Ways of Knowing: Advent, Tarot, and the Moon

I feel, so often, that my self is kind of a strange dichotomy. I am in seminary, currently on a path toward Christian ordination. The rhythms of the liturgical year are etched deeply in my soul, and right now it's Advent, the Christian pre-Christmas season of darkness, preparation and waiting. Yet the rhythms of the earth & sky are embedded in me just as deeply, and the Winter Solstice means even more to me spiritually than Christmas does.

I'm pretty sure both of these attachments and longings point toward a mystical core deep inside of me that's been papered over and stepped on and plastered and bricked up by the rationalistic-logical world of patriarchy. But layer by layer, I'm unearthing her. Through connections I've made in seminary and outside of it, in spiritually-oriented women's circles, I've begun to embrace a femme epistemology. Femme is a kind of queer femininity, and epistemology means a way of knowing and learning. It means I am turning to unexpected sources to discover and discern the Voice of the Holy, seeking something authentic and true to my whole self.

One of the paths I've rediscovered on this journey is divination, particularly Tarot cards. I'm not going to go deeply into the why and what of Tarot right now, but suffice to say this is not about fortune-telling, but about tapping into my own inner knowings, dreamings, wonderings. It's about holding up a mirror to my subconscious self, and letting her have a conversation with the rest of me. I've dabbled in Tarot off and on for the past decade, but my experiences in seminary have given me a deeper, richer grounding, and I don't think it's going away this time. I’m even offering folks free readings as a birthday gift. (Check it out!)

Another piece of femme epistemology I'm becoming reaquainted with is moon cycles. Attending the phase of the moon is one of many ways to be attuned to the natural world, and as I sync myself to its rhythms, I use awareness of each phase as an opportunity to investigate myself, my goals and dreams, my work, my life. At the new moon, I set intentions, and at the full moon, I (try to) release old shit: that which no longer serves.

All of this is to say that this past Sunday, after a wonderful evening in church (with temporary tattoos! Mine were tarot-related, natch, and everyone was super-interested), with the light of the full moon, I turned to Tarot to ground me in myself, to explore who I am this minute, why, and whither. Since I still consider myself quite a novice, I was surprised to find myself "inventing" a tarot spread!

I began preparing for my read with this spread, which I found via google search last month. But as I began shuffling my cards, holding the questions for each position in my mind, I heard the questions change, shifting slightly to encompass other pieces of my spiritual life (Advent!).

After I laid out my cards and read over their "assigned" meanings in my books (yeah, still learning), I found myself with a message for myself that was whole, powerful, and clear. It was stunning, even after months of learning that Tarot does, in fact, help me to hear the voice of the Holy. I knew right away that I would come here and share my spread with you.

May it be a blessing.

My three-card read, using the Wild Unknown Tarot deck, along with my December guiding card (top, from Tarot of the Sacred Feminine) and one that fell out during my shuffle, which I trusted to have something to say that helped shape the tone of everything else in my spread. I definitely recommend the practice of attending to jumping cards!

Advent Full Moon Tarot Spread

This spread is all about perspective.
Lay out three cards any way you like. I used a simple line.

Card 1: Complexify
The full moon can shed light on many things, and usually we eagerly seek illumination. The gifts of the season of Advent, however, come in darkness and stillness. In this full moon, we seek light that dances like fire, reflecting our inner truth but also creating as many shadows as it dispels.

Where might you have too much harshness in your life?
Where have direct, bright lights flattened out your subject, and how might you complexify it?

Illuminate for me, Goddess of Shadow, those places flattened by glaring brightness. Gift me with the complexity and depth of shadow, as well as eyes to see the sparkling of the snow by the light of the moon.

Card 2: Open
The full moon is a time of release, and we usually think of letting go of things. Material goods, projects, sometimes people. During Advent, we remember Miriam, who almost certainly had plans for her life that didn't involve becoming an unwed teenage mother. Yet when the Angel appeared and told her she would be the Mother of Jesus, she released her desire to control every aspect of her life and instead Opened to cooperative work inside the situation that was handed to her.

What are you struggling to keep under your control?
How might you create inner space to allow, to prepare yourself to receive gifts you didn't expect?
What do you need in order to enter into an open relationship of co-creation with the rest of the forces of the Universe?

Create in me a new heart, O Mother of All Things, and fill me with the spirit of Miriam. May I be open and ready to receive all the glorious gifts of this life as I enter into the project of Creation with You.

Card 3: Grace
At the full moon, we may look back at the seeds we planted last season and expect to harvest them. Sometimes we can, but as the "Open" position reminds us, things don't always manifest as we expect, no matter how much control we think we have over the situation. Grace, here, is the possibility for any situation to be transformed into beauty and joy. It is the knowledge that no matter what has happened, wonderful or painful, bountiful or sparse (or any other combination), there is always a path (or several!) forward toward goodness. It may not look the way we expect, it may not be the path we thought we wanted, we may have to make twists and sharp turns, we might even find ourselves back at what feels like a beginning, but all things are new every moment, and Grace is ever-present, in many different possible paths.

Do you feel like you've been waiting forever for something that has not come to be?
Where can you look for the Grace of possibility as you move forward into the darkness?

Spirit of Life and Love, enlarge my vision beyond all expectations. Guide the transformation of my soul and travel this spiral path with me.

Amen, and Blessed Be.