It’s hard to believe, but we’re now halfway through the year. Spring and early summer are busy and that initial burst of activity can throw us off whatever intentions we set back around Ostara. It’s easy to lose track with camping, visits, swimming, the kids getting out of school, the needs of the garden… But here we are in July. We’re starting to find the swing of summer as we look toward Lughnassadh. Here in the Mid Atlantic, the full heat of the growing season has arrived and many of us are entering the second part of our year where a good deal of time is spent inside. It’s a great time to check in, take stock, and see where we need to focus.
I’m a big fan of working with the prevailing energy present in a season or situation rather than fighting against it. The energy right now is growth. It’s brightness. It’s the transforming fires of the sun, the vivid colors of summer flowers and the hum of activity in the natural world. If we lean in to that outward-reaching energy, we can find new ways to grow, expand, and support our goals even if we have to spend the daytime hours indoors due to Sunna’s enthusiasm.
Sun and Shadow Divination Spread
I have developed a Sun and Shadow divination spread designed to be used with two separate divinatory tools. I am a tarot reader, but in theory, this spread can be used by any divination system based on sortilege: tarot, runes, ogham, kahina stones, etc (let me know how it goes if you try it!). If you are a collector, the second divinatory tool can be very effective if it’s oriented toward shadow work. If you only have one, you can do the reading with a single divinatory tool in two passes.
To read the Sun and Shadow spread, start with either your ‘regular’ or lighter divinatory tool. As you shuffle, think about where it would be best to refocus your energy right now. If you serve a particular Deity, this can be an opportunity to invite them to communicate with you via your divinatory tool. For each position, consider the prompt before drawing. Draw and then read all the lighter positions up till 5 first.
One: Where does my life need light and growth the most?
Two: Earth: How can I best support that focus with my lifestyle?
Three: Air: How can I best support that focus mentally?
Four: Fire: How should I use my passion and energy to support that focus?
Five: Water: How can I best support that focus emotionally?
Leave your first divinatory tool out and available to you. Pick up your second divinatory tool and as you shuffle, consider what obstacles need to be resolved for you to move forward with your focus. For each position, consider the prompt before drawing. Draw and then read all the shadow positions up to 9.
Six: Earth: What physical or lifestyle adjustments do I need to make to support that focus?
Seven: Air: What aspects of thought or self-talk do I need to resolve to support that focus?
Eight: Fire: What adjustments to channeling my passion and energy do I need to make to support that focus?
Nine: Water: What emotional issues need to be resolved in order to support that focus?
From your first divinatory tool draw the 10th position and from your second divinatory tool draw the 11th.
Ten: What is the main message of the Sun?
Eleven: What is the main message of the Shadow?
Information is wonderful, but it is most effective when put into use. Evaluate your reading and choose some things to work on – a couple Sun suggestions to focus on and a couple Shadow aspects to resolve. On your working altar or in a safe place where your Work will not be disturbed, set up a Sun and Shadow focus. Choose one yellow, gold or otherwise sun-reminiscent piece of fabric, candle and representation (you can even use The Sun card from a tarot deck) and one burgundy, dark blue or otherwise shadowy piece of fabric, candle and representation (if you are going with Tarot, the Death or Wheel card could be used here). Choose two clean, dry repurposed jars with lids.
Set up your working altar to have Sun and Shadow halves. On each half, put down that side’s altar cloth, candle, representation and jar. At the center of the Working space, place some paper and something to write with.
Make time to visit your working space regularly (try for once per week at the least). During that time, light both candles and write down on the paper the ways you have supported your Sun work. Place that piece (or small pieces) of paper into the Sun jar. Then, write down the ways you have supported your Shadow work. Place that piece (or small pieces) of paper into the Shadow jar. Sit in contemplation or meditation and feel gratitude for your Work. Enjoy the ways you have been moving forward toward your goal.
If you find yourself becoming discouraged or distracted over the coming months, read the pieces of paper from each jar and remember how far you have already come. This Working can run till Lughnassadh, Mabon or even later if you find it really supports your practice.
As always, feel free to change and adjust this reading and Working to fit your own needs. May the long time sun shine upon you, and may the shadows nurture your growth.