Perhaps it’s just me, but this February has seemed like quite a long one. It began with a strong new moon at the end of Mercury retrograde, and here in Houston, the weather has been practically extreme: springtime warm and sunny one week, wintery cold and cloudy the next.
All along, the Wheel of Fortune is moving us forward. Just as we’ve started seeing an improvement in the news around public health, a tense buildup on the other side of the globe has exploded into violence. It feels a little like two steps forward, two steps back.
Yet spring is coming, as it inevitably does. We’re still on the edge of reemergence from the dark of the year, with days growing longer and optimism not far behind. What energy will we find around us for the month of March?
Creatures of the Snow Moon
As a Houston native, I find snowy weather a rare and unusual event. There are many good reasons why our entire region comes to a standstill when anything approaching actual winter moves through.
Because of this, simply recognizing this week’s full moon by name seems somewhat out of reach. It’s traditionally called the Snowy Moon…because it’s the time of year in much of the U.S. when we’re most likely to see snow. Not so in Houston, where we’re frequently known to experience all four seasons in a week, if not a day.
Fortunately, there’s a little something to redeem us, because who doesn’t love cute animals? We’d normally think of polar bears and penguins, but here’s a sampling of unique wildlife perfectly suited to wintery climates.
It’s that time of year…when the calendar flips to February, spring is in the air (at least in Houston), and our thoughts drift naturally to love and other related sports. It’s once more Valentine season, whether we like it or not.
Are you in love with love, or are you a skeptic? Seeking romance, content with your relationship, or ready to toss it all out the window? Whatever you feel, rest assured that you can find something valuable in Valentine’s Day.
If you read the “Be Our Valentine” blog posts this week, you already know that meanings and significance evolve with time to suit the current era - so why not adapt this holiday for your own purposes? Romance is perfect for some, while you might find that helping your community, spending time with your kids or grandkids, or celebrating your chosen family makes more sense to you.
This week we have a beautiful deck dedicated to legendary love - mostly the romantic kind, but with plenty of room for all of us to see how we can get the most out of Valentine’s Day. Let’s get into it!
In modern popular culture, Valentine’s Day is the day of hearts and flowers, a celebration of idealized romantic love. Store aisles overflow with candy boxes, stuffed animals, and balloons in pink, red, and white. Restaurants are packed with couples, some feeling obligated to come up with the grandest gesture or greatest marriage proposal.
The tides have shifted in the last few years - more on that later - but what is it about Valentine’s Day that creates the big to-do about lovers, partners, and spouses? As we saw in part 1, the connection to the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia is questionable at best, but we know a bit more about the Christian saint for which Valentine’s Day is named, and the traditions thereof. Let’s dive in there.
We’ve come to that part of the year where words of love are as sugary as a box of chocolates; where the bouquets are just as often balloons as they are flowers; where the Cheesecake Factory is completely booked. Valentine’s Day: not a day for cynics, but a day for romance! (And history, obviously.)
Talk to certain scholars about Valentine’s Day, and you’ll almost certainly hear about Lupercalia. A festival celebrated in parts of ancient Rome and Gaul (modern-day Italy and France), it was born of what are now mysterious origins. Descriptions range from lighthearted, largely symbolic antics to fully nude debauchery in the streets - yet in the modern age, many insist that there is a direct tie to a Western Christian holiday dedicated to romantic love.
The classic 1909 Smith-Waite Tarot is the standard across the English-speaking world, providing a depth of symbolism and alchemical knowledge. But in the current era, it comes up lacking in several ways: Eurocentric, idealized medieval scenery, one body type - not always relevant to our lives now.
Enter the Modern Witch Tarot by Lisa Sterle. This deck is lovingly committed to the Smith-Waite canon, yet utterly fresh in its execution. The art style is strongly reminiscent of the 1909 deck, sometimes even faithfully recreating a scene.
The important difference: the people depicted throughout the deck are outfitted for the 21st century. Mostly identified as women, they have a variety of styles and gender presentations, diverse shapes and sizes, and a range of skin tones. For those of us who have long waited to see ourselves reflected in Tarot, the Modern Witch Tarot deck is just one of many that now fit the bill.
Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
- “The Witches’ Song” - the Scottish Play by William Shakespeare
There’s no doubt that heavy, fire-proof vessels have been essential daily tools for much of humanity’s evolved history. A large black pot was often centered in a home’s hearth or a village fire pit, used to cook food and heat water.
Yet along the way, cauldrons became associated with witchcraft, sometimes negatively. They crossed the centuries in misguided folklore, along with pointy hats, warty noses, and wayward children cooked for dinner.
The truth is much simpler and less sinister. From ancient eras, the cauldron has represented the Goddess and her womb. It is recognized as a vessel of life and transformation, and can also represent the elements of water and fire in rituals. As a practitioner, how can you make use of a cauldron in your own workings?
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