Don’t know your ecosystem? It’s easy to figure out using your birthdate. Follow these instructions to find out how.
As always: Take what you need, leave the rest.
Red Alder trees are one of the first plants on the scene after trauma to the land. After a flood or a clear cut or a fire or a landslide, alders arrive.
Their roots contain nodules that are home to symbiotic bacteria called Frankia. The alder provides the bacteria with nutrients, and the Frankia responds by bringing the nitrogen in the air into the soil. This enrichment process prepares the land for other trees and plants.
In a way, we could think of the alder as an example for what it might look like to be the first responders of The Collective. When an ecosystem is in trouble, alders and their nitrogen-fixing relatives arrive to transmute battered or barren land into a hospitable home. Their only job is to be. And by being they change the very soil in which they grow.
… Do you see where I’m going with this?
What if we— you and I— are the alders of humanity? What if we have arrived at just the right moment in time, in exactly the right place, to make room for fresh growth through our own symbiotic relationships? What if this is where we flourish? What if we are already seeing small, tender saplings root in our presence? What if we keep tending through love and commitment to The Whole, making way for the other plants in the forest to do their part?
What might our world look like if each of us could see our daily work as an opportunity to do the same? What if— by the fact of our presence and commitment to doing our best— we’re already changing the soil for those who come next?
The Ecosystem of Will
Magician, Wheel, Sun (1, 10, 19)
I’d wager that most of us who live in this ecosystem (full disclosure: this includes me) are inspired to shape the world. We can see the potential, feel the opportunity. We can almost walk through that new world in our minds.
But self doubt and despair can arrive just as quickly as our crystalline vision of the future does. We grasp for whatever piece of that future we can, but without the confidence in our own abilities it quickly feels hollow.
This lunation is an invitation for you to free yourself from your own imagination. I don’t mean that you should give it up. I don’t want you to stop dreaming. I know as well as you do that to try would be like telling your heart to stop beating.
Instead, allow your imagination to serve as profound glimpses of possibility, not as a destination. Let your excitement propel you forward in the moment. Your inspiration is fuel, not a roadmap. The harder you cling to the image you have for a future life, the faster the life you’re living now fades into the background.
The alder doesn’t need to dream of a lush forest for all of nature’s creatures. She allows her roots to claim what is hers, and in so doing that future becomes a more likely reality.
What do you forsake by focusing on what might be as opposed to what is?
The Ecosystem of Intuition
High Priestess, Justice, Judgment (2, 11, 20)
Take a moment, if you will, to join me in your imagination.
Before you keep reading, close your eyes and take one intentional, deep breath and release it.
(I’m serious. Take the breath. In fact, take two if you need to.)
Now think of an outdoor spot that feels comfortable and safe. A favorite trail, a neighborhood park, your balcony or back yard, a patio seat at your favorite bar or cafe. Wherever it might be, close your eyes and see yourself there while you take a few more intentional breaths. I’ll be right here when you’re ready to come back.
(Really. I’ll wait.)
What do you feel like in your body when you are in that place? Where does your body touch the ground? What sounds do you hear? What do you feel on your skin? What thoughts popped into your head as your mind wandered?
This lunation is an invitation to bring your awareness to how your intuition is embodied.
When you instinctually know something in your body, where do you feel it?
This period is an opening for you to develop a conversation with your body and what its telling you. Those outdoor places where you feel safe and comfortable are thresholds where its easiest to notice this wisdom. Allow yourself to enter into conversation with what your body is saying by just hearing it, even if you don’t know how to respond.
When alder seeds land in the right soil, they take root. They let the rain come. They let the sun shine. They take what they need, they give back what they can. What would it feel like if you trusted that you know how to do the same?
Ecosystem of Creation
Empress, Hanged Man, World (3, 12, 21)
I’d wager that you know how to read a room. Unspoken words, tightly wound emotions, spacious pauses… If I were going to put my money on a particular ecosystem to have that “knows-without-knowing” sense of the pulse of a situation, it would be yours.
Whether this is something you’ve always been good at or something you are still awakening to, right now you are especially attuned to the invisible forces that propel the world. From physical laws like gravity, to more abstract concepts of what it means to be and to love, your awareness is being drawn to how the unseen manifests in your daily life.
