magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters
ARRIVING on full moons each month.
rom earthy Capricorn we move into the aerial and aquatic realms ready to stir and shake things up with the one and only Aquarius.
Aquarius is the 11th sign in the zodiacal wheel, attuned to the element of Air and is a fixed sign ruled by Uranus. The Sun is in Aquarius from January 19 through February 18. As an Air sign, Aquarius symbolizes our relationship with our intellect, thoughts, and internal struggles as well as our role in our greater communities. In its depiction as the human figure of the Water-Bearer, Aquarius also symbolizes our relationship with emotions and our literal connection with the element of Water.
We depart from the mythic creatures we worked within both Sagittarius and Capricorn as we turn our attention to Aquarius and discover perhaps the most mysterious creature of them all: humans.
Like its predecessor Capricorn, Aquarius is one of the oldest constellations found in Sumerian myth, Babylonian codex, Vedic Astrological tradition, and Chinese star lore. In ancient Sumer and Babylon, the star cluster was associated with the great God Ea himself, the annual flooding of the Nile, and the emblematic depictions of the constellations could be elaborate, including a man bearing a cup with water flowing all around.
As we move forward into time and into Ancient Greece we see that the emblems associated with Aquarius become simplified – most often just the depiction of a cup or the depiction of a man with a cup–and the story behind the stars became more layered and nuanced. The story of Aquarius is one version of the story of the Flood which is an integral part of ancient myth in many parts of the world.
The Greek version stars the son of Prometheus, Prometheus being literally “forethought” and best known as the Titan who, after seeing that the Gods had given all of creation special gifts except for humans, decided to steal fire from the heavens (Starfire?) and teach people how to work with fire as a tool.
Prometheus’ famous punishment was to be chained to the side of a mountain where a vulture would swoop down and peck out his liver. Well, somewhere in all of that he had a son named Deucalion, and just as Prometheus’ name is forever associated with the element of fire, Deucalion’s is associated with the element of water and later air.
It all began with a sacrifice that went wrong. In some stories it is a king in Athens who pours a libation of water instead of wine, angering the Gods. In the older stories, it is something more violent and bloody, the sacrifice of a young boy to Zeus, that was taken as deeply offensive, heretical, and impure.
Here we see one of strongest traits of Aquarius come to the foreground – for this is the sign that is often seen as the cosmic rebel, refusing to go along with “the way it has always been done” and instead of looking with fresh eyes at whether an action still makes sense or is relevant(or was ever appropriate).
Aquarius is the sign least interested in tradition and there is goodness in that attitude because certain traditions (like human sacrifice, slavery, and child brides to name a few) must be called for what they are – wrong and unjust – and stamped out firmly and completely.
So, a young boy was killed for no good reason and the gods became enraged. What I hear below and beneath the surface of the story is the grief; that the heavens wept at the loss and waste of innocent life, and so they cried, and they cried, and they cried. And the waters came rushing down covering the land over and the rivers began to swell up and out and overrun their banks, and the oceans began to grow greater and higher and more vast than ever before.
That a flood is a cosmic cleansing is pretty obvious. Waters can ravage and level land as surely as fire can although in its wake, after the mud has dried and the sun has pierced through once more, great waters also prepare the land for a new life. It is this way for us too, especially when we are guided by Aquarius. For this sign understands that when there are traditions and ways of doing things that are not only not relevant but positively harmful to self and to others there must be an atonement, there must be cleansing and purification so that the harm and violence done can be washed away and out to sea. This is blessing work but also work that leaves us with the need to start again, find a new way, build something else.
And this is where Aquarius shines. For this is the part of the sky that inspires us with innovation and inventiveness; the place that encourages us to look forward to what is possible and not back into what has been. The water that overflows from Aquarius’ cup covers over the land and removes what needs to be removed, but then the real work of humans’ deep and brilliant minds is allowed to take center stage as we ask the question: what can be created right here and right now?
In the tale, the creator is Deucalion, Prometheus’ son who first figures out how to survive the Flood by building a boat large enough and sea-worthy enough for himself and his beloved wife. Once the waters have done their cleansing, deepening, work they recede, and Deucalion is left as the only man/Titan standing alongside his love. They become the founders of a new city where new temples, new governance structures, and new traditions take place.
