Mar
15
2021

Reading of the Month: Whale Song

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

My housemate has a coffee maker. Last week I heard extraordinary sounds coming from this most ordinary appliance. The gurgles of water passing through the filter gave way to longer notes like a moan but with a twist of sound that turned toward elation. A whole range of feeling flowed from those few sounds coming from the coffee maker.

Sounds like whale song filled my kitchen.

And it is the season for whale song to guide us to our depths and invite us then to surface. In March we are not quite in winter but not yet arrived as spring. There can be storms but also sudden days of sun and where I live that means mud, that messy mix of earth and water. Our hearts may rise one day like the whale surfacing to play, but the next slip back into the watery deep called by a song that holds longings and emotions too complex to be easily described.  We are between seasons, diving and rising like whales to move with the shifting currents.

And a whale appears on Tarot Roots of Asia’s 10 of Cups, which is the minor card associated with this new moon day of Saturday, March 13th (the exact moment was 5:21am ET).

In the Tarot tradition, the 10 of Cups indicates simple pleasures and emotional connection, invites us to connect to  family that nurtures us (biological and/or chosen). The meaning is not complicated and it’s hard to find a challenging aspect. But the whale in the Tarot Roots of Asia 10 of Cups brings an added layer of, yes, depth where, along with enjoying the 10 of Cups’s gifts, we also acknowledge what is below the happiness or obscured by the simplicity of a pleasant image.  

From Tarot Roots of Asia

This has me contemplating our pandemic emergence. We are longing to be out and connecting with each other in person. When this time arrives, it will be delightful! And underneath the delight for so many of us there will be loss: of loved ones, jobs, health, more. If we seek to evade this reality, our delight will be shallow. We might find that we don’t enjoy ourselves as much as we thought we would. The acknowledgement of the full picture is a counter-intuitive key to our happiness.  

And this acknowledgement is also important to walking this moonth’s path of The Moon, the Tarot’s archetype of mystery. On the Moon’s path, we flow with our emotions, follow our intuition, activate our imaginations, and are aware of our instincts. We are not in control on the Moon’s path; the waters will flow where they will.

How can we work with all this water? Our model this moonth adds some balance to all the water of the moonth by calling in fire, new energy, and focused vision. The Queen of Wands channels her energy and her vision into bringing forth positive relations, projects, and/or works of art that uplift her people. She is not swamped by the waters but stands on top of them to nurture the positive.

On the astrological Wheel of Year of Tarot correspondences, the Queen of Wands is a bridge between one year and the next. She guides us through these last few days of the whole astrological year, and ushers us into the new one beginning with the Spring Equinox on March 20th. She then rules with the Emperor through the first weeks of the new year and the tipping toward greater light as the days lengthen.

In the Dark Goddess Tarot, Cerridwen, the Welsh Goddess of Transformation, takes the place of the Queen of Wands. Deck creator Ellen Lorenzi-Prince gives us Cerridwen’s advice to us as: Craft anew with the bones of the old. 

From the Dark Goddess Tarot

The pandemic stripped our old lives down to the bone, attunded us to strange new songs. The soul work of now is not to walk away from the truenes, the strangeness of this moment, but instead to transform what remains into new ways of being and structures that are equitable, just, sustainable, and, yes, joyful. 

This moonth’s questions for reflection / reading are offered to support your flowing with and rising from the depths:

DEPTHS: What is being called from my depths?

SURFACE: How can I bring it to the surface? 

EMERGENCE: What can come forth if I shine a light on what’s surfacing?

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.

Mar
10
2021

Dark Moon Release with Spider Woman as Guide

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

Before the moon is made new on March 13th at 5:21am ET in the USA, it returns to the place on the astrological Wheel where it began its moonthly journey. The energy gathered through the moonth now flows away into moonless nights. What will you send with this energy to be transformed in the dark?

The moonth we are concluding began and now ends in Aquarius which corresponds to the Tarot’s Star card. In the Dark Goddess Tarot The Star is Spider Woman, the Hopi Goddess of Thought and Creation (XVII, Stars). Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, creator of the Dark Goddess Tarot, description of Her includes:

She creates the stars to shine upon her people in the darkest night. She arranges the constellations to show her people there is meaning in creation. A single star in the sky may appear a small thing, but be significant in relation to another, through the patterns they make together, and in the feelings the expanse of a starry night evokes.

