Shall I tell you what the real evil is? To cringe to the things that are called evils, to surrender to them our freedom, in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering.
~ Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century C.E.)

This is certainly not the card I would wish for this week. After a long hiatus, and after the quiet respite of last week’s Hermit, it appears that The Devil has come calling for us.

This card has not come up since March/April of 2012, in the midst of the last presidential election. Previous to that, it visited in June, 2008. Are we sliding back into the pre-Obama, pre-economic crash hubris of that time?

The Devil is all about our relationship with our fears. And the R-W-S Tarot places The Devil directly in contrast with The Lovers card. The Devil is the number fifteen in the Major Arcana. This reduces to six, which is the Lovers card.

Look at both together and you’ll see that the couple is the same. The composition of the two cards is also identical – the two nude figures, with the woman on the left, the male on the right.

In The Lovers, we see the angel Michael (some believe he is Raphael) above them, who the woman gazes upon, while the man looks towards her.

In The Devil card, perched on the slab above them is the Horned One, also sometimes considered to be the angel Uriel. Both human figures look neither at him, nor at one another, only blankly downward.

In both cards, the supernatural being overseeing the couple is offering a blessing.

In fact, look closely at The Devil and you will see that the chains the man and woman wear are loose. If they would only awaken from their trance, they could escape.

Complacency and Evil

The Devil of the Tarot has been called the dark side of the collective unconscious.

And certainly, we are seeing a lot of that repressed, distorted shadow energy acting out in the public – from the popularity of a “textbook case” mentally ill presidential candidate, to the murderous rampage of a “pro-life” supporter, our seeming inability to overcome those who refuse to curb gun violence, to turning our backs on men, women, and children refugees, because there may be a chance of danger.

And despite massive injustice between the super-wealthy and the struggling middle- and lower-classes, it’s business as usual.

Also, this week, in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Paris, world leaders are meeting for a summit — yet again! — to attempt to agree to take meaningful action regarding the havoc of global climate change, already taking a deadly toll.

Still, those entrenched in the destructive, greedy status quo can be expected to thwart all progress on any of these issues that might entail any sacrifice or risk on their part.

And if, like the couple in The Devil, we ignore our ability to enact changes, we can anticipate nothing short of the slow, steady destruction of our free and open civilization as we have known it.

Saturn vs. Neptune

The Devil card is associated with the sign of Capricorn, which is ruled by Saturn. This week, we are now feeling the early shock waves of the first of three exact Saturn-Neptune squares.

Astrologer Molly Hall writes:

This cosmic choreography of Saturn squaring Neptune on certain cues over the next two years is worth a closer look. It promises to intensify a phenomenon that’s already underway.

And that’s the adventure of finding meaning — and a guiding vision — in chaotic, even surreal times.

Both planets are in mutable signs, with Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces. Since both are to do with visions, in all terrain from the worldly to the otherworldly, there can be swift and continual morphing of this question: What’s possible?

Reality itself can seem loosely held together, and at times, shared assumptions are busted up, in favor of more expansive — and inspiring — world views. Saturn aims to restructure the philosophical outlook, and free the mind to travel beyond known boundaries.

In its square to Neptune (Pisces), there can be disillusionment, and a dissolving of what seemed so real. And in that moment, there can be the urge to escape, if it’s too shattering a process for the psyche. But it can also be liberating, when the blinders are off, and there’s more to see and do and be.

What’s Possible?

What will it take, for each of us to take off our own blinders? How do we, you and I, personally address such massive problems? Because if we don’t, one by one, adding up — then, the next card of the Tarot is The Tower, which is how Divine rectification rains down on us, whether we like it or not.

The entrenched powers-that-be count on our inability or unwillingness to challenge them. Beware of being tricked into despair. You are not helpless. The world is not hopeless. Do not give your power away.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

In our communities, and in our personal lives, do we ignore addictions, self-sabotage, and behaviors that cause harm? How are we complacent? In what ways do we shun creative risks, preferring instead “the devil we know?”

Do we feed the fears and projections of our own Shadows? What bargains with the Devil have we made, in order that we not see or act upon the uncomfortable, inconvenient truths around us?

Like the apathetic couple in The Devil, the constant barrage of fear, cynicism, neglect, and denial becomes a habit that eventually numbs us; we become conditioned to it. Our chains become so all-pervasive, we can barely discern them.