Again, the parallels with the astrological qualities of Aquarius are profound. Lovers of what is new and what is possible, Aquarius is also a very political sign – concerned with the community at large, the polis as it was understood in ancient Greece – meaning the entire city. This is also the place where we see the Air element show up in Aquarius, for despite all the water image, Aquarius is an Air sign, and Air signs are all concerned with the bonds of civilization, social contracts, and the justest way to live life. In our day and age of virtual communities, Aquarius often makes itself at home on the web and thrives in any environment where new and more just forms of connection and representation are under consideration.
When faced with the task of repopulating the Earth, Deucalion and his wife were told to take the bones of their mother and throw them behind their backs. They used their mental gifts to unravel the mystery and understood that “bones of your mother” does not refer to the bones of your literal mother, but rather to the great rocks, the “bones” of THE mother – Gaia, the Earth. So they took rocks and threw them behind their shoulders and children sprung up in their wake.
This too speaks to the qualities inherent in Aquarius – the love of a good riddle or puzzle, a mental brilliance that is able to see past the surface right into the essence of things, and a way of living life that is fertile and procreative, but not in a conventional manner.
Often it is said that what separates humans from other creatures, what makes us so different is our intellect. But for the ancients and our own ancestors that were not quite the right understanding. Rather, the gift that we carried is the ability for the intellect to join forces with what we feel deeply, and what animates us and stirs us into action – it is that we are capable of right relationship between all of these parts that are truly remarkable. The same is true for Aquarius.
Sometimes the sign is characterized as “too mental,” and “too in the head,” but the truth is that Aquarius’ nature is born not fully sprung like Athena, but from a great well of emotion, of grief so deep that the waters themselves spilled out and over. Mental agility and creative thinking are called up not in contrast to but from the depths of those deep feelings and work in service of creating the new possibilities that those passions inspire. And this, I think, is what it means to truly bear water. For it is not about offering a cup full of water to this or that person – Aquarius is not the cupbearer, but rather the one who will bear up under the onslaught, and survive it so that there might be a new day.
Several astrological signs are represented by humans and in the context of this series, we must take the perspective of ourselves as fellow animals. We are indeed of the Kingdom Animalia, right along with every other living creature. Thus the sign of Aquarius asks us to consider certain aspects of our human-animal nature.
We have learned that Aquarius represents the Water-Bearer in many ways historically, but when we consider Aquarius as Animal, we must begin with our (humans) extraordinary relationship with the elements of air and water.
The most important factor that makes our planet Earth unique is the presence of the elements of water and air. Water is the main ingredient in forming a living organism and we all remember from school that our own bodies are made up of 60-70% water. Air is also required for life and even creatures that live underwater need air, for water cannot be created without oxygen.
There is a mystery to water, metaphorically, and scientifically. Water is obviously a necessary element to support life, yet we are constantly struggling with droughts and shortages. With all of our technological advances, why can’t we just create water in a lab? Turns out, creating the molecules that makeup water (H2O) is extremely volatile and dangerous! To briefly help us understand, here’s a simple explanation of the process…
“Water is made of two hydrogen atoms attached to an oxygen atom. This seems like pretty basic chemistry, so why don’t we just smash them together and solve the world’s water ills? Theoretically, this is possible, but it would be an extremely dangerous process, too. To create water, oxygen and hydrogen atoms must be present. Mixing them together doesn’t help; you’re still left with just separate hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The orbits of each atom’s electrons must become linked, and do that we must have a sudden burst of energy to get these shy things to hook up. Since hydrogen is extremely flammable and oxygen supports combustion, it wouldn’t take much to create this force. Pretty much all we need is a spark – not even a flame – and boom! We’ve got water. The hydrogen and oxygen atoms’ electrons’ orbits have been conjoined. But we also have an explosion and – if our experiment was big enough, a deadly one.” — Josh Clark
So you see, water is a precious thing. The chemical reaction required to bond the atoms together is too dangerous to be reproduced in a lab. It’s not even totally verified how water came to exist on our planet and there are really only theories as to how it formed eons ago. A scientific mystery.
