It has been one of those liminal long weekends, where days seem to blur and flow together. The cause of this has been the celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II here in the UK, with bunting and street parties and many displays of Royalist joy.
I am not a royalist, but I am mindful that Queen Elizabeth II represents a constant through out the turmoil and change of the last 70 of social, economic and political upheaval. Though the Royals have not always set the best example to society, and will no doubt continue to display defects in their humanity on regular occasion, the consistency and dignity (in the royal sense) that the Queen has brought is something worthy of recognition.
In truth the Jubilee should have taken place in February but if its too cold and wet for British Pagans to be working skyclad for Imbolc…
So today, to make up for missing the last few days – hey it’s been a weekend and Bank Holiday here, I pulled three.
Three cards..though I have in my head, and while I was shuffling the song ‘Three Coins in a Fountain’.
However, looking at the cards they seem perhaps apt for what is going on in the UK at the moment. It’s the Queen’s Jubilee. her Platinum one. That means she has been on the throne of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth for 70 years.
To the left is The Queen of Swords, an Ice Queen, with her two wolves, (Charles &William).
On her left shoulder is a white snowy Owl with its eyes of Infinity. In her right hand, she holds a snake-headed sceptre in her left the Orb. The Sword symbolises temporal power, yet unlike Curtana, the Sword of Mercy used in the Coronation of Queens a & Kings here in the UK, this one has sharp points. Ouch – As we know ‘History’ has power. The Orb, the Globe in her right hand is Opaque and Cold. One could suggest Dead. The orb represents the World, of which The Queen or King was once and still by some believed to have absolute Sovereignty and power over -given to them by the Divine. If you look closely and you can see her hand is a claw, holding on to it, holding onto its power.
The second card I pulled, laid on the opposite side of the spread, is the Queen of Pentacles. At first glance, it appears we have a totally different scene. The land looks fertile and lush, flowers are in abundance. Yet the Queen is looking down on the Disc/coin (pentacle) in her hand, in somewhat a sad or even lonely way. This Disc has weight. Perhaps despite the abundance all around her, the weight is becoming too much. Or too expensive.
Let’s take another look at the land. While she appears to be surrounded by growth, her feet are in the dirt, and the grass growing there is spasmodic. There are bare patches. All that bounty is behind her. The throne is archaic, and in contrast to her and the background, it is in black/grey scale.
As for the rabbit…well run rabbit, run rabbit run run run.
Poverty and Rabit stew go hand in hand.
The centre card Is The Hierophant, or the Head of the Church – the Pope, standing between two pillars.
Yet unlike Joachim and Boaz, these pillars are stripped down to the bare necessity. They are not pillars of Strength and Beauty, but Law and Liberty, or lack of. When the Hierophant opens up his gown what we see is that he is hollow and empty. His inner gown is the same colour as the background of the card. He has a vast space within him.
His head is large and Alien-like. Intrestingly this Heiroophant carries no keys to Heaven, so he can’t show you the way to Paradise.
Standing in front of him is not two acolytes but three. Three is the Magic Number …!!! As they stand before, only one, the one on his right, is challenging him, is questioning. His answer is to beckon them closer and points to his triple cross, His power. His ‘God-given Power. He assures them they should follow him, be absorbed by him, swallowed up and conform. Though the one on the right is perhaps a little hesitant and is daring to argue their point. Challenging the Status Quo. The Hierophant here and the colour of the cards make me think of Boris, our PM.
Maybe it’s time for a change. While all the pomp and ceremony looks fabulous, especially on TV and social media the reality for many here in the UK is one of Poverty, fear, hunger and homelessness.
You shouldn’t believe everything you’re told. The reality of it is not what you think. It’s not something people in polite company should want to talk about, never mind tell their children. It should have never been made into some kind of fairy story.
There was no agreed Hieros Gamos and no heavenly blessings laid brightly upon my head.
If the truth be known, I was a girl of twelve. Twelve. How could I consent? How could I understand what it meant?
