Watch a child stroke a rabbit or gaze in wonder at a foxglove as it arches over her and you can see the power of nature at work. Patients in hospital require less pain relief if they have a picture on the wall of a sun lit woodland or a water scene. The need to connect with the beauty of trees, flowers and water can be met even through a drawing or photograph. Yet, for many people, nature is just that – beautiful but remote, viewed through a layer of glass or a television screen. The night sky has been eclipsed by electric lights so we are barely aware of the moon and the stars.
To tarot readers the cards of The Star and The Moon are both wonderful as they convey a little magic and plenty of mystery but how many of us are aware of which phase the moon is in right now? People who align themselves to nature in their spiritual lives still celebrate the festival days of the Wheel of the Year.
May Day with its wonderful pole, children dancing in the spring sunshine, is a diluted version of the Celtic celebration of Beltane where the rising sap of springtime was mimicked by the young people of any village. The Summer Solstice (the longest day) when the Oak King rules is a time for celebrating the power of the Sun. For tarot readers this is marked by the card of The Sun, the happiest card of the whole arcana.
Lammas brings harvest, reaping that which you have sown. September brings the autumn equinox, the powers of light and darkness are perfectly balanced as the Oak King succumbs to the Holly King and the first icy fingers of winter begin to make themselves felt. October gives us All Soul’s Day, Halloween or, more correctly, Samhain, the night of the dancing dead.
In Britain the true significance of Halloween was diluted into Bonfire Night but the symbolism of lighting fires and carrying burning lanterns to give protection against the spirits of the dead who walked abroad is still very much there. In tarot this is card number thirteen – the card of Death. One year is ending and so another is beginning as the endless cycle continues. The Winter Solstice, when the Holly King rules and the world sleeps, is a time for revels. Eat, drink and be merry. The time for hard work has passed and is yet to come. Dance, tell stories, turn the world upside down for the twelve days at the darkest time of the year.
The Wheel carries on turning and life returns as we draw towards Imbolic, the time of birth as lambs and babies conceived at Beltane are born as the snow melts away and snowdrops signal the beginning of Spring. We are always somewhere on the Wheel, whether that’s in our own lives with the Beltane power of youth, the Summer Solstice power of parenthood or the Lammas of middle age. The wheel turns, whether we notice the power of nature or not.
To add a little of the magic and sparkle of the stars and the moon to your own life, simply look up at the sky. Moon phases from maid, mother, crone and the hag of the dark moon, reflect the wheel of the whole year.
Taking time out from our centrally heated and air conditioned lives to connect with nature is good for us and good for our children. Run your hands over the bark of a tree, run your fingers over a wild flower, allow the energy of nature to diffuse through your pores, accept Mother Nature’s greatest gift.
She’s still there – just the other side of the window pane.