It's not surprising that here at the start of the busy holiday season we receive the Temperance card as our theme for this month! In this article, I'll explore ideas of what Temperance has to say to us, and pull some additional cards to unfold that message in more detail as the month progresses. Here's a quick look at the overall spread:
Jump to any week of November now:
Now -- let's dive in!
Theme for the Month: Temperance
A balance of head and heart
The holidays, for many, are a joyous time of celebration and togetherness, but they can also bring pressure, stress, temptations, and feelings of loneliness. Most obviously, Temperance reminds there is a fine line between enjoyment and overindulgence. Part of how we mark these occasions is through offerings of tangible abundance -- special food and drink not had on ordinary days. Both the variety and the quantity can be so hard to pass up. I don't know about you, but I can't remember the last time I woke up thinking, "I'm so glad I had that additional drink and that third piece of pie!" Ummmmm... Temperance encourages moderation so our celebration does not become a setback. It does not say you must do without. You can try all the pies, just have smaller pieces.
It is also a time of engagements with friends and family. We create opportunities to visit with people we don't often get to see. Bonds are strengthened through this effort and the shared experience of tradition and ritual. If we're being honest with ourselves, there can sometimes be an army of pressures that come with these encounters. It might mean obligations to travel out of town, away from the grounding force of home and the routines that keep us in balance. We may feel pulled away from a place of centering, as life-long relationships can coax us back into old patterns, identities, and reactions. At times, others' expectations and assumptions about us seem more powerful that our will to assert ourselves. Temperance is a great reminder of this tendency. It is a card of balance, of not tipping too far in either direction as a way to protect the self emotionally as well as physically. It's also a card of patience, in this situation patience with others who may not see the world the way we do.
It is important to acknowledge that some of us don't celebrate at all during this season, even if fall and winter holidays are in our cultures' traditions. This may be from a lack of desire to engage, or due to certain loses or conflicts that leave us without a close-knit family or group of friends. If you identify with any of these scenarios, Temperance still has a message for you. Have patience with yourself, even if others cannot understand your perspective. Find other ways to incorporate ritual into your life so that you may honor whatever matters most to you. Creating a balance between the mundane and the special helps give life meaning.
Meditation for Temperance:
Whether it's connected to an upcoming holiday or something more unique and personal, identify some kind of ritual in your life. This could be anything at all that you do involving the marking of an occasion through the use of special objects, words, or actions. Perhaps you decorate your mantel a certain way every fall. Maybe you buy yourself flowers at the grocery store every time you need a pick-me-up. Perhaps you start or each day using a similar series of actions. Whatever it is, take a closer look. Understanding the design of such rituals can strengthen their value and help us remember what's truly important in our lives.
- What are the steps to your ritual? What objects/actions are involved?
- How long have you been doing this and how did it first come into your life? Did you design it, or was it passed on to you already formed?
- Do you do this alone or with others? What roles do you each play in acting out the ritual?
- What are you honoring with these actions?
Suggestion: Three of Swords
This seems a strange and ominous card to pull for our Suggestion... Surely it can't be telling us that the solution to problems this month is mental anguish?! I suppose it could indicate a need to experience and process our emotions, even negative ones, instead of repressing them. Sometimes we put on a brave face in order to move through challenging experiences, and ignoring true feelings can lead to deeper conflict over time. True as that may be, it seems smart to examine other aspects of this card's meaning for additional insight. It's more likely this card is telling us to exercise some degree of mental control over our emotions. If this month's events and relationships bring heightened emotions, we might be better served by sitting with them rather than reacting in the moment. Taking time to examine them will allow for a more reasonable and accurate response.
But let's see how the Three of Swords comes into play during each week of November, and what sort of hints it offers for coping with specific challenges that arise...
