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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Winter Solstice ~ A Tarot Contemplation

Winter Solstice is a time of beautiful paradox ~ a time of being still, immersing yourself in the Earth and the womb of the Goddess, delving into the darkness inside and discovering what lies in the soul while simultaneously shedding the extraneous and unnecessary from life, and making plans that are to be borne at the Spring Equinox. It is here that we stand on the horizon, during the darkest hour gathering warmth in the Sun's promise of growth and renewal in times to come.

Winter Solstice is a time of darkness, release, letting go, warming the heart, nourishing the soul and affirming that which is to come, a time of being still while taking an inner journey as we get closer to the Spring Equinox. We need to remember that life continues in the darkness and that light will always reappear.

The journey of Winter Solstice can be depicted in the tarot, whether by casting a spread and seeing what lessons the universe has in store for you, or by meditating on certain cards that represent the Winter Solstice journey. In this article we do both! I am going to explore a tarot journey using four cards that I feel are connected to Winter Solstice, and I am also going to give you a spread to use as part of your Winter Solstice ritual/celebrations.

2 of Wands

2 of Wands ~ Druidcraft Tarot
 To me, this card in the Druidcraft Tarot represents a gateway or a doorway, which is what the Winter Dreamtime opens for us. A gateway to a new life, spiritual resurgence, greater understanding of ourselves and our view of the world, and the action we take within it ~ this all starts by stepping through a doorway. The 2 of Wands in this deck has literally made a doorway in the way that the figure holds the two wands in it's arms. The fact that the figure appears blank, as an outline, says to me that, as this figure is you, you are the one to color and fill this figure with your spirit, your practices, your thoughts, your actions and your lessons gleaned from the Winter Dreamtime. By going into the Winter Dreamtime with an open heart and mind, you chose to create this doorway to the Tomb of the Goddess, because you are searching for deeper meaning, contemplating a journey. The 2 of Wands says you can stand in this doorway and always wonder at the possibilities of what the Winter Dreamtime has in store for you, or you can jump down that rabbit-hole and return forever changed. The 2 of Wands is about the personal freedom of conscious choice, for it relates to the way we live in accordance with our Will and the results of this. Don't sell yourself short or settle for less. The 2 of Wands gives us new inspiration and boldness, the ability to contemplate where we are, where we have been and where we are going ~ the choice is now yours ~ stand at the doorway and always ponder “What if?” or step inside the wonder of yourself and be amazed at where the Goddess will lead you in this Winter Dreamtime?

4 of Swords

4 of Swords ~ Druidcraft Tarot
 The Winter Dreamtime can be a tumultuous landscape to traverse, particular this year with the full lunar eclipse we have recently been blessed with. I don't know about your personal journeys, but I know that for me, that short time of the lunar eclipse introduced the ecstasy of creative potential and the compulsion to expand and the agony that only near madness can produce.

After such a harrowing time, it is important to revisit the revitalizing energy of the 4 of Swords. The card was traditionally known as the Lord of Truce by the Order of the Golden Dawn, but it must be noted that the word “truce” does not denote “peace” here ~ this is a respite in which we gather our strength and answer the call of silence. This can be a hard thing to do in our hectic modern society. But the Solstice's are all about balance, and while there is indeed a time for action and confrontation, there is also a time where we need to withdraw, retreat into ourselves to find our sources of inspiration and inner strength. The reward will be the fruit of greater inner strength and confidence. The 4 of Swords reminds us that this is so necessary during our Winter Dreamtime. The 4 of Swords urges us to focus on the spiritual practices such as mediation or tarot or whatever speaks to you that will help provide calm and healing. Your faith will provide support during this time of spiritual hibernation. The Goddess will honor this stillness by keeping events at bay while we take this time to cocoon our souls.

Even if you have a full time job and ten children, you need to find the time for this solitude and soul repair. It is so easy to say “I just have too much on, I can't, I have no time”; get creative ~ your time coming to or from work, be it in the car or public transport can be your time by reading a book or listening to music that brings you comfort. Your daily shower can be your time, and how perfect ~ water is the manifestation of Goddess, let her flow over you cleansing you while you are repeating a mantra or just having some quiet contemplation. We are all sacred beings and we need our sacred space, wherever it may be found! The 4 of Swords is telling us we need to have this space to get in touch with our soul and the universal energies that surround us.


Rebirth ~ Druidcraft Tarot
This card from the Druidcraft Tarot, the deck I primarily read with, is an interpretation of the card traditionally known as Judgment.

Once we have had our respite with the 4 of Swords, it is time for us to emerge from our spiritual cocoon and hear the call of Goddess urging us to wake and be reborn, which is signified here in the figure of the child emerging from the womb of Goddess (as temples were known as in ancient times) with the High Priest blowing the horn summoning the soul to be reborn to a new life cycle. Many Tarot authors and experts believe that the horn, while a small symbol in the card, is actually the key symbol ~ it's in the power of the call that we hear in the Winter Dreamtime, the call to our spiritual path, to change or renew, to rebirth into a life that is truly more your own.

