July Tarotscopes with Brandon Alter
By Brandon Alter:
Let’s take stock of where we’ve been, shall we? Aries energy taught us about action. Taurus Season taught us how to grow that action into something of value. Gemini is teaching us who we are as a result of those values and demanding that we speak up for them. Then comes Cancer, when we settle in and feel our progress so far. As the fourth sign of the Zodiac and our first water sign, Cancer Season signifies our first of three completions in the wheel of the year. The second completion is Scorpio Season, time of death and mystery. The final completion is the end of the Cosmic Wheel, Pisces Season, where we glimpse the collective unconscious and are reborn. Four is a number traditionally associated with foundation; there are four directions, four seasons, four elements. Simply put, Cancer Season is an important inner pitstop on our journey through the stars. It is here we can allow ourselves to feel into what has already transpired and gather up the emotional fortitude to carry on.
I’m always looking to “real world” events to see how the Astrological energy is playing out, but 2020 is giving it to us so by the book that it’s hard to doubt the validity of this ancient system. We knew there was going to be a major reckoning because of January’s Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn. We just didn’t know how that was going to reveal itself. Now we know. The virus isn’t the enemy, it’s the catalyst for our evolution. It’s helping us see how cracked our foundations really are. Saturn is the planet of tough love, pushing us to take responsibility; Pluto is the Angel of Death who wants to assist us in letting go. We are watching this all play out in real time, a global deep-soul-transformation in the sign of the Patriarchy/Authority/Structure. This is all heightened by the necessary light being shone upon racism in our society. And it all feels even more intense here, in the United States, because we are also in the midst of our Pluto return, a truly significant event—Pluto takes 247 years to make its way around the Zodiac. When Pluto returns to the place it began (in this case the place it was when America was born), it feels like death because it is a death of everything that isn’t true; and thank Goddess, since some of this should've died long ago!
So what the fuck are we supposed to do with all this information and energy? Well, babies, it’s a long game. There are no quick fixes here. That’s exactly why we need Cancer Season so badly, so that we can integrate and process what’s transpired so far. Aries Season was our scramble for a new way of life in the midst of a global pandemic; we had to become our own leaders as a result of a deeply ineffective and fractured government revealing just how fractured and ineffective it really is. Taurus Season had us hunkering down and digging in, looking at how to take care of ourselves based on our deepest values and learning what really matters in our lives. Gemini Season has been an empowering opportunity to use our voices to protest against a brutal legacy of racial injustice and systemic prejudice. And while you may have had a chance to sneak in a quick cry or good scream into a pillow, there’s a lot more emotional processing that needs to take place. Luckily, Cancer energy knows how to dig in. So get ready, babies, we’ve just scratched the surface here. The sign of the crab is here to help us take a deeper dive.
Cancer Season, like the rest of 2020, means business. The same day the Sun moves into her intuitive, oceanic currents, we get the first of two consecutive New Moons in this sign. Yes, you read that correctly. Every year, one lucky sign gets two New Moons. The fact that it’s in Cancer this year, the sign in which the moon feels most at home, is both auspicious and instructive. Considering that this New Moon also happens on the Summer Solstice really highlights the shifting of the scales, from darkness to light and now from light back to darkness. Our first New Moon in Cancer is June 20th at 0°, and it’s our initial opportunity to really feel into the truth of our current reality. The fact that we get two New Moons in the same sign signifies that we are only ready for partial truth at this time.
There’s a slow peeling back this month, layer by layer we will continue to see the true nature of the problems at hand.
Remember, ya’ll, we are in the mist of Eclipse Season. This first Cancer New Moon is a Solar Eclipse. Eclipse energy intensifies and illuminates. In a lot of ways, June’s New Moon is a rough draft for July’s implementation. It’s not so much a trial run, it’s more like a first coat of paint—don’t expect one attempt to get the job done. By taking a full month to meditate on Cancerian themes, come July we will have a better sense of what new beginnings we really need to initiate. July’s Cancer New Moon marks the end of Eclipse Season, so use the powerful magic of these next four weeks to illuminate and eliminate that which no longer serves. Consider that how we dismantle the old structures will inform how we create the new world. So let’s make sure to be thorough, clear, and grounded in the work we do from here on out.