Waking Up from the Hypnosis of Helplessness

What will it take to awaken us? What is the straitjacket we have assumed is normal, or that some would have us believe we deserve?

This week, I urge you to resist the urge to be the passive bystander in your own life. Get angry; get sad; get real; get moving. Whatever it takes. Just wake up. We cannot afford the indulgence of anyone’s self-pity, denial, or inertia.

We all have our distortions, fears, and blind spots. But there is great hope in knowing that once we are willing to look The Devil in the eye, we can take back our power.

Remember that the opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference. The most malevolent acts of mankind always come, not from passion, but from apathy.

If we cringe at our fears, and turn away from those in need, we empower evil in the world.

May this card be a wake-up call that offers a new beginning to all of us.


Wreath2We are a Circle
Within a Circle
With no beginning
And never ending…
~ by Deborah and Rick Hamouris

As I posted last week, TONIGHT is the night that we begin joining together every Sunday evening through Yule (or Christmas) for our annual Solstice Sun Wheel Prayer Circle.

If you have been a regular reader of mine, you know that starting in late November, I invite all my visitors, regardless of your spiritual path, to join together in a virtual Advent prayer circle (or spell weaving, if you’d prefer to think of it like that).

This is our ELEVENTH anniversary! The numbers joining us have doubled multiple times, making it now a huge, truly world-wide event.

So please join us each week, and please tell your friends and loved ones. The underlying energy of this practice is, by its very nature, inclusive and welcoming to all beliefs, traditions, and philosophies.

You can’t do it wrong and you can start ANY time. So if you have to miss it this week, you can still start with us next week, or any time until it’s over.

The Basic Idea

Beltane Papers coverThe original source for this particular adaptation was the late Helen Farias, founder of The Beltane Papers magazine, and then it was continued by Waverly FitzGerald in her School for the Seasons teachings.

Since 2004, I have been carrying the tradition forward via my own website, adding a few of my own embellishments.

This ceremony is simply an adaptation of the more familiar Christian practice of lighting candles on an Advent wreath.

All you need is a wreath, five candles, and a peaceful time-out each Sunday evening from now until Winter Solstice, and/or Christmas, depending on your preferred climax of the celebration. Of course, you can make it as elaborate or simple as you prefer.

Each Sunday, you will light a candle that is symbolic of some attribute, element, or vision, as we go into the deepest darkness of the year, and prepare for the birth of the Child of Promise, the standing still moment of Solstice, the reawakening of the Light.

Tonight, it will be one candle only. Next week you will light first the candle from Week 1, then the second candle. And so on, until Solstice night, or Christmas Eve, when you light the fifth, final candle, depending on your preference.

Solstice Sun Wheel First Sunday

Why Are We Doing This?

This is the season of Advent, which is not a strictly Christian term, although it is the name given to this very important season of the church. Advent simply means “to come,” so it can apply to the coming of the Christ child, or the coming of the year’s longest night and the assured revitalizing of the Light.

We are honoring both the fertile, necessary endarkenment, and preparing for the renewal and enlightenment.

For many of us, our faith — in life, or the Divine, or each other — is being tested like never before.

As we make our way to the end of the calendar year, the deepest dark of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are also preparing for that moment of stillness, when the Sun halts its descent, the Wheel of Time turns, and rebirth comes.

Even in the heart of the darkness, the light is never extinguished. The Gift of Love, the blessed renewal of life and hope, returns.

holding the light

All Paths Are Welcome

This ceremony is possibly the most familiar to Christians, since many denominations practice Advent ceremonies for Christmas, both in the home, and at church.

But it works beautifully for Pagans, too, counting down to Solstice by calling in the four Elements, or Directions.

I know of one couple who uses this as an opportunity to make a donation to charities related to the Elemental direction of the week. For instance, in this week of the element of Air, they might send a donation to the LUNGevity Foundation, then in the second week (Fire), the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and so on.

This ceremony adapts easily, too, for Buddhists, who might wish to light a candle each week to honor the The Five Skandhas, or perhaps the Four Noble Truths, with the final candle representing liberation.

Hindus might wish to choose sacred elements of the Vedanta for each candle.

Jews can imbue each candle to represent the five books of the Torah — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Non-religious attributions can center on what you may feel are the five most important qualities for a worthwhile life, or your favorite philosophical virtues. The possibilities are limitless, and can be adapted to any spiritual or intellectual path.

Our Intention for 2015

We are the bringers of warm welcome, grace, and radiance. We shine the light of wisdom and guidance for all in need. We offer our Light that heals and inspires.