I was asleep on my bed, laid innocent in the darkness, dreaming as children do. Then for some reason, even now I am not sure what, I woke up to see him standing there. He stood in the shadows, so still, a man in pale linen, watching. At first, I thought I was dreaming, but it was no vision, no fantasy. He moved faster than the breeze and was upon me before I could escape. I tried to scream, to call for help, but he stuffed my mouth with white feathers.
When he Penetrated me, he tore asunder my betulot, ripping me open for the world to see. My soul shattered and fragmented, in that very moment, I dissipated. Hiding for centuries in the shards of Other.
He said it shouldn’t have been like that. He said I should have submitted willingly and with Grace. He said I didn’t deserve the honour that had been given to me. I told him I didn’t want it. He snarled. His lip curled and brought an averse cruelty to his uttermost beauty. He said it was my own fault, he said he had to Overshadowed me. He said girls like me should be grateful. He said we never were.
Afterwards, he slept, exhausted by his tribute, while I lay upon the dank remnants of my broken seal and his celestial shpriz. Rivers fit for Babylon flooded out from me, before pooling upon my belly and from thence parting Fourways. Broken boundaries that could never be mended.
As the Morning Star rose, he disappeared, leaving a bouquet of Broken Lilies at the bottom of my bed. Their piercing stems forever directing the gaze of men to my humiliation.
The ashes of Tamar’s were not for my head and unlike Dinah, I had no brothers to claim back my asset.
Who would have believed me if I’d said I’d been plundered by a Virtuous Brother of the Fallen?
After he’d left, I scrubbed myself clean until my skin bled. Raw outside as in. I cried and laughed uncontrollably. I thought if I pretended it didn’t happen it would go away, but I couldn’t get it, get him out of my mind. I was scared to sleep in case he came back. When I fell into a fitful slumber, he returned in nightmares. I felt him again and again, as he wrapped his wings around me, his hands touching and his fingers entering places they shouldn’t.
I took a needle and scored my arms and legs, thinking the pain would take away the agony I felt inside. Nothing worked.
Then came the nausea, the sickness in the morning. Bile would erupt from my empty stomach, burning like a flaming sword as it rose, bitter.
When I could no longer hide the changes I fled to my cousin’s. I thought she’d understand, for it was known within the women of the family she’d suffered the same.
It seems Divine rapists have no respect for age.
I’d expected she’d offer me solutions, be that herbs or sanctuary, but instead, she counselled me not to rock the Ark of our Covenant. She told me to return home, face the music and do my duty. She said I was to keep my mouth shut, for what good would it do girls like us, to tell the truth.
As my shame grew heavy and unsurmountable, my breasts, like Abishag’s gazelles, rested heavily on the mount of his creation. And I wept. They say I sang Magnificently, but they lie, for it was a Lament, conceived in Terror and one I was unable to confess.
This was meant to be posted yesterday, but for some reason, I am not sure what, my internet kept dropping every time I tried to post it, so here it is today – on the 2nd of March 2022
Today’s Card – Le Judgement – taken from Blood & Ink (The Devil Made me do it ) by Elise Oursa 2021 (Major Arcana)
Anything I pull today will be not so much be clouded with what is going on in the world today but will have, of course, that filter on it. How can it not?
I didn’t ask a question, I just asked the cards to show me.
As I look at Le Jugement I see a light shining down on the situation. On the World that lies below.
The light is coming from the heavens. It could be, if I am being negative, a bomb being dropped and around it an explosion, but the more I looked at it, the more I felt that it was a light for the whole world to see, a light on the situation.
On the top right, just to one side, I see a figure. This figure looks like Le Bateleur. I have to say that in this deck Le Bateleur always feels like a ‘She’ to me.
I can see Her long red skirt, her hat, and she is holding Her wand or baton. Batons/Wands in Tarot are associated with the element of fire. I see her holding the Ace of Wands, high above, the primordial energy of the divine manifesting matter. It is partly responsible for the light that is illuminating what is going on below.
To the right of the card and Le Bateleur, I see within the dark cloud, who we would expect, The Angel of Judgement, be that Metron – The Angel who is the Voice of God,
the Islamic Angel who blows the Trumpet at the Day of Judgement blowing upon their trumpet for us to rise, to come forth. An Aeon of Horus, a call for those who will listen, to pay attention, to see what is going on.