Generally, New Moon’s are soft, gentle respites from Astrological storms. Unfortunately, both of these Cancer New Moons may feel more like Full Moons, confrontational and intense. But by now you’ve clearly discovered that confrontation and intensity are some of the main subjects in this year's lesson plan. June’s New Moon has a square to Mars, a stressful aspect with the God of War. Mars is currently in Pisces, where he's exploring his spiritual warriorship, and he’s close enough to Neptune (planet of prayer and mysticism) to be a whisper's distance from some heady spiritual truths. This dissonance between the Sun/Moon in Cancer and Mars/Neptune in Pisces is already playing out. The first pair are more interested in exploring personal feelings, whereas the latter pair are submerged in collective grief and suffering.
This New Moon will broker a negotiation you’ll have to make with yourself about how to honor your own emotional cycles without getting totally swept up in the current of the collective. Or you may find yourself wanting to retreat into your own drama as a means of avoiding the greater shared pain of this moment in time. The key to squares is compromise and action. We cannot afford to hide from what is going on in our world. We must use this Mars energy to be spiritual warriors for justice, to speak up, speak out, and fight for what we know is right. But there are many methods of combat—finding your own authentic protest style is imperative. We need all kinds: marchers, shouters, writers, donors, strategic planners. This first new moon is dedicated to helping us find a true balance between our individual hidden needs and the unmet emotional needs of society. And the energy of the Solstice itself, which radiates balance, can help us find the right ratio between individual attention and collective action.
In full celebration of Cancer Season,
your cards were pulled to align with your
MOON SIGN, not your Sun or Rising.
If you don’t know your MOON SIGN, it’s a quick Google away. If we consider the SUN SIGN is our outer compass, the MOON SIGN is the inner compass. The sign in which the moon sat during your birth informs the method through which your needs get met, how your self-care can be most effective, and (most interestingly) the way your personal magic wants to express.
PS: I’m still here giving readings and supporting healings, so if you are feeling in need of a little extra support don’t hesitate to reach out! And ya’ll know we have a podcast, riiiight? In fact, our little podcast just turned two years old! But don't worry, we are not losing steam; in fact, we are working harder than ever to make The Spiritual Gayz podcast not just entertaining but uplifting, empowering, and hopefully nourishing to your spirit. You’ll find it wherever you get your podcast fix: iTunes, Spotify, the works!
Ace of Wands
The suit of Wands rules over the fire of our lives. Consider the things in your life that spark, which include creativity, spirituality, and sexual expression. Even though these three things might seem separate, they are all a manifestation of the same thing: our desire to connect with something larger than ourselves. The Ace of Wands signifies a burst of energy in one of these three realms (or possibly all of them). Let your passions overtake you this moonth, whether it’s throwing yourself heart-first into a new creative project, a new love affair, or new spiritual practice—you’ll find if you let your passion be your guide, you’ll feel more connected than ever.
Cancer Moons are some of the most intuitive and sensitive beings in the Zodiac. Because you are ruled by the moon itself, you can be quite changeable in how you feel about things; the important thing is to allow your heart its own cycles of ebb and flow. What satisfies you today may not even begin to scratch the surface tomorrow. The Ace of Wands might be showing up to suggest that there’s a new way to get your deepest needs met, particularly your spiritual needs.
As you evolve, so too does your perception of the divine. Perhaps your heart’s evolution is ready to explore new ways to connect with source energy. This card can turn up to signify that there’s a whole new chapter in how you live as a spiritual being. Even more importantly, it can indicate that how you think about and perceive being in relationship with spirit is changing. The Goddess has infinite faces, perhaps this moonth, you are learning to see one you’ve never noticed before!
Three of Cups (Reversed)
If our recent bout of isolation has taught us anything, it’s that we need people. No matter how robust your inner life, no matter how self-sufficient you are, human beings crave community—no one is exempt from that. As a Leo Moon, your heart thrives when it can express itself fully and be received by others. Essentially, your heart loves to stand in the spotlight and sing her torch song—but every diva needs her audience. And this moonth wants you to seek out those trusted companions in your life who can applaud your heart’s true song.
