New Moon Gateway: Unusual Teachers


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

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. The May 7th new moon (exact at 11:22pm ET, time zone converter) invites us to encounter the wisdom of the Tarot’s 5th Major Arcana.

Often named as the Hierophant, images for this card traditionally include a leader and followers engaged in a religious ceremony. Who is in charge is made very clear in these images: the Hierophant is larger than other figures, elevated above them, and dressed in the most elaborate clothing. Hierophants’ work and teachings might be spiritual, but they are very much of the world, shaped by their culture and society, and enmeshed in the politics of institutions.

Some modern deck creators have reimagined this figure to highlight wisdom teachings suggested by this arcana but obscured, you might say, by the Hierophant’s elaborate robes. In the Gaian Tarot, for example, the Hierophant becomes the Teacher and “the institution” the Teacher serves (rather than leads) is nature.

In this image the Teacher may be the humble human figure holding flowers.

Or maybe not. 

Coyote could be the Teacher appearing to deliver a message. They are very vocal after all. They yip and bark. We hear them howl at night, perhaps more so on a full moon when they take advantage of increased light for moving around or hunting. They could be calling us to speak out or to attend to our own lunar practice.

Heron, who is also in the image, speaks to us in a much quieter way: standing still, throat raised but silent. Heron is patient, waits for just the right moment to claim their wants and needs. They move between water and air; their feet in mystery, their wings raising them to gain a new view. Their call could be to listen more, cultivate patience, take stock of the full picture, or wait for the right moment to make a move.

Coyote and Heron are not the only Teachers. We can’t  overlook the plants here: dandelion, garlic, nettles, comfrey, and yarrow. They may be small but they are powerful healers. Seek them out in the wild places where they grow and learn from their beauty and persistence. Learn something of their medicinal uses and see if one offers something you need. [FYI, nettles and yarrow are our weed wisdom teachers during the earth and air weeks of Walking the Ways of the Summer Light, the Solstice-hinged retreat in ever day life beginning on May 27th.]

With so many Teachers, how can we know which one is best to follow? There are multiple strategies for connecting with the just right Teacher.

We can work with the card image to be guided to the right Teacher. In my Tarot sessions and e-readings I often ask people to identify the first place their eye goes when they see a card. The detail, aspect, or creature that first captures their attention has special importance and offers a message of meaning.

But we don’t have to limit ourselves to the cards. We can take our seeking out into the world. If, for example, you drew the Teacher card in the morning, you could wisdom wander your way through the day paying attention to what plants and animals cross your path. It is wonderful if you can take some time in a park, a wild place, a cemetery, or a botanical garden, but even amidst the human-built environment you can be on the lookout for plants and animals. If someone offers you a dandelion tea or you see a picture of a coyote, this could mark the arrival of your teacher.

A third way to find your Teacher is to look to the larger patterns of the season or the stars. That is what I do to find the guides for these newsletters. I look to the astrology of the moon’s position and translate that into its Tarot correspondences.

And that brings us to a final teacher suggested by the Gaian Tarot Teacher: the Tree.

A tree is central to the Teacher image and also to the passage card of the moonth. Today’s moon is made new at the point in the astrological Wheel of the Year that passes through the 6 of Pentacles/Earth. In the Herbcrafter’s Tarot, the Six of Earth is Pine. This lunar alignment suggests that collectively we might benefit from learning from trees in general and Pine in particular at this time.

The description of Pine in Joanna Powell Colbert and Latisha Gutherie’s Herbcrafter’s Tarot companion booklet offers guidance for practices and capacities to cultivate in this moonth:

Pine is an evergreen tree that keeps its needles all year, providing medicine, material for baskets, and shelter for forest creatures. It is a living embodiment of everlasting life. As the pine is gracious with its resources, be generous with those in need. Honor the people and the land that have provided you with the foundation, security, and resources on which you now rely. Gather the community together and teach what you know.

Pine shows us a teacher that sits within a circle of connections. Pine provides for the beings who visit its branches or travel over its trunk, but pine is provided for as well with nutrients from the soil, water from rain, and the food-making kiss of the sun. Though Pine towers in height, it is nurtured by reciprocal relationships that make life possible.

This is how “the institution” of nature functions. Reciprocal relationships are its laws and traditions, its rituals and prayers.

Sadly, the evolution of our dominant human institutions—both religious and political—have moved us away from nature, placed us humans above our fellow beings, pushed us out of the circle of connection.

Can the connection be re-made? Can we find our way through the passage of Pine back into the circle of connection? Could it be possible for those of us most enmeshed in the systems based on disconnection from and dominance of nature?

I hear a Yes in answer to these questions coming from our final guiding card offered by the new moon moment: The King of Pentacles. 

There are some lovely re-imaginings of this card with images that more directly show the human and natural as part of a whole, but my musings today draw me to the iconic Rider Waite Smith version.

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

Though on the surface this image is one of structure and echoes the idea of a King standing above and apart on a throne, the artist, Pamela Coleman Smith, has layered subversive wisdom into this image.

Spend some time gazing at this image and you’ll find it hard to see where the King ends and the natural begins. His robes covered in green leaves and fruits just fade into the plants that surround the throne. This king is inseparable from nature.

The throne is steadied by 4 bulls. In ancient Crete the bull was revered, and, as Ellen Lorenzi-Prince writes in the Minoan Tarot companion book: The bull is the [Goddess’] archetypal lover, as by his virility and potency he quickens the sacred cow to calf and to the production of milk.” The bull is the catalyst for the overflowing of life that comes from the Great Mother, from the earth itself. 

Finally, that which is highest in this image is not the tower or the crown, but a small red flower. In reality, the flower crowns this king. The flower may hold the utmost power.

If a king, that now quintessential symbol of institutions and dominance, can be carried back into the circle of connection through the loving embrace of the natural world, then surely you and I can be, too.


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.

TEACHER: What is most important to pay attention to encounter a More-Than-Human Teacher this moonth?

CONNECTION: What to cultivate to come into connection with this Teacher and their lessons?

LOVE: How will I learn to better practice love by being in relationship with this Teacher?

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. Because I am getting ready to go to Ireland my openings are limited. I may not be able to do readings for requests that come to me after Wednesday, the 8th.

Note: Another wonderful way to experience nature, tend your soul, and explore Tarot is at the Omega Institute’s annual Tarot week. I am facilitating this year again with Mary Greer and Terry Iacuzzo. Check all the workshop details and feel free to ask me questions. 

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