A Word From Our Sponsor

Sheesh, sometimes life grabs you and speeds you along and you look up and it’s three weeks later and you haven’t updated your weekly project.  Especially when you’re in grad school.

More seriously, my semester has really grown busy.  I am currently contemplating whether or not it’s sustainable for me to do this project once a week.  Part of that calculation is the amount that folks have pledged on Patreon (and thanks again to folks who have done so!).  So, I think the unplanned and unannounced hiatus is going to continue at least for a bit while I think things over, consider alternative timeframes (like maybe a longer, once-a-month reading), and work on promoting the Patreon side of things.  If you value this forecast being weekly, please consider making a pledge to donate via Patreon or spreading the word that other folks can do so.  Thanks!  I’ll keep you posted about where things are at.


Reading of Portland’s Spiritual Climate 2/25/2015

Waning Influence: Seven of Earth (Seven of Pentacles)

In Portland’s recent past, projects–individual and collective–have occupied a central position in our minds, hearts, and shared experiences.  More specifically, the Seven of Earth suggests tasks and goals somewhere in the middle of completion–not freshly begun and not quite near completion either.  A house half built.  A garden tilled and plotted, the seeds planted, with no sprouts appearing yet.  At this stage, having put in a significant amount of effort while the rewards remain unseen and intangible, still in the realm of future dreams and projections, the doldrums are likely to set in.

We may have lost sight of the vision that led us to start building in the first place.  Or that vision might appear faint and far away; or else tauntingly vivid.  In group efforts, there may have been increasing conflict and misunderstanding between those focused on the practical, down-to-earth necessities of the task and those focused on the overarching intention that animates and inspires the work.  Balancing those two aspects can be a tricky task, especially for stolid, practical Seven of Earth.

At its core (in this reading at least), the Seven of Earth is a crisis of faith, when our commitment to a large, drawn-out-project is tested.  That moment when someone looks up from the pile of work on their desk and says, “How long is this going to take?  Is it really worth it?”  And either gets up and walks away or settles back down, recommitted for the long haul.

Full Influence: Seven of Water (Seven of Cups)

The dreamy, indistinct Seven of Water suggests that we have not taken either of these courses.  We have likely stayed with the project–nominally, at least.  But in our hearts we have begun to roam.  The crisis of confidence has deepened and spread.

The earthy commitments and nuts-and-bolts focus of the Seven of Earth no longer hold sway; now the confusions and murky depths of our hearts take center stage.  Unsure of how to resolve the dilemma of the Seven of Earth, our uncertainty has grown more and more immersive.  The gap between our fantasies and the reality on the ground, our goals and the tedious grind of day to day work, has yawned open, revealing a boiling stew of potential dreams and unmet desires.

In short, we don’t know what we want anymore.

We may feel simultaneously paralyzed and adrift.  There may be some momentary relief at our (emotional) abandonment of the Seven of Earth’s heaviness; we may find ourselves zoning out while others continue to discuss the problems with the project, finding solace in daydreams and elusive what-ifs.  (And–for those who may have more than nominally left behind the Seven of Earth, the fact that these two cards are Sevens suggests that no one has left behind the ramifications of that waning moment.  No one has moved on to someplace new and solid.)  People are likely to be trying on various life changes in their imaginations, playing dress-up with alternative possibilities.

But there is more to the Seven of Water than dreaminess.  Pulled and tugged in multiple directions by the competing tides of various desired futures, we are likely to find ourselves in conflict.  Internal and external.  The grumbling and bickering of the Seven of Earth has likely gone underground–or more precisely underwater–to some difficult to locate but more profound field of contention.  What people are disagreeing or fighting about likely feels nebulous.  But the matters are deep and heartfelt and–like the chambers of an underground lake–connected in oblique ways.

For some of us, these struggles may be largely internal.  But that does not make than any less tangled or powerful.  On the other end of the spectrum, the Seven of Water could inspire spectacles of conflict as fierce and public as a raging sea.  But even the most visible conflicts are unlikely to result in much real or lasting change.  The overall dynamic of this card is too strongly centered on abeyance.  Confusion.  Drifting.