The suit of Cups rules over the water of our lives: our emotions and our relationships. The Three of Cups signifies our deepest connections, those select few who understand our true nature and share our hopes and dreams as if they were their own. It is vital that you find ways to spend time with these besties this moonth (SAFELY, of course!). Whether it’s committing to a weekly Zoom call or inviting a best friend or two to sit across from you in your back patio. You can’t afford to isolate your heart from your people, even if you are still physically in isolation.
The upside nature of this card could suggest that your best friends are changing. Perhaps the people you really need right now are different from who you really needed before the world changed. You’ve been changing, too, Leo Moon. So it’s only natural that those you want to surround yourself with might shift as well. The more you can speak from your heart, the more you’ll be able to feel who is really with you. Those are the confidants to cultivate deeper relationships with at this time.
Six of Cups
Even though Virgo is an Earth sign, she can get pretty mental—she’s ruled by Mercury after all, planet of communication and language. Virgo Moon has a tendency to be incredibly self critical because they put their minds into their hearts and they judge what they feel. There’s nothing inherently wrong with holding yourself to a high-standard, but judging your emotions can be incredibly damaging, because our emotions are teachers. If we judge their lesson plan, we never truly learn what wisdom they contain.
The Six of Cups is an invitation into deep healing, it’s an expansion of your heart. Where we judge, we contract; where we allow, we expand. Allowing the full breadth and depth of your feelings is key this moonth. If you can engage your emotions with curiosity and compassion, you might discover how your past has informed your present. The sufferings of your childhood, teen-years, hell, even your twenties and thirties, if not resolved, continue to play out in current relationships.
Noticing your emotions, without judging them, is how we can learn from them. It’s also how we grow our own self-love. We must love all of ourselves, not just the shiny bits. It may not be as simple as My Mom was uncomfortable with my teenage sadness, so I hid it away to gain her approval and now I am stuck in a pattern of hiding from my sadness—but sometimes it can be that simple. It’s remarkable how powerful your awareness can be; just noticing the patterns and tracing them back to their roots can change it once and for all. Be a heart detective this moonth. Everything you feel is a clue to help illuminate where your next miraculous healing is ready to happen.
Queen of Pentacles
The Queen of Pentacles is the ultimate mother of the Tarot. She’s nurturing, nourishing, tender, and loving, but she can also be ferocious and unyielding in the pursuit of perfect parenting. That’s your job this moonth, to be the most perfect parent to yourself that you can. Sometimes good parenting is letting yourself have ice cream for dinner. Sometimes it’s having the discipline to leave the ice cream in the freezer where it belongs. The Queen of Pentacles has the power to discern the true needs of her child in the moment—and you do too!
It’s not about catering to your inner child’s every whim, it’s about feeling into what would actually serve you best. Sure it might be comforting to stay up all night watching old seasons of The Golden Girls. But is that really taking care of yourself on a deep-soul level? Would you be better served by going to bed at a decent hour, waking up early to meditate, exercise, and drink green juice? Your ability to nurture yourself is your key to getting through to the other side of all this madness. Take your parental responsibilities seriously!
Libra Moon wants to keep the peace, and it can confuse others' needs for its own. This card is so valuable for you because it serves as a reminder that other people’s problems are not your problem. Yes, your heart longs to help others, but if you’re left out of the equation, you are truly of no use to anyone. Make sure that you are your first priority this moonth, and you’ll discover plenty of reserves to tend to the world at large. Good mothering starts at home. Your friends and family might be your children, but don't forget that you must be your favorite child!
The Scorpio Moon is the true Scorpio energy of the Zodiac. The Scorpio Sun energy radiates intensity and seductive charm; but it’s the invisible depths and limitless reservoir of intuition that the Scorpio Moon possesses that reflect the essence of this enigmatic water sign. The Scorpio Moon excels in silent promises and hidden agendas. There’s a relentless quality to the style in which the Scorpio Moon loves, and this relentlessness is its asset. Telling a Scorpio Moon to calm down or not take things so seriously is a fool’s errand. Because it’s precisely the things that matter that inspire this being to live their fullest life.
