New Moon Gateway: Harvest, Then Shift Form

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

The September 14th new moon’s (exact at 9:40pm ET, time zone converter) astro-Tarot correspondences point us toward the theme of completion as we are invited to walk the path of the Hermit, Major Arcana number 9, the last single digit.

Hermits turn from the demands of the everyday world and embrace solitude to seek the wisdom within. Paradoxically, this looking inward also tunes them into the wisdom that flows from natural cycles, the Greater Than, and all that is beyond themselves. They integrate their personal insights with the larger patterns to find an understanding of the Whole.Being numbered 9 is apt for this card because to embody the archetype of the Hermit is an achievement that marks a cycle of growth’s completion. We may not be as old in years as the figures shown on Hermit cards, but at any age this card’s appearance invites us to meet our wisdom selves by embracing time spend in our own company.

This time of inner abundance mirrors the abundance of the outer world. The Hermit path beacons us each year when summer turns to fall as the growing season comes to its peak (at least in the valley where I live and in the northern most hemisphere). The tomatoes and clustered grapes—that look a little like the human heart—falling from the vines must be plucked. The potatoes and carrots, beets and celeriac must be dug from the dark of the earth.  The outer harvest presents us with prompts for undertaking our inner harvests. How has the heart grown this year? What wisdom has come from the dark and fertile places of our soul? There are gifts to be found certainly.

Having experienced a spiral of abundance and growth, the Hermit who would make their way through this moonth’s 10 of Pentacles passage must now give it away and shift into new form.

Some of my favorite Tarot decks show us this shape shifting literally and figuratively.

In the Shining Tribe Tarot, we enter the path of the earth decorated with sacred objects as humans but emerge as birds.In the Numinous Tarot, inner wisdom flows into books housed in a library where a community of creators is gathered across space and time. Authors of books can be young or old, alive or dead, from your town or across the world. They sit side by side upon the self together.

In the Gaian Tarot, the dead tree fallen on the forest floor becomes the nursery for fern and flower, the new life emerging.

In the Dark Goddess Tarot, Ala, the Igbo Goddess of the Ground, is eternal in Her form but receives the dead who are the ones shifting into Her and becoming sacred ground.

In these cards we are given vivid images of our 10 of Pentacles shifting. Where we must go is clear, but how shall we get there? Do these cards offer us prompts for practice that will lead us through? Let’s explore. 

Could we really become birds? No, but we could take the Bird as a Teacher. We could think literally about the behavior of birds and how they fly high above the land, taking in a wide view. With bird eyes, we could envision our Hermit achievements, see them within the landscape of our lives, and imagine the next possibilities that flows from them. Or we could think metaphorically and remember that in many traditions birds are messengers between the earthly and the divine. We could use our favorite mediums to listen for the call of the Greater Than Ourselves: Tarot, signs in nature, a sacred text perhaps opened at random for a message, or …. pick your favorite. Then once we receive a message, we follow its guidance even when it might require a challenging change.

Should we all write books? If writing is your creative medium, you should certainly consider bringing your work into form for sharing. But the book here is also a symbol standing in for all creative work: visual art, gardening, beautifying your home, or that great creative act of having a baby. I’ve heard that really shifts your life!

And what about letting ourselves die? Death appears throughout the Tarot as an invitation to the transformations that uphold Life. The shifting into new form is surrender, but in the service of the new being born. Death and Life are linked; there is no space between them. This surrender then is beautiful and life giving, which doesn’t always mean easy. We are allowed our fear or sadness, uncertainty or resentment over letting go of what we’ve worked for. You honor the loss as part of your process. But the promise of the new life that comes next out of the transformation can carry you through

But what about when Death is not metaphor? What about when the death of a beloved is a sharp ending for us and we feel the connection broken? Because while Death in the Tarot cards is most often a metaphor, a death in our lives is most certainly real.

Our posture guide of the moonth, the Queen of Swords, comes to remind us of this truth.

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


Queens of Swords have relationships with death. In Tarot for Magical Times, Rachel Pollack identifies the cord around the wrist of the Rider Waite Smith Queen as a Victorian “widow’s cord,” a nod perhaps to the older fortune telling tradition.

This corded hand is extended out to the world. She doesn’t hide that she has experienced loss. In her other hand she holds a sword steady and upright. Her sword echoes the sword in the Ace of Swords, a card of new consciousness, as well as Justice, the archetype of truth, balance, fairness, and the legal system.

