Monday, 15 December 2014

Solstice Ponderings

It's that time again, when the wisdom of the earth tells us to retreat, to withdraw, to draw back to our roots. But even if we try to honour that calling, the world we live in - at least the western post-Christian economy-worshipping world that I live in - pulls us out, tells us to buy and to socialise and to celebrate. And I'm all for celebrating, we need lights in the darkness at this time of year, and there are many beautiful manifestations of those lights around us, like the local Lantern Parade my family and I attended last week. But it's relentless, especially now that my daughter is in school and there are parties and the school play and carol singing and and and.....

I struggle with it. I have always avoided the commercialism, and even the big gatherings, and even now that I have young children I prefer to keep it low key. Especially as my daughter's birthday is Boxing Day, its the days after Christmas that I find myself looking forward to, when the pressure is off, the deadline is passed, and we can just relax. In the spiritually aware, alternative thinking corners of the interwebs that I tend to haunt, there is much talk of keeping the holiday season harmonious and calm, of avoiding expensive gifts and unwelcome social expectations, of keeping Christmas, and the Winter Solstice for those of us who prefer to celebrate the longest night, handmade and wholesome, magical and simple. Which is all good, except that the self imposed to do lists and deadlines are still there, and worse than ever. Not only do I want to find everyone I love the perfect present, I want to make it myself, not just to save resources but because I can put more of my energy into it, make something truly meaningful. I don't just want to provide a feast for my family, I want to provide a home-cooked, seasonal, healthy feast. However much or little I take on, that deadline, that one day that is supposed to be perfect, slays me (which is why I am writing this instead of wrapping presents, naturally).

The Greenwood Tarot, which maps the cards onto the pagan wheel of the year, puts the Hermit, Judgement, and the Eights at Winter Solstice. Cards which all express an inner calling, a deepening, and a transformation. The Eight of Wands reminds me that fire is not always an extrovert energy, but a gentle warming, a sustaining energy. The Hermit is the inner wisdom which we all have, but often struggle to find at this overwhelming time of year. We do not take the time just to sit, to listen to the gentle breathing of the earth, to feel our heartbeat slow to match Hers.
 
Of course I want to make this season magical for my children, to teach them the power of lights in the darkness, to celebrate family and community and love and creativity. But I want to do that every season, and I am uncomfortable with the way we are supposed to focus all those desires into that one day, even that one week. Its meaningless to me if we only celebrate those things for a few weeks every year. The whole of life needs to be magical, filled with spirit and wonder, with creativity and love. As a mother and as a priestess, I work to create the traditions which express that, but not just on high days and holidays. We need to celebrate love and spirit in our daily lives, all year round, just as strongly as we do at Winter Solstice (whichever of the season's special days you choose to celebrate). Yule is one festival of eight, to a pagan, not the great climax - or anti-climax - which Christmas seems to have become.

So the Hermit and the Eight of Wands are on my altar, to remind me of the cycle, the flow, the movement of time even as the sun stands still. To remind me to hold up the light in the darkness, to keep that awareness of spirit, and to trust that everything else will happen in its due time.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Manifesting transformation, with lavender playdough

Well the day of the eclipse was certainly dramatic here, in a domestic sort of way. A teething one year old, an overtired just started school four year old and an ill mama does not a happy combination make. All of fire's shadow side was here - frustration, anger, crying, pent up energy with no safe way to express itself. Sometimes, you just need the planets to move on, give you a chance to breathe.

Blurry crystals like to play...
Thankfully, they do. A (mostly) good nights sleep all round, some healthier food choices, and a new day brings clarity. My crystals have been coming back out to play - I focused with my amethyst wand before I went to sleep last night, asked for clarity around some issues that were bothering me. I didn't bring anything conscious back from my dreams, but thoughts and intuitions have been slipping into place all day. I've been wearing my sodalite (see that lovely pendant - received in part payment for an astrology reading - I always love a good barter!), which helps to eliminate mental confusion, and calms the mind so that something new can rise to perception. Balancing all those mental inputs articles read, conversations had, random intuitions - into a coherent whole, where synchronicities come together and it all begins to make sense. And we made lavender play dough, calming sensory play with a plant ally.

One of the things which I think might transform is this blog. It feels ponderous, not as authentically me as I'd like. I still want to write about tarot and astrology and how I live - I originally typed that as love! - these symbols. But I want to focus more on family, how I use my spiritual tools with and for them. Astrology and parenting, tarot games with the children, I'm still exploring all the possibilities and I want to record those explorations here. There might be more general things too, about pagan events for families, which I'm just starting to run, maybe some of my tarot related crafts. Opening up possibilities, opening up more of myself. Because fire goes out when its too contained.


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A harvest of fire

Tomorrow's lunar eclipse falls in Aries, with the Moon closely conjunct Uranus opposite the Libra Sun. This is a powerful eclipse, connecting to the current Uranus Pluto square as well as the other fire signs. So much potential for transformation and change, for taking the initiative, for putting our ideals and beliefs into action.

