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.
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 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.
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.
READING OF THE MOONTH
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.