This card reminds me of a co-worker, Kate, a lawyer and land protection specialist passionate about her work. I was the fundraising support person for a complex project she led involving 13 parcels and landowners, multiple partners, and complex funding streams with a raft of requirements. When two of the original landowners pulled out of the deal, it was proposed that we scale the project back. Kate said, “No!” And promptly found more landowners with even more acres.

She had the focused fierceness of the Queen of Swords. And also an incredibly soft side. I once was in the office next door when she talked with a landowner challenged by all the paperwork and process required for protection. Kate supported this person with clarity, wisdom, and kindness through the bureaucracy of paperwork.

Last year Kate was diagnosed with advanced cancer. She underwent treatment as long as it was tolerable and helping her to function. She kept working because, she said, she loved it. In the last few months she started openly talking with us about how she was dying. She wasn’t happy about it, but she looked toward Death with open eyes. She wore its reality but loosely, like the Queen of Sword’s cord around her wrist. And she kept working as long as she had enough energy to do so. When she knew she could no longer do the work, she stopped and wrote to us all, sharing her regret at not being with us anymore but also her gratitude for working with us. I wonder to how many groups of people she sent such notes.

On August 31st, a co-worker called to tell her that one of the last land deals she had worked on went through and on September 1st she died.

It strikes me that she died as she lived, with focus and purpose, clear-eyed and compassionate. Her life actions and her death process were aligned. When I translate this into Tarot talk—which she would not 🙂 but I think she’d tolerate my translation to speak to you—she is a master of the Hermit—10 of Pentacles—Queen of Swords path through both Life and Death.

I take Kate as a Death Teacher, but she is not my only teacher. As many of you know so well, our beloved Tarot teacher Rachel Pollack had a much longer death process. Rachel held on to life tenaciously. She loved life and turned her whole being toward its joys as she went through her days. And she kept teaching me right to the end. He death, too, was aligned with her life.

And maybe that is the key to a “good” death: to live a good life, be grateful for all its gifts and teachings, and then let that life be a springboard into the beyond. To image your life and death as connected, not separate, and let the alignment be the key. To feel our way toward the alignment, we can practice living the best life we can and contemplate how, perhaps with a bird-like perspective, how our life will roll into our death. To let the connection between the two support us through when our time is come.

Now I am doing a 49-day practice for Kate. As this practice has evolved for me, I find myself looking for a daily action that reflects the person. For Kate, I have found my way to a seed practice. On my daily walk, I pick up an acorn or maple leaf seed and carry it around for a while, twirling it in my fingers. When I find a beautiful spot—one still green but perhaps with autumn asters blooming or a few red leaves fallen—I throw the seed, saying, “Kate return to the land you love and be shifted into new form.” 

We are all shifting into our next becoming in each moment of our days. I hope the transformations that call to you are full of life and joy for you.


You can use these questions for a reading and reflection throughout the moonth with or without cards:

COMPLETION: What in my life has come to completion and needs to be celebrated?

SHIFT: What can this achievement shift into to keep me moving forward?

TRANSFORMATION: How can I embrace the shift and bring forth the transformation?

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.


Look for City Poets in Unexpected Places


Throughout September in Easthampton, Massachusetts you can look for poetry in unexpected places.

Current Easthampton Poet Laureate Carolyn Cushing’s poetry pamphlet—aka chapbook—City Poets will be popping up in unusual venues in the city throughout the month. Containing 10 poems by the five individuals who have served as Poet Laureates so far, City Poets is free—a gift for the people of Easthampton and anyone who stumbles across the bright-green-covered chapbook.

If you want to be assured of finding copies, visit Big E’s starting September 11th and look for them in the Deli/Bakery Department.

There will also be a brief reading by some of the Poet Laureates in the Big E’s parking lot on Thursday, September 14 from 6-6:30 pm as part of Easthampton’s monthly Art Walk. The reading will happen in sun or light rain (under a small tent) but be canceled if there is a deluge or lightning. Bring a chair or plan to stand.

If you want alerts about places to look for City Poets later in the month, you are invited to sign up for Carolyn Cushing’s poetry alert list at

The Easthampton Poet Laureate Program was founded by Easthampton City Arts in 2018 in an effort to highlight and elevate the rich and vital community of poets and culture of poetry in the City of Easthampton and throughout the Connecticut River Valley. In 2019, the Easthampton Poet Laureate program transitioned from a 1-year term to a 2-year term. The five Laureates are:

Gary Metras, 2018 – 2019

María José Giménez, 2019 – 2021

Jason R. Montgomery, 2021 – 2023

Alexandra M. Woolner, 2021 – 2023

Carolyn A. Cushing, 2023 – 2025

Middlebury College’s Special Collections Department blog describes the chapbook’s origins: “[C]hapbooks go back to 16th century Europe, when printing technology began to democratize. Books had long been the preserve of the wealthy, who possessed both the education and means necessary to read them. This changed, however, when the increasing accessibility of paper and printing presses made it feasible for unbound books of eight or twelve pages to be sold for a penny or less.”

