New Moon in Leo: Strength VIII & The High Priestess II Reversed

I love studying Tarot, it brings me such deep joy to explore the depths of archetype and metaphor as it corresponds with celestial movement and ecosystem dynamics. The Tarot has been a very important teacher in my personal and spiritual growth, I find it speaks very directly to my desire to understand the nature of relationship. Each card has their own unique meaning and when they get together in a spread, much like formulating with plants or hanging out at a gathering, it is the interaction with another that enriches and brings layers of meaning to the surface that could not be found in the simplicity of one.

Each New Moon we find ourselves in the Sun Sign of the current month, while each Full Moon is reflected in the opposite sign. The Moon as a celestial body is associated with The High Priestess II, while The Moon XVIII is associated with Pisces. In reflecting on the energy of a Lunar Cycle, we could look to either card. Today I am choosing to work with The High Priestess.

When the Sun enters Leo, we are in the peak of Summer, the heat is scorching, the land is dry, the flowers have turned to fruit waiting to be harvested. Leo is the constellation associated with Strength VIII. Often in the iconography of this card we see a woman holding open the mouth of a lion, looking deep into the bone breaking, carnivorous cavern of the King of Beasts. This card speaks to our personal agency to face obstacles that feel impossible, we prove them to be possible and we flex our inner and outer fortitude in the face of doubt. Lately I have been reading the Light Seer’s Deck by Chris-Anne, absolutely loving their contemporary depiction of the classic Rider-Wait-Smith symbolism. Seen above in the header collage, this card shows a woman morphing into a lion, hair untamed she wears her heart on a necklace, seated sweetly next to a lamb. As a huntress, Queen of the Wild, she has the strength to withstand her base temptations as a predator and instead of making the helpless prey her lunch, she seems to be protecting it from harm, allowing her human compassion to shine through. Strength presents itself in many ways, most often in the face of hardship, we learn to be adaptable, flexible and resilient, emotionally mature, we take our struggles as core experiences that shape our perception of reality and inform our behaviors. When this card shows up along side the High Priestess, we see another story told, for in the darkness of the New Moon, the High Priestess is Reversed, she is in her shadow side, the mistress of mystery and magic is playing with the dark arts, exploring her secrets and wallowing in her reality that she was chosen to walk this path. As an initiate she is fully aware that the dark night of the soul is only one level of her understanding of herself, in her decent, she explores her hatred and fear, her trauma, her own harmful behaviors and belief systems. In the darkness she is blind to the steps ahead, yet she takes them, because as a priestess, she knows she can trust her inner eye to guide her to the stairs of ascent.

When Strength is alongside the New Moon face of The High Priestess, we feel an even darker night, because our egos, the animated shining self is challenged. Where we thought we had our act together, where we felt strong and secure, every time we said to ourselves “I’ve done my work”, the work comes raging back up to knock you off your throne. The King or Queen of the Forest is being cast down, called to attention and made to stand before the dark face of the Goddess. Turned to stone, frozen in fear, all the strength the Lion thought the had washes away, they are the helpless lamb, awaiting judgement and fate to have their way.

This New Moon in Leo, maybe you too are feeling like a phony, your ego and personal value being challenged, and it isn’t anyone on the outside telling you that you are a loser, its your own story coming back to bite you, but try you must to keep looking down the throat of the beast, because like the dark moon, the next phase will come. it always does. So take this time to be extra gentle with yourself, try to let your inner eye guide you out of the basement, and as you emerge, try grabbing one of those boxes you told yourself you would deal with later, and chuck it right under the full midday sun. Let the rays purify what has festered, take a long look at those old patterns and offer them back to the earth, to the water, air and fire.

This past month, I have been reading a lot about extinction and planetary change. There are three that are giving me an interesting new sense of place in the world through the perspective of global time, and allowing myself to feel a part of the bigger destiny of Mother Earth. My pagan spirituality also feels affirmed, that its all transference of energy from one organism to the next and that the end of the planet comes only when we are consumed by the sun.

Origins: How the Earth Made Us – Lewis Dartnell

A (very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Pithy Chapters– Henry Gee

Otherlands: A Journey through Earth’s Extinct Worlds – Thomas Halliday

While I understand that humans have hastened the inevitable, I still feel a sense of grief for the world. Watching the fires rage through Maui, reading about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, my heart just aches on a regular basis. Some of the plants I regularly work with as well as some of the new ones I am exploring in my current ecosystem are helping me process, hopefully they will help you too.

Elderberry, Sambucus nigra: I have been actively harvesting this one these past few weeks. While it is flavorful and full of immune potentiating properties, it also has been teaching me some interesting lessons. I am finding that in my ecosystem in the wild, it is more times than not, surrounded by extensive black raspberry bushes, making it impossible to reach. It is teaching me to let things be, I don’t have to force my human desire on the ecosystem in order to collect just the amount that I need. The soft, hallow bark, reminds me of the Hallow Bone, the state of spiritual being that allows spirit to move through, Elder is allowing me to be a gentle, curious, enthralled and patient creature in my landscape.

Motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca: This is the perfect herb for heart ache and break. Having a unique ability to regulate the heart rate in times of anxiety, the lion hearted herb strengthens the muscle, calms the nerves and aids digestion.

Rose, Rosa spp.: Rose is a plant sacred to the Goddess, often associated with the Virgin Mary, it is the plant of infinite compassion. Yet covered with thorns, is also represents the wounded healer. Rose allows us to work with our pain and suffering, it opens the heart for gentle release of emotion, while physically toning the muscle.

St. John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum: This plant, growing abundant along roadsides and in open fields has a long history of being worked with as a talisman against the evil eye, intrusive thoughts as a physical remedy for dark depression and nervous system pain. The red extracts of the flowers remind me of blood, thick and dark, a tonic to the vital force of the human spirit.

Some of the other plants I have been working with lately are Colt’s Foot, Tussilago farfara and Summer Lilac, Buddleja davidii. Both were important medicines in my recent respiratory infection, aiding the movement of mucus, easing pain and allowing for uninterrupted rest. Check out my Instagram for short materia medica videos