Below that light, upon the earth, I see an Eye, the Eye of the world upon what is going on, to the situation, to the pain and suffering. There is no hiding here, as painful as it is to look and see.
We can see that from the eyes there is dispersal, a moving away by multitudes. These could be those who are fleeing, the women and children who are trying to get to some form of sanctuary. I also feel that these are the invaders as they are moving left, back towards the east. The light is shining upon them and they are being shown for who and what they are. Yet all around them is blood and destruction are laid upon the earth for them and for the land.
To the left of the eye, is Le Pape, holding aloft his Triple Cross like a sword, showing his authority over the spiritual and the temporal. He is the Orthodox Bishop and stands with his people. He is claiming his right to be.
There is so much that could be said about the religious landscape of Ukraine and Russia, but here is not the place.
Behind him there is another man, who looks to me like Le Fol, holing his pitchfork, or even his staff as a sword to defend, he holds it aloft, defending not just the Le Pape as they stand back to back but also that land itself. Together they hold immense power. Le Fol is no fool, he has faith in Le Pape and the future.
So where does that lead us, what is the card saying other than what I have stated above. I don’t really know, except perhaps we need to have ‘faith,’ (I’m not talking about religion here), be prepared to fight for what we believe in and watch each other’s back.
Bede records in his Reckoning of Time (A.D. 725) the use of candles at the Feast of Purification was common in his day. (Latin Text)
[O]n the feast of St Mary, the whole populace with the priests and ministers goes on procession through the churches and the city neighbourhoods, all singing devout hymns, and carrying in their hands burning candles given them by the bishop. As this good custom grew, it provided a model for the conduct of other feasts of the blessed Mother and perpetual Virgin as well, not in the five-year lustration of a worldly empire, but in the everlasting memory of the heavenly kingdom where, according to the parable of the wise virgins, all the elect shall go out to meet the Bridegroom, their King, with the lamps of their good deeds alight, and then shall enter into the heavenly city with Him. (Bede, The Reckoning of Time, Translation by Faith Wallis, Liverpool University Press, 1999 p. 49)
Ronald Hutton observed that the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2 gives ample reason for candles when the Christ child “was recognized there, according to the tale, by an old man called Simeon, who hailed him as the messiah of Israel and a Light to lighten the Gentiles.”
(The Stations of the Sun, 1999:139)
Is there, in bowers of endless spring, One known from all the seraph band By softer voice, by smile and wing More exquisitely bland! Here let him speed: to-day this hallowed air Is fragrant with a mother’s first and fondest prayer.
Only let Heaven her fire impart, No richer incense breathes on earth: “A spouse with all a daughter’s heart,” Fresh from the perilous birth, To the great Father lifts her pale glad eye, Like a reviving flower when storms are hushed on high.
Oh, what a treasure of sweet thought Is here! what hope and joy and love All in one tender bosom brought, For the all-gracious Dove To brood o’er silently, and form for Heaven Each passionate wish and dream to dear affection given.
Her fluttering heart, too keenly blest, Would sicken, but she leans on Thee, Sees Thee by faith on Mary’s breast, And breathes serene and free. Slight tremblings only of her veil declare Soft answers duly whispered to each soothing prayer.
We are too weak, when Thou dost bless, To bear the joy–help, Virgin-born! By Thine own mother’s first caress, That waked Thy natal morn! Help, by the unexpressive smile, that made A Heaven on earth around this couch where Thou wast laid.
A Polish legend relates that Mary, the Mother of God of the “Blessed Thunder Candle” (Matka Boska Gromniczna), watches over the people on cold February nights. With her thunder candle, she wards off the ravenous pack and protects the peasants from all harm.
The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgi Mary
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.
3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
4 And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.
5 But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.
6 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:
7 Who shall offer it before the Lord, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.
8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.
Leviticus 12 KJV.
All this bring us to the idea that a woman is unclean after the birth of a child. This is something I will come back to, I hope.