Waxing Influence: The Tower

One could create a quick, tidy narrative with these three cards: 1) Someone begins to doubt a project. 2) The doubt intensifies, spreading to a deeper emotional level, spurring confusion. 3) This confusion and lack of emotional commitment causes the project to fall apart, tumbling the Tower to the ground.

The problem with this narrative is that the collapse of the Tower is much larger, deeper, and more profound than the project represented by the Seven of Earth (as shown by the fact that the Tower is one of the Major Arcana).  A better metaphor would be that the land on which we were building the house cracks open in an earthquake, swallowing the unfinished structure.  Or the group that committed to planting a garden together–the family, say, or the activist organization–disintegrates, split apart by worsening fights and/or the realization that individuals have irreconcilable differences or breaks in trust that can’t be healed.

In this light, the earlier cards take on a different character.  The prevarications of the Seven of Water, the dreamy search for some new purpose, begins to seem prescient.  We may think ourselves wise for questioning our commitment to the half-built house, as if we could already feel the tremors rattling the foundation.

And perhaps we did–as a waxing card, the Tower is already making her stark upheavals and world-toppling presence felt. But this brings us back to the earlier point–in the face of the awesome and terrible might of the Tower, the problems of the Minor Arcana, shrink to insignificance.  It doesn’t much matter if we finish building the house or not, because the very ground–that which we thought was solid, eternal that which we couldn’t even imagine changing–is beginning to shift beneath our feet.

If this sounds scary, well, it usually is.  But the Tower can be more than simply disastrous.  It often represents the crumbling of old, corrupt institutions.  The certainties that are lost can easily be ones that chain and limit us.  In short, the Tower can be as much breakthrough as breakdown, as much liberation as collapse.

The Oracle’s Advice: Brother Wind (Knight of Swords)

To respond to the coming changes, we need to be as agile and quick as the wind.  We need to think on our feet, to be willing to make leaps of logic that take us to strange, unexpected mental realms.  We need to cultivate the ability to embrace rapid changes in perspective, to see clearly through dizzying new vantage points.  We need to move far and fast, nimble as dancers, wildly creative as outsider artists, bold as heretics.

As the Tower begins to upend the landscape of our lives–the stable streets, the homes and institutions that have sheltered us, the very earth beneath us–we are being challenged to become more flexible than we thought we could be.  To run so fast we practically fly.  To broader our horizons so that we can live with deep uncertainty, snatching what we need from the churn of chaos like crows filching sustenance from the cast-offs of the human world.

All of this movement the Oracle is suggesting occurs in the realm of air, the place of the mind, of words, and of communication.  We are being asked to think in new ways and to be flexible and fast in adopting new viewpoints.

And, while we are called to run, to leap from temporary haven to temporary haven, finding our security through movement itself, the Oracle is not telling us to run away.  We are not being told to try to outrun the insecurity and fear caused by the Tower’s upheaval.  Rather, the Oracle is suggesting that we run with our fear and our anxiety, that we use the inner tumult as fuel and inspiration to propel us courageously through the outer tumult.

As Reclaiming Witches say, “Where there’s fear, there’s power.”  Brother Wind, depicted with a skull’s face, learns to use fear as a compass, to fly toward what scares him the most and thus to find the creativity and resilience to navigate the storms of the Tower’s transformations.

Thanks to Fayer and Pamela for their generous patronage of this work.  If you want to donate a $1 a week (or more!) to this project, you can do so at my Patreon page.

Reading of Portland’s Spiritual Climate 2/18/2015

Waning Influence: Nine of Wind (Nine of Swords)

The fear I mentioned in last week’s forecast has continued expanding and solidifying.  We people of Portland have been haunted by our own nightmares, which have appeared in the broad light of day, blocking out our view of the rest of the world. That world–the people and places and situations that surround us–has become like a screen, an old, black-and-white movie screen onto which our anxious minds project the arresting images of our fears.  In doing so, our minds demonstrate skill and subtlety; old stories, ancient ghosts that you might think we’d grown tired of over the years, that we might have developed some immunity to through repeated exposure, appear in new skins, elusive new configurations that fool us once again.