This is also a call to embrace the world and your place in it ~ and you do have a place. A dear friend once said to me “The Goddess doesn't make rubbish” and indeed, She has a place and need for all of her sacred children. Rebirth is also about the initiation many of us go through during the Winter Dreamtime, whether it is the inherent understanding of the duality of living in this world while understanding the spiritual world or a literal initiation into the Crone's Mysteries or the Mysteries of a Goddess who may have chosen you.

Rebirth is also about acknowledging the past and leaving it in the past, absolutely and irrevocably. This is something that may take months or even years of work through counselling, strengthening of spiritual beliefs and practices and a lot of inner work, but, through the Winter Dreamtime and the showdown with our Shadows (as spoken of in “The Shadow of Samhain in the previous edition) this vital process of healing and wholeness has begun. Rebirthing your spirit is an incredibly empowering and healing experience, it gives you the power to make very hard and final decisions, and unlike the Death card, which brings change about whether you wish it or no, Rebirth is giving you the choice and the courage to recognize that you're holding onto something that needs to be let go and gives you the strength to do so.

You are awakening to a new life, assimilating past experiences, learning from them, understanding their value and confronting what no longer serves you. This is such an important part of the Winter Dreamtime. Know that the Goddess is with you and through Rebirth is giving you an inner awakening to set you on a new way of living and experiencing the world, a psychic rebirth and resurrection. It is time to heed our higher calling and use our Goddess-given gifts to answer it!


Justice ~ DRuidcraft Tarot
On the surface, Justice does not appear to be a spiritual card; in fact, it looks quite cold. But this is what is wonderful about the Major Arcana in the tarot, that there is so much dimension to them.

Justice follows on from the Rebirth card perfectly; with Rebirth we went on a journey of understanding our true place in the world, confronting our past and keeping it in the past, and being led through an initiation to be reborn again. Justice tells us that now is the time that true understanding of our place in the world will lead us to the right choice and action. Justice's sword is pointed upwards, showing us that the world of Air (reason and intelligence represented by Swords in tarot) is connected to Spirit. The pommel of the sword in the Justice card of the Druidcraft Tarot is two testes, serving as a reminder to us that the decisions we make sow seeds in the world.

With Rebirth, Justice tells us it is time to make a decision out of choice, not reaction like we would with the Death card. Through our Winter journeys we have been given the ability to act balanced with contemplation and inner knowledge ~ what is the next step in your life, and how will you make your decisions manifest? Think of the two cards that precede Justice in the Major Arcana ~ the Hermit can bring you objectivity that comes from the inner work of Winter and the Wheel gives us the sense of the patterns and cycles of life. The scales seem to be balancing the two worlds with the message “You've spent all your time in one world, now it is time to move into the other to balance yourself out” which makes sense ~ the Winter world is an inner one, the journey is internal, and come to the end of Winter, we need to make a decision about what we want to manifest in our lives in the coming year and how we are going to achieve this. We eventually have to step back into the world and start participating again, which is what Justice is all about.

Justice has, surprisingly, come to be a manifestation of the Crone to me. This is something I certainly didn't expect when journeying to be inspired and write this article, but so it has come to pass. Ponder this ~ Justice is straight forward, look at her posture, she faces you front on, hides nothing and has her eyes open wide, and to the point (literally represented by the Sword). There is no hiding, no procrastination, no making excuses. Justice cuts down all illusions and exposes the heart of the matter for what it is and demands action ~ sound like the Crone to you? Certainly does to me!

There is a wonderful spread that I have found that can bring some insight to you at the Winter Solstice called “Solstice Light”


                                                       2                                        3                   

                                                      4                              5


Position 1: Returning Hope

What are you hopeful about? If the card feels negative to you, it depicts painful issues that will be resolved or healed in the coming year. Remember, all cards show a spectrum of life from happy to sad and offer opportunities for wisdom and growth.

Position 2: Making Wishes

What does your heart desire? If you don’t like the card that has come up, it is because it is depicting a negative situation you wish were different

Position 3: Seeking Visions

What is your vision for the future? Where do you see yourself next year? If a negative card comes up this is an opportunity to avoid the disaster that may be showing

Position 4: Sense of Balance

What will restore balance to your life? If the card is negative it is showing a situation that is out of balance in your life and you need to focus your efforts on it to restore order

Position 5: Goodwill Toward Others

Your expression of love. In what way can you open your heart to others? If the card that comes up makes you feel uncomfortable, this represents a situation in need of repair, forgiveness or making amends. Note whether card 4 (balance) is related to this card in the spread

Position 6: Advice

The next step. Planning. The action card. What can you do on a mundane level during the winter months to make your hops and wishes real?

The Winter Dreamtime is intense but wonderful. My wish for you is that you find what you need, that your initiations are beautiful, and that you find what you need to serve your higher purpose and heed your callings beautiful sacred children of Goddess.

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