Updated: Oct 13, 2022
A Ritual Bath with The Moon Card and the Knight of Cups
“Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes it visible. The Moon develops creativity as chemicals develop photographic images.”
-Norma Jean Harris
I am tucked into my bed as I begin this post. We have had some sunny but cold weather in San Francisco recently. I know that San Francisco’s version of cold is downright cozy by comparison to places currently blanketed by snow. Maybe that’s part of why I feel so grateful for the freezing temperatures.
It’s nice to have a good excuse to work from underneath a blanket. It is nice to be reminded that we are still in winter.
This final phase of winter always reminds me of a word I learned in a movement class — Otkaz. I took this class almost 20 years ago while working on a BFA in theatre, but it has stayed with me. It comes from the work of a Russian and Soviet theatre director, Vsevolod Meyerhold.
Meyerhold created a system for training actors based on his principles of biomechanics (only distantly related to the present scientific use of the term). I recently had a refresher on the term, from that long-ago movement instructor (thanks David Taft!).
The Otkaz is the preparation for action. It is followed by the Pocil, which is the action with meaning, which is followed by the Stoika, the end of the action. When we get up to stand from a chair, in the otkaz we lean slightly back, coiling the center and leaning forward in the chair seat to stand.
To me, Otkaz encapsulates the energy of our current Pisces season, whose corresponding Tarot card is The Moon.
This is a time when we’re preparing to get up from our winter chair (or bed in my case). As we move towards the 1st day of Spring, we are standing up from our period of hibernation/rest and digest. On March 19th we will arrive at the end of both winter, and another turn on the wheel of the year.
Today, I’m offering an Otkaz bath ritual for Wednesday’s New Moon in Pisces, using The Moon card and the Knight of Cups as anchors.
It was around this time last year that I began structuring these newsletters around each Zodiac sign and its corresponding card. If you have been with me for the entire journey, thank you! If you are new, thank you also!
You can read my original post on The Moon and Pisces here. This post also gives a nice summation of how the Zodiac and the Tarot align as well as how the Devil through the Star cards/seasons prepare us for The Moon.
In short- ruled by Pisces, The Moon is the card of imagination, mythology, dreams, and vision. Our actual Moon is a mutable reflection of the Sun’s light. Similarly, in The Moon card, we are invited to watch our subconscious as it is reflected through our dreams and our creativity.
Regarding the Zodiac, we have arrived at the final Sun sign, Pisces. In March we will begin the cycle anew with powerful Aries. Represented by two fish, it’s no surprise that Pisces is a water sign whose most notable characteristics are, like The Moon card, creativity, imagination, and sensitivity.
While the Sun signs are supposed to be linked to an outward personality, Moon signs are ascribed to our inner experience and subconscious. If you don’t know your Moon sign, you can look it up here.
I am not an astrologer, but I’m always curious about how interpretations of astrology might color interpretations of the Tarot. I was therefore fascinated to learn that the Knight of Cups is the Moon card for Pisces.
The Knights of the Tarot are wonderful instructors for how we move through our lives. In The Knight of Cups, we see the horse is in motion, but there is no rush.
The Knight of Cups represents both the elements of water, our heart-center, and air, our intellect. He is on a quest to bring his creative, emotional inner-life into the world; and, though his helmet and heels have wings, he is careful not to spill a drop from his chalice.
If you have ever attempted to make a dream become a reality, then you know how challenging it is to square a heartfelt desire with the practical realities of life. The Knight of Cups can be an ally in this quest.
For example, in my work, specifically the creation of these newsletters, I have been able to invite some balance between my head and heart. I know that my creativity does not operate on a linear timeline, and I know that my business requires planning and consistency.
Without knowing it (aka subconsciously), once I began centering these newsletters around the lunar cycles and the Zodiac calendar, I was able to operate my business and orient my thoughts according to a non-linear, nature-based cycle.
In practical terms, the result has been that I get to check in with what phase the Moon is in before buying into any anxiety regarding the date. For example, my linear-thinking left-brained mind holds the intention to publish three times per month on Fridays. Like the Air element in the Knight of Cups, it’s important to bring my creations into the world where they can benefit others.