None of this means we have failed.  It doesn’t necessarily mean we ignored the lessons of last week’s reading.  Of course, it’s likely that some of us did not navigate the treacherous waters of our fear with full success and thus find ourselves hypnotized and enraptured by our triumphant fear.  But this is not the only possible origin of the Nine of Wind’s troubling dreams.  Indeed our very success, our venturing forth bravely towards growth might have provoked a backlash of fear.  The departing hero almost always is forced to confront some form of monstrous gatekeeper.

Remember, too, that this is the waning influence.  Even now, the cold fingers of fear being to lose their grip on us.  As the Nine of Wind continues to ebb away, we can–more and more–reclaim the mental capacities we may have surrendered to the nightmares: our ability to differentiate between past and present, reality and projection, the sharpness of our minds, which can slice through old screens.

Full Influence: Ten of Fire (Ten of Wands)

Already, these tired old stories–the reruns of the anxious mind–are being recontextualized.  In this new place, this fullness of fire, these mental constructs are put to the test.  We find ourselves in a kind of crucible.  Subject to large amounts of heat and pressure, we have the opportunity for deep cleansing transformation and the re-arrangement of our patterns and energetic flows.

Now, this is likely an uncomfortable experience.  We may feel confined, overwhelmed, past our limits.  We may resent being in this place, in the center of this fiery crucible.  We may want to resist being held here, in this tumult, by forces larger and more mysterious than our conscious selves.

In this tumultuous place, those recurring nightmares from the Nine of Wands are being changed.  Fire rushes in, disrupting the ghostly greys and the black-and-white certainties with bright colors.  Fire, of course, is an unpredictable force.  The only certainty is some form of change.  But depending on how we respond to the present challenges, this transformative cauldron we’re all boiling in together–and, make no mistake, other people’s reactions to all this and to our own potentially messy processes likely form a major part of the difficulty and potential growth of this moment–that change can take quite different forms.

The Ten of Fire’s flames could feed the old nightmares, enlivening them into more vivid, powerful creatures that could cause us large problems.  Or they could melt them down, reforge them into new, surprisingly helpful shapes.  In this cauldron moment, our choices have the potential to reshape who we are.  And who we will be.

Waxing Influence: Six of Earth (Six of Pentacles)

All of the cards in this reading have a theme of enclosed spaces.  But unlike the horror movie claustrophobia of the Nine of Wind or the boiling intensity of the Ten of Fire, the Six of Earth has a generally pleasant, stable character.  The box the Six of Earth represents is a beautifully rendered one, a treasure chest, say, or a jewelry box.  As these images suggest, the Six of Earth contains, protects, and sustains something valuable.

The best image is a box holding an engagement ring.  For the Six of Earth also suggests enduring social commitments, complex obligations and exchanges that shape our lives and relationships, providing harmony and order.  (Though order can mean various things–some forms of order, even some forms of marriage have unequal costs and impacts for the varying participants and the larger social circles they’re part of.)

Let’s pull back for a moment.  As an Earth card (and a generally beneficent card), the Six of Earth suggests that the recent turmoil is coming to a close.  We will have more solid ground to stand on soon.  This will likely come as a significant relief. And we can already feel this stability, this new shore, approaching.

This new foundation has a harsher edge, though.  It ups the stake of the Ten of Fire’s current crucible.  The transformations we welcome, the new forms and patterns we inhabit (enflesh) are likely to stick with us for a while.

The Oracle’s Advice: Mother Earth (Queen of Pentacles)

But don’t let that scare you.  The Oracle’s advice is precisely the opposite.  Relax.  Ground.  Appreciate the beauty of this moment, of the world that surrounds you, here and now.  In doing so, we can best align ourselves with the coming structure of the Six of Earth.