The Hermit is a beautiful parking for this energy because the Hermit itself is a bit of a loner. It’s a card that encourages us to continue our inward retreat for knowledge and power. While sometimes the Hermit can indicate an outer teacher or guru entering our lives, more often it empowers the recipient to seek their inner teacher. Each and every one of us has a higher self or an inner sage—learning to trust that voice and let it guide us along is an invaluable part of the journey. Do not relinquish your certainty for an outer suggestion. Trust in yourself, and you will be fine.
Simply put, this moonth is here to affirm that you are your own teacher. You are your own leader. You are your own wise woman on the mountain top. No one can tell you what to do. No one has the answers to the burning questions of your soul. No one but you . . . This is a time to seek out your innermost point and align yourself with its silent wisdom—even its depths have depths. The more you can surrender to your inner knowing and cultivate a relationship with this ancient aspect of yourself, the more clarity you'll have with what next steps are to be taken in the purist of your soul's destiny.
Seven of Cups
The Seven of Cups a quixotic little card that wants to teach us about the mercurial nature of desire. The question it poses is this: Is it a dream or is it an illusion? How can you tell the difference? Which opportunities on the horizon of your life will actually satisfy you once you reach them and which are merely a mirage? Choosing can be a dilemma for Sagittarius Moon; as a seeker of knowledge and heart-felt learning, there’s a tendency to want it all. But this moonth wants you to narrow your field of focus a bit so that you don’t waste your energy and time pursuing fantasies.
On a more practical level, this moonth may feel like an episode of Let’s Make a Deal, with many magical doors, and you want to walk through all of them. And let’s be real, Sagittarius Moon is the party girl moon, you probably could walk through them all and still have energy for an after-hours warehouse party—but that wouldn’t necessarily serve you best. This moonth wants to find you streamlining your vision, choosing the people, places, dreams, and goals that are truly at the center of your heart-compass.
Getting clear on what you really want will help you select your options more intentionally. What are the core needs you are trying to meet right now? Security? Safety? Fulfillment? Pride? Get real with yourself and narrow down the two or three big needs that your heart demands be met. From this list, you can start to weigh the other tantalizing options that show up in your life. If they don’t correspond to one of these items on your list, you know full well it’s a waste of your resources.
Death is not death. Death is change. Death is transformation. Death is how we separate honorably from who we’ve been. Death leads to re-birth. Death clears the canvas so a new masterpiece can be painted. Above all, Death is release. In this sense, Death energy heals, profoundly. We ask for Death to free us from the dreams that no longer resonate in our heart. We ask for Death to kill off the versions of ourself that we can't help but continue to act out even though they ring false. Death is the great liberator, and you are ready for that sweet liberation.
As a Capricorn Moon myself, I know firsthand the sensitivity and self-criticism this placement endows. Capricorn Moon always notices the problems first; it fixates on the issues not necessarily the solutions. It’s the hardest-working moon there is, prone to extreme self-discipline that can easily cross over into self-denial. This is a heart that has no problem sacrificing today’s needs for tomorrow’s bright future. But joy and fulfillment can only be experienced in the present moment. Our life’s work is to find a balance between manifesting long-term goals and still enjoying the day-to-day business of being alive. So where does Death come in? Death comes in to say, "hey babe, maybe you are so busy being who you’ve been, that you haven’t taken a moment to notice who you are." These last few months have been so intense and annihilating that there’s no way we can emerge unchanged. And that’s a good thing. Staying the same is not only boring, it goes against nature.
I have a hunch that if you could take a few quiet minutes and really reflect back on who you were at the start of the year and who you are now, you’d be shocked at the transformation. So stop trying to be your January self. Stop trying to be your 2018 self. Hell, stop trying to be your high-school self, if that applies. The goals you want so badly to achieve will only be met by continued commitment to your evolution. The butterfly doesn’t also get to be a caterpillar; you can’t have it both ways. So thank your caterpillar self and let it dissolve into the goo of your next glorious incarnation.