Planets in the fire signs form a grand trine in this chart, between the Moon and Uranus in Aries, Mars in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Leo. This in itself brings an awakening of spirit, a big burst of transformational energy. Add in the Uranus Pluto square and sparks are sure to be ignited. As an added bonus, both the Moon and Uranus are at perigee for this eclipse, meaning that they are at the closest point to earth in their orbit. So their influence is heightened. This eclipse chart shows something which can be set alight this week, deep and powerful change. We are urged to have the courage of our convictions, to connect to and use our personal power. Not power over others but power from within, that divine spark within all of us which drives us to express our authentic self, a key phrase for Uranus in Aries. This is energy we can use to, as the popular phrase has it, be the change we want to see in the world.

In fact, the grand trine is part of a kite - Mars in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Leo also make sextiles to the Sun in Libra, which is of course opposite the Moon. That Aries Libra opposition is the arrow, sent forth by the bow of a grand fire trine. There is a burning opportunity to make change, positive and powerful change, to take initiative and action towards a fairer world. The Aries Libra axis describes the dynamic between the self and the other, so relationships and the masculine feminine dynamic might be brought into focus here. The opposition falls across the 5th - 11th house axis, with the Moon and Uranus in the fifth house of personal creative expression. The Sun shines out from the idealistic 11th house, realm of community and the wider tribe. How can we let ourselves shine in the service of the collective? Jupiter in Leo resonates with this energy too, allowing us to connect to the divine child within, to express our faith in the universe and in the possibility of change.

There is also a t square, a more challenging configuration, with squares from the Sun Moon opposition focused out through that Pluto in Capricorn. The establishment will always fight back - witness the Conservative party talking of ditching the European human rights act. Rights of the individual - that's Uranus in Aries again. We can transform ourselves from within, that's powerful work. But this eclipse asks us to take that transformation out into the world, to cut through the social conditioning, to live our authentic life and to fight for what we believe in.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Season of mists

Autumn equinox approaches, the equinox storms of the last few days heralding this season of change. The thunder and lightning mark an especially deep shift for our family this year, with the loss of one of our cats and my daughter starting school. As the sun leaves the sign of Virgo (at the Autumn Equinox point, 3.30am on September 23rd, a few hours away as I type), once again it is her opposite pole of Pisces and Neptune energy which is my mind.

Those with strong Pisces energy often struggle to express it, it can feel chaotic and nebulous, sensitive and vulnerable. I have been looking at several charts recently with strong Neptune energy and key planets in Pisces or the twelfth house (all resonances of this same energy). The owners of these charts tell me how difficult it can feel just to get started, rather than following the urge simply to surrender, to let go. Pisces people often need a catalyst, something or someone to get them motivated, to encourage them out of the swamp. Of course, many people with planets in Pisces often also have planets in Aries, the next sign of the zodiac and the sign of fiery new beginnings. So the catalyst energy is within them, if they can find a way to balance these two very different ways of being.
When contemplating Neptune, it's always good to stand in the sea...
Neptune energy dissolves away, and of course the ego feels threatened by that, so it resists. Often people who fear this dissolution of the self, like the person with Saturn in the twelfth house and the person with Mars in Pisces whose charts I've been contemplating recently, retreat to the shadow sign of Pisces energy, its opposite sign of Virgo. Practical thinking and attention to detail become ways of holding the chaos at bay. The Pisces Virgo axis has mystery at one end and service at the other, and asks us to reconcile these two seemingly disparate principles. What, or who, do we serve? Ideally we can use earthy Virgo to keep us grounded, whilst serving something greater than ourselves. The gift of strong Neptune energy, whatever level it shows up at in your chart, is the ability to surrender to a deep connection with spirit. Our Neptune placement, planets in Pisces or the twelfth house, this is where we can dissolve back into the infinite. There we experience oneness, the unity of all beings, the self as a drop in the primordial ocean. The trick then is to use this experience not as an escape but as an inspiration, allowing it to nourish our souls and our work in the world.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Eclipse season is here again...

It's all somewhat intense in the heavens right about now. The cardinal grand cross was exact last week on the 23rd and 24th April, there was a lunar eclipse on the 15th and a solar eclipse yesterday. The renewal brought by spring may be especially deep and powerful this year.

The cardinal grand cross brought us some intense and heavy energies, stepping up the current Uranus Pluto square with a dose of Martian energy, all helpfully expanded by Jupiter the wise teacher. If you have personal planets around 13* of the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn), you will have been aware of these energies building up. I don't have planets there, and I still felt it. A grand cross consists of four squares and two oppositions, and may well leave us feeling blocked at every turn. Deep transformations can manifest here, and the established order (on whatever level you like - outer, political and collective or inner, emotional and individual) will fight back hard. Adding Mars to the mix increases the likelihood of confrontation, the authentic self demands to be heard and expressed, the structures around us either block our way or threaten to topple under the weight of all that intense planetary energy. Thank goodness for Jupiter in Cancer keeping us rooted in the healing power of surrounded ourselves with loved ones, of using our imaginations. As ever, these big configurations bring opportunities for genuine and lasting change, if we can just hold our awareness and not get burnt out.