Spider Woman reminds us that we are connected to each other, to the earth, to the sky, to the Whole – and invites us to release all that separates us from flowing with this connection. During the 3 – 4 days before and up to the  new moon’s arrival is an appropriate time for engaging in reflection and ritual to make this release.

Reflection

Take a sheet or paper or open up your journal and make a place for 2 lists:

Times I felt connected to something greater ~ Times I felt disconnected

Now look back on the happenings of the moonth that began on February 11th. If you journal, you’ll have a handy record, but even just looking back at your appointment calendar can jog your mind about what’s been going on in the past few weeks. Make entries on each list.

If you need help making entries on your list, you can always turn over Tarot and oracle cards to show you images to inspire entries.

When your lists are complete, let yourself be for a while with the connections you have found and how they have enriched your life. You might reflect on what made them possible – and think about how to keep building that into your life. You might offer gratitude to others, the Divine, and/or yourself for making these connections possible. You might finish with creating a small art work, writing a poem, or saying a closing prayer.

Then you can turn to your list of disconnections. What will you do with these broken and fragment parts of your life? Maybe some need further reflection to better understand what wisdom they are trying to offer you. Maybe some are so clear and now you can let this part of you know that it can rest and no longer work in your life this way. Maybe some stir up strong feelings and you should walk or box or scream with them.

After you have spent a while with your disconnections, identify which ones you want to release into the dark moon time to be dissolved and transformed.

Dark Moon Ritual

Inspired by The Stars’ focus on consciousness and creation, an internal meditative process would be appropriate.

Find a comfortable place to sit and close your eyes. Take some time to tune into your body and your breath. Feel how you are supported by the earth through a chair or the floor you sit on. Imagine stars above you and their light flowing down to you to connect you to the cosmos. Remember your connections. You might imagine that they are a circle of pulsating energy that supports you and that ripples out, connecting you to the Whole.

Now you might call to mind individually each of the disconnections you wish to release. They might rise up in your mind’s eye as a shape, symbol, or even a Tarot/oracle image. Let it float in front of you and when you are ready circle your lips and blow toward the image and watch it float away. Your breath might match the intensity of work to release. Some might be gentle, others fierce.

When your disconnections are gone, let yourself be under a clear starry sky on a dark moon night and bask in your connection to their luminous light.

Source Note: The reflection is inspired by my encounters with Ignatian Spirituality and the practice of doing an examen to name consolations and desolations each day and look for a pattern. I have borrowed the form and made it more general rather than specifically Christian.

Want to know more about the next moon coming? Be sure to be on my e-news list the receive my new moon news.

Mar
8
2021

Lunar Living in a Solar World

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

We know the Sun. We see it rise each morning, or trust that it is there behind clouds. The cycle of the year and our schedules are driven by the global adherence to the sun-guided Gregorian calendar. The sun’s daily trips and annual flow are easily followed.

To meet the moon requires a different kind of attention. Because its 28 day cycle does not line up to months constructed for a solar year, the moon cycles wander the calendar, moving from crescent to full and then disappearing. Is it gone or just hidden behind clouds? There is a mystery to the movements of the moon in our solar world.    

Despite the extra work required, following the moon opens the ways for gifts that spring from the moon’s mystery: intuition, creativity, and threads that weave between the worlds to connect us with the Divine, the dead, and the realm of spirit. 

The wisdom of the moon is eternal return, of life and death lived in circles, not straight lines. Joanna Powell Colbert, creator of the Gaian and Herbcrafter Tarots, writes of the wisdom of the Moon as “constant, faithful changes”and tells us how the moon “reminds us that one stage of life always succeeds another, and that times of darkness are always followed by renewal.”

From the Herbcrafter Tarot 

The dark moon always opens up to the full. The full moon makes way for the dark.

The dark and full phases of the moon are the depths and heights of each cycle. Their concentration of dark and light respectively invite us to special practices and rituals to attune to their energy.

You may find yourself being drawn to one phase of the moon more strongly, or feel a pull toward particular ritual observance. Follow these inner urgings and experiment led by your lunar connection. I offer my way here as an example, as a starting point from which to find your own way to journey.   

Dark Phase Work

crescent dark moon

The dark phase work happens in the 3 – 4 days around the exact moment of the new moon’s arrival. 