Chapbooks shared ballads, folk tales and epics as well as political and moral ideas with broad audiences. Its popularity ebbed and flowed influenced by printing technology and economics of the mediums for sharing information. In the 20th century chapbooks became associated with the sharing of poetry through both elaborately- and simply- produced booklets. City Poets flows from this lineage.


Full Moon Revelations: Wild Love Illuminated

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

The height of this moonth’s cycle comes with the full moon arriving on Wednesday, the 30th (exact at 9:35 pm ET, time zone converter), and offers a revelation about how the lunar energies initiated on the August 16th new moon are developing. The new moon, guided by its association with Strength, invited us to embrace our wild love despite fears and with steady action. Out of the full moon revelation about this developing energy, we are issued an invitation to return a gift to the world in the final weeks of the lunar cycle.  

The exact moment of the moon’s fullness comes in the sign of Pisces associated with the Tarot’s Moon card. With this double lunar illumination, we can look with eyes attuned to mystery and imagination at our wild love and discover new depths.

This version of the Moon is from Rachel Pollack’s Shining Tribe Tarot. The bow and arrow in the moon connect this card to Artemis who is a Goddess of the moon, wilderness, and childbirth. In the Greek pantheon Artemis is depicted as a young woman and gets less attention than her brother Apollo in hymns and myths. But Artemis is a name of unknown but ancient origin. In Asia Minor’s Ephesus, Artemis’ temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world and her statue shows a powerful woman, a Great Mother Goddess figure.

The mountains in the card form what is known as a Winged Artemis. In such manifestations the Goddess was seen in the land itself, certainly not separate from it. Other symbolism in the card reference passage graves in France, resemble the shape of Hebrew letters, and take inspiration from Australian imagery as well as prehistoric monuments in Ireland and Brittany. The complex mix is intentional. Rachel Pollack, through the image, is pointing us toward the idea that the moon is complex, and in many ways more complex than the sun. The sun is constant and its light direct, but the moon is born, grows, triumphs, and dies over and over again. Moon light shifts and what we can see along with it.

Rachel says that the Tarot has both solar and lunar aspects, writing:

It makes sense to learn the symbolic meanings and to analyze the way the cards fit together. But we also need to spend time with the pictures without explanation and look at them, let them seep into us and arouse emotions and visions.

The full moon invites you to do this kind of gazing at any card that you are working with in this lunar cycle. Let yourself get a little lost in the images and see what new surfaces. If you have been working with the Wild Love reading, your love might show you even more wildness, even more depth, even more that you could have imagined.

We’ll be working with all the Shining Tribe cards in a solar and lunar way in the Shining Tribe Exploratorium, my response to requests to teach a class on the deck. I had to find my way to this offering because the Shining Tribe can’t really be taught. It has to be experienced. I’ve come up with a series of paired sessions around the Equinoxes and Solstices where we will gather, get inspiration for taking out the cards and working with them around the holy day, and sharing stories or our experiences. More details and how to sign up are on the registration page.  

To encourage a revelation on your wild love as we continue through this moonthly cycle, you are invited to one, some, or all of these practices:

Moon bathe by sitting or lying under a window or outside on the ground. Let go of your thoughts and soak in the light.

~ Take out any reading or your reflections from the new moon and look at them in a new light. How does your understanding of the cards shift now that time has passed and light has shifted? (If you haven’t done a reading yet, no problem, just do it now under the light of the full moon. You can try the one from the new moon.)

~ Bring out your Strength and Moon cards from your Tarot deck and connect them to your new moon reading / reflections. You could place/imagine these cards on either side of your reading or above and below, and then look at how they add meaning into the story your original cards offered you.

When you are done, remember to offer gratitude for what you have received. Consider what gift you now want to return to the world. Pulling a card for guidance on the gift is always a fine thing to do. In the coming weeks and before the moon returns to dark around September 11th offer your gift to the world.


New Moon Gateway: Wild Love!

