Now open the ancient gates of the turning,
Now welcome our Yuletide treasures in.
Delight in the gifts of the manifest world,
Rejoice and give thanks – let Winter begin.
Ace of Pentacles Winter Solstice invocation by me (Beth)
Just as it did last year at Summer Solstice, and in the wake of many others in its suit recently, an important, Earthy messenger comes in this week of the Winter Solstice. Hail and welcome to the Ace of Pentacles.
For our friends below the Equator, their longest daylight arrives on Thursday, after which the hours of light will begin to shorten. For us in the lands of the Northern Hemisphere, Winter Solstice descends upon us this week, marking the deepest, longest nighttime hours. It is the ancient celebration of the Light’s rebirth, for after Dec. 21, our daylight will begin to slowly lengthen.
So what does the Tarot have to say about this ancient gate that swings open to sacred stillness and this time out of time? For the very word “solstice” is taken from the Latin words for the Sun (sol) to stand still (sistere).
As with all Aces of the Tarot, this card holds the full potential of its suit. Each Ace shows the hand of the Divine emerging from a cloud and offering a gift.
The Ace of Pentacles represents the power of the Earth, since the Pentacle is a magical tool that is ruled by the element of Earth and North.
The Disc or Pentacle may represent a sacred shield, a coin, or even a scrying mirror of destiny. But its power is to manifest into physical reality that which your imagination (Air), desire (Fire), or heart (Water) long for.
You may notice that this is the only Ace that does not portray the Yods, the golden symbols of the Divine spark of creativity and genesis. This is because, as Tarot expert Rachel Pollack notes, “The Earth in its completeness and solid reality, bears its own magic.”
This Ace is being given from within a garden, that numinous place where the will of Nature and humanity work in harmony. It is also the place from which some of the major religions, sadly, believe we have been exiled.
Who, we might ask, really banished us? Is that story really the will of the God(s), and humanity’s eternal legacy?
Might it be possible that mythic rejection was never true and that we have been welcome at the banquet of Divine plenty all along?
Could it be that we have exiled ourselves from the Garden, by the choices we keep making? For behold – the gateway is open, and crowned with flowers.
This time of year is the height of the craze of acquisition and commercialism. Hanukkah, Yule, and Christmas are the biggest shopping events of the year, with countless merchants relying on this season to survive.
On the one hand, I find myself always celebrating the success of small store-owners and entrepreneurs (because of course I am one myself) and I grieve when a little shop, restaurant, or service-provider closes, the investments and dreams of its owners dashed.
But on the other hand (there’s my Libra ascendant talking, again!), the insane emphasis on hoarded profit and extreme capitalism has created a vast inequity between the haves and have-nots, not seen in generations. The relentless message in our culture is that nothing is ever enough; that temporary satisfaction can only be gained by having newer, bigger, better; that scarcity is reality.
Political trigger warning: And this institutionalized greed is poised to become a breath-taking overthrow of the highest and most compassionate ideals of our country, as the filthy scheme being touted as a “tax reform” plan is likely to become law this week. As anyone with more than a 6th grade education must by now realize, it is not a tax break at all, but a device to loot the funds that taxpayers have for years set aside for the elderly, the poor, students, the infirm, and even the beleaguered lower and middle classes.
This culture’s dysfunctional relationship with enough-ness helps to feed this diabolical distortion.
But I believe the Ace of Pentacles, having last appeared during the Summer Solstice of 2016, and now, during this most ancient gift-giving season, has a profound offering for us, for like the magical Hand in the cloud, there is help on the wing.
The Blood of Our Planet
In her wise and beautiful book, Money Is Love (which I have recommended to countless clients, and even given away many copies), Barbara Wilder writes, “Money is the blood of the planet. Heal the money and we can heal the world.”
Money exerts a deep emotional influence on who we are and what we believe we can or cannot have, including our social and geopolitical structures. According to some thoughtful observers, our long unwillingness to understand the emotional and spiritual effects of money on us may be at the heart of why we have come to know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
Once upon a time, money was sacred, used only in connection with our relationship with the Divine. Before the banking systems and commerce of Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the promissory notes and records that represented actual wealth (primarily the grain stores) across much of northern Europe, the Celtic people were using metals for trade, including first copper, then gold and silver.
The earliest, and eventually, the finest of these objects were not for human use, but gifts to the Goddesses and Gods. That’s because gold and silver were considered literal aspects of Deity, specifically, the Sun and Moon. It is important to understand that these precious metals were not symbols or representatives of the Gods; they were an integral part of the Divine Immanence, and Presence in all things.
Because all things — stones, rivers, animals, and humans — were faces of the Living Divine.
Rather than being evil (or the root of all evil), the concept of money as a sacred link between Heaven and Earth lasted well into Roman times.
Perhaps our Ace is encouraging us to rebirth this sort of intimate, spiritual responsibility regarding money, as a sacred proxy of our physical world.
As Jacob Needleman, widely admired author of Money and the Meaning of Life notes, “Our lives are hell, not because money is so important to us, but because it is not important enough.”
Author of the essential daybook, Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach agrees, noting, “If money were more important to us, we would seek to understand its impact and how it influences every aspect of our lives.”
So I would suggest we begin to think of money as a magical tool, for surely, it is powerful and pervasive in our lives. It affects us in countless ways, every single day.
For Witches and others who devote so much attention to understanding and working with the subtle energies, it seems to me that money is one of the most ancient and powerful forms of energy there is.
