The Strength Card, & The New Moon in Leo
“Each man should frame life so that at some future hour, fact and his dreaming meet” -Victor Hugo
For this month's New Moon ritual, I want to invite you to join me in the practice of lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming means knowing you are dreaming while you are in your dream. Why for this New Moon? It came to me in a dream! There are a few things taking place today, August 8th. First, we will welcome August’s New Moon in Leo. This day is also known as the “Lion’s Gate” which marks the rising of the star Sirius to astrologers. According to numerology, this day is a very “lucky” day because the number eight aligns with success and transformation. I am neither an astrologer nor a numerologist, but these systems do come into play in the Tarot. The Major Arcana card Strength is the number 8, it is ruled by Leo, and this card also presents the infinity sign ∞ which is an 8.
As I was mentally working on this post, I knew that I wanted to explore Strength, the New Moon, Leo, the number eight, and Lion's Gate. But how?
If you are a client of mine, you may have heard me recount how someone once told me, “The locations of Burger Kings and McDonald's in relationship to the hospital you were born in, have more to do with the outcome of your life than your star sign.” I bring this up not to be dismissive, but because it is a humorous way to unpair the value of these symbols from any burdensome predictive aspects in astrology or numerology. If that sounds a little blasphemous to the Tarot community, so be it. I know, for me, that I feel connected to the Sun, the Moon, and the stars. I have less of a connection to the traits assigned to constellations visible only from the Northern Hemisphere by the ancient Greeks.
I do however see a connection to Leo season and the traits of August. Despite our modern lives, we are tied to nature and these symbols can support us as we transition from season to season. Similarly, I don't personally feel a strong connection to numerology. The creators of the Smith Rider-Waite did, and so their intentions can add nuance to interpretation; however, I'm not a big proponent of lucky numbers. I do welcome any opportunity to invite prosperity and good fortune, but I'm reluctant to assign good or bad luck to integers (or fractions!) Around the same time as I was considering how to explore these topics, a dear friend of mine and I were talking about lucid dreaming. We both agreed to try and practice. Sure enough, that night I dreamed about the Strength card and the "lucky" number 8.
In the dream, I was reviewing my past. I was able to consciously look at events from my childhood and adolescence as if they were on a conveyer belt. I kept looking at each event, some were very challenging, but because I was in the "driver's seat" of the dream, none were painful or triggering. I kept trying to apply the number 8, as if it were an actual tool, to each memory and I was suddenly flooded with the realization that each event since birth was lucky! I could actually feel my attachment to whatever story or hardship shift. My emotions toward these past occurrences were altered and I felt genuinely lucky to have had each one. In my waking life I would certainly intellectualize that, yes, every experience in life is a gift; however, I had never actually emotionally felt truly lucky and blessed for hardships in the past. As I stumbled awake(ish) to text myself what I had experienced, the feeling stayed with me and since that morning I have retained some of it. Having had this fantastic experience, I knew that there could be no better way to work with this New Moon and this entire lunar cycle than to continue and invite you to join in this lucid dream quest. Training yourself to have lucid dreams is a process. With that in mind, August's New Moon ritual is designed to be a practice for the entire month and beyond.
"Flying Up" Lucid Dreaming New Moon Challenge
A quick refresher on manifesting with the Moon: When working with the Moon cycles in manifesting, the New Moon is always the best time to begin new manifestations. The waxing moon is the time to repeat and reinforce your intentions. A fantastic way to tie your manifestation work to the waxing moon would be to watch the Perseid meteor shower between August 11th and 13th and visualize your intentions on those shooting stars. The Full Moon is the time to release your intentions to Spirit. August's Full Moon was named the "Flying Up" Moon by the Cree tribe of Ontario. If you decide to join this dream challenge, consider what you'd like to release and "fly up" under the Full Moon on August 22nd As the Moon wanes, integrate what you've learned until the cycle begins again.
Most of the science and techniques around lucid dreaming can be credited to Stephen LaBerge. There are a wealth of resources and information on this subject and methods of achieving lucid dreams. I am by no means an expert and I encourage you to learn as much as you can, but here are some basics to help you start., Step 1) Good Sleep Hygiene: The best bet to help experience lucid dreaming is to begin with good sleep hygiene. That means going to bed at a regular time, turning off all screens one hour before bed, keeping your bedroom as quiet and dark as possible, or wearing an eye mask.
Even if you never achieve a lucid dream state, improving your sleep hygiene is one of the best things you can do for your health. Step 2) Reality Check: In order to prepare for and cultivate a lucid dream experience, you will need to spend some time in your waking life attuning to reality with "reality checks". The goal of a reality check is to create a baseline habit of verifying reality so that when you do it in your sleep, you’ll immediately know that you’re dreaming. These reality checks should be simple and quick so that you can do them 10-20 times a day. For example, stop whatever you are doing and press your palms together, then observe how they resist. Look into the mirror and notice your reflection. Look at a clock or a book and actually read what
it says. And of course, the classic, gently pinch yourself. It's important to remember to always ask yourself if you're awake or dreaming whenever you do a reality check. When you build a habit of reality testing by training your brain to question and recognize your waking state, you’re more likely to do reality tests in a dream, and that’s when you recognize it’s a dream. Step 3) Keep A Dream Journal: When you wake up, either from a dream or first thing in the morning, try and write down anything you can remember. If you keep a pen and paper near your bed you won't get stuck trying to text yourself at 4 AM as I did. By thinking about your dreams while you are awake, you will be more likely to recognize a dream when you’re asleep. You can think of this journal as field notes from the subconscious. Step 4) Use Affirmations Before Falling Asleep: Before you drift off, repeat to yourself a phrase like, “Tonight I’m going to be aware of my dream while I am dreaming" or, "I will fly in my dream tonight." By repeating your intention your subconscious mind will register it. Step 5) The MILD Technique: Right before you go to sleep, think of a “dreamsign” or an unusual thing that often occurs in your dreams. As you go to sleep, keep thinking of this dreamsign and tell yourself that you’ll remember this in your upcoming dream. This is known as the Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams or MILD technique.
Since this work takes practice, be patient with yourself. There are many documented benefits of lucid dreaming. It is an ideal way to confront your fears because, in a dream, there are no consequences. If you have patterns of addiction or self-sabotage that you’ve tried to break with no success, during a lucid dream, you can communicate with your subconscious and even reprogram it. Recently a friend asked me, "Do you have to do something when you fly in your dreams?" I was struck by the matter-of-fact way she asked. She assumed everyone flies in their dreams. I generally do remember dreams, but I've never been a flyer. One of my New Moon intentions will be to fly in a lucid dream. Your New Moon intention could be as simple as asking the Divine, "What would you have me know?" before bed. As you continue this practice, you can play with choosing what visions you want to see when you go to sleep. This entire project for me started by grounding my intention on the 'lucky number 8, and the Strength card. A fair maiden caressing a peaceful lion is certainly an image that would be welcome in a dream state, but the experience of taming our inner lions and being soothed by our inner maidens might reveal some far greater truth about your relationship to your own inner masculine and feminine. If you try this experiment and pair it to this Moon's cycle, beginning with tonight's New Moon in Leo, expanding under the Full Moon, and then integrating until our next Moon cycle, you should be able to capture at least one lucid dream. I hope you will join me and if you do, please share whatever experiences you have! Highest and Best xoxo Meredyth