Week 1 Tarot card: Knight of Cups -- Offers and responses
Weekly Tarot Card for October 30 - November 5
This November begins mid-week, and right out of the gate, the planning starts. Invitations to celebrations begin to arrive, and with them excitement and anticipation, but also mixed emotions and expectations. Do these offers feel like obligations, opportunities to connect, or a little of both? Our monthly Theme card, Temperance, would suggest choosing carefully when the Knight of Cups makes offers, analyzing the potentials for emotional pitfalls and making a plan to avoid negativity. The Knight of Cups leads with emotions, so bringing in additional airy mental energy can be helpful to offset the watery effects of the Cups (of which there are several in this reading...). This doesn't mean to shut down them emotions completely. It is possible to proceed with awareness and still keep an open heart.
Helpful hints for this week from Three of Swords:
- To manage this Knight of Cups energy, enlist the help of a partner or friend as you plan the activities of the coming weeks. Choose someone with whom you can process information and emotions, someone whose presence makes you feel calm. This can help you see situations more objectively and keep up your enthusiasm.
- Carry a polished stone for calm and communication in your pocket and hold it in your hand when you need to rebalance your emotions. Touching the smooth stone surface is calming, and the action is a reminder of your goal to maintain positivity. (Pale blue stones such as amazonite or blue lace agate are great for this.)
Week 2 Tarot card: Seven of Cups -- Self-care and reasonable expectations
Weekly Tarot card for November 6-12
We are still in the emotional realm with our second week card, the Seven of Cups. This card of strong desires but scattered energies is naturally in line with what many of us experience as the holiday season gets going. Too many things are happening -- responsibilities, social engagements, relationship demands. This is especially true if we have decided to host any celebrations, and are beginning to manage details of the arrangements. In such situations, a sacrifice of some sort is inevitable. Either nothing reaches its full potential, or one crucial piece fails to fall into place when it is needed.
So how do we handle everything without getting overwhelmed? Again, bringing in some of that Air energy can be hugely helpful! Look ahead realistically and make decisions based less on desire and more on what can be reasonably accomplished in the time allotted.
Exercise with Air energy:
Do some planning on paper.
1. Write out a list of what you'd like to create/provide for yourself and others. Be specific, including all the needed resources to make each item happen.
2. Make a second list of available resources – money, helpers, and your own time/stamina.
3. Analyze where needs and available resources align. Be realistic here, keeping Temperance in mind again. Even if you can make it all happen, will you be too depleted to enjoy it yourself?
4. If there are no available resources for an item on your list, cross it off or move it to a new list of things to plan ahead of time for next year's celebration.
5. Reduce your list to a manageable set of expectations, and craft a detailed plan for manifestation.
Week 3 Tarot Card: Six of Pentacles -- Sharing the harvest
Weekly Tarot card for November 13-19
Our Week 3 card, the Six of Pentacles, is all about sharing resources, a perfect card for this season of harvest festivals around the world. It is a time of sharing the bounty with loved ones and giving thanks to the people and forces that have provided for us. The Six of Pentacles also asks us to consider who else might benefit from our abundance. While this season is a time for celebration for some, others are struggling to make ends meet. How can we widen our circle of giving? How might we reach others in need with our generosity?
Tangible actions from the Six of Pentacles:
Consider donating time or resources to local organizations that help people in need. On a more personal level, consider the hidden needs of those closest to you. How can you show them generosity in ways they find meaningful? This will also provide a positive outlet for some of the emotional energy that has built up during the month, as the Six of Pentacles suggests that serving others contributes to a sense of personal grounding. Even if your resources are scarce this year, consider what you do have to give. Many of the best gifts are intangible, taking the form of kind words or offerings of time.