Mother Earth, like the other cards here, is an image of a contained space.  She is even an image of intense transformation, like the Ten of Fire, a kind of death and rebirth.  But she is much, much gentler; the metaphors, the implicit stories of the two cards are quite different.  The Ten of Fire is a forge: hot, strenuous, and dangerous.  Mother Earth is a stylized version of a butterfly’s chrysalis, her feet cooled by swirling waters, her head crowned with flowering arches.

This suggests that, more than anything, we need to shift our perspective on the changes we are individually and collectively experiencing.  Rather than a trial by fire, we can frame this moment as a gentle, loving embrace.  Rather than a test, a challenge we might fail, we can understand the present dynamics as a slow, inevitable unfurling of an organic process.

At the heart of this shift is trust.  And when we trust, we reach out and connect.  Not only (or even primarily) to humans but to the physical world around us, to our own bodies and senses.

This provides a stark contrast to the Nine of Wind.  Sink down, the Oracle advises, out of your fearful mind and into your trusting body.  In terms of relating to the Ten of Fire’s crucible, the Oracle suggests that–paradoxically–the best way to navigate the lasting impacts of our choices in this time of reconstruction is to not worry about those impacts and choices so much.  Thinking too much, particularly in light of the Nine of Wind’s lingering distortions, is unlikely to be very effective.

The most important choice is to relax.  Allow yourself to sink down into trust and bodily presence, the Oracle whispers to us. Let yourself see–and hear and smell–the beauty all around and within you.  Let yourself be held by the world, as by a loving mother.  Be this mother to yourself, as you change.

Thanks so much to Fayer and Pamela for their financial support of this work.  If you’d also like to help support the Portland Tarot Forecast by donating a dollar a week (or more!), check out my Patreon page.

Reading of Portland’s Spiritual Climate 2/10/2015

Waning Influence: Eight of Wind (Eight of Swords)

There has been a fierce storm of fear and anxiety blowing through Portland recently, a hurricane of voices bearing news and truths many people have not wanted to hear.  In the brunt of the storm, people–individuals, groups, and institutions–have used their minds, their sharp intellects to carve out some space of quiet and calm.  With the Eight of Wind, air, the element of listening dialogue, and free flow, has been turned into rigid walls that muffle sound and block off communication.

The shield provided by the Eight of Wind can be necessary.  In times of great strife, the mind’s ability to tune out the world can enable people to preserve their tender hearts and stave off the worst impact of overwhelming and terrifying situations.  But the Eight of Wind’s protection comes with a steep price.

Mythologically, this card reminds me of the ancient Greek sailors who stuffed their ears with wax in order to safely pass by the Sirens.  But what happens if the wax sticks in our ears and we cannot get it out?  What happens if our bottled up ways prevent us from hearing other voices–friends and friendly strangers, birds calling out, the mysterious murmurs of the waves?  What happens if we mistake those voices–or, as is even more likely, the voices of some oppressed or marginalized group or the voices of some shadowy, rejected piece of ourselves–for the Sirens and unnecessarily cut off hearing?

Full Influence: Mother Wind (Queen of Swords)

The height of the storm, the peak shutdown of the Eight of Wind, has passed.  In the face of Mother Wind, people likely feel jubilant, suddenly freed from harsh confines and sent soaring up into the sky, like a cork released from a bottle’s claustrophobic embrace.  Of course, this experience may be frightening as well.  But, generally, for most people, Mother Wind’s flight feels gentler and more free.  There is a sparkle here, too, a charm, new vibrant colors brightening our lives and minds.

And yet the fact that both cards are of the Wind suit betrays a certain continuity between them.  We may now be surfing on the stormwinds that we were previously shutting out–dancing with them, even commanding them as if we were conductors of the orchestra of the winds–but there is, on some level, still the dynamic of running away.  Some voice we are shutting out, refusing to hear.

In Mother Wind’s sudden rise, this blossoming of exuberance after the confining powerlessness of the Eight of Wind, there is the echo of bipolar dynamics.  We may be manic now, in other words, but both depression and mania are ways of avoiding the truths of how we feel, of who we are, of where we are.