We aid and embody the shift of our human family to a more just, compassionate, and fruitful affinity with all the worlds, and the Divine Good.

Additional thoughts can be found in the general information page here.

For Our Friends in the Southern Hemisphere

I invite you, also, to light Summer Solstice candles (perhaps on a Summer wreath of herbs and flowers), and shine your dazzling hearts upon this work with us. For you, too, are the light-keepers and an integral part of this weaving.

You are the stewards of the Light’s climax now, as it shines and warms, and you will be guiding it back to those of us in colder climes soon.

Inspiration for Tonight’s First Lighting (Nov. 29)

Gather with your loved ones, or alone, tonight around sunset. Ground and center yourself, or create sacred space in whatever way is right for your practice.

The first candle may represent the Element of Air: knowledge, information, understanding, communication. It is important to acknowledge the dissonance and worry currently affecting this element.

For some Christian denominations, the first candle on the Advent wreath represents Hope. Others consider the first candle to be in honor of Isaiah and the other seers and prophets of the Bible, who promised the coming of the Savior.

Note how this is in harmony with any Solstice celebrants in your household, who see their first candle as the Element of Air — imagination, visions, song, story, the mind. In the beginning, was the Word.

Candle in the Dark

From pollution in the air we breathe, to the spying and manipulation of global communications, think about how fearful perception distorts our allegiances, what we see, what we believe, how we make choices. We pass judgments, we are told and sometimes share hurtful stories about one another.

The stories in the media and that we share with each other can muddy our clarity, augment our fears, or inspire our Hope. If you are with others, you might have a discussion about this.

Then, allow some silence. With your breath, inhaling and exhaling, begin to see, know, and understand the power of this first candle.

With clarity and compassion, ignite the spark that will awaken the candle of East, dawn, and Hope. Let its flame illuminate with the Word, which is the divine promise given to all.

When your candle is lit, experience a profound awareness and gratitude for your own breath — the first, last, and most vital gift of life. Feel your inhale and exhale — your life-long companion, as it helps you relax, become alert, and aware. Let your breath sigh, or laugh, or sing, or pray.

As you light your candle, think quietly of all it represents to you. If you have words, Bible verse, a prayer, or a song to share aloud, please do. If not, simply focus on how this one candle changes the darkness to light in and of itself. Isn’t that exactly what our common desire is, regardless of denomination or faith?

Bask in its beautiful light, giving thanks in whatever ways your heart speaks to you.

Additional considerations

Be aware that, based on the many, many emails I’ve gotten over the years, there are certainly hundreds, very probably thousands of other people, in many different time zones, around the world, who are participating with you.

All of us are joined in this act of acknowledging the dark. We gaze with unflinching courage at our fears; we bless the fertile, necessary night; we accept the shadowy, silent Mystery of the unknown.

Acknowledging this, we are in unity as we light our candles.Hermit headshot

As you do this, send your energy and intentions for empowering and welcoming the birth of the Light. Consider all the meanings that “Light” has for you – in your own personal life, for the good of our community and our planet as well.

Gaze a while upon the dancing flame and call upon the powers of the week’s Element or Gift of Spirit, to heal and bless. Let it illuminate you, sparking your own spirit.

Now, the Advent has begun. We look for the coming Sun Child, the renewal of Life, the attainment, for all humanity, of Awareness.

When you are at peace, and the time feels right, gently extinguish your candle.

Blessed be!

Final Solstice Candle



Another Invitation for Magical Work, Besides Tomorrow’s Candle Lighting…

November 28, 2015

Dear Magical People ~ I hope you are preparing your wreath and candles and are planning to join us tomorrow at sunset (wherever you are!) for the first week of our Solstice Sun Wreath Advent ceremony. I’ll be posting some ideas and specific suggestions tomorrow morning, for our first lighting. I don’t want to add to […]

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Happy (American) Thanksgiving

November 26, 2015

I am encoring last year’s post… Blessings to all… Praise Her from whom all blessings flow. Fruits of Her harvest to bestow. Sustain us as we change and grow. Praise Mother Earth our ancient home. Blessed be. ~ a Pagan Grace, author unknown Happy Thanksgiving! As Caitlin Matthews points out in her beautiful and essential […]

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Wordless Wednesday: Breathe Along With Earth’s Passing Seasons

November 25, 2015

(As usual, full screen is highly recommended.)

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