lit. This Knight reminds us to stay in the flow of our core values as we move forward.

All knights are devoted to a cause that is greater than themselves. The Tarot’s knights serve and seek to expand the gifts of their element. The suit of Cups associated with the element of water offers us emotional range, creative connection, intuitive wisdom, and Love. 

Yes, these knights are dreamers, but they also take the action to make the dream real. They may create art in the form of poems or dance or song. Perhaps they offer healing practices to those in the stress of uncertainty, or facilitate meetings where all ideas and emotions are expressed. When they are at their best, they have a knack for bringing the flow of emotions and intuition into an expression that supports the emotional and psychic wellbeing of others.

These Knights are lovers with a romantic streak, but their love does not have to be limited to a romantic partner. Their watery, expansive selves feel the connection to even those they do not know. They do know that to love is to act for the good of the Whole—and they invite us to follow.

Many poets are exemplifiers of the Knight of Cups. They flow and they know that while life is uncertain, we can certainly stand for what we believe in. I’ve been turning to poets to find my way through these times of war and act to preserve life and uphold truth. You may remember that on the October new moon, I turned to the Israeli poet Yehuda Amicha and Gaza poet Mosab Abu Toha to find a way back to Justice.

Poets have continued to inspire me as I act in the areas where I have the most leverage to stop the killing of innocent people and move toward peace. As I served on the committee preparing the Ceasefire Resolution in my city, I heard their words in my head. For the city document, I was using bureaucratic language and dry statistics. I wondered what would happen if the poets wrote a resolution.  This is what emerged.

PALESTINIAN POETS WRITE A RESOLUTION
A CEASEFIRE CENTO

WHEREAS, the house / next door no longer / stands. It’s lying like an old carpet / on the floor of the earth, / trampled by missiles, fat slippers / flying off legless feet; and

WHEREAS, every time we leave the house, / it’s suicide. / And each return a failed attempt; and

WHEREAS, a child who was shot by an Israeli sniper, or killed during an air raid enroute to school. Her picture was placed on her desk at school. Her picture stares at the blackboard, while air sits in her chair; and

WHEREAS, more missiles come flying in, / on the lookout for anything that moves. // Angels get hold of an infant niece. / We look around and find only / her milk bottle; and

WHEREAS, the grieving have only the unknown. / It’s their only staple and inheritance. / Pain has no logic. All things redeem / the grieving except your rational questions; and

WHEREAS, for us, / the fear of dying before living / haunts us while we are still / in our mother’s wombs; and

WHEREAS, the house has been bombed. Everyone dead: / The kids, the parents, the toys, the actors on TV, / characters in novels, personas in poetry collections, / the I, the he, and the she; and

WHEREAS, the houses were not Hamas. / The kids were not Hamas. / Their clothes and toys were not Hamas. / The neighborhood was not Hamas. / The air was not Hamas. / Our ears were not Hamas. / Our eyes were not Hamas; and

WHEREAS, the noose is tightening around the city’s neck; and

WHEREAS, it’s a barbaric era, / our loneliness, / one when none will stand up for us; and

WHEREAS, during the night airstrikes, all of us turned / into stones; and

WHEREAS, we’re carrying our souls / right under our shoulders; and

WHEREAS, in Gaza, you can find a man planting a rose in the hollow space of an unexploded tank shell, using it as a vase; and

WHEREAS, those who win by killing fewer children / are losers.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we, the poets, grant you refuge / in invocation and prayer. / We bless the neighborhood and the minaret / to guard them / from the rocket / from the moment / it is a general’s command / until it becomes a raid./ We grant you and the little ones refuge, / the little ones who / change the rocket’s course / before it lands / with their smiles.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that knives might eat / what remains of our ribs, / machines might smash / what remains of stones, / but life is coming, / for that is its way, / creating life even for us.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Justice / is the right of all who live / in the wrong places in this world

ULTIMATELY, BE IT RESOLVED, that Death goes home alone, safe and sound / so a dove might build its nest / and lay its eggs in metal helmets.

***

Lines gathered by Carolyn A. Cushing from the poets Mosab Abu Toha (MAT) [from Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear], Maya Abu Al-Hayyat (MAA) [from You Can Be the Last Leaf, translated by Fady Joudah], Hiba Abu Nada (HAN) [from I Grant You Refuge and Loneliness translated by Huda Fakhreddine, killed in an Israeli air strike on October 20, 2023], Saleem Al-Naffar (SAN) [from Life translated by Muhammad Jihad Ismael, buried under the rubble after an Israeli airstrike on December 7, 2023], and Mahmoud Darwish (MD) [from Mural translated by Fady Joudah, regarded as Palestine’s national poet, died 2008].

I changed some pronouns to we to make it a collective poem and added a few connectives to fit with the format of the resolution.

Order of lines: MAT, MAA, MAT, MAT, MAA, MAT, MAT, MAT, MAT, HAN, MAT, MAA, MAT, MAA, HAN, SAN, MAA, MD (2 lines combined).

***

These poets’ words serve as a constant call for the renewal of our visions of peace, of love, and of reconciliation.

That the world we are in now seems far from what our Knight of Cups selves can imagine, calls for a larger, not smaller, vision. This vision held within us of a better world can guide on the path between Certainty and Uncertainty. This vision challenges the narratives offered that we are certain to fail and shakes off the paralysis of uncertain times. We are called to reach beyond ourselves and our limitations. To wake into the circle of our next becoming as individuals, communities, and a planet.

READING OF THE MOONTH

CERTAINTY: What am I certain of that it would be beneficial to question to support my soul’s growth?

UNCERTAINTY: What can support me to navigate the uncertain times in which we live?

GUIDING LIGHT: What core value/vision can I center myself in to move through these times and contribute to the renewal of the world?

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, but next Saturday I am away so best to get your request in early and I’ll see what I can do during the rest of the week.

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