The fact that it takes such precise circumstances for water to form, for those atoms to bond together, speaks to Aquarius’ tendency to be concerned with the community – the bonds that hold us together as fellow human animals, the link between the air of our intellect and the watery depths of our souls. And remember, these bonds don’t just form willy-nilly! Those atoms, just like Aquarius, are very selective about when and how they will join together. Once the bond has formed, though, the possibilities for movement and growth are endless.Water is also one of the most unfamiliar, unrelatable realms to us humans who live on land. To live in the water takes a completely different kind of body than the ones we have. We may find ways to explore and learn about our oceans, rivers, lakes, swamps, etc., but we will never truly know what it is to live beneath that glassy barrier.
It is in this way that water is most often associated with our emotions, an aspect that is frequently called “uniquely human,” though I would argue otherwise. Water is associated with emotions because they are the deepest parts of us, the parts beneath the surface that only you will ever truly know. Water is such an integral part of us that sometimes we exhibit our own human emotions by excreting saltwater from our eyes. When our feelings overwhelm us and the air of our mind becomes heavy like a rain cloud, it is water that seeps out.
It is the inherent nature of water and air to move toward balance. Areas of high and low pressure air are constantly drawn to each other in a dance of harmony. Water will continue to flow until an equilibrium is reached. If you find a pool of water on the ground and are able to break the surrounding edge, it will move toward the opening, seeking level ground as if it has always been waiting for the opportunity to move forward. And everywhere that water travels, it leaves in its wake the possibility of new life.
As we reflect on the stories of tears and Floods, we see that water shows us direction. Water can be free-flowing and rushing and forceful, but water can also be subtle and controlled. Air is the element that cannot be seen and the stories of personal relationships speak to the work of building a community that takes place behind the scenes and under the surface. Aquarius reminds us that while our thoughts and emotions may feel overwhelming, like a Great Flood, their turbulent nature can be redirected in a purposeful way that promotes the best possible environment for growth and new beginnings.
Aquarius shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Aquarius” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Aquarius occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.
Sit comfortably and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and listen to your breathing. Make each inhale and exhale a little fuller and deeper than the last.
Feel your body slowly relaxing; feel each muscle letting go, your head; your chest; your arms and hands; your stomach; your hips, legs, and feet; until all you are focused on is your breathing. Slowly in and slowly out.
See that you are walking on a sun-dappled path through a beautiful wood. It is dusk and quiet and still and peaceful. Notice your steps, your heartbeat, and your breath all in rhythm together.
The path begins to open up and you find yourself at the edge of the wood looking toward a smooth, glassy lake. There is a short pier connecting the shore to the water and a small boat is tied at the end. Make your way to the edge of the lake and down the pier. You feel safe and peaceful here as you climb into the boat and remove its tether.
As soon as you are free from the pier a gentle breeze moves across your face and begins to carry you toward the center of the lake. You do not need to paddle and you trust that the spirit of the wind is taking you where you need to go. As you move across the lake you feel cradled in this boat, skimming slowly along the mirrored surface, caressed by the delicate breeze. Allow the currents of the air and water to guide you in this vessel.
Your boat begins to slow as the winds recede and you are at the center of the lake. Close your eyes and sit for a few moments. Feel the subtle movements of the boat like a favorite rocking chair and the stillness of the air on your skin. Allow the rhythms of your body to fall in sync with the boat, the water, and the air.
Open your eyes and look over the edge of the boat at the surface of the water. It is perfectly smooth and you see your reflection crystal clear. Take a moment to stare into this watery mirror, looking yourself in the eyes. Acknowledge the miracle of your own life and ask your reflection what you need to let go of, what needs to change. As you ask this question, a gentle wind ripples across the water, distorting your reflection, turning the mirrored surface into a window through which you can see the parts of your past that no longer serve you. Observe this with no judgment. Like the gentle rocking of the boat, be gentle with yourself. Observe what you see and trust the truth of the water.
The water’s surface calms and returns to its perfectly smooth state. Look at your reflection again, now with the knowledge of what can be released. Acknowledge the miracle of your own life and ask your reflection to show your future self, the possibilities that will be open to you once you release the past. As you ask this question, a gentle wind ripples across the water, distorting your reflection, turning the mirrored surface into a window through which you can see all the potential available to you. Observe this with no judgment. Like the gentle rocking of the boat, be gentle with yourself. Observe what you see and trust the truth of the water.