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

It’s been a summer of extremes. Canadian wildfires sending unhealthy smoke as far as Europe. Deadly fires in Hawaii decimated the historic city of Lahaina, a sacred place for Native Hawaiians and once the capital of the unified Hawaiian Kingdom before U.S. colonization in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the Northeast, the flooding has been historic and the impacts on our crops catastrophic. As I told you last moonth, the farm I belong to lost two main fields. I shared the link to their GoFundMe and those of you who were able responded with gifts. Thank you! 

I was touched by Linda Marson of Global Spiritual Studies’ note when she gave:  I just made a donation – in Australia we know the devastation that floods can cause.

And this is what keeps me moving forward in these desperate times. That we, the people, see the great challenges we are facing despite the usually slow and more often obstructionist response of the powers that be. And when we see, we respond in solidarity to each other in our neighborhoods and across the globe.

I was going to say that it gives me hope, but the August 16th new moon’s (exact at 5:38am ET, time zone converterassociation with the Tarot’s Strength card has me pondering not hope but the strength that grows from acknowledging rather than ignoring how scary the times we live in truly are.

Strength’s pathway invites us to an alignment with our wild self and gentle fierceness while calling us to act with compassion for the self and others.

Strength cards across Tarot decks offer us images of a human figure in relationship with a creature. Most commonly a lion, but there are also versions with snakes and bears. In the Numinous Tarot, a person is enveloped in the arms of a bear—quite a bear hug!

Deck creator Cedar McCloud tells us that the bear is coming from the person’s own heart and represents fears that grow bigger and wilder. But the person’s embrace of the fear soothes both of them. The power in this image comes from being in relationship with the wild feelings of fear.

Our Strength path takes us through the passage of the 7 of Wands. In the iconic Rider Waite Smith deck, a lone figure stands on a hill with staff raised against 6 other staffs menacing. The odds would seem to be against our young hero. Perhaps they are beginning a personal passion project that others disapprove of. Or they are fighting to change climate change policy. No matter whether they are undertaking personal or collection action, they look determined to face whatever comes their way. They have courage. 

a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley and retrieved from Sacred Texts. Deck available from US Games
As you may know, the root of the word courage connects its meaning to the heart. The word entered English from the Old French corage meaning “heart, innermost feelings; temper”
In the 7 of Wands passage through Strength we answer the call of our heart despite own fears. We stand prepared to risk it all.
So far, the invitations of this moon have been fire-inspired: passion, wildness, heart, action, risk. But our guide for how to travel the next 28+ days of this moon cycle adds balance and perspective to our monthly advice. Our model to emulate this moonth is the Knight of Pentacles, perhaps the slowest but steadiest of all the Tarot figures.
From the Gaian Tarot
Knights of Pentacles—known as Explorers of Earth in the Gaian Tarot—know that our hearts are sheltered in our bodies. That our bodies are the place where our passion grows; the structure for our strength; the vessel for water’s flow; and the home of soul and spirit. They know their individual bodies to be part of the greater body of the earth. Recognize that care for their bodies makes possible their quest and contributes to the greater care of the Whole.

Courts or people cards represent actual people and I didn’t have to look far to find living, breathing Explorers of Earth. As I was writing this monthly post, a breaking news banner flashed across the Washington Post site: A Montana judge found in favor of a group of young climate activists, recognizing that their right to a “clean and healthful environment” have been violated. 

It’s a big deal. Not only in Montana, but also across the country as it could open the door to similar court cases.

I admit that I am often writing to you about aspirational goals or urging action even though we don’t know what will happen. But this is a real success to celebrate as well as to follow and see what further change ripples from it. This story was quickly displaced from the headlines by news of yet another indictment against the former president, so I want to highlight here and make sure you get the good news.

Learn more about the case here and read Washington Post profiles of the young climate activist here. In the Post article, Grace Gibson-Snyder, a 19-year-old plaintiff from Missoula, says:

“This is a case out of love, And a certain amount of fear, for sure. But the fear of loss comes from our love for these places.”

Ms.Gibson-Snyder is talking about the source of her commitment to the difficult and uncertain path that she and her fellow plaintiffs began on in March 2020. And I am reading her words today as a beautiful encapsulation of this moonth’s path.


You can use these questions for a reading and reflection throughout the moonth with or without cards:

WILD LOVE: What wild love is emerging from your heart right now?

FEAR: How to work with any fear that emerges from your embrace of this wild love?

ACTION: What is the best action to take this moonth to feed this wild love?

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. Because I am going away this weekend, I will only be able to do one or two if requests are made by end-of-the-day Wednesday. Otherwise, requested readings will happen more like the 25th – 27th. When you sign up, I’ll let you know about the timing.

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