But this metaphor is too harsh or at the very least incomplete.  In Mother Wind’s dance, in her splendid colors, there is the possibility for change and release.  For deeper listening and new songs.

Waxing Influence: The Wheel of Fortune

Sometimes the Tarot has a sense of humor.  One one level, the appearance of The Wheel of Fortune–blind chance, wild unpredictability, a toss of the dice–as the Waxing Influence seems to be repeating a commonsense truth: the future?  Who knows?  It’s up in the air, unresolved, subject to the whims of chance.

And yet in the context of this reading, the Wheel of Fortune has a more specific, clear resonance.  The whirling dance of Mother Wind is already starting to complete the circle, to descend, pulled down to Earth by gravity, her wild flight reduced to the circular spinning of a top.

This strengthens the danger signs of bipolarity though not, to be clear, in a strict, clinical sense.  But the larger image of a cycle of alternating imbalances rings true here.  We can feel the pull of tidal forces, the tug of the impulse to return to the narrow cloister of the Eight of Wind as a way of buffering the sorrow, the ache of our impending, already begun descent from the airy, free heights.  (And, intriguingly, this cycle can be seen in recent readings speaking of moving between highs and lows.)  We find ourselves pulled in towards a whirlpool and discover that, in our attempts to shield ourselves from one watery danger, we seem to have steered straight towards another.

But, as with Mother Wind, the wildness of the Wheel of Fortune remains, offering us the hope of a way out.  There are many rhythms, many circles, many places we might orbit.  We are not confined to repeating the cycle, though we can feel its strong pull yanking us toward the old grooves.  The momentum of all this wind could–if we allow ourselves to change, if we open and humble ourselves to the awesome, mysterious powers of fate represented by the Wheel of Fortune–propel us into a new orbit, one that is a better harmony between self and cosmos, one that allows for a livelier, more open sphere of being.

The Oracle’s Advice: Three of Wind (Three of Swords)

Two of the three cards laying out Portland’s current energetic dynamics are Wind, and the third is arguably in a similar vein. But according to the Oracle we don’t–as one might expect–need the balancing force of another element.  We don’t need Earth’s stable foundations or slow, plodding approach.  We don’t need Fire’s brave, relentless transformations.  We need a different form of air, a different way to relate to this storm, this influx of voices.

We need to listen.  We need to allow the howling, the raging winds, the broken, ragged voices in.  Into the deep red cathedral of our hearts.  We need to let the pain in, let it penetrate deep inside, even when it feels like doing so might cut us open, shatter us, break our hearts.  Especially when it feels that way.

Because, the Oracle is saying, we need to allow our hearts to break.

Because these voices, these shrieking winds, they have a story we must hear.  They have some essential truth we must know.

Remember, this is a card of Wind, not of Water, so despite all the emotions here–which remain real and important–the center of this process is mind, voice, word.  Along with the searing imagery of broken hearts and ghostly voices comes a simpler, more elemental meaning.  But to get there we must pass through a gate.

Those disturbing voices, those wrenching cries and heartbreaking truths are the guardians of this gate before us.  Our willingness to listen to them, to set our minds to the task of understanding their messages, is the toll we pay.  And once we cross we will find that the listening gets easier.  Heard, the voices quiet and soften.  The storm eases, though still swells and fades, like any natural force.

In more straightforward terms, we can engage the Three of Wind by journaling, by talking with trusted friends, by singing and by listening to songs.  Any practice that uses the word and the voice to sharpen and hone insight.  And, further, any practice that involves the mindful sorting of pieces, the probing of the shadowy wounds of the heart by the clear, insistent mind–sharp as a sword, willing to cut away that which no longer serves.

If we have the courage to engage this work, we can escape both the whirlpool and the Sirens alike and find our way to a new way of being quiet in our minds, a more expansive, open way.

Thanks so much to Fayer and Pamela for their Patreon support of this work!  If you feel moved to join them in support of these readings with a $1 (or more) donation per reading, head over to my Patreon page.  