Week 4: Page of Cups -- Using your intuition
Weekly Tarot card for November 20-27
What?! Another Cup card??? I swear I shuffled this deck. This Cup card, however, is less about struggling to understand emotions and more about other aspects associated with the watery realm. The Page of Cups indicates budding creativity and the development of one's inner voice. So how might that apply this week? Well, in the larger context we've established, these are useful skills. Quite frankly, we might need to be mind readers to navigate the emotional minefield of interpersonal relationships... Having a heightened intuitive understanding of others can help us balance their needs with our own. For example, if you find yourself playing host of a celebration for friends or family, anticipating their desires can make interactions smoother and more enjoyable for both parties. This is one way of honoring people you care about, of showing the generosity called for by the Six of Pentacles. Holidays are not always an appropriate time for hashing out grievances, so avoiding conflict might be a more reasonable move. If you are aware of others' pressure points, you can find ways to avoid them. If you are thinking ahead about ideas for the upcoming traditional gift-giving season, be a good listener now on multiple levels as loved ones communicate details about their passions and pursuits. Giving a perfectly intuited present shows a tremendous amount of care.
A mediation on the Page of Cup's creativity:
Employing creative thinking and imaginative approaches to celebrations can make them more meaningful. Perhaps this year your holiday gathering should take a new form. How can your respect expected traditions while breathing new life into your festivities? Look back on past gatherings -- which elements delighted people the most? Why do you think that is? Which traditions feel emptied of their purposes, creating more frustration than reward?
Week 5: Six of Cups -- The past in the present
Weekly Tarot card for November 27
This week the Past has a lesson for us, and hopefully the work we've done all month has prepared us to receive it fully. This is not a surprising card to receive during month when families who don't see each other often come together again. People bring with them shared histories in many forms: reminiscences, stories, artifacts, grudges, rivalries, and so forth. These markers of past connections sometimes receive more focus than what is happening in the present, but they do provide a chance to view what is in contrast to what was. This can be very enlightening. We are able to examine past selves both through our own triggered memories and through the lens of others' experiences with us. There is a warning in this card, however. We should take the lessons of the past and apply them to the future, not dwell on what was before. If mistakes were made, what matters most is how we move on. How can we ensure the same mistakes are not made again? Additionally, the pull of nostalgia can be very strong. If we look backwards and see things we miss, we might be able to resurrect positive pieces of ourselves we had neglected or misplaced. It's important to remember, however, that visions of past pleasures are often tinted by time. The less-rosy reality is likely to manifest in repeating outdated patterns.
A ritual with the Six of Cups:
Take a moment at the end of this month to examine past situations with a critical eye and discover the messages they offer. This ritual (or exercise if that label is more comfortable for you) brings together the ideas of the Six of Cups and the energy of our Suggestion card, the Three of Swords.
What situations from the past are still haunting you in the present?
- Make two columns on a piece of paper: A) WHAT I AM RELEASING and B) WHAT I HAVE LEARNED.
- Make a list in Column A of past events that still occupy your mind. It might be helpful to reduce each to a symbol or object that represents it for more focused visualization.
- Make a list in Column B of something useful you can take from each situation.
- Tear the paper in half to separate the columns. Actively dispose of column A (tear the paper into pieces, black out each item on the list, or burn the paper -- use caution with this last method!) While doing so, visualize each item on your list becoming more and more faint until it disappears completely.
- Read back through your list in Column B, the accumulation of knowledge from your life so far. You have learned from your experiences and can apply that knowledge going forward. Be proud of your ability to grow and change.
(NOTE: Remember, a ritual such as this can be helpful to move on or to begin the healing process, but recovering from past traumas often requires additional help. If you identify heavily with other interpretations of the Three of Swords (heartache, grief, suffering, depression), seek the aid of a professional counselor who can be a guide in your recovery. There is no shame in this. Your feelings are valid and deserve to be addressed.)
According to the cards, this November is about the balance between the head and the heart, a classic struggle, but one that can be dealt with through patience and acceptance. Use creative and strategic planning to help avoid emotional pitfalls. Have compassion, for yourself and others, when things don't go exactly to plan. And finally, remember the purest reasons why you take the time to engage with others in these late Fall rituals.