In the Jewish calendar, months are based on the lunar month. Each month begins the day after the new moon (rosh chodesh, or head of the month), when the waxing crescent of the moon is first visible in the sky. Blessings are said, candles are lit, and it's a lovely fresh start.
Last night was Rosh Chodesh Sivan (the beginning of the Jewish month of Sivan). And so, after a long day closed up in my (relatively) cool (actually pretty hot) room, hiding from a murderous Portland heat wave that left me feeling flattened and vaguely nauseated, I decided to go out to see the new moon before I said the blessings. You’ll be able to see it from the front porch, I told myself, which cheered me as I grudgingly got dressed.
I couldn’t see the moon from the front porch, but the cool darkness was delicious, so I ventured out a few blocks, craning my neck toward the western horizon and trying to find a break in the trees, expecting a little moon sliver fairly high in the sky.* After several blocks' walking, as I became increasingly impatient and grumpy (did I mention I don't handle hot weather well?), I saw it! It was just visible though a tiny crack in the layers of trees. It was lovely and fat and hanging just over the horizon, showing the first slender edge. And pink.
I don’t know why I’m ever mad about anything in a world where gigantic pink crescent moons exist, I really don't.
I walked home, feeling better about life, to say the blessings and draw my Rosh Chodesh cards. My practice this year has been to draw two cards each month, a major and a minor, as a guide or focus for the month. Normally I just take the first major and minor, ignoring any intervening cards. This time, the intervening cards were so fascinating that I took a whole series of four: the Nine of Pentacles, Five of Pentacles, and Knight of Swords (all reversed), and the Empress.
The Nine of Pentacles shows a figure playing a grand piano while sitting crosslegged on a spiral shell. A tree has grown through the piano’s case, and the piano is sprouting twigs. There's a stained glass window suspended between two trees. It's about integration of work and nature, nature in the sense of the earth and in the sense of the worker’s nature. Your needs are abundantly met, allowing you to relax and create, you are grounded, and you know you are part of something real and tangible.
The Five of Pentacles is the opposite of the Nine. This stained glass window is embedded in a cold marble wall, the figure sits on a hard marble bench, knees drawn up, face buried in their arms. They are surrounded by thorns. They don’t see the butterfly or the flowers or the cracks in the wall. This card is about being stuck and struggling to meet the most basic physical needs.
And then the Knight of Swords. A heavily armored person rides a bird off to battle and all the other birds have come along. Birds typically represent thoughts, feelings, and communication. I feel like this card is saying, I must gather every single thought and every idea and every issue I need to process about and go deal with all of them, all at the same time, right this second, hurry up you guise!
All three cards are reversed.
Together, they seem to say, it’s true that you don’t have the integration and ease and freedom and abundance you want in your work life—in actual fact, I’m unemployed and engaged in what has become a soul-sucking work-search/career transition—but remember that a lot of your physical needs are being met.
Not like, someone else has it worse so don’t complain (which is a burnout-inducing guilt trap that props up the kyriarchy and does nothing to address actual issues of privilege and oppression), but like, you have what you need today. The rent is paid. You have money for food. You have clothing, your phone bill is paid, you can even go to the cheap movies when it’s a bazillion degrees outside. You are making steady progress on your job search. Everything is okay right now.
So you don't have to get stuck in your head, worrying and trying to predict and hash out every potential issue and every possible pitfall until you’re exhausted. You don’t have to barrier yourself quite so tightly. Trust yourself, trust that you can find a solution by working at a reasonable pace, and resist anticipatory suffering. If you get to the Five, you can deal with it then, and you’ll handle it better if you’re not exhausted from worrying about it before it happens.
And then the Empress. I love this card. It’s about nurturing, receptivity, caring for self and others, birth and re-birth, emotional labor. Being your own mama, being the mama you needed. Making delicious food for yourself, sleeping when you are tired, going for walks in the cool soft darkness, laying in the sun with your friends. Setting boundaries and limits, but being open to what will surely come and what is. Accepting this period of between-ness and drifting as a gift and a place of healing, of gestation before rebirth.
So essentially--notice that you are safe right now, don't go racing off to the thought-battle and exhaust yourself if it's not necessary, be patient, be open, and care for yourself like it's your job. Except that you don't have an actual job, so soak it up and let yourself relax a little.
I think I can do that.
Happy new moon, and Rosh Chodesh sameach all!
*This was entirely wrong, as I learned during the ensuing moon rise/set internet nerd-out! During the new moon and immediately after, moon's rise/set is almost exactly synchronized with the sun's rise/set--hence its actual position just over the horizon shortly after sunset.