Reading of Portland’s Spiritual Climate 2/3/2015

Waning Influence: Father Fire (King of Wands)

Portland’s recent past has been characterized by fierce, obsessive focus.  In the grip of Father Fire’s relentless pursuit, the world resolves into simple, black-and-white terms: obstacles to his momentum and clear avenues towards the all-consuming goal that drives him.  Imagine that you’re running a race, and there’s a moment when, sweaty, heart-pounding, you achieve a paradoxical passionate clarity: everything in the world disappears, save you and that gleaming, beckoning finish line.  That’s Father Fire.

While there are some obvious pitfalls to such a dynamic–burnout and the sometimes deeply harmful consequences of ignoring context chief among them–there can also be, as the image of a race suggests, some benefits and useful applications.  A great deal depends, of course, on where Father Fire’s frantic gallop has been aimed, and on which passions you’ve allowed to ride you, to propel you forward.

Various Portland people, groups, and organizations have no doubt channeled Father Fire’s urgency in diverging ways. People have likely been driving themselves hard, running after their passions, their dreams, their visions of justice, their hollow grasping hungers.

But whichever direction we’ve gone, we’ve covered a lot of ground recently, shot forward to someplace new without really seeing the landscape we’ve crossed.  Now, as Father Fire begins to wane–as the runner, exhausted, slows their pace–we begin to notice the full color spectrum of the world again.  We begin to see where our mad dash has led us, where we stand now.

Full Influence: Nine of Earth (Nine of Pentacles)

We stand at The Zenith.  The top of the mountain.  We have arrived someplace where we once dreamed of being, somewhere that seemed shiny and distant and possibly unreachable.  We can’t quite remember how we came to be here.  The journey felt frenzied and too quick.  We stand at the highest point, blinking, looking up at the distant, shining fullness of the moon, not quite able to believe we’ve arrived.

After the rush, the pure adrenaline and rapid movement of Father Fire, the solidity of the Nine of Earth might come as a shock.  We might find it challenging to stop moving, to simply be present.  We haven’t even caught our breath yet, let alone savored the beauty of this place, this vision wrought in sweat and stone, a shimmering dream hammered out into something stable and enduring as a mountain.

Can we hold in our vision both the slapdash journey and this peaceful, inspiring destination?  Can we appreciate ourselves for all the hard work, the quests, the risks, that brought us here?  Can we slow down and take a deep whiff of the rich scents of this feast we’ve cooked up?  After the grueling, frantic time in the sweltering kitchen, can we sit down and eat?

Waxing Influence: The Universe (The World)

We may need the rest, as our comet-quick trajectory looks set to continue.  Even as we stand at the Nine of Earth’s mountaintop we are being called, tugged, lifted to somewhere higher–the highest, most cosmic realm, the vast canopy of stars and space: The Universe.

So much movement so quickly, such vastness–we may feel overwhelmed and disoriented.  We may be experiencing a kind of spiritual jet lag.  Our various parts–soul, mind, body–may need to catch up with one another.

And yet this narrative of sweeping movement, of sudden ascension, leaves out something important.  For The Universe is not only the high, starry realms.  She is also the low, gnarled and rooted places.  She is the totality of all that is, a dancing, living paradox.  The End and The Beginning.  The serpent eating his own tail.  That very union of our multiple, often disconnected pieces.

So, while the The Universe suggests that the medicine we need, that reunion of our selves, is very much possible in this time, is right at hand, all of this may not necessarily help our collective (and individual) case of cosmic whiplash.  Depending on the object of Father Fire’s pursuit and the pinnacle of dreams we set for ourselves (and reached!) with the Nine of Pentacles, we might be learning some unexpected lessons.

We might be standing with the treasure, the object of our quest, in hand, only to learn that our quest is much longer and stranger and deeper than we could have dreamt.  That treasure, up close, is not as simple as the unalloyed gold of a crown or chalice or chest full of coins.  If it is a chest, its contents are endless, containing beautiful coins and terrible poisons, frogs and jewels and all the many, many varied things that exist in all The Universe.  Our treasure, like everything, is interconnected with everything else.  A piece of the fabric that contains all possibilities.  The crown ends up being a key to worlds unknown, full of vaster and more vibrant terrors and beauties, mysteries and blessings.