Does the damp Earth call out for Alder? Does Alder anticipate her needs? Is there a conversation between them that we cannot hear, or do they just know?
This lunation is an invitation for you to honor your uncanny ability to read each moment as it arises. You get to appreciate the signals you pick up in boardrooms, living rooms, grocery stores and open fields.
That deep sense of knowing what’s needed around you is part of what makes you so resilient. Your ability to feel into the energy of a situation is what nourishes whatever you grow. What might you bring into this world through the subtle act of witnessing what’s already here?
Ecosystem of Trust
Emperor, Death, Fool (4, 13, 22/0)
Most of us know what it’s like to hold our hearts at arm’s length. Many of us learned early on that emotions are something to be distrusted, and that the only real way to plot a path forward is through logic and reason. We were taught (or adapted) to disconnect from our feelings and instead rely on mental perception to guide our actions.
We might have done this to survive. We might’ve done this because it’s what was modeled for us. We might not even remember how we got here. It’s just what is. It’s how the world works… Right?
Yeah, not quite.
Here’s the thing: When we’ve grown accustomed to thinking our intellect is the only thing that we can trust, we forget that there are a whole host of other signals that clue us into what’s real and what’s truly important.
This lunation is an invitation for you to explore the extent to which you rely on your intellect to inform your worldview and actions. This moment is an opportunity for you to be honest with yourself about how well you navigate your feelings (or the feelings of others).
How often do you let yourself feel? How often do you look for a way around your feelings?
I read tarot for someone last week, and during the process of exploring a moment of transition in her life, I finally arrived at a nugget of truth that hit home: You can’t think your way out of this.
Alders grow strong in some of the most challenging landscapes— not in spite of their environment, but because of it.
You are not sturdy and stable in spite of the emotions you push down. Stability comes from navigating through what comes up. Ignoring, belittling, or bemoaning your non-intellectual intelligence practically ensures that you’ll fall with the next storm.
The Ecosystem of Knowledge
Hierophant, Temperance (5, 14)
Many of us gain great meaning and sense of purpose in what we do for work, in our hobbies, or in our families/communities. There’s nothing wrong with finding some sense of achievement or fulfillment in these things, but when we become hyper-focused on work and do-ing we forget what it means to BE.
This lunation is an invitation for you to examine your relationship to doing. You are being welcomed into a conversation between Who You Are and what identities, titles and accomplishments you think you need to feel whole or worthy.
Who are you outside of what you do? Who are you outside of what you have achieved or accomplished— or want to achieve or accomplish? Who are you when you are be-ing?
What alders contribute to their ecosystem is pretty cool when you think about it. Turning nitrogen into amino acids and nourishing the soil in the process is impressive.
But here’s the thing: I didn’t take notice of these trees because of what their roots do. I can’t see their roots without digging them up, and honestly? I wouldn’t know the specifics of what I was looking at even if I did.
I took notice because their presence is beautiful. Red Alder leaves are bright green and have striking serrated edges. Their female catkins look like clusters of tiny pinecones, and their male catkins glow red-purple in the sun. I didn’t have to know its name or what it contributed to the soil to understand that it is a being of beauty, just as I don’t need to know what your job title is to know that you are, too.
The Ecosystem of Union
Lovers, Devil (6, 15)
I imagine that— whether you realize it or not— you are in an ongoing exploration of what it means to live your life in balance, navigating the right combination of doing what fills your heart and taking care of your basic needs. As an ecosystem, Union finds deep meaning in connection— connection to others, connection to a sense of purpose, connection to the sacred self— but as with anything: Too much of a good thing can become overwhelming or burdensome.
In this particular season, you are being granted an opportunity to pause, assess, and receive.
What is your relationship to waiting? How often do you wait on purpose? How might pause serve as a prayer?
Male catkins on Red Alder trees are pretty showy this time of year. They are long and cylindrical, and right now in the Pacific Northwest they are bursting with pollen. Wind-born, the pollen is received by female catkins (which look like little clusters of cones), and the seeds develop inside.
Alder’s green leaves drop without changing color in fall, but their seeds hang out in those cone-like clusters all winter. When spring arrives again, the female catkins release the seeds on the wind, much like the pollen arrived the year before.