However, rather than letting this linear mindset cause anxiety for my right brain, with all its creativity, emotions, and feelings, I allow myself to check in with nature. Since our next New Moon is on the 2nd, I allowed myself more time to imagine, create, and work with Spirit rather than forcing something to meet last Friday’s “deadline”.
This same principle holds true for my concept of the New Year as well. No doubt, there is a collective energy that spurns reflection and intention-setting around January 1st, but that is also a time for hibernation. Whenever I hear messages like, “Start the New Year with a bang!” my inner clock hits the snooze button and thinks, “Wake me when it is Spring.”
All this brings me back to the last sign in the Zodiac calendar, Pisces and the Otkaz.
Ever since I started recognizing Spring as nature’s New Year, Winter has made a lot more sense.
While I remained busy in January and February, my focus was inward. My new website is nearly finished. My annual business plan starts March 20th, and it is nearly done. I’ve given myself the dark days of winter to regroup. And now, it is time for the otkaz.
Both the season and the mechanism ‘Spring’ express a burst of energy. In nature, we get an explosion of color and life overnight. In machining, a coil is able to release energy in one direction by contracting in the opposite direction. This preparation for action, the otkaz, is what I am inviting you to embrace these last few weeks of winter.
Our New Moon in Pisces will take place on Wednesday, March 2nd, at 9:34 AM PST. When we manifest with the Moon, we use the New Moon phase for intention setting. It’s important to wait until the current cycle is completed before honoring a new one, so I plan to enjoy this ritual on Wednesday or Thursday evening.
Because we will be completing the 12 month Zodiac cycle this month, the energy of this ritual is similar to that of a New Year’s ritual, only you have the benefit of already passing through that specific threshold.
Since we are in the preparatory phase, coiling in so that we can later spring forward, it’s time to get a little excited. I recently acquired another fun vocab word, this one in German —
Vorfreude: The joyful intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures.
This is the feeling we want to foster for this New Moon. What can you imagine, no limits allowed, that makes you feel anticipatory excitement? Remember as a kid the feeling that you might burst out of your skin for an otter-pop? I do! I want you to paint/draw/write about whatever gives you that vibe.
If you’ve already done the work of goal-setting and/or New Year’s resolutions, you can revisit your ideas and add some colorful anticipation to imagining them fulfilled. If you made a start on your vision board, but haven’t yet assembled it, you are still right on time.
Gather a pen, paper, magazines, art supplies and allow your creative Pisces juices to flow.
As you create, be aware that when we are in the energy of The Moon, we are allowed to be wild and afraid. The primal forces of the dog and wolf, the very nature of our subconscious is both powerful and unpredictable. The critic, the ego, hates anything unpredictable.
For some of you, just the image of messy art supplies and an unpolished watercolor is enough to send you running. For others, this assignment may be a dream. Whatever your immediate reaction is, try and stay out of judgment and just go for it. If it helps, set a timer for 20 minutes and let the critic know you’re not available for any input before the timer goes off.
Next, time for some bath magic!
Gather your sea salts, candles, essential oils, anything that will help you relax and draw yourself a hot bath. I’m deliberately not including a list of specific ingredients for this bath, you get to listen to the creative fish of your inner Pisces and follow their requests.
As you concoct your bath, allow the visions that your artist self wanted to create to guide you. If it is more romance you crave, add rose petals and charge your rose crystal in the water. If it is greater success in your career, add cinnamon and thyme.
Herbalists and spiritualists alike can tell you which herbs or crystals can help with which intentions, but ultimately it is your connection to the ingredients you choose that will support your manifestation practice.
If it helps, imagine the dreamy Knight of Cups from the Light Seer’s deck romancing your creative soul to soak just under the surface of your rational mind.
Now, go ahead and sink into those warm waters. Mimic the mermaid-like figure in The Moon card. Know that the other side of winter is almost here, and to support yourself in bursting through to all that you anticipate in spring and beyond, you must coil, you must otkaz.
When your toes and fingers are pruned and your water has cooled, you’ll know you are done. As you step out of the water, pay attention to the quality of your movement. Notice how your body bends inwards to support you standing up and drying off.
This New Moon is the preparation to completing the current cycle on the Wheel of the Year, and whatever intentions you set tonight, will enable you to spring into the energy of Aries on the 20th. I am sending you creativity and peace for this New Moon and the month ahead!