As an October baby, I love Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday, in fact. I have enough Halloween decorations to adorn two houses, and enough Halloween clothing to wear for the entire month of October.
This year has been strange, though, in that I don’t even have a pumpkin to carve, and I haven’t worn a stitch of holiday-themed clothing until today. I can’t attribute this lack of preparation and celebration to any one cause; rather, it seems to be the cumulative result of a number of small circumstances that have been piling up all fall.
Today is THE day, however, the high festival of The Great Pumpkin himself. I am wearing orange socks adorned with black spiders and white webs, a candy corn-covered turtleneck, and an orange t-shirt with a jack-o-lantern face. I have a huge stash of candy for this evening’s visitors, and I baked pumpkin bread. Some of my daughter’s friends will gather here after school to eat Monster Burgers and Butterscotch Brooms before trick-or-treating; my son plans to canvas the neighborhood as a some form of dead Roman. I think I’ll mull some cider (maybe add a little bourbon?) to take off the chill as I answer the door.
Because Halloween is descended from Samhain, an old new year’s festival, I thought it would be fun to do a new year’s reading with my favorite cards, the Halloween Tarot. I even invented my own spread (with inspiration from Christine Jette’s Tarot for All Seasons and Monica’s Tarot in a Teacup).
Apples are a fall fruit, despite the fact that the global market means we can get them year-round. They belong to the botanical family Rosaceae, which is characterized by flowers with radial symmetry and five parts: sepals, petals, and in the case of apples, ovaries. If you slice an apple in half across the middle, you will see that the ovaries form a five-pointed star around the core, and each ovary contains a seed. I used this as the basis of my layout, which I call my Apple Spread for the New Year.
The first card is the core, that which is at the center. I drew the Hanged Man, which the Halloween Tarot pictures as the Scarecrow, that brave and brilliant thinker from Oz. The two birds also allude to Odin (who was accompanied by two ravens) hanging on the World Tree to gain the wisdom of the runes. This card is about wisdom — not knowledge — won through patience. Being upside-down gives one a different perspective, so this card also speaks of the wisdom to be gained by shifting one’s point of view.
The second card is the seed of what needs to be accepted. I drew the Five of Bats, which depicts a bully stealing and hoarding that which belongs to others. I take this to suggest that greed and avarice will continue to predominate a lot of behavior over the next twelve months. If we recognize that these base motives are behind many of the world’s ills, we may be better prepared to combat them.
The third card is the seed of what needs to be released. I drew the Six of Bats, which is about moving on. This card always seems a little sad to me; the people in the boat look forlorn, but that might well be a projection of my own reluctance to let things go. We don’t see any faces in this picture — perhaps the passengers are smiling, looking ahead to what lies before them. The buildings on the shore are brightly lit and inviting, and the woman holds a carved jack-o-lantern on her lap — they could be on their way to a Halloween party! Maybe the thing we need to let go of is our fear and pessimism.
The fourth card is the seed of what needs to be kept. I drew the Queen of Ghosts, whose throne sits on land though she is a mermaid. She represents the capacity to feel deeply and to nurture emotional connection with others. Those seem like good things indeed to hold onto.
The fifth card is the seed of what needs to be focused on. I drew the Four of Ghosts, reversed. Some people don’t bother with reversals, but I like the additional challenge they bring to a reading. This card is about apathy, particularly the kind that arises from self-imposed isolation. The youth in the picture is literally surrounded by friendly spirits, but seems closed off to them and their ministrations. I read this reversal to suggest that we focus on turning this trend on it’s head — be more attuned to those who are reaching out to us, and be the one who reaches out to break the isolation of others.
The sixth card is the seed of what needs to be learned. I drew the Queen of Bats, who holds the sword of discernment in one hand and welcomes a bat, image of thought guided by listening, with the other. In the next year, let us learn how to listen with care and intelligence, and learn how to welcome and nurture the role such listening plays in discernment and sound judgement.
Enjoy your Halloween celebrations, whatever form they take, and husband the seeds that have been planted in your life so that they bear good fruit!
(All card images from The Halloween Tarot by Kipling West.)
5 Nov 12 update: I’ve decided to rename this spread Seeds for a Fruitful New Year.