Death, The Chariot and with Temperance, Comes the Sun.


As the Moon reaches her full expression in Capricorn this week, I woke up with Jim Morrison’s smooth anthem, “Riders on the Storm” playing in my head and the image of an open road stretched across a red desert landscape. The pace was slow and meaningful and every roadside attraction that I stumbled upon I was destined to see. Funny thing is, I can’t drive and I can’t recall any of the signs.

“Why?” has been the resounding question as daily horrors keep erupting at a rapid pace. There is no justice, no resolve, and our dreams for life, love and the pursuit of happiness feel at times trivial or too huge and far, far out of reach. This summer has been equal parts stagnation and revolution. What’s been soothing and useful for me is exploring the introspective places that lay between, with the aid of my divination tool of choice, the Tarot.


After having a powerful reading exchange with one of my most trusted witches, I kept thinking about how the The Chariot card reversed made a prominent appearance. I thought about my fear of driving and my 4:00am fever dream. Maybe it’s time to get behind the wheel, symbolically and literally? The metaphor, along with The Chariot card, can hold many meanings, but for this New Yorker who relies on strong soles, the fear is twofold and comes from being raised by a reckless driver along with feeling insecure in a leadership position. My boots have gotten me farther than I ever could have imagined, but in this dream I was Queen of the Open Road, cruising down a dirt highway that wasn’t accessible to my feet. What’s the message? The Chariot reversed, as my dear witch friend assured me, meant that all the momentum is just within reach, but that I’ve got to remember Temperance, or patience. She was there, too, in the spread, next to The Chariot with a balanced, calm smile, infinite waters ebbing and flowing, her gaze practically mouthing, “All in good time, all in good time.” Sometimes, no action in the best course of action.

Tarot is a language of promise, divination, wisdom and direction. Tarot has also been my daily smoke, food and spiritual practice all rolled into one. Rituals work in part due to their repetition, and when your question needs an answer, Tarot can deliver. But like a new language, you have to attempt to decipher the lingo as foreign and mysterious as it may initially seem. Like an old friend who can gently warn you about dangers you can’t see, the Tarot can, too. With its earth-shattering and witty wisdom, both come from an intimate and loving place.


My reading had a delayed effect and I found myself wishing for a suburban porch where I could go outside at night and have a private consultation with the Moon. My bathtub and some Enya had to suffice, and as I lay there thinking about the big questions, I pulled from the deck the following cards: Death, The Chariot again, and then there was The Sun. All of these cards have been major players in my Summer of Introspection. First, Death came in late June as my 94-year-old grandmother in Portugal passed on. That day I was in a panic over whether to fly there or not and I pulled dear old reliable Death from my deck and said of course, time to say goodbye. When you observe the Death card in its classic Rider-Waite imagery, artist Pamela Coleman Smith imagined the skull-faced grim reaper on his horse taking down whoever is in his path regardless of age or social status. In the background of the card I always notice the setting sun and that every dog, (and person) will have their day. I said goodbye to my grandmother who I was convinced was a gypsy with her waist length black hair and leathered skin. I gave thanks to her exotic mystery and extreme strength bearing eight children in rural poverty, never losing dignity.


As the evening went, on I kept thinking about what lies between or rather what connects these cards in their wise and direct messages. When you’re in The Chariot driving towards an exciting new chapter, you’re fearless, taking chances with a level of courage to be reckoned with. Yet, you’re still a smooth rider, not losing your temper or your focus. Only with Death, those sudden moments of unstoppable change, do you get knocked off your Chariot, but with Temperance always comes the rising Sun, a new day and a new dawn. These dear and faithful cards provide the introspection and the warm embrace we all can use during these turbulent, hot summer days.

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