From all who dwell below the skies,
Let faith and hope with joy arise,
Let beauty, truth, and good be sung
Through every land, by every tongue.
the Unitarian Universalist Doxology, adapted by Curtis W. Reese
What a beautiful gift for us during this last week of August, which is precisely when it last visited two years ago. As the Moon waxes and the harvest season deepens, let us gladly embrace the Three of Cups.
The Tarot suit of Cups is concerned with love, friendship, dreams, and heart connections. And the Threes are the fertile result of making creative combinations, echoing the greatest three in the Major Arcana, The Empress.
In this (Northern Hemisphere) season of first harvests, we are urged to be aware that plenitude lies right at our feet, like the pumpkins and fruited vines these women dance among.
Yes, I know. Even as, according to the most recent data collected in late July, some 29 million Americans are going hungry at least once a week, and some 15 million renters are in danger of being out on the streets.
It is a devastatingly grim time, I admit, so really, I cringed that the Tarot was gracing us with this visitor at this time. Cruel irony?
Never. That is not the way of the Tarot. Instead, “grace” is the operative word.
In artist Pamela Colman (Pixie) Smith’s Tarot interpretation, these three women are none other than the Three Graces. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I dedicated all of 2008 to these important Goddesses. A year we needed them like no other.
Known as the Gratiae by the Romans (from which we derive our word, “gratitude”) and as the Kharites in Greek mythology, the attendance of the Graces, Aglaia (“Ah-GLY-ah” – Splendor, Radiance), Euphrosyne (“You-FRAHZ-uh-nee” – Festivity, Cheerfulness), and Thalia (“THAHL-yah” – Blooming, Flowering, Joy), brings the assurance of happiness and harmony to all gatherings and endeavors.
Therefore, in ancient times, They were always the first Deities to be invoked at every important assemblage. At every banquet, the ancient Greeks always offered Them a libation of the first cup of wine. Prayers were offered Them at the outset of every journey. This is what the “saying of grace” actually is.
(For many years, I have given thanks to them at every meal, and especially at festive celebrations. I highly recommend this unique way of blessing your bounty).
Thus, despite very hard times and possibly worse to come, we are invited to taste the wine of true abundance – that of heart connection and gratitude.
What About the Poor?
In the afterglow of the Democratic Party’s National Convention, I was abruptly brought back to Earth by last Friday’s panel segment of HBO’s Bill Maher. It featured one of my personal heroes and possibly one of the most important people alive, North Carolina’s own Rev. Dr. William Barber, II.
Despite his crummy Zoom connection, Rev. Barber managed to pop my happy bubble by asking where, in the shiny new Democratic ticket, was any address made to the pernicious and pervasive issue of poverty in America?
Pre-COVID, impoverishment affected more than 40% of the nation; now it is over 50%. Barber noted that poverty is not confined to any particular race — there are over 66 million White people living in poverty or low wealth.
And all of these people represent a vast reservoir of disaffected votes, untapped because cycle after cycle, their needs are not being tackled in any meaningful way. So emphasizing the upcoming elections as an existential battle between Dark and Light (although I agree it very well may be) does nothing for potential voters who are more worried about the fact that “more than half of our children do not know if they will have a place to sleep, nutritious meals, and safe communities.”
In that rather blistering discussion, Rev. Barber, and Maher’s other guest, the brilliant cultural and political expert, Thomas Frank, noted that the liberal elites continue to ignore the most unpleasant side of these issues, the divisive flames of which are being fanned by ongoing, entrenched disenfranchisement and privation.
They argued that this oversight is, in large part, to blame for the Democratic loss in 2016. And they warned that not enough is being done to mediate the disastrous domino effect that has been triggered by the pandemic, especially for the many millions who are only one paycheck away from hunger and homelessness.
Okay, Beth. So what does this have to do with our Tarot card of the week?
Our Sacred Interconnectedness
The answer to a world of suffering is offered in the loving Cups held by these three Goddesses of Gratitude. These dancing women represent the strength and sacredness of community, accord, and the joyfulness we feel when we are a part of something larger than just ourselves alone.
The Three of Cups represents our power when we sidestep the forces that would divide us, and instead, join together. The solutions to our current dilemma will only be found in cooperation, sharing, fairness, and love.
We, who have so much, must summon the political will to acknowledge and defeat the toxicity of the current system. It’s not enough to give lip service and a 6pm hand-clap for the “essential workers” or a flurry of “likes” in social media stories.
It’s up to us to ensure our teachers, postal workers, health care providers, grocers, first responders, and agricultural workers are paid a decent, living wage for their vital work. Who else will make sure they have ample health coverage, food on their tables, and a roof over their heads?
With a generous hand, we are encouraged to dig deep, to change the very foundations of a culture that has been built on the constant chaos, violence, and marginalization of Black, Brown, and White people whose lives are a galaxy away from the so-called “Whole Foods Voters.”
These issues need to be front and center of the party platform.
See With Clear Eyes, Heal With Love Made Active
Aligning ourselves with the holy Earth’s rhythms and natural cycles is a revolutionary act that empowers and brings healing.
Although we certainly face a perfect storm of crises, the Three of Cups is a reminder that there is still much to appreciate. It directs us to notice what is good and right and nourishing for us. We can open our hearts in love and trust, giving and receiving with one another.
As if reiterating the messages from last week’s Ace of Pentacles, this card offers a glimpse of the joys possible when we understand the measure of enoughness. And it is a powerful directive to share.
Yes, there are countless injustices, crimes, and even terrors that need our urgent attention. We begin this week with yet another monstrous, inexcusable act of racist police brutality. And tonight is guaranteed to be the opening salvo in a whole new level of the orange tyrant’s twisted mental illness on parade.
We must not be discouraged or distracted.
Instead, this card is a beautiful affirmation of love and fellowship. When we unfailingly offer our hands in generosity, how might the world within our reach change? And then the circle beyond that, and the circle beyond that?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world,” anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said.
We are the few.
So which companions of your heart would you wish to weave the magic of healing and change with? To whom would you offer the loving cup of honor?
The Tarot taught me long ago that, no matter how grim things may be, it is an act of poor faith to fail to pause and observe our victories, large and small. It is an insult to the Deities if we do not celebrate the gifts we are given with heartfelt thanks, before we complain about all that still is wrong.
So let us express with tender gladness our great gratitude. Let the Three of Cups encourage you to connect with your dearest friends and favorite family members.
Slow down and step away when need be from the poisonous drama we will surely be steeped in for the next 70 days.
Building and strengthening a network of happiness is the source for a prosperous harvest and true wealth in a changing world.
Invite the Graces to all your gatherings and then raise a glass and be glad of your alliances with beloved people who understand and support you, as you do them. Let beauty, truth, and good be sung, through every land, by every tongue.
Because love and friendship are life’s deepest, sweetest gifts, and the only authentic, effective way forward.