New Moon, New Beginnings
This morning (Eastern time), the Sagittarius New Moon arrived, and with it, the final lunation of 2017. Now, in the darkest nights of the year, Moonless, we are poised at the doorway of the ancient Yuletide festival, a hinge time during which transformation and the birth of the Child of Promise arrive.
Planting our seed of intention, making our wishes, gathering the gifts of our hearts to share with our beloveds in this holy season — these all can be in divine harmony with our Ace of Pentacles.
Last night, we lit the fourth, Earth candle on our Solstice Sun Wreath. What were your prayers regarding the Guardians of the North and for our sacred Mother Earth?
Now, as the days tick down to our final Solstice candle, riding with all the potential of this New Moon, what if we choose now to commence a more holistic way to co-exist with our Mother Earth?
What if, one wallet and one vote at a time, we build a new economy, based on cooperation, collaboration, and exchanging our resources in ways that honor each other, and life itself?
Instead of our culture’s constant scramble to claim every morsel, even if it is out of the mouths of children, or stealing from the waters that bring life to villages far away, what if we measured our wealth by our ability and willingness to share?
What if prosperity was not viewed as belonging to a few individuals, but affirmed instead by the flourishing of communities, and the encouragement of each person to employ their visions and best talents?
Earth and More Earth
In addition to the powerful New Moon, this week, the Sun moves into the Earth sign of Capricorn (hence, the Solstice), and Saturn does as well. The task-master planet of time and karma will dig in to his home sign until Equinox, 2021.
I love that this arrival into his home constellation occurs at precisely the time that the ancient Greeks and Romans once celebrated the rowdy Winter festival of Saturnalia (which was later appropriated into Christmas, in order to aid the popularity of the new religion).
The transit from Saturn in Sagittarius to Capricorn is likely to be seismic. My friend, astrologer Elisabeth Grace, writes:
A few thoughts about Saturn — which refers to authority, structure, discipline and control — moving into Capricorn TUESDAY at 11:48 PM ET.
Saturn is the ruler of Capricorn. The Capricorn mantra is “I USE.”
What’s the most efficient way to get something done? Great! Let’s do it.
Capricorn is a master of strategy: let’s put X with Y and make something happen. Take care of business! What’s the bottom line?
Whereas Cancer needs to build a structure that supports home and family, Capricorn needs to build structures that support the home on a collective scale: governments and corporations.
Saturn and Capricorn refer to ambition, responsibility and maturity. That’s the upside. The downside potential is a literal downer: depression, worry…and fear.
Saturn is a tough-love teacher, and as Annie Heese notes of Saturn’s transits:
Although Saturn transits can make life feel like a drudgery (these are often times when our lives seem to move at a snail’s pace and advancements are hard to see), they also give us the opportunity to gain inner strength, to become more responsible for what we do and say, and to cut out waste or excesses in our lives.
Basically, what happens is a form of paring or slimming down in the area of life affected by Saturn. We are getting rid of things in our lives that are not working for us in the real world, and focusing on improving and strengthening the things that do serve a useful purpose.
Saturn transits can also be considered times of conservation in whatever area of life that Saturn is affecting. We generally build up our reserves and conserve our energy during these periods.
Thus, our Ace points to taking a more measured, sustainable approach to wealth and abundance than the crude avarice that has been driving our economies for so long.
It offers a gift of abundance, but with the understanding that we are all interconnected on this planet, and wealth is not a zero-sum game.
This week, you might consider what feels like treasure for you. Is it really the numbers in the stock market? Is it the trickle-down from closed-door dealings by unknown money handlers who risk our livelihoods in their secret gambling circles?
Do we meekly succumb to the shadowy wheeling and dealing of the unnamed elite, by whose whim, in the blink of an eye, thousands may be unemployed, unhoused, or bankrupted?
Shall we settle for food that is drenched with secret, deadly chemicals or artificially created in a laboratory? Cheap, disposable goods made by children in wretched conditions? Is life made richer by accumulating more and more gadgets and mindless entertainments that detach us from our own humanity?
Perhaps true prosperity is much simpler, yet increasingly elusive: having plentiful, healthy food on your table, clean water pouring from your faucet, and peace in your neighborhood.
The Ace of Pentacles recommends these as benchmarks of our personal prosperity, abundance, health, security, and happiness.
It also suggests this as auspicious time for planning new projects and making purchases for beautification or pleasure.
(With Mercury retrograde ending on Friday, it should be more favorable for moving forward with such activities).
This is an opportunity to re-discover the wonders of your physical body. Perhaps you might get a massage, begin a new workout regimen, or learn to prepare new kinds of nurturing foods. This is also an invitation for exploring new sensual delights.
This week, there is a potential for a new start, one that has, in its very structure, the elements for a successful outcome. Could there be a promotion, new job, or inheritance coming for you?
In what ways might you create a new level of comfort, beauty, and security in your life?
This Ace is a bit conservative, and it does not give you a green light for wild risk-taking, overspending, or flights of fantasy. But if your activities are practical, conscious, and steady, very good things are likely.
Build strong foundations, and embrace the sweet sacredness of the physical, manifest world.
In this blessed season of giving, share with your loved ones and those in need, with as generous and loving a spirit as you are able. After all, yours may well be the hand of generosity that reaches out to bestow a needed miracle or two.
Sing we joyous all together!