In the days right before the moon is made new, it returns to the place in the sky where it began its moonthly journey. The energy gathered through the whole of the lunation now flows away into moonless nights. As the moon releases light and takes us into the dark, we also are invited to release that which we no longer need, that which we want healed, that which did not come to fruition, that which is completed. Practices to support this release include: 

  • Reflecting back on the events, memories, emotions, achievements, and disappointments since the last new moon. What we find to be beneficial can be celebrated. What fell short of the mark is to be released so we don’t carry its burden into the next moonth.
  • Engaging in a ritual (simple or elaborate) to enact your release. For example, we can write down what you want to release on slips of paper, and then – safely! – burn them. The ash can then be buried in earth, lifted into the air to be blown with the breeze, or placed upon waters to flow away.  

Once our release is made, we can travel with a light heart into the moments when the moon is made new. For a new moon hour or even a whole day or night, we might do nothing but rest in the potential and possibility of renewal. Out of this moment of pure potential we are invited to make wishes about what can emerge from this moon cycle. 

The influence of a new moon lasts through the moonth. I think of this as the energy of the new moon moment putting a stamp on the whole moonth. We can attune to this initiating energy in various ways. The most basic approach is to quiet ourselves and open up to a connection to the lunar energy coming through our emotions and senses. They might register as vibration felt somewhere in our bodies. Or we might perceive a message coming from an inner voice. We are receiving subtle communication from the moon in its very first light so no need to expect immediate clarity.

As the energy increases with the moon’s growth, we seek to understand what can develop out of the initiating energies. The days after the new moon are a good time for  divination to find ways to align with, rather than work against, the greater tides of energy.  Once we’ve found intuitive insight, we make a plan with steps and dates identified for welcoming opportunities, grappling with obstacles, and working toward our goals. By the time the moon is at first quarter full, we’ve woven together the intuitive and practical for clarity and purpose about this moontly journey.

Full Phase Work

full moon

The light phase work happens in the 3 – 4 days around the exact moment of the moon’s peak fullness

In the days right before the moon is full, we are invited to reach toward making our wishes and plans a reality. It’s not the end of the cycle so we are not necessarily working toward completion. But we want to push toward bringing something significant out of our work. With increasing light shed on our efforts, we may realize that we need to make adjustments, change course, or deepen our commitment. 

When the full moon moment arrives, we are invited to open to a revelation about how the lunar energies as well as our plans are unfolding. Taking a moment to pause, reflect, and divine around the full moon varies our energy and creates the opening for revelation. 

To encourage our lunar revelation:

  • Take out any record of your divinations or reflections from the new moon and look at them in a new light. How does your understanding shift now that time has passed and light has shifted? 
  • Moon bathe by sitting or lying under a window or outside on the ground. Let go of your thoughts and soak in the light.

 Out of this revelation, we are issued an invitation to return a gift to the world in the final weeks of the lunar cycle. Release something of yourself to share that you gained from this lunar cycle around the time of the last quarter moon. Then prepare to return to dark moon nurture.

Eclipses

Eclipses that happen around the moons give that moon what is said to be a stronger energy. The influence of these moons lasts for 6 months, rippling out until the next eclipse season. They are a disruption of the normal relationship of sun and moon so invite us to be different, too. Sacred arts weaver and author Briana Sausy says they are good for breaking patterns. Observing the eclipse time period helps us to see the connections between the seed planting at one moon and the longer term growth that is possible. Working with an eclipse new moon, you can make a 6 month plan or dedication and check back in on them when the corresponding eclipse occurs. 

Another Layer: Alignment to the Great Than with Tarot and Astrology

Our personal journey is contained within a larger pattern. Astrology uses the alignment of celestial bodies to the earth as an inspiration for glimpsing and making meaning of this pattern. 

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, out of which influential Tarots decks emerged at the turn of the 20th century, mapped the Tarot on the astrological progression of the year so that each moment corresponds to 3 cards offering different aspects of guidance

  • A Major Arcana card that corresponds to one of the 12 astrological signs. This card represents the greater wisdom or overarching lesson we can experience during the moonth. We revisit these lessons each year to deepen our experience of them. Their wisdom is infinite so can not be mastered, but with each turning through the year our souls are shaped. I call this the Soul Path card.  
  • A numbered minor that corresponds to a decan of the year. Our 365/6 day year is divided into 36 decans in an astrological wheel. This card’s guidance is two-fold, alerting us to both the passage and practice through which we can most beneficially move along our Soul Path. As a passage card, its meaning and images can give us insight into potentially important happenings in the moonth to come. As a practice card, it can inspire us to engage in particular spiritual or personal practices to best move through the passage and stay on the Soul Path. 
  • A Court / person card. These cards that flow from the beginners to learners to experts through the elements of fire, water, air, and earth show us the posture to take while traveling the path. Having to shape shift between these different identities can help to be flexible and walk with new eyes on paths we’ve traveled before. 