The two eclipses are trigger points for these energies, and the lunar eclipse two weeks ago may well have made confrontation even more likely, as lunar eclipses tend to bring things to a head. Yesterday's solar eclipse, on the other hand, gave opportunities for healing, for channeling something new from spirit into matter. All those blue lines, trines and sextiles, nicely balance out the challenging red lines of squares and oppositions. Once again it's Jupiter giving us something positive to work with, as the focal point of a kite in opposition to Pluto. There is great wealth in this opposition, and inherited power. The trines pull Saturn (a teacher like Jupiter, but not always such a kind one) and Chiron the wounded healer into the mix. Healing is possible, if we are willing to face the fires of the underworld. As these intense energies back off a little, we can dive into the depths of the water trine and bring back treasure. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Travelling with the Psychonaut

Mercury is retrograde right now, having stationed on my birthday / solar return just before the position of my natal Mercury. This is classically a time to re-do, to revise, reevaluate, rethink. Mercury has access to all the realms, travelling between the realm of the gods, the material world and the underworld. His retrograde period can be seen as the underworld phase, a time to shed light on wisdom we might have missed. For me, past hurts have been resurfacing, demanding to be processed. With transiting Neptune still sitting close to my natal Mercury, it has felt like a confusing time, and a frustrating one - why is this stuff still bothering me? The period from Mercury's station on February 6 to the midpoint of the retrograde phase on February 15 was especially intense. During this time Mercury was moving closer to the Sun, a phase known as Combust, in which the planet's power is traditionally seen as burning up in the heat of the Sun. In the case of Mercury, this means that 'old thought patterns and mental scripts that no longer serve us...are consumed and destroyed' (according to Demetra George). This is exactly what has been happening for me. It's an intense time, but I can feel the next round of the spiral opening up before me. So far this Mercury retrograde has brought me Neptunian mystical experiences, and several profound conversations which have looked back at old patterns and found a concrete way to move forward, out of those energy draining patterns for good. Mercury retrograde allows us to reset and reevaluate. The trick, of course, is to know that you are in the underworld, and remember that transformation has to happen in its own time. Mercury is the trickster, and with watery Neptune nearby there is no chance of controlling this process. We follow the underground river out into the light as best we can. Mercury finally emerges from the cave of the shadow zone in March, returning to the point of the retrograde station on March 21, close to the Spring Equinox. We exit the cave blinking in the spring sunlight, and if we have used the time in the underworld well, our minds are firmly set on the path of new growth.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Sevenses

For the last three days in a row, I have pulled the Seven of Cups as my daily card. The Seven of Wands was lurking at the back of the deck yesterday too. In the Greenwood deck, the Seven of Cups is titled Mourning, and the Seven of Wands Clearance, and I have a strong sense of a letting go and a shifting of patterns with these sevens. Seven is a number associated with spirituality and mysticism - there are seven traditional planets, seven days of the week, seven notes in a musical scale. The tarot sevens are often seen as moving into the unknown, needing to have faith. Aleister Crowley, in his Thoth tarot, saw them as a weak or passive manifestation of the element - the Seven of Swords is often associated with cunning and deceit, the Seven of Cups with daydreaming and being out of touch with reality. After the balance and harmony of the six, the seven asks for reassessment and reflection. Something comes along to break the balance, and we are called to go deeper, to find a new level of authenticity in our expression of the element.

RWS Seven of Cups
Mathematically, seven is known as an "irrational" number, which cannot be represented as a simple fraction, and it has some strange properties. Taken symbolically, seven is therefore associated with the unusual, the irrational and strange. In astrology, the septile series of aspects, where the wheel of the zodiac is divided by seven, are linked to changes in our fate, forces of destiny at work beyond our control. Just like the tarot sevens, septile aspects are seen as being elusive and often difficult to interpret clearly. Septiles are associated with spiritual and emotional maturity, and inspiration, and can also show the stories and myths which inspire us and by which we live our lives.

The Seven of Cups is telling me, over and over, to look to my emotional patterns, to the images and visions that fill my mind, to figure out which ones are real and to focus on those. This is the card of castles in the air, of fantasies which may or may not have any connection to our reality. But an inner reality can affect our outer reality - for example, if we believe that we are unlovable, we may struggle to accept the affection of those who love us and end up driving them away. Our thoughts can create reality, as every magician knows. Many people interpret this card as overwhelm and overindulgence, a lack of focus and an inability to choose between the many opportunities offered. And this may be the case. But the sevens always ask us to step up, to move past temptation and escapism. If we - well, I - can do that, I can find my authentic vision and work to make it a reality.

Greenwood Seven of Cups
The Greenwood, however, adds a new twist to this interpretation. This is not a card depicting temptations, like the RWS image above, this is altogether darker. Giving up a comfortable fantasy is hard, as is all change, and this card seems to be asking that we acknowledge that. I am stripped back to bare bones, no more delusions, and must mourn the death of the old ego even as I seek that new and authentic vision.