As I write I am snuggled up in my warm house in a blanket, a cat by my side, listening to choral music and intermittently watching the snow falling outside through my window. I hope when these words reach you, you are likewise cozied up in some fashion, taking some time for reflection and contemplation.
This time of year is all about the deep quiet, deep peace. The life force energy of our plant friends has drawn deep into the earth, many animals are likewise in hibernation, and we too should follow this rhythm and spend more time in stillness, drawing deep within. The blanket of snow enrobes the landscape in a uniformity that provide true rest; it muffles the intensity of sound, smell and vision allowing our senses to draw inward for a spell. As our physical body is invited to rest, we open up space to kindle the flame of our heart. And yet, this is rarely what happens during this time of year. In our capitalist culture, which has done all it can to divorce us from our animal being, we are bombarded with an increasingly grotesque parade of consumer distraction; frantic busy-ness and buying-ness. Rather than spending this time lighting our inner flame of self knowledge through deep slow time, we are run ragged with holiday cheer in the form of endless parties, purchases, food, drink, and such. We emerge into the New Year exhausted, bloated, and weary rather than purified through rest and renewal.
But this does not have to be the case. I echo an invitation given recently by Asia Suler of One Willow Apothecaries to join Say No December. Say no to the hurry and distraction and say yes to embracing and celebrating the magic of this season in ways that nourish your soul. Gather with loved ones, but fill the gatherings with the gift of stories, songs, and connection. Or stay home! Light a candle, spend some time processing all you have learned this year, contemplate what has died, and what is being born inside of you. Embrace the Sagittarius energy of the student and philosopher through reading, long conversations, getting lost in thought and contemplation. As we draw near to Solstice and celebrate the return of the sun tend to the flame of your own heart. See where it needs stoking, see where it needs tempering.
Sagittarius is correlated in the Tarot with card XIV, Temperance. Temperance is, in a way, the eye of the hurricane of self transformation, the moment of calm that bridges the experiences of releasing control and ego death (the Hanged Man and Death) and facing our demons and further deconstruction/destruction (the Devil and the Tower). Temperance offers us a moment of peace and reflection that helps us reframe our mindset as we begin to realize that we are still (and may always be) undergoing transformation. Temperance teaches us that we can remain calm and observant even in the midst of our current problems and conflicts. We begin to discover a mindset of peace and clarity and learn how to balance the passion of fire with the wisdom of water. The angelic blessing Temperance offers is that we no longer have to dwell in fight or flight, we can see, and feel and be in challenging transformation, but we can remain unruffled. We can relax. The ego has transformed through Death and is reborn in Temperance; no longer grasping at external structures for security.
After shedding a full layer of self in Death, the angel of Temperance emerges, shimmering with fire and water as a vision of what we are becoming. While not quite tangible, we are starting to feel our divine aspects forming with more clarity and truth, the angel helps us see what is emerging from within our deep potential. With one foot on land and one on water, the angel bridges the gap between the physical and the spiritual, showing us that they are both solid, they are both ‘true’. At the angel’s heart we find an orange triangle within a white square; the fire of spirit/creativity/power within our purified physical form. The angel is focused on the task of pouring water from one cup to another at a seemingly impossible angle. They are showing us how to harness the flow of our own divine wisdom. In the distance we see a brilliant sunrise, reminiscent of a new dawn, a new day- resurrection. We have undergone and alchemical transformation, much like the process of tempering steel. We have been heated, stretched, shaped through strong blows to the point of Death, and then, plunged in the cooling waters of Temperance we emerge brilliant, changed, we are reborn with new strength and capacity. A strength that can dance with the Devil and break his chains. A strength that can harness the lightning of the Tower and willingly endure destruction- because now we know that divine treasures come through transformation.
To deepen this journey through Temperance, I've drawn three supporting cards to show us what we're being invited to release, embody, and embrace.
The 7 of Swords is what we are being asked to release. In the context of this reading it feels like this card is quite literally telling us to release ourselves from the prison of consumer capitalism. In this card a figure is shown in the act of sneakily stealing five awkwardly large swords. The underlying energy of this card is one of scarcity, we are trapped in the delusion that we need more ___________________ (fill in the blank with whatever you find yourself thinking you need more of right now). We believe if we just had more of this thing then all our problems would be solved. Then we would feel safe/loved/ok/happy. We plan, manipulate, obsess and even commit crimes (probably just crimes against our better nature) to get more. The real message is we already have everything we need (see those two swords just sitting there? One for each hand). We don't need to burden ourselves with this obsession with more. Put down the swords you are trying to grab and carry. You don't need them. Focus instead on what you have, and how you wish to feel.
As we release the burden of scarcity, we are asked to embody is the Emperor. Yes! To some this may seem counterintuitive. Isn't patriarchy what lead us to the capitalist consumer mess? Yes. But patriarchy is the Emperor out of alignment. What we need now (more than ever) is to discover, cultivate, explore and embody the aligned divine masculine energy. In this light he is a kind, wise, benevolent ruler. He is thoughtful and works hard provide space and protection for us to thrive and grow. Many of us are deeply craving the security of a wise, kind, masculine energy that will hold space for us and protect us while we draw into our feelings. We can give ourselves the gift of cultivating this masculine/solar energy within ourselves. And how perfect that this aligns with the Winter Solstice when we welcome the Sun King back into the world. Welcome the king of your own soul as you light the flame of your heart.
As we release our selves from the spell of more, and begin to embody wise masculinity, we begin to embrace, or rather will be embraced by an outpouring of love. Ace of Cups is a welling up of pure love and unfiltered emotion. When we stop trying to stop up the holes in our hearts with swords/stuff, and begin to hold true compassionate space for ourselves, a fountain of emotions we emerge. Contrary to what we've been conditioned to fear, our deep emotions are waiting for us with a wealth of wisdom and information. There may be a veritable dam ready to break inside of you, which may result in a flood of tears, but this will be so sweet. And as the floods subside, the fountain of our love finds its natural rhythm and flow. We find we have more than enough for ourselves and plenty to share. We will not longer be parched or waterlogged. Like the angel in Temperance, we will understand the wisdom of our emotions as we allow them to flow from cup to cup (heart to heart).