I use this three-card constellation to gain insight into the potential and energy of the moonth that flows from the moment of the new moon’s arrival. These cards can also guide us in finding the questions to ask that will help us journey with increased alignment with the larger pattern. For example, a new moon on August 18th places us on the Soul Path of Strength moving through the Seven of Pentacles mandate to be courageous with the slow but steady commitment of the Knight of Pentacles. They call us to questions such as: 

  • How can I be in relationship with the wild part(s) of myself? 
  • In what area of my life do I need to be courageous? 
  • What personal/spiritual/earth-honoring practices will sustain me through challenges?

We can then use these questions suggested by the larger pattern to pull personal Tarot or oracle cards to show us how we can best work with the pattern of the moonth while walking our unique soul paths. 

Mar
1
2021

Prompts and Practices for Accompanying the Beloved Dead

For Grievers – Practices for Soul & Spirit

My current project is a series of pieces woven of memoir, poems, and actionable tips for cultivating a loving flow between the living and the dead. The excerpt comes from the 3rd essay in the series, 49 Days and the Green Door of Death. The full essay with stories about how I found my way to these practices is available as downloadable PDF. 

HOW TO OBSERVE 49 DAYS

Traditions from across time and cultures convey to us that death is a journey. It has passages and stages that the Dead undertake. but that we, the Living, have a role to play as well. In Buddhism, the dead are accompanied for 49 days or 7 weeks of 7 days. Cross-culturally—from the Dogon of African to the medieval alchemists of Europe—7 is a number of completeness and perfection. In full piece, I offer a metaphor for where the dead arrive at the end of their accompaniment: The Green Door of Death which does not cut them off from us in life but initiates them into a death that can be fertile. The Door is opened with Love.

Thanks to Sande Gendel for this wonderful image.

CALCULATE

You could consider the day of death as day 0, and the next day starts the counting. But calculating is not the important part of the practice; it is just a steady place to start from when confronted with the upheaval of Death. Counting days from 1 to 49 is still on our skill list—probably. If you make a mistake—forget a number, for example—don’t worry. The mistake is fertile, brings you somewhere you wouldn’t have gone on your own, which perhaps is just what you need.

I offer that you can start this practice any time. Jump into week 3 of observance and follow to the end if the news of someone’s death is delayed in getting to you. The 49 day observance could happen years afterward if you feel your Beloved Dead could use the support or you would be nurtured by the ritual.

There is really no expiration date on the 49 days. Our beloveds are in eternity, afterall. They are beyond time. They are waiting for us to arrive when the time is right.

CLAIM

The busy world will not support you. In today’s mainstream culture, we do not pause much for death. You will have to claim and protect some space for your observances in each day. Take as much as you can, and don’t worry if it turns out to be less than you want. The intention and making a connection are what is important.

To keep on track, it is very helpful to have a set time, regular place, and specific practice. This becomes a container for all that arises.

Even if you have only a few dedicated moments a day, you could, for example, upon waking sit on the edge of your bed, maybe look out a window, and say aloud or within yourself a prayer, a poem, or a song (sung or the words recited). Your words don’t have to be particularly spiritual and certainly not religious. Pick something that is meaningful to you and your beloved, and let whatever is chosen indicate your accompaniment of them in this time of transition.

If you have a practice that you already do regularly—taking a daily walk, sitting in meditation, contemplating the Tarot—you could choose to do that over the 49 days with the intention of accompanying your beloved. You don’t have to create something new or add another To Do to your list.

No doubt, feelings will arise as you travel the 49 days. You may wish that your beloved isn’t dead, feel that the only thing you want is to have them back. You can’t stop these feelings and thoughts, even if they seem counter to your work of accompaniment. Instead of trying to hold them back, allow them to flow through you. You might imagine them flowing out through your feet and into the earth, who can take and reshape all things.

If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up—as the grieving tend to do. It is the accumulation of the days and the whole container of the practice that will carry you and your beloved. Just start again the next day.

END

On or shortly after the 49th day, mark the end of this phase of your beloved’s transition and your work of accompaniment with something that feels special to you. It need not be too elaborate, just a bit more than your daily observances. You may want to gather with others—or not. Find what feels right to you.

