It’s Christmas time. Lights, candles and merry melodies. What is Christmas though if not a wonderful celebration of an ending and of the hopes brought by new beginnings?
I’m a huge fan of Christmas. Any seasonal celebration is big in my book and in the midst of the Wintery shades of grey, the cold winds and frozen ground, a little joy becomes vital. And that’s what Christmas really is – and always was – all about (including before being stamped Christian).
In Northern and Central Europe it has always been about finding hope in the darkest time of the year. When most people were still farmers, they were deeply connected to their land and depended on daytime and sunlight to survive. November and December were therefore a source of anxiety. Would the darkness stay, would the temperatures keep dropping? How long until the days get longer?
For centuries, long before Jesus Christ’s birth date was set to the 25th of December, people across Europe would celebrate the Winter Solstice and the hope of seeing longer, warmer days return.
The Norse would celebrate Yule from the Solstice on and all through January, they would burn large logs of wood to bring light back in the middle of the darkest days and hold celebrations and feasts.
The end of December was also the perfect time in Europe for drinking: most alcoholic beverages made with the autumn harvest were properly fermented at about this time of year. Less work was needed in the farms, allowing a break in a world revolving around agriculture.
In the South too, Romans were in complete party mode from mid-December onwards celebrating the Saturnalia, the Juvenalia and the birth of Mithra, born on… December 25th.
So the end of December has always been seen and lived as a time of shift, of deep questioning, a moment that calls for comfort and reassurance. It’s a time where the people of Europe, as far as our common memory go, naturally felt the need to gather around lights, fire and food to find joy within themselves, until the trees would turn green again.
Finding light within oneself in a time of doubts and questioning. That’s exactly what Tarot sessions are for.
Tarot Helps You Find Light in the Darkest of Times
The connection between celebrating endings and Tarot? Most people who come to me are at the end of a cycle. Sometimes it’s the end of a relationship or of a cycle in that relationship. Or they long to change jobs. Or they are feeling a general shift. And Tarot has the power to answer questions about both where they stand and where they’re headed when everything around them seems dark.
Also, Tarot is deeply connected with the cycles of life and seasons. As you probably know by now, the minor suits are all linked to a season (Wands with Spring, Cups with Summer, Coins with Autumn and Swords with Winter). Tarot characters are also related to seasons, for instance the Magician is connected to Springtime, Strength to the heart of Summer. The Hanged Man is a figure of Winter, the Devil of the Autumn.
Tarot is also all about cycles. Beginnings are found on the Page of Cups or the Fool. Endings on the 10 of Swords, the Tower, 5 of Cups and many more. But none of these cards is ever all black. Tarot is the best and most positive tool for guidance because every card holds a message of hope, even in the most difficult spread.
And that’s what celebrating the Winter Solstice was always all about: finding light and warmth in the darkest of times.
Of Endings and Beginnings in Tarot:
Here are some cards that best illustrate the connection of Tarot and cycles. Always remember that a card on its own holds many messages and always depends on its context. For more, see the Tarot Card Meanings page.
And these are only some of the cards we can associate with cycles, endings and beginnings.
Tarot rarely announces something difficult without letting you have a glimpse at the light at the end of the tunnel. The light that shines in the middle of a deep winter forest. The one announcing Spring’s inevitable return.
These connections make December and January a perfect time for Tarot reading and specific spreads about life cycles. What is ending, what is starting, what is changing. While these questions linger in the air, the answers can often be found on the table, where the Tarot cards are spread.