The Devil (Reversed)
You want to know who the Devil is? The Devil is you. Don’t get me wrong, the Devil is me too. The Devil is all of us. Who made you eat that whole pizza last night, the Devil? No gurl, it was you. Who made you drink that whole bottle of wine or put yourself in debt buying vintage jewelry on Esty? Did the Devil make you do it? Did the devil click the complete purchase button? Fuck no. You did it. And maybe it even felt good to do it. Sometimes a little Devil energy is a healthy expression of our shadow. But more often than not it’s an unexamined attempt to self-sabotage.
It’s a party trick of organized religion to try to make us think evil is outside ourselves. It distracts us from really inquiring into our motivations. The source of evil in this world isn’t some dark psychic force, it’s our own untended shadow, and the more courageously we can look inwards, the less prone we will be to act from impure instincts. The Devil card shows up to bring you into right relationship with this tricky energy. But it’s not all bad. The Devil has jokes, really good weed, a big dick, and some pretty wicked cosmic knowledge—but if we aren’t ready to take responsibility for ourselves, all the fun is going to get out of hand real fast. The Devil invites us to get a handle on our addictions, our obsessions, and our pleasures before they get a handle on us.
The Aquarius Moon is a clever heart, a brilliant conversationalist, and also, too, aloof AF. There exists in this placement a unique Aquarian ability to disassociate from the moment. This is not in itself problematic, it promotes objectivity and a clear seeing of patterns in yourself and others. But it can also limit your satisfaction in meaningful relationships because your heart may always have one foot out the door. The Devil may be showing up for you this moonth to encourage you to recommit to the physical world. Come down from your spaceship and embrace the messy, playful buffet that Earth has to offer.
Knight of Wands (Reversed)
The Pisces Moon is possibly the most sensitive and psychic placement in the Zodiac. To have the moon’s energy in the sign of the invisible world can give a sense of living in a dream. It’s important for the Pisces Moon to learn boundaries and grounding or else they might just float away. Pisces is also the sign of the collective unconscious, that nebulous realm where we all join together. As a result, the Pisces Moon can lose themselves in others or find themselves automatically shifting their personality to adapt to whomever they might be flirting with at the time. The Knight of Wands can be strong medicine to keep you from floating away from your true core.
I like to think of this card as the rockstar of the Tarot. The Knight of Wands is pure charisma and presence. When you embrace this archetype, you allow yourself to passionately express your own innate fire. The truth is we all have an inner rockstar. The key is finding where they want to rock out. For example, a librarian is a rockstar in the library, a chemist is in the laboratory, a chef is in the kitchen. Where do you feel your most dynamic and electric? When was the last time you felt like hot shit? The answer to these questions can help you discover who you are when you are fully embodying the Knight of Wands.
Sometimes, the Knight of Wands in the reversed position can suggest a fear of our own creative, sexual, or spiritual power. Perhaps we are afraid we will misuse it. Perhaps we are afraid it will overtake us. But your power is here for a reason, and you must explore how to embrace and express it. Your job this moonth is to find the supreme source of your inner electrical current and then turn up the voltage. The more plugged in you are to your inner fire, the less likely you'll be to dampen it down for others' comfort.
Ace of Cups
The Aries Moon is a moon on fire. This may be the feistiest moon placement in the Zodiac, brimming with electric energy, ready to jump in the car and just drive. To have our emotional core informed by the first sign of the Zodiac would suggest that we are prone to act on impulse. But there’s also a tremendous instinctual quality here as well. Aries Moons are quick to fight and fuck but also quick to forgive. The key for an Aries Moon is the ability to discern true action from reaction. Is your heart really suggesting you quit your job or are you just over your boss’s bullshit today? If you can get out of your head, your heart will make split-second decisions that always satisfy your deeper yearnings. If you can’t, your legendary hot-head might lead you astray.
The Ace of Cups is a great card to help you balance out some of your more explosive tendencies. There’s nothing wrong with having a heart on fire, but it might be nice to remember that there’s a wide river that runs through your heart as well. The Ace of Cups is an invitation to find more flow in our lives. It speaks to the energy of falling in love, sometimes with other people but more often with ourselves and our lives. This card appears when a brand-new door into our heart appears. So pay attention to new projects, people, and opportunities popping up for you this moonth. Notice which ones your heart is swooning for.
