We call first on the beings of the past: Be with us now, all you who have gone before…
We call also on the beings of the present: All you with whom we live and work on this endangered planet, all you with whom we share this brink of time, be with us now…
Lastly we call on the beings of the future: All you who will come after us on this Earth, be with us now. All you who are waiting to be born in the ages to come, it is for your sakes, too, that we work to heal our world. We cannot picture your faces or say your names — you have none yet — but we feel the reality of your claim on life. It helps us to be faithful in the task that must be done, so that there will be for you, as there was for our ancestors: blue sky, fruitful land, clear waters.
Joanna Macy, The Three Beings, from World as Lover, World as Self
M aking its appearance for only the third time ever, during this week of the Full Moon of the Cancer/Capricorn polarity, and the solar return of the U.S.A, we welcome yet another “gate” card. Say hello to the rare and mysterious Ten of Pentacles.
As I mentioned for last week’s card, the so-called gate cards of the Tarot open up levels of information not intellectually understandable. Tarot expert and deck creatrix Rachel Pollack calls this quality, “the Strangeness,” which draws in the viewer, offering both information and yet more questions.
In this card, the idea of a gateway is especially appropriate, since in it we see an archway that is literally a gate.
But more to the point of the “the Strangeness,” despite the superficial ordinariness of the scene, this is a multi-layered card full of magic. It points to the fact that in the mundane lies the most mysterious. For as above, so below.
Wonders Hidden in Plain Sight
Notice the placement of the ten floating coins – they form the Qabalah’s Tree of Life, a symbol shown in its entirety nowhere else in the Waite-Smith Tarot.
In the foreground is an old man, wearing a richly illustrated, multicolored cloak comprised of astrological and ritual magic symbols. Above his head, on the arch column, we see a set of scales in balance, referencing Justice, and the settling of karma.
Is he a mystic traveler, a disguised mage, or the patriarch of the family depicted? Interpretations vary widely. Rachel even suggests that he may be Odysseus, home from the wars, only recognized by his dog.
Speaking of the dogs, the old man and the child connect, yet do not actually touch, through their love of the dogs. Dogs are also important figures in both The Fool and The Moon.
Further back from the old man and the child we see a blue-cloaked man and scarlet-robed woman standing shoulder to shoulder. Are they happy, or are they turning away from one another?
In the man’s hand there is a magic wand – the only time one appears in the Minor Arcana. And not in the suit of Wands, mind you, but Pentacles.
And what is the dark, ghostly castle behind the old man? Is it simply a tapestry hanging on the wall, or is it actually another doorway to a shadowland that exists in counterpoint to the seemingly more “real” marketplace under the blue skies through the archway to the right?
As the final card of the Pips (the numbered Minor Arcana cards), this is the threshold that leads to the karmic life mysteries of the Major Arcana.
The Brightest of the Bright Time
The shadows of our world sometimes seem on the verge of choking all hope and goodness from us. But when we open our hearts and eyes to the truth of Nature, we discover this is not so.
Over the past few days, I have been marveling at the fullness of the world.
With Summer Solstice “just over our shoulder,” as my friend and sister priestess, Anastacia has poetically described this moment, aided by this week’s bright illumination of the Full Moon, we in the Northern Hemisphere now embrace the brightest of all bright days.
At this golden moment, no shadow can withstand the brilliant illumination that is there for those who know how to see it.
In only a few weeks, the first harvest will be upon us. The thinning of the Green energies and first true sense of the waning light will be evident, and the Wheel of the Year will have arrived at Lughnasadh.
But right now, the annual climactic moment of lush abundance is everywhere.
Our farmers’ markets groan with overflowing corn, cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes; peaches, melons, and blueberries are at their juicy ripeness. Fields, yards, and gardens are awash in Queen Anne’s lace, bee balm, lilies, roses, sunflowers, black-eyed Susans, and rainbows of petunias and zinnias. Pink and white confetti from sister crepe myrtle dances in the breeze and the verdant canopy of green in our own Laurel Hill woods is nearly impenetrable.
As the gate of Mystery in our card implies, the most magical gifts of Life are right in front of us. They are not hidden, but are not obvious, either, unless we know how to discern them. Like the symbol of the Qabalah Tree of Life, this pattern of power is obvious, once you know how to see it.
The Greatest Wealth
This same overflowing-ness is the message of the Tens of the Tarot, for they are the culmination-plus of each suit; the ultimate of the energy of their element, and then some.
And with Pentacles being about the Element of Earth — money, physicality, health, home, and security — this Ten is certainly a card that insinuates affluence. Thus we are invited this week to focus on the riches of the physical and natural world, and observe this time of abundance.
In traditional divination, this is a very happy card to receive if you are concerned with a successful outcome to a project or job. It is certainly a card of long life, great satisfaction, and enjoying the fruits of one’s labors.
After all, it follows the Nine of Pentacles, the “wishing card,” implying that this is what it looks like when your desires are manifested in the physical world.
But what would the greatest possible wealth be, exactly? Winning the lottery with highest number of dollars (or Euros, or yen) you could possibly think of?
The mysterious elements of this card remind us that our ultimate assets are not from some vast financial empire or success in the marketplace. One glance at the president of the richest nation on earth will reveal that huge sums of money and even power do not bring meaningful pleasure or peace of mind.
Our real treasure is to be found in our everyday life, and the people nearest us. Within these most ordinary matters, there are forces of great mystery and power.
And the greatest wealth in the world is the world itself: our interconnectedness with our living Planet.
Legacy of the Generations
True prosperity is the kind you “can’t take with you.” It is the endowment that you pay forward beyond yourself.
Its source is the stewardship that flows from the Ancestors, to the Living, to our Descendants — those future generations yet to be. What kind of planet are we going to give our children, and children’s children?
We stand this week at a brink of time between past and future, the fullness of the year brilliant all around us, yet looking to the first harvest of the year in a few weeks. What have we sown, and what shall we reap?
We are also celebrating the birthday of the great experiment in Democracy. Will it survive? Will its gold turn out to be real, or tarnished?
This is our choice to make by the small everyday, ordinary actions we take. It is underscored in how we work to heal our world. It shines in our care and kindness towards animals, children, our environment, and one another.
One day, we will be the old one who sits outside the gate. How do we want our descendants to remember us? What will be our legacy, and to whom will it be given?
How might we move through our lives with more awareness? How can we be faithful to the nameless ones waiting to be born, whose inheritance will be what we are now creating?
Under this Full Moon, let us vow that we will have lived so that we have enriched others, and thus wear with ease the cloak of Mystery.