The Oracle’s Advice: One of Earth (Ace of Pentacles)

In the face of all these epic quests and twisting revelations, the Oracle suggests we need to remember the small, the humble, the earthly.  We need to work to stay grounded.  We need to remember that, in the midst of all these changes and upheavals, these whirling galaxies, we are in a human body, held by gravity, swimming in time.  We need to remember that each moment is fresh and new, a new opportunity to sculpt the world around us.  In simple, concrete ways.  Planting a seed, cooking a meal, folding a piece of paper into an origami gift.

Despite all these rapid changes, we have not reached the end, the climax, that mythical moment when the movie rises to a crescendo and we all dissolve into the black void.  This is a turn of the wheel.  This is a beginning.  Each step is a beginning.

Start small.  Start where you are.  Start with your hands.

None of this means we should ignore these great new vistas.  But see if you can crystallize these vast cosmic insights into something small and tangible.  Something you could hold in your hand.  A pebble.  A seed.  A piece of clay to mold.  A reminder to bring this all down to earth.  A reminder of all the work and play before us.

If you enjoyed this and want to support this ongoing work, consider pledging to donate a $1 per forecast (or more!) at my Patreon page.  Also, please spread the word to your friends and communities.  And comments are always welcome! 

Reading of Portland’s Spiritual Climate 1/26/2015

Waning Influence: The Sun

Recently many things in Portland have seemed blessed by the sun, kissed by warmth, lifted up into some blessed circle, high above the cares and struggles of the world. The Sun has also brought with him luck and joy, blossoms of pleasure and the bright promise of coming abundance. But in the reading, the Sun’s promise rings hollow or at least incomplete. The image of the Sun in the deck I use, the Tarot of the Spirit, evokes walled gardens, monogamous romance, exclusive clubs, a charmed circle that includes only a few.

This, of course, sounds a lot like the recent intensification of gentrification in Portland, and I think that is clearly one facet of this card’s meaning. However, as I understand each card to refer to multiple aspects of a situation simultaneously, I would caution against reducing this card to a single, obvious definition.

The Sun doubtless refers to many forms of exuberant growth, lucky circles, enrapturing romances, giddy heights.

Most importantly, the Sun is waning in this ready. The warmth is already starting to leave, the swell of light to falter, the unapproachable tower to soften and melt. We are all starting to come down a little, to lower ourselves. This reading suggests we have a ways to go.

Full Influence: Sister Fire (Page of Wands)

Kissed by the Sun, baptized by abundant flame, we are braver and more bold. As the Sun departs, his gift of fire remains. As we come down from the heights, we carry with us the light of inspiration.

Our voices are likely louder, more resonant these days. The sparks of our wills catch and spread more easily. This is a time of messages and messengers, particularly those relating to fire, and fire’s associates: courage and anger, hearth and transformation, cooking and electricity and lightning.

Fire stands ambiguously between civilization and wildness. The taming of fire was one of humanity’s oldest and most profound acts of domestication. Fire, you might say, is the spiritual patron of civilization. And yet fire burns out of control so easily, is always a bit of wildness held close and cautious in the belly of civilization, ever eager to leap out into unbridled explosions, to devour all that humans have so carefully built.

This tension runs through Sister Fire, who brings the fresh eyes and raw creativity of a child to the matter of fire. Where is the line between the thrilling excitement of new passions and the dangerous dance of playing with fire?

How do we integrate the blessings and empowerments of the Sun’s magic circle into the earthier, wide open spaces of our lives? How do we spread and share the luck and light of the Sun with more of the world?

In her most noble form, Sister Fire is a vessel for these sacred flames, a clear channel through which fire can speak and leap and spread.