The water’s surface calms and returns to its perfectly smooth state. Look at your reflection again and consider what the water has shown you – what it can take away, where it can carry you, and your ability to call on its life-giving properties to create the future you desire.
Sit for a few moments and feel the subtle movements of the boat like a favorite rocking chair. Feel the air on your skin as a gentle breeze picks up again, slowly carrying your boat back toward the pier. You do not need to paddle and you trust the spirit of the wind. As you move across the lake you feel cradled in this boat, skimming slowly along the mirrored surface, caressed by the delicate breeze. Allow the currents of the air and water to guide you back to shore.
Once you have reached the pier, step out of the boat and give yourself a moment to stand on the pier, looking out across the elegant, mysterious lake. Express your gratitude for the insights you’ve been given.
When you are ready, begin walking back on the sun-dappled path through the beautiful wood. It is dusk and quiet and still and peaceful. Notice your steps, your heartbeat, and your breath all in rhythm together. Become aware of your presence in your physical body. Allow your mind to gently return to the present moment where you are sitting comfortably, listening to your breath.
When you feel ready, open your eyes.
Our ritual for Aquarius is going to be a bathing ritual in honor of all of that water.
You will need:
1 cup kosher salt
1 pinch of dried peppermint
1 pinch of dried lemongrass
1 pinch baking soda
3 whole black peppercorns
An incense that you love
Washed and clean clothes(they don’t have to be new but they need to have been freshly washed)
Something from your past you would like to shed.
A future possibility you want to step into.
Combine the salt, herbs, baking soda, and peppercorns together. As you mix the ingredients focus and pray over what you are ready to let go of and what you are ready to step into moving forward. You may want to write both of these down in the petition form. Run your bath and add the ingredients to the bathtub. You may add the ingredients loosely but do be aware that clean up might require more of you if you choose that route. You may also place the ingredients in a muslin bag and add that to the bathtub. If you only have a shower place the ingredients in a muslin bag and hang it on your shower nozzle so that the spray goes through the bag and then onto your body.
Set yourself up so that after your bath you have your incense ready to burn and you will be able to step through the smoke and then access your clean clothes.
Take your bath, allow yourself to focus on what you are ready to leave behind. See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel yourself dropping it into the water. Every time you run water over your body see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel how more of the old story is being dissolved, released, and shed.
When you are ready stand up and drain the bath. Affirm and acknowledge that as the water circles down the drain all that you have released is going into the deep earth where it can be transformed into something good and useful once more.
Standing naked, do not dry yourself off with a towel but let yourself air dry. Light the incense and when you are ready to step out of your past and into your future, walk through the sacred smoke.
Your clean clothes should be waiting on the other side, put them on and as you do so affirm and acknowledge that you are now fully inhabiting your new story, new possibility, you are calling in your future.
Say any words of thanksgivings and leave any offerings you like as a final act to this rite.
Sara Magnuson was the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel, a purveyor of spiritual supplies and provider of various spiritual services that were in business from 2009-2019. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, ancestral, and based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.
iracles, if there is one question a tarot reader gets asked again, and again and AGAIN it is what is the meaning of a specific card. (the fool)
I’m not a fan of this question because I think that rote Tarot meanings only take you so far, and they certainly do NOT give you the tools to really make the readings your own.
I think questions, the right questions, do a much better job of that. That is why I created 20 Question Tarot.
This is a companion series to that class. In 20 Question Tarot we work with questions to get to the deepest meanings that each card has for you personally.
In the Ask and Answer Tarot series I am going to give you 6 questions that each Tarot card inspires you, the reader, to ask either yourself or the person you are reading for and 2 questions that will help you get to know the card a little bit better.
Card Number: 0 (in some decks 22)
Ruling planet: Uranus
These two questions will help you get to know the Fool a little bit better:
1.) What does the Fool help you do for others?
2.) What does the Fool prevent you from doing for others?
When the Fool card appears upright in a reading, these three questions will help you reveal its message.