Today’s card is taken from Tarot of Mystical Moments by Catrin Welz-Stein.
The Eight of Swords.
First of all, what can we see?
In this deck we have a large Angel, naked, they are sitting on the floor or what appears to be in an ornate vintage style birdcage. Their wings are open and spread through the bars of their cage, almost trapping them. Perhaps it’s the feeling that their wings or feathers may be caught up, be pulled or fall out if they try and move, so, scared to move they are sitting there very still.
The cage appears to be on top of a small hill, balanced upon three legs.
The lid of the cage is open, but the angel does not appear to have noticed or even realised it. Their face is downcast. We cannot see their eyes if they are closed, but I get the feeling that they are weeping.
Outside of the cage, in the foreground, are eight trees, Cypress trees. They are on the left and the right of the cage, but they do not surround it. The way to and from the cage is open. There are also paths to and from the cage; it is not a dead end. The paths meander like streams down from the cage and through the trees. This creates numerous ways to and from the cage.
So what does the card mean?
While it is somewhat obvious we look at the angel, I am today drawn to take a look at the surroundings and what they may mean.
The Eight Trees we see are Cypress trees. Tall and distinctive, with their pyramid shape, they can grow to 30 feet and are thought to be able to live for over a thousand years, with some thought to have lived to almost two thousand years.
It’s not surprising then that they are connected with several legends – especially in the Middle East and in Western cultures.
In Ovid’s “Metamorphosis,” a young man called Kyparissos accidentally kills his young and dearly loved deer, he is so upset by this and so grief-stricken he begs Apollo to transform him into a Cypress to preserve his sorrow.
Its distinctive and aromatic smell was used to hide and disguise the smell of death and the underworld. So it is/was also sacred to Hades.
Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 1. 730 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) : “Beneath the gloom of an ancient cypress, squalid and ghastly with darksome hue [sacrifices were made to Haides in a necromantic ritual].”
In various Apocryphal writings, such as the ‘Apocalypse of Moses’, the Cypress is thought to be the tree from which Adam asks his son, Seth to retrieve oil to heal him and/or which he can anoint himself so when he dies he can go to heaven.
In the Iranian Epic Shahnameh a branch of the Cypress tree that Zoroaster carries when he leaves Paradise and which he plants when the Kind converts to Zoroastrianism. The tree itself becomes a holy place one which bridges the heavens and the earth, and where the King resides. Zoarasarians believe it is the Tree of Paradise itself, ( see the Cypress of Kashmar).
In some stories, it suggested that the Cypress is the tree that Noah is told by YHWH to build the Ark, (Gopher). Genesis 6.1 -14
Later, in the Middle Ages, it was also believed that the wood from which the cross on which Jesus was crucified, was fashioned was a Cypress tree.
In Christianity and Islam, it is also believed that Cypress trees not only keep bad spirits away but also stop the spirits of the dead from rising and wandering around.
Interestingly, the doors of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome are made of cypress wood and were built some 1,200 years ago as yet they are still holding solid and there is no sign of rotting.
All this in one card, and not even the main protagonist, the angel. So we can see that these trees are trees of great grandeur and stature, but what can this all mean when we are reading the card. Like the Angel who sits despondently within her gilded cage, we are being told we are surrounded by guardians of the dead. Like these trees, we are a bridge between what has gone before and what is to come, a bridge between the underworld and the heavens, life and death, the dark and the light. All very much in keeping with this month. January, where we sit waiting for new life to begin and spring to rise from the depths of winter.
We need to stop focusing and being the Angel, waiting, perhaps somewhat despondently, for someone to come and rescue us. We need to smell the Cypress Trees and see we are not trapped by circumstance, by season, or by illusion.
Only fear keeps us locked in ‘our’ gilded cage.
The evergreen Cypress trees can show us the way. Here in this card, we are told to believe in the Cypress, in the Ancestors which came before us and those who will follow us,. To believe and trust in all those that surround us, guarding the paths for us, encouraging us to move on, up the Tree of Life, perhaps not too ‘Heaven’ yet but surely onto a better path.