Tuesday 30 October 2018

A dip into the Runes

Now that we’re in Scorpio, the sign of – among other things – secrets, I thought it was time to dip into the runes and see what secrets I could unearth there.  Today, out of the Alembic comes …


…also referred to as Beorch, and Ba, depending on what source or system you’re using.  According to some, Beorc means ‘birch goddess’, but ‘birch’ seems to be the most common translation.  

Birch symbolizes growth, birth, becoming.   The birch was considered as the tree of fertility.  I’ve also heard it used to represent the idea of liberation, although it might be more about increasing vitality, which in turn could lead to shaking off the old and feeling liberated as a result. Being lightly whipped with twigs of birch was meant to increase vitality; this practice still exists in Scandinavia where, after being in a sauna, you’re meant to roll in the snow and then lash yourself with birch twigs!

Beorc is a fertility symbol, the two lobes resembling a woman’s breasts.   The rune suggests the start of something new – the birth of a new idea or new project, perhaps even the birth of a child.  It can also symbolize your home, where you come from, your roots.  You might be being asked to develop greater awareness of ‘hearth and home’.

XIII Death (trimmed):
© Haindl Tarot
Ba can also mean ‘boat’ and ‘bier’.  That might not seem to relate to the other meanings associated with this rune, but just think about the Viking funerary traditions:  they set the biers on boats, sending their dead across the sea to a new life.  Death, birth.

Beorc shows up on Hermann Haindl’s eponymous Tarot deck’s Death card.  We see the boatman ferrying his boat across the marshes – Charon, perhaps, or one of the Avalon boatmen waiting for another soul to carry onwards. The cycle of life and death again, appearing in the card of transformation and the ‘great journey’.  Here the presence of Beorc reminds us of (re)birth part of the cycle, and the sense of liberation that comes from letting go of what’s no longer of use.

…and Death is also linked, astrologically, to Scorpio…the sign we entered only a few days ago.  More about this card in the next few days…

Haindl Tarot, created by Hermann Haindl, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Full Moon in Taurus

Today’s offering comes from the Wildwood Tarot, created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, beautifully illustrated by Will Worthington. 

18 The Moon on the Water (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot

The Moon on the Water seems like the perfect card to work with on the day of the Taurus Full Moon.  Full moon overhead, casting light over a marshy landscape – that’s appropriate too, as we’re in the watery sign of Scorpio.  And against the backdrop of that moon we see the silhouette of an aurochs, the ancestor of our bull – the symbol of Taurus. 

Taurus is associated with fertility, among other things.  In the old Druidic traditions, a bull or ox might be sacrificed at midwinter, as a symbol of new life emerging from the ‘dead’ of winter.  In the accompanying book to the Wildwood Tarot, the creators write of the auroch’s horns representing not only the waxing and waning of the moon, but also fertility: they see the womb and fallopian tubes in the bull’s horns. 

New growth emerging from death is also a theme of Scorpio, of course, with the transformation from what’s decaying or no longer of use into something from which new life can emerge. Just think of your compost heap!  The Moon represents this too – the cycles of life: birth and death, new and old, waxing and waning.

So what might The Moon on the Water be saying to us today? It’s difficult to see a way through the marsh, although the Moon does cast a path of light (reflected from the Sun) over the water. The 'passage through the unknown', perhaps? The heron, a water bird, represents psychic ability as well as reflection - and there's plenty of reflection in the imagery. The heron also stands at the gateway between life and death, acting as mediator on the soul's journey to the underworld. Or between conscious and unconscious? Under the surface (how Scorpionic!) lies the “primal egg” (to quote Ryan and Matthews), waiting to be fertilized. So, at this time of the Taurus New Moon, perhaps it’s time to stand still for a moment, and see the potential that lies before us. Pay attention to your dreams and your imagination – what are you being called to create?

Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

Tuesday 23 October 2018

The sting of the Scorpion

Today, at 12.22 BST, the Sun moved (astrologically) from Libra into Scorpio. 

Leaves continue to change colour, but now they’re falling from branches, covering the earth in a blanket of gold, bronze, and orange.  The autumn winds lift them up; they whirl through the air, twisting and swirling in a vortex... Since the equinox, the nights are growing longer, giving us the opportunity to spend more time dreaming.   

Here in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere, people are planting bulbs – the ‘seed’ of life being sown underground where it will lie protected and nurtured until it’s ready to ‘spring’ forth in a few months’ time.  Is it any wonder that Scorpio, the scorpion, is the sign of transformation?  

All around us, in nature, the world appears to be going to sleep; animals are starting to hibernate, the birds are gathering and forming their migratory v-shapes as they head for warmer climates. 

'Scorpio'  © Alison Coals
Before long it will be Samhain (“summer’s end”) the end and start of the Celtic New Year, the Day of the Dead – times of transformation and change, which is what we’ve come to associate with Scorpio.  In astrology, Scorpio is one of the three Water signs, along with Cancer and Pisces, as well as being one of the four Fixed signs.   It ends the second cycle of the elements (Cancer through to Scorpio), and opposes Taurus on the axis of resources.  While Taurus is interested in material resources, Scorpio – as a water sign – is more interested in emotional resources.  As a fixed sign, Scorpio wants to know what’s going on at a deeper level, not at the bubbly surface – “still waters run deep” is a good description of Scorpio’s focus.  Only by diving into the depths can Scorpio unearth the root of a problem and attempt to transform it – and it will probably take a crisis or something similar before Scorpio will take that plunge. 

The traditional ruler of Scorpio is the planet Mars, providing passion and drive.  It also has a modern ruler, Pluto, named after the Lord of the Underworld, reflecting the cycle of life and death and the change involved.  Both planets are associated with power; “knowledge is power” is another good description.  We’ve just left Libra, with its 7th-house focus on partnership, and the need for harmony and balance through negotiation and diplomacy. Now we’re about to move into 8th-house issues with Scorpio – shared resources, power issues, life cycles,… and recycling! What follows once the contract is made, within partnerships and relationships (of all kinds)…  Emotions run deep, and power struggles can ensue.  Intensity.  What will be the fall-out, as we move into (in the northern hemisphere) fall)? What are we recycling, or composting? Any transformation, under the auspices of Scorpio, will be intense!