1.) What are you ready to start?
2.) What are you willing to risk?
3.) What tools are required to accomplish your goals?
When the Fool card appears reverse in a reading, these three questions will help you navigate its advice.
1.) What practical/obvious details are you ignoring?
2.) What bad decisions in the past might be setting you up for, or contributing to your failure right now?
3.) What does right relationship to full-hearted faith look and feel like for you?
This one went out to the Facebook group first (you can join, you can join!) and I wanted to share it here as well. Uranus went retrograde on July 29th and is retrograde through December 29th. Typically when the outer planets go retrograde we do not feel it in our daily lives as much (except at the exact moments they retrograde and then go direct in some cases) but their prolonged backwards turning provides an opportunity to focus on the ways a planet’s specific and individual medicine is at play in our lives. As always, I find the best way to accomplish this is not through telling you what this planet “means” but rather giving you all questions in alignment with a specific planet’s gifts and challenges. Obviously, you can take your time with these and discover for yourself what your relationship with Uranus is or could be.
1.) What is my relationship to the heavens? (Ouranos in Greek means heaven)
2.) What does divine inspiration feel like to me? What does it look, sound, and taste like? How do I cultivate it?
3.) Is my vehicle and tech in good working order? Have I backed up the things that need to be backed up and tuned up the things that need to be tuned up?
4.) What area(s) of life need fresh vision at this time?
5.) What is my relationship to the future – my personal future as well as the global future?
6.) What messages do I send out into the world on a daily basis? Are they the messages I want to send out?
7.) What messages do I receive? How do I receive them (from people, happenstance, dreams?) and what do I do with the information?
8.) What sentimental attachment(s) am I holding onto that no longer serve?
9.) Who makes up my large community and how do I connect with them?
10.) Where does the volume need to be turned down in my life and where does it need to be pumped out full blast?
11.) Where have I recently felt like things were disrupted in a significant way? What did I learn from the disruption?
12.) What messages/understandings/insights have I received that feel essential and important but have not yet been fully woven into my life? How can I weave them in now?
13.) How do I inspire others?
ear Miracles: In these days of the Dark Moon leading up to a Libran New Moon on 9/24, it is a good idea to turn our attention and intentions to peace. Not peace in the sense of covering things up or looking the other way when faced with injustice. Not the false peace of holding our tongues when we would do better to speak out, but deep peace, abiding peace, peace that truly does surpass our reasoned understanding or expectations.
I chose the image of two otters holding hands because first of all: Otters holding hands! And secondly, I think this is such a true image of peace. Two creatures, content for the moment, holding onto one another as they drift in mamma ocean. The ocean, like the world in which we live, can be full of wonder or terror and we all know that calm seas can turn stormy in an instant. The otters know that peace is often found in partnership — with a friend, a loved one, a generous ally. So it is for us too, when we are in right relationship, with our loved ones, our body, our work, our creative aspirations, then there are moments of peace.
As many of you know, the New Moon in sacro-magical work is the time of beginnings. It is the time when we can plant the tiny seeds of our intentions for the month, the next quarter, or even the entire year. One time-honored way of “planting” is through ritual. So what seeds, what rituals are most appropriate for this particular New Moon?
Peace obviously is one good focal point. Libra, the sign of balance and harmony, chooses conversation over conflict and diplomacy over threats. Mars in Sagittarius places his discipline and drive for perfection in the areas of learning teaching, philosophy, and exposure to other ways of doing things — together these two can work beautifully especially in the areas of international relationships. Whether you are dealing with family drama or concerned about a geopolitical crisis, this New Moon offers a cosmic “reset” button…allowing us to change approach and strategy to create more collaboration and less strife.
Those of you dealing with a court case or legal issues may find that intentions and desires that are ritualized during this New Moon carry great weight and do much to bring any legal troubles or stresses to an end. (Libra is, after all, the sign of law).
Love is another good area to explore under the aegis of this beautiful New Moon. Specifically mending and healing broken love relationships of all kinds, working towards reconciliation, and infusing fireworks and fun into already existing and solid relationships is an excellent idea.
