I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning…
Traditional (Earliest printed version from 17th century Derbyshire, England)
This is a holy week for millions of Christians, Jews, and Kwanzaa celebrants, plus the week of a New Moon that brings a Solar Eclipse, and, not least, it’s the final full week of the decade we might well call the Troubled Teens.
So I was very curious what the Tarot would send us off with. Something big? Justice or the High Priestess yet AGAIN? (Good golly, I sure hoped not!).
No, instead, as usual, the Tarot knows far better than I what is perfectly in tune with this magical portal time. Let us welcome the simple, yet deeply powerful Three of Wands.
In the Waite-Smith deck, we see a merchant on a hilltop, gazing down on a brilliant golden river or sea, with three ships sailing from right to left, implying a return voyage, rather than departure for the sea.
The Tarot Threes are about movement and change, synthesis and manifestation, and fertile possibilities coming to fruition.
And the element associated with the Wands is Fire, which rules the qualities of creativity, action, magic, growth, and passion.
If we were to make a narrative of the fiery, magical Wands suit, the Three naturally follows the Two of Wands, which would have been a time of deciding.
In the Three, the figure has already launched his choice, and his desire is now in motion. With a calm confidence, in the golden light, he waits for the arrival of the success he has earned, as the ships sail by below.
Somewhat similarly to the Two, the figure stands between two staves, forming a doorway. But here the two wands forming the door jamb are even with one another, and there is a third wand just to his (or her) back. This new chapter is more stable and has support from behind.
In the Two, he is making a choice, and skies are gray. He holds the weighty globe in one hand, grasping the wand in his other.
In the Three, the “doorway” is solidly grounded, and there is a golden light over everything. Success is evident everywhere.
One can’t help but notice that the figure bears a very strong resemblance to The Magician, if his back was turned to us. It is no accident that power fairly throbs within both sunlight-filled, dazzling cards.
Setting a New Intention
As I mentioned, this is the last week of the year, and of a difficult decade. So many world crises are poised to boil over it is hard to know where to begin, and more are being added daily (like North Korea’s promise of a “Christmas surprise”).
Still, we are reminded by the Tarot to have courage. It takes audacity to set the intention needed for manifesting. And the Three of Wands is an illuminating representation of how combining organization, boldness, and the ability to work with shifting winds will succeed. For all of history, this has been true – not without fail, but certainly time and time again.
As Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”
Last Saturday’s Winter Solstice set the tone for the months ahead, since the charts for the Equinoxes and Solstices provide seasonal astrological insight. It would seem that unusually potent energy is at our fingertips, as famed friend, astrologer Elisabeth Grace notes:
In the solstice chart, the Capricorn Sun is ready to make things happen — bigly — as we see by its approaching meet-up with Jupiter in just a few days. We can anticipate exuberance and expansion …
“Exuberance and expansion” — precisely the forte of the Three of Wands! So how might the influence of Capricorn help you build a plan that actually works?
We have the extra boost, too, of this week’s New Moon in Capricorn. As most magical people know, by the dark of the Moon, we can plant our “seeds” of intention. But wait! There’s more!
This New Moon is accompanied by a Solar eclipse. In Cafe Astrology, Annie Heese writes:
An annular Solar Eclipse occurs early Thursday at 4 degrees and 07 minutes of Capricorn. Its effects can be felt up to six months after the actual date of the eclipse.
In the Saturn-ruled sign of Capricorn, public life, career, reputation, achievement, and accountability are in sharp focus.
This eclipse is about new beginnings regarding all of these matters.
This is a time for setting practical, attainable goals; working on developing maturity and common sense in the personality; considering the future, and preparing for it; focusing on concrete ways of developing self- discipline and self-mastery; finding ways to give satisfying form to wishes; making commitments and recognizing responsibilities; accepting that we are limited, and that, ironically, some of our limitations truly free us to explore deeper dimensions of experience by offering us a secure foundation, and nurturing our dreams in a realistic fashion.
Capricorn teaches us that recognizing our limitations actually frees us to focus on what matters, where we are, who we are, and where we want to go. With the potent Capricorn energy of the Solar Eclipse, we have the chance to make important changes in our lives that will benefit us well beyond this Moon cycle.
For some of us, circumstances are such that we need to pay more attention to these matters. Flaws in an important system in our lives are revealed around the time of the eclipse, prompting us to redo or to start fresh. Something ends in order for something else to start anew.
We may be called to give up something in order to move forward into a new chapter in our lives. Although the “new” may be unrecognizable, it is important to allow the necessary surrender to the unknown.
[Emphasis is mine. – B. ]
Yes, perhaps in the very same way that our Three of Wands protagonist might have had to give up control of his (or her) entire fortune for years at a time, hoping that those trading ships would sail home in a timely and successful manner.
But be reassured, for, as Annie points out, “The eclipse point itself is conjunct Jupiter and trine Uranus, pointing to a real feeling of hope and meaningfulness regarding our new beginnings. We’re excited to make improvements.”
Turning the Page on the Past
All that is old is truly coming to an end as the old Moon dies and the New Moon is born. Under a very different set of circumstances, we will be urged to look ahead.
This week, take some time to assess past results that are the culmination of your prior preparation and foresight.
And what long-term action begun now might lead to a very desirable, even magical transformation? How might your passion and creativity contribute towards a better future? Are you willing to wait patiently for your desire?
What are you hoping to attract to yourself through your best energy and effort? What seeds will you make your wishes upon? In what activities and endeavors shall you invest?
Use your creative visualization to name and know your deepest longings this week. If the vision is indeed your calling to become something better, you have the golden blessings of the Universe.
May your most brilliant ships come sailing home to you.
And all the bells on Earth shall ring.