Earth Wisdom Tarot Sacred Art

Weekly Wisdom: A Bittersweet Time of Letting Go

in Card of the Week, Tarot, Wheel of the Year

Gaian Tarot Ten of Air

When I pulled the Ten of Air this morning, I heard Ruth Barrett’s voice inside my head, singing this chant:

“Go to the very edge, where the old world ends
And something else begins,
Something else begins.”

Ah, such a perfect tune for this Dark Night of the Year.

All the Gaian Ten’s are cards of endings, with an implicit new beginning just around the corner, out of sight. The Ten cards are related to the Wheel (Major #10) with its themes of cycles, flux and transition.

“Canada geese fly in a V-formation during the fall migration. We can almost hear the chorus of honking. The familiar sight of geese flying south for the winter never fails to tug at our hearts, bringing a sense of impermanence and longing. In European tales of the Wild Hunt, it was said that flocks of wild geese or swans embodied the souls of the dead who flew through the winter night sky.” (From the Gaian Tarot companion book)

Since I’ve been meditating quite a bit on the ancestors this All Hallows season, I’m quite taken with the idea that flocks of wild geese were thought to embody the souls of the dead. Now, when I see them (or the wild swans that will soon be arriving in our fields to herald the coming winter), I think of them as metaphorical ancestors, flying from one world to the next.

“During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church tried to replace the idea of ghosts wandering around the night sky with that of souls who went straight to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory upon death and thus could not be contacted by those spiritual practitioners whose role it was to pass along messages from one world to another.

With this development, the link was broken between people and their ancestors, who could no longer be prayed to or invited to return to provide advice. The dead saints replaced the ancestors as the subject of prayers and other-worldly assistance. The only dead still presumed to have contact with the living were evil spirits who still roamed the earth. They were not the sort you wanted to encounter on a dark night, thus the association of All Hallow’s Eve with ghosts and terror.”

– Waverly Fitzgerald, “All Soul’s Day and the Wilde Horde”

Ah.  One more piece to the puzzle of saints and ancestors, all mixed up together in the Pagan/Christian holidays of Samhain, Halloween, All Soul’s Day and All Saint’s Day.

When you get this card in a reading . . .

It’s a bittersweet time of letting go. You may not want to face the winter to come, yet it is inevitable. What plans, ideas or strategies do you need to release as the old year wanes? Who are the ancestors that whisper to you as the geese fly overhead? What wisdom do they have for you?  (From the Gaian Tarot companion book)

It occurs to me that those questions would make a great little spread:

  • What plans, ideas or strategies do you need to release as the old year wanes?
  • Who are the ancestors that whisper to you as the geese fly overhead?
  • What wisdom do they have for you?

What does this card say to you, dear Reader?

Thoughtful, sparkling comments. . .

  • Brenda Mon - Nov 07th 2011 1:01 pm

    security, and allowing the universe to guide me. great card for me today, thank you! just applied to teach some art classes at a local rec center, but will be having to change up my hours where i am working now to make room for the change….scarrrrrry, but doable and time really. also the geese fly in a v shape to help with the wind currents and when the leader tires another moves ahead, for me letting god/goddess guide me now and let me rest. and recieve help from others. the girl i talked to today was really very helpful and encouraging… i have put out all my resourses to what i want to do so i am allowing others to help me

  • paganmama Thu - Nov 10th 2011 8:47 am

    I had some time away from my boy this morning, and I walked, meditated, lit candles and sweetgrass at the Samhain altar (with the Gaian elders arrayed as ancestors), and did this reading. It has been a powerful morning.

    The cards I pulled were the ten of fire, reversed; Lightning; and the four of earth. This struck me as a surprising and powerful spread. I wonder what you make of Lightning as a reply to “who are the ancestors that whisper to you?”

    Blessings and thanks, as always.

  • Joanna Thu - Nov 10th 2011 9:12 am

    Brenda, best of luck with your new classes!

    Paganmama, love the idea of the Gaian Elders as the ancestors.

    Mmmm . . . do you have any warrior-type ancestors? (Well I guess we all do.) But the image of Vikings come to me, gnashing and wailing in the halls of Valhalla, or else of Thor throwing his mighty thunderbolt. On this continent, it might be interesting to look at indigenous myths about thunderbirds or thunderbeings. I think there are ancestors of Place, of the land where we live, as well as ancestors of our genetic lineage.

    Do any of those ideas resonate with you?

  • paganmama Fri - Nov 11th 2011 10:03 am

    Thanks for your response, Joanna. I’ve been thinking about it because it’s intriguing and yet it DIDN’T resonate with me. (I do have Danish ancestors, though.) I freaked out when I saw the Lightning card–a card I NEVER pull–so I like your recasting it (for me) as something active, rather than something I’m a victim of. Still pondering….