Money/Career affairs can receive an extra dose of brilliant insight at this time due to the lovely trine between Jupiter and Uranus. If you have been stuck on a money situation or feel like the financial sector of your life needs a boost then work this alignment by giving yourself a few days around and including the New Moon to brainstorm and delve deep into your relationship to money, work, and abundance. You are guaranteed to discover treasure.
Because Sagittarius has a dreamy, wildly psychic and creative side, this New Moon is quite good for sign and synchronicity watching as well. If you have been waiting for the right time to ask the universe for a sign, this period would is hard to beat!
Two good divination questions to ask during this beautiful black moon are:
Where in my life and/or what in my life needs peace now?
How can I provide or make space for that peace?
Wishing you deep, meaningful, peace.
PS: Don’t forget that registration for Three Ways of Wisdom closes on 9/22. If you want to take a tarot class with me this year, this is the class and now is the time!
ear Miracles: As we usher in September I am preparing for my favorite season — Autumn — with the celebrations, the remembering of our ancestors, the magic making, and pumpkin everything! I find that September, at least after the first week when we get into the swing of school time rhythms, is a wonderful month to assess and remember where we are, what we are committed to, and what we are doing with ourselves in our sacred arts work.
To me the best place to begin this investigation is to look at our daily practices — what practices are speaking to us strongly, resonating more often than not, and what practices feel dull, lifeless, and no longer vital? Right now taking the time to ask these questions is especially appropriate because we have two potent retrogrades happening in the heavens — both Uranus and Neptune are retrograde. Uranus will be retrograde until Winter Solstice and Neptune is retrograde through November 16th.
Longtime readers know that I often say that the key to working with a retrograde rhythm is to remember to “re”. Re-member. Re-assess. Re-structure. Re-view, You get the idea. The specific planets that are in retrograde provide us with a focus for all of this “re” activity. So in the case of Neptune, the planet that is attuned most potently to memory, intuitive knowing, psychic skills, deep feeling, and powerful dreaming, we can look at our daily practices and ask about these elements. Are they absent or present? Is there a way that they can be better honored in our daily rites?
Uranus in some ways is a polar opposite of Netpune but they are both planetary forces adept at walking and working between the worlds. In the case of Uranus (whose name means “heaven” in Ancient Greek) the key idea is visionary. Whereas Neptune looks back, Uranus looks forward and asks, what is possible here, now, going forward? Mercury is often aligned with intellect and intellectual capacity as well as successful travel and skills of mediation. Some find it helpful to conceive of Uranus as Mercury writ large — so that our inner brilliance is called forth, travel takes on a deeper meaning, and we each have the opportunity to mediate between heaven and earth. When Uranus retrogrades we have the chance to look at our daily practice and ask: where is the brilliance here? What travels, what adventures am I open to at this time? What am I mediating on a daily basis? Are my ties to the celestial and terrestrial strong and sure? If not, what blessing way might help with that?
People often ask me what a daily practice looks like. Well first and foremost it is something you do DAILY. Not weekly, not monthly, not once a year when you feel like it/remember it, but daily. Because consistency is the key to deepening your sacro-magical work we want our daily practice to be accessible. If you only have ten minutes a day to dedicate to your sacred art then let’s make those ten minutes count! Everyone has a different way of creating their daily practice, but here are some key components I find helpful to keep in mind:
1.) Stillness and Silence. If there is only one thing you can do let it be this. To be still and to be quiet—even for a couple of minutes—it is like a power nap! It leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to go forward with clarity.
2.) Prayer/Blessing. Blessing our selves, our precious bodies, minds, and spirits, and blessing those we love allows us to commune with what we most revere. To expand upon this consider blessing the home in the morning when you awake and in the evening before bedtime.
3.) Communion. With your guides, your allies, the Divine, or your own inner knowing. Communion often looks like stillness and silence but it is different in feel and technique because communion is actually listening closely and carefully.
Two possible additions to make to these guidelines at this time, given the dance between Neptune and Uranus would be active imagination journeys (mediating between this world and the worlds beyond in honor of Uranus) and developing or re-developing an intuitive sacred art like tarot in honor of Neptune..
And now Miracles, it is your turn!Tell me what aspects of your daily practice are running strong and/or what snags have come up for you all.
Happy September and Happy Practice!