Like the newly-formed female catkins dangling from alder trees, this lunation is inviting you to receive what is floating on the wind. Your job is to allow. To be. To incubate. I doubt you’ll need to wait until next spring to send your intentions into the world like the alders will, but you do need to take heed of the season you are in.
Ecosystem of Initiation
Chariot, Tower (7, 16)
Sometimes we need to grow and expand. Sometimes we need to retreat and contract. We cannot live our lives in a balls-to-the-wall state (a technical term, btw) just as we cannot stay small for so long that we begin to believe that we don’t deserve to be seen.
Are you in a state of growth and expansion, or of retreat and contraction? Are you more comfortable with one state than the other? How might you find your footing no matter what season you find yourself in?
When Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, the north slope “collapsed with a mighty shudder” and sent debris into the Toutle River valley. Trees and other plants were covered or swept away. It was easy to mistake the wide swaths of empty land as lifeless, but we know better now.
Red Alder were some of the first trees to arrive in the wake of the destruction, and in addition to helping enrich the soil, their shade provided valuable shelter to undergrowth plants that needed protection from the elements.
If you have found yourself at a moment of expansion and growth, this lunation invites you to engage fully without giving yourself over to bluster. Be intentional about what you are expanding into, and allow yourself to establish boundaries that keep you from experiencing a mighty eruption.
If you are in a state of contraction, this lunation invites you to seek the opportunity that lies in this particular moment: To accept rather than resist it. There is nothing wrong with keeping something close to your chest, no shame in being present with the quiet hum of now. Like the land recovering after volcanic eruption, you have permission to allow yourself time to gain the stability you need for your upcoming expansion— because neither state lasts forever.
Ecosystem of Hope
Strength, Star (8, 17)
Sun. Rain. Drought. Pests. Flood. Fire. All of these forces leave their mark in the rings that we see when a tree has fallen or is cut down. Slow growth one year. Plentiful sun and rain that led to a period of rapid growth another. Fire scarred it one summer. Thin rings on one side indicate when another tree leaned against it for support. Years of strong growth followed when overcrowding was thinned to make room for more sun.
I can spend all day personifying trees, but when it comes on down to it, if alder seeds get what they need, they germinate. If seedlings get nourishment and survive the elements, they grow. Sapling to full grown tree, there are countless outside influences that can topple or support.
This lunation is inviting you to take a look at the trials and triumphs of your life and take stock of what you’ve learned from your responses. Some of these responses will fill you with pride and others… Not so much.
But I want to be clear: This is not open season for self-judgment, embarrassment or shame. This is not the moment to drag yourself over the coals for what went wrong, what you couldn’t prevent, what you didn’t know how to handle, or what was beyond your control.
The reflection I’m talking about is that which brings you closer to remember this: You do the best you can with the tools you have. When we lack access, support, or are navigating trauma, it’s natural to feel isolated, frustrated, or depleted. This is not the moment to go there.
Instead, I encourage you to consider what reflecting on the hard times might look like if you imagined rings of growth in your own story? What would the cross-section of your life illuminate about your strength and resilience? How might such a study give you what you need to send love and healing to the past self who lived through those seasons of fire and drought?
Ecosystem of Introspection
Hermit, Moon (9, 18)
In my research of Red Alder, I found one source that said that it doesn’t reproduce in the absence of a soil disturbance.
That’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? The very reality that is inhospitable to other plants is what alders are looking for to thrive. And by thriving, they open the door for others to do the same.
This lunation is inviting you to consider how you do the same.
What structures and conditions allow you to flourish? Do you encourage or inhibit such structures in your life?
You don’t need to be too self-congratulatory or judgmental here, by the way. Don’t worry about placing moral value on such actions or inactions. That’s not going to do anything but stunt your growth.
Instead, I encourage you to consider how structures— like routines, goals, etc.— create uniquely fertile ground for you to grow.
Let me emphasize that word uniquely. What works for you might look very different from what works for someone else. If you are feeling stable and steady, take note of what you’re doing that supports those feelings and remember those strategies when you fall out of routine (which is normal).
If you find yourself feeling uncertain or lost, consider what kinds of simple structures might help you find your way. You can look for inspiration from others, but don’t worry if what works for them doesn’t help. This is an opportunity to experiment. Exasperation will only leave you feeling stuck.