I turn to ritual for such occasions and offer the elements of my blessing ritual for my mother as a guide for you to create your own:

  • Have a special place or destination:I chose to go out in nature—to a place I’ve used before for ritual on the Mill River. You, too, could pick a special destination or stay in the place you have been doing your regular observances.
  • Begin:What do you want for your person? When accompanying my mother, I came to the realization that I wanted her to be blessed by the natural and the Divine as she moved into the next spiral of her becoming. What you want for your person might be blessings or peace or transcendence. Follow your heart and start from this desire for your beloved.
  • Journey: This could be physical or inner movement. I walked along the river with my mother. You may take an inner imaginal journey with your person. This journey is a microcosm of the whole 49 days. There is the possibility of clarity about what you have been doing through the whole observance opening up for you—or maybe that will come later.
  • Arrive: You have arrived at your destination—the Green Door of Death. Here you could think of your purpose as being two-fold. First, you are sending your person through that door where you cannot follow. You are not giving them up, but you are sending them on to what comes next for them. Second, you are marking that this phase of your work is done. A responsibility, perhaps a weight, is lifted from you now. It may be re-shaped into another form, but you have completed this spiral of the journey. Something is released. I released ash into water. You, too, might be guided by a basic elemental approach by speaking a prayer or poem or song into the wind, lighting a piece of paper on fire and watching it transform, or burying something in the earth, knowing the earth accepts and reshapes all things
  • Offer Gratitude: You have made it through to this moment. What and who has helped? Say words of thanks for these beings and practices. 
  • Return: You will have to travel back from your destination and return to the mundane world. You may want a marker to help you make the transition. Examples of what this could be are: eating a snack or a whole meal, taking a shower, talking to a friend or one who supports you with spiritual guidance, or getting some body work to revive your energy.
  • Tend Yourself: Even if the outward journey has not been one of a great distance, the inner traveling has been arduous. There may have been a storm of emotions, perhaps even some that seemed to be diametrically opposed. It is possible you may experience an emotional and/or physical crash after such a journey. If you can lessen your responsibilities for a bit after the 49 days, do so. Even if you cannot, recognize that you may not be at your best. Don’t berate yourself for not functioning at your best. Just as you claimed time to observe the 49 days, claim some time and space to renew yourself, perhaps with one or all of these: rest, spiritual practice, time in nature, time with a friend or a professional listener who can keep the focus on listening to you and your needs.

BEGIN

The end of the 49 days is the beginning of a new relationship. You and your beloved have changed. But Love exists beyond the boundaries of the body and still binds you together. Embrace this limitless Love. In my experience, this is an adventure with highs and lows, new challenges, and a re-arrangement of beliefs and priorities. But the reward … oh, the reward! … is a touch of the eternal feeding the flow of Love.

Mar
1
2021

Full Moon Revelations: The Star Meets the Hermit

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

The height of this moonth’s cycle comes with the full moon arriving overnight February 26th to the 27th (exact at 3:17am ET on Saturday, the 27th), and offers a revelation about how the lunar energies initiated on the new moon of the 11th are developing. The new moon, guided by its association with the Star, invited us to unite heart and mind to plan for a future where we recognize the interconnectedness of all. 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 astrological sign of Virgo associated with the Tarot’s Hermit. The meetup of the Star and the Hermit offers us an image of bringing the power of starlight into usable, earthly form. As you can see in the iconic Rider Waite Smith image, the Star contained within the Hermit’s lantern becomes a beacon for reaching the top of the mountain. The mountain, of course, is a metaphor for the project we want to complete, our highest dreams, personal and collective demons we must meet, or living up to our fullest potential. What is the mountain you are climbing now? 

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

To support you answering these questions and encourage a revelation out of the meetup of the Star and the Hermit, 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?
  • Work with your existing containers under the full moon light. You could do your usual practice even if it has been feeling stale to you and open up to the full moon giving you an infusion of energy. You might do the process from the new moon post that brings together heart and mind for planning.
  • Bring out your Star and Hermit 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.
  • Reflect on questions such as: What is the Star that is guiding me now? What practices will help me concentrate its power? What mountain can I climb? What/who can help me reach the top? What contribution to the collective can I make from this work? You could, of course, pull cards as responses to any of these questions. You may want to engage in Visio Divina to find the layers of wisdom within the cards.

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 March 10th. offer your gift to the world.

Stay Connected

Offering ~ I tend the sanctuary as gift to seekers on the unmarked path. If you find this site inspiring, I welcome a gift to continue serving you sustainably.