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Brighid’s Blue Moon
Aisling the Bard of Tarot Witchery, our tarot blog hop wrangler, noticed that Brighid’s festival, celebrated February 1, is quite close to the full moon on January 31, which is also a Blue Moon, or the second full moon occurring in a calendar month, which folklore considers to bring the unexpected. This Leo full moon is also a lunar eclipse. Brighid herself is associated with both solar and lunar qualities, so it seems an eclipse is something that would be special to her.
We had just started a second episode of our show last night when I said, “We’d better go to bed. I want to get up early for the eclipse.”
I woke up early–what time is it? 4:20. Half an hour until the eclipse starts! I’m going to see if I can get a little more rest. The cat bounced on me and woke me up two seconds later. What time is it? 5!!! Hurry!!! Eclipse time!!!
“Report back,” the boyfriend said.
I dressed warmly. I wasn’t sure what I would see or how long I would be out. It’s been quite a number of years since I’ve watched a lunar eclipse. The cat and I went outside and the full moon already had a large bite taken out of it! It was surprisingly dark; if I hadn’t known it was an eclipse and had just glanced up I might have thought it was a crescent moon. I rushed back in.
“You can see it now! Let’s go! Do you want to see?”
The boyfriend hauled himself upright and started getting dressed. “Where’s my beanie?” He found it in the dirty laundry. “Do you want my beanie?” he offered. Silence. “Yeah, probably not. Wear my bowler,” he said. “It’s warm.” I grabbed it.
It was 5:30 now. We walked four blocks west, as far as our little street goes before dead-ending at an industrial area by the train tracks. Then we turned north and walked and watched. There was a surprising amount of traffic on this back street as people arrived at various locations for work. The shadow continued to creep across the face of the moon.
We walked around the block and headed back south. We discerned finer and finer gradations of light, red edges, darker shadows, as we tracked its progress. We passed a young woman heading out to her car. “Are you watching the eclipse?” the boyfriend said. He gestured. She glanced up for half a second and unlocked her car door. “That’s cool,” she said.
We walked a few more blocks. The moon was almost entirely covered by a red shadow, with a much darker shadow at the top. We turned east toward home. Blue flickering light flashed in the window of a house at the corner.
“I can’t believe someone’s watching TV,” I said.
“They probably left it on all night,” he said, “Or maybe they’re watching the morning news with a cup of coffee.”
“Just what I meant,” I said. “Why aren’t they out watching the eclipse?”
I was cold. We got back home about 6. I warmed up while checking Facebook. I kept sticking my head out the door to watch the moon get darker and darker as the sheer red shadow was replaced by a heavy drape of darkness.
Hide and Seek Moon
I layered up again, scarf, sweater, bowler. “I’m going for a walk,” I said. It was 6:30, the time of the greatest eclipse. It was still dark out. I went out and looked up. Nothing. It was there fifteen minutes ago, and I’ve done enough star gazing to know how fast things set. It must be behind a cloud.
I walked up a block. Someone was standing on the other side of the street, looking up. I wanted to run up and make friends with this other eclipse watcher. I wanted to say, “Do you see it?” and have them point out the wayward moon. I know I will see it again in a minute. I ignored the person and kept on walking.
I got to the end of the street. I turned north. I walked, I watched. There it is! No, that’s a red brick tower with a security light, off in the distance, on the other side of the river.
I see low hanging clouds over the mountains. I don’t believe the moon has set yet, that would have been too fast. It must be behind the clouds. But it’s too dim to shine through. I turned and walked south. I can’t see anything. I headed home.
Eight of Spades
It’s getting light. Like yesterday, the sunrise is red and orange. I turned down the street that leads to my street. There’s a card on the sidewalk. Half the card is on the grass, half on the cement. It’s the eight of spades.
“Well, here’s my card for the hop,” I thought. The Eight of Spades is comparable to the tarot’s Eight of Swords.
I got home. I puttered. I procrastinated. I made tea. I typed like one of Morgan’s monkeys to see if anything would happen.
I made more tea.
Brighid’s Three Fires
Brighid is the goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft and rules the three worlds of land and sky and sea (to invoke these qualities, see my Brighid mala and prayer cycle). She’s one of my favorite goddesses.
Brighid’s sacred number is 19. Not only is that the number of the tarot Sun card, but it is the common denominator between the lunar and solar cycles, called the Metonic cycle. For instance, there will be a full moon again on this day in 19 years, or January 31, 2037.
Solar energy is an external, warming, rational, active energy. Lunar energy is internal, cooling, intuitive, receptive energy. The sun is predictable and dependable. The moon breaks the rules. Do you remember the first time as a kid when you looked up during the daytime and saw the moon in the sky? That shocked me. I asked my mom. “I thought the moon only goes out at night.” “No,” she explained. “It appears in the sky according to its cycles.” It didn’t sound cyclic. It sounded crazy, unreliable, fickle. The sun never surprised me by showing up at night!
It’s odd how the things that don’t make sense teach us the most surprising lessons.
What did I learn from Brighid today, as she blended solar and lunar energies? I took two walks. The first with the boyfriend. We watched the moon, saw a clear and predictable progression. Then I went out by myself. I expected to see something specific. But Brighid had other plans for me. No moon. Not anywhere. My mind turned inward, no longer collecting data, but rather processing it. And then the surprising card. As it was blue twilight, half dark, half light. No moon, no sun. A card at the edge. Half of it touching Mother nature, half man-made infrastructure.
That’s an odd word. Below structure. Below building. The moon, which today is at 11 degrees, 37 minutes of Leo, is in the 11th lunar mansion. The gestational lunar energy in the Sun’s sign, Leo, which brings the individual into the spotlight. One of the significations of the 11th mansion is “to make building firm and stable.” It is considered a good time to “lay foundations and build.”
In qabalah, the ninth sephirah is Yesod, meaning Foundation, and is associated with the Moon and the astral level. I always thought it odd that the idea of foundation would correlate with something as unstable as the moon. It is a powerful and shocking realization that the underlying structure, the infrastructure of reality is the astral level, the world of energies and patterns that precede and predict the shaping of matter. Energies that we can control and change with the imagination.
Today Brighid reminds me that logic and intuition are not separate, doing their own thing and ignoring each other. Like today’s eclipse, like the Metonic cycle, like the card at the edge, Brighid insists that we cross imagination over into manifestation. That our inner lunar musings and reflections are carried through into their resulting physical creation. That mind imprints itself on matter. Poetry, healing, smithcraft, all cast a net into the darkness of the uncreated and pull in the weight of the material.
Brighid is the midwife. The solar masculine unites with the lunar feminine and through Brighid’s supervision brings forth the offspring, the third, the unexpected result.
The Eight of Swords stands on the border of land and sea. She is bound, blindfolded, caged. Water pools as the tide comes in. Sight represents knowledge. Water is intuition. When logic fails us, when we don’t have all the facts, we must let intuition pour in to guide and direct. We are forced to build from the most precarious of foundations, the shifting sands of wispy, cloud obscured, brooding reflections.
Who is brave enough to make something from nothing?
If you’d like to learn to read the tarot with no memorization or books, simply letting the cards speak for themselves, check out my upcoming Magician’s Tools: Beginning Tarot class, Sundays, February 11-March 18, 2018, 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Isis Books and Gifts, 2775 South Broadway, Englewood, CO 80113.
If you’re getting started and want to know the best beginner deck, please take a look at my post on 50 Beginning Tarot Decks.
Joy Vernon is widely recognized by tarot professionals as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup has grown into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher at Isis Books. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.