Waxing Influence: Five of Earth (Five of Pentacles)

If Sister Fire is a step down from the Sun, into the everyday world, the Five of Earth is a further, larger step down. In my deck, the Five of Earth is titled The Nadir. The lowest point. This cards is, essentially, the mirror image, the inverse, of The Sun.

So, in this reading, as the Sun wanes away from Portland, the Five of Earth rises up, filling the space. Filling it with lack, scarcity, feelings of powerlessness and isolation. Worse, seeing others who have what you need and will not share it with you. Banishment, poverty, wandering ragged and alone. Essentially, standing at the bottom of the Sun’s exclusive, blessed tower, looking up.

What does it mean, this quick, drastic movement from The Sun (an image evocative of the highest point) to the Five of Earth’s nadir?

It suggests a kind of cycle, the boom-and-bust rhythm of capitalism, the punctured bubble of delusion followed by a discomfiting plunge down to some hard, rocky reality. A zero-sum game, in which winners require losers. And further, a kind of cosmic comeuppance or instant karma: the winners pay the price for participating in such a game by losing themselves. A high, as in a drug binge, followed by a crash, a nasty hangover.

While this is no doubt one layer of this reading’s truth, there is a deeper, gentler possibility as well. The presence of Sister Fire indicates that The Sun is more than some puffed up plutocratic illusion. There is some real blessing flowing into the world through The Sun’s light.

The challenge we are being faced with is: can we gracefully dance between the highs and the lows? Can we descend from the heights of ecstasy into the nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts practical resource questions required to build solid foundations? Can we carry the flames we have been given proudly and skillfully into the bleak, dark places where we (and/or other people) experiences powerlessness and aloneness?

Can we let the flames kiss the very darkest parts?

The Oracle’s Advice: Three of Water (Three of Cups)

To all this discourse of light and dark, bright flames and bleak stones, the Oracle has a surprising response. Be like water. Paradoxically, the best way for us to carry on the blessings of The Sun, the teachings of fire, may be to step into a very different way of being, the tides and flows of water.

And yet the Three of Water has much of relevance to the tumult of this week’s reading. First, the card’s imagery features the moon prominently. The moon, of course, is an old master at the trick of the bringing the sun’s light into dark places. She does it by changing shape. She does it by being modest, reflective. She does it by softening the harshness of his relentless glow into something silvery, inconstant, wily, slippery, fey, unpredictable. Through her alchemy–which always, always involves letting her self, her very body, transform–she turns fires into water.

We are called and challenged to do the same. For water has no difficulty flowing down. Water cannot lose itself the way fire can, sputtering out. Water returns, cycles, nourishes the barest ground.

The Three of Water, specifically, is titled Stream of Love. We are being asked to let love bubble in and through us, without grasping on to particular moments and forms. The Sun’s circle must crumble, as all things do. While the brave songs of Sister Fire might seem to be the best way to honor the exuberance of the Sun (and for other contexts/other temperaments, her angry, vital experiments the clear path to spreading the Sun’s wealth), this reading strongly suggests following the current trends can easily lead to the burnt out depletion of the Five of Earth.

To avoid and counteract this, the Oracle suggests the Three of Water. As the brilliance of the Sun wanes and the emptiness of the Five of Earth rises to replace fullness with seeming absence, we can stand in the wholeness of our hearts. The Three of Water suggests a going away party, at once a celebration of the love and laughter and a mourning of the coming separation. Watery, flowing with the wine of our tears, our waters running with joy and grief alike, we can see that the love beneath the Sun’s brilliance has not left us at all, will never leave us, flows always alongside and within us. Drink in that love, and over the overflowing cup for your neighbor to share.

Thanks for reading. This is my first Tarot Forecast in a long time and I hope to return to doing them weekly. I’m starting a Patreon campaign to help make that possible. You can read more here, but the gist is that you can pledge a dollar a week (or more) to support this work. Spreading the word about these Forecasts is also very helpful!

Continuing Hiatus

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been caught up in the summer gathering swirl, and now I’m about to go wandering for another month or so. But don’t worry: at some point in the not too distant future, your regularly scheduled readings will resume.