In the mountains where I live the lovely deep dreamy November darkness is closing in. The clouds sit low in the valley and always there’s the sound of leaves, November wind bringing them down, the leaves in the street whispering together. The summer is dying and the sun is leaving. We celebrate All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints’ Day, and the Day of the Dead.
Everything that manifests calls up its opposite. Cold and dark, light the fire. Harvest done, gather up the remains and burn them. We carve grotesque faces in pumpkins and put lights in them to ward off whatever might be out there in the dark. We throw more wood on the fire. When I was a little boy in England a long time ago (I don’t know if this is still done) we used to make a man out of straw and old clothes, light a bonfire, and burn the straw man while the grown-ups set off fireworks. It was called Guy Fawkes Day. November fifth. It goes back forever in time, morphing through different phases depending on the dominant culture and religion, back to taking the corn husks, making a corn man, burning him, and scattering the ashes on the fields. The darker the night, the brighter the fire. And we remember that fire will burn away everything we no longer need.
Five can be a purification, a test. Wands are Fire Kali dancing in the fire. There is one good way to manage the fire when it strikes, when your old self is ignited, soon will be consumed. That way is to look into the fire and see Her dancing. Maybe no accident that English children have burned a man in effigy. The fires that are ignited during this Festival will burn brightest and clearest at the Winter Solstice, when the purification is completed.
We know it’s pollution now, but for me nothing brings forth the spirit of this time more than the smell of burning leaves in November. We don’t do that any more, burn piles of leaves in the backyard. It was lovely. For me it’s the smell of a lost world.
These old rituals are ways to bring the inner and outer world into congruence, I think. They are the Solar Calendar at work in our inner lives. But you can know and remember that the rising darkness will kindle a fire in you.
Depending on where it lands in a layout, the Five of Wands can be a gift, a challenge, or a warning. Be mindful of your own fire and use it wisely. If the Five of Wands is your card right now, don’t be surprised to see fiery results of your words or actions. On the Tree of Life the home of the Five is called Gevurah, the Inspector, or sometimes Pachad, meaning Terror. You might see it as the home of Kali. The path from here to the heart of the Solar Fire is Justice. You will need to surrender to the fire, but you will need to do it mindfully.