When we fall in love with something, we always fall in love with ourselves. You see, everything outside of yourself is just reflecting an inner aspect. For example, people think they love New York City, but what they really love is who they feel like they can be in the city. They love how Manhattan makes them feel. Falling in love with a new album or a new writer, hell, even a new lover is the same thing. What we fall in love with is how these things make us feel; they open us up to a new facet of ourselves. As guided by the Ace of Cups, notice what you are falling in love with this moonth and follow the easy, graceful flow of the honeymoon phase. And try to remember, the person you’re always falling in love with is you.
The Magician (Reversed)
Oh, the sweet luxury of a Taurus Moon! This placement is generally regarded as the most exalted for the moon. Even though Cancer is the sign of the moon herself, Taurus is where she luxuriates and thrives. If we consider the Moon Sign to represent the style in which our needs get met, you need your needs met in the most expensive manner possible. Taurus Moon has a taste for the finer things in the physical world, and it’s important you don’t deny yourself those things that make you feel taken care of. Even if you can’t afford a yacht vacation, you can still treat yourself to the fancy shampoo or the designer sheets. It’s not a luxury for you—it’s a necessity!
The Magician, as ruled by Mercury, wants to empower us around the story we tell ourselves about our life. It’s easy to feel like a victim, to get caught up in how others won't allow your destiny to unfold the way you know it should. Well, honey, the Magician is here to remind you that you have more power than you think. This is the energy of manifestation, of getting crystal clear about what the vision for our future is and holding all the way to it. It feels like you might be having trouble right now carving out that vision for yourself. And that’s understandable because the future is shaky AF right now. But that’s still no excuse to let the TV show of your life be on hiatus.
What I’m trying to say is this: Even though it feels like the worst time possible to set big goals and imagine your future success, it’s actually the best time. This is prime spell-casting time. So wrap yourself in your softest robe or your cashmere sweatpants, light your $70-candle, and start to speak out loud your new dreams and goals. Don’t be afraid that they won't come true; be afraid to not give voice to them in the first place.
Page of Pentacles (Reversed)
Slow down, sweet baby, you are moving way too fast. The Gemini Moon is an elaborate storyteller who can love in all directions simultaneously. If anyone can walk two roads at once, it's you. But just because you can spin ten stories at a time doesn't mean you always should. The medicine of the Page of Pentacles is to ground your energy back into the Earth. It's important for you to not let yourself get distracted by all the commotion around you. Instead, put your heart and your head back in your body where it belongs; that way it can't race around outside of time, exhausting you and causing all sorts of mental trouble.
I would suggest lots of time outdoors this moonth, or at least tending calmly to your houseplants. I would also suggest recommitting to your physical practice. It doesn't matter if it's Yoga, Pilates, Qi Gong, or long walks through your neighborhood. The important thing is to return to your body when your mind starts spinning off into all the possibilities of your life. Your heart loves stories and ideas and conversation, it wants to connect 24/7, but all that connection can leave you burnt out and struggling for true self-identity. Try to connect inward more than you reach outward right now. If you must reach out, reach out to Mother Nature, she will take magnificent care of you, I promise.
Sometimes the Page of Pentacles is us when we are trying to learn a new skill or start a new project. Even though we have knowledge of our trade, there comes a time when we need to begin to learn our work again. The more present you can be in your body, the more available you'll be to learn new ways to do the same damn thing. And it's important to learn new ways to work right now because adaptability is the key to thriving in this particular moment. For someone as creative as you, slow down and get crystal clear on what story your heart really wants to be telling. One true story for your life is worth ten imaginary tales.
BRANDON ALTER is a queer healer, Tarot reader, teacher, mystic and writer living in Los Angeles. He is passionate about sharing spiritual tools that have helped him reconnect to the wisdom of his heart. He is the Tarot reader in residence for The Numinous and he co-hosts The Spiritual Gayz with his husband, a twice-monthly podcast dedicated to exploring the wide reaches of spirituality, without pretending that it all makes sense. Brandon’s mom took him to his very first psychic when he was seven and gave him his first Tarot deck when he was eleven. Since then he has devoted himself to the study of Tarot, Yoga, Pilates, Reiki, Astrology and Shamanic Skills.