Illustration from a Chinese medical book, Song Dynasty, Shaoxing period, 1159 CE
As the new moon grows and summer wanes to its end at Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, I welcome the White Tiger of the West – a celestial guardian of seven of the twenty-eight lunar mansions of Chinese astrology, and one of four symbols assigned to each of the directions and seasons. Autumn is the season of the West, and the themes of balance and light & dark that are related to Libra are also illustrated by the White Tiger with its black and white stripes.
While the element that the Chinese associate with the White Tiger and the west is metal, we in the western hemisphere associate water with the western quarter. I find this to still be fitting as tigers are in fact fairly watery creatures, being one of the very few (or the only) cats who actually enjoy being in water.
white Bengal tiger, photo by Bjorn Christian Torrissen
Cats in general are frequently associated with water, however, and not necessarily because of any tolerance of or even affinity for physical water; it is their fluidity of motion, their subtlety, their keen sensitivities and awareness that makes them energetically watery.
I once read about a certain old folk belief that cats used to be serpents, which are of course strongly connected to water as well. If you spend any amount of time observing a cat – with their extreme flexibility, their sleek movements, speed and impressive senses and instincts – it is not hard to see the similarities between cats and snakes and, therefore, cats and water.
The energy of the white tiger, particularly the White Tiger of the West, includes that of change and adaptability. One of the most obvious themes of autumn is change and transformation, specifically the ending portion of such cycles – the opposite Sabbat on the wheel of the year is Ostara, the Spring Equinox and the birthing transformation.
Very appropriately, the waxing moon is today in the water sign of mystery, revelation and transformation – Scorpio.
This is also an aspect of water, constant change. As much as I can’t stand the rest of the wildly inaccurate and insensitive misfortune that is Disney’s Pocahontas, I can’t help but adore the main songs from that movie. The opening lines of “Just Around the Riverbend” are perfect and frequently echo in my head – “What I love most about rivers is: you can’t step in the same river twice, the water’s always changing, always flowing. But people, I guess, can’t live like that; we all must pay a price. Do we safely lose our chance of ever knowing what’s around the riverbend?”
But even we, as people – humans who crave permanence and control – must at least try to live like that, to be more aware of change and cycles and being willing to be part of its natural flow. This newly waxing moon and now the Sun taking us into the golden equinox brings a wonderfully fresh breath of balancing, Libran air, peaceful endings and hopeful beginnings as a comforting reminder of the ever-turning wheel of life.
Autumn Oracle of the White Tiger
The leaves turn and begin to fall, the nights grow longer and the air cooler, and the wise, regal White Tiger of the watery West slips gracefully and silently through the amber forest, bearing wisdom for the turning season…
Again, as for the new moon, I used the Shadowscapes Tarot to receive a message from the White Tiger, and drew the top card after shuffling the deck and cutting it once. I then felt moved to also select the card from the bottom of the deck – the shadow card. Fitting for the black and white tiger, much like the “Light and Dark of the Moon” spread used in the September Full Moon Oracle.
It is also fitting that we see, yet again, fire and water or…
Three of Wands and Ace of Cups
White Tiger Speaks,
Everything is about balance. Balance of life and death, of dark and light, of speaking and remaining silent, of the inner and outer world. The sun is now entering the sign of balance – Libra, the scales. Be still and silent here…take the time to balance your scales. To see what is both within and without. Is there harmony there, or only discord? Or do they both ebb and flow?
The message of the Eight of Cups in the last New Moon Oracle is reinforced by the Three of Wands – both speak of moving on, of discovering and growing, of travel, expansion and exploring the unknown. It is natural for you humans to fear what is not known or understood. Fear is the enemy of growth, and it is the enemy of understanding.
The river in the valley below the young woman in the Three of Wands flows from the Ace of Cups – it is her faith, her spirituality, her inspiration and magic. These are the things that help you stay in balance and that allow you to find your personal truths. She looks ahead, she plans ahead, she is a visionary and a pioneer.
While she knows that fear is her enemy, she also knows that she must have discernment and intuition to navigate her course. She even has her wise, feline companion at her side to remind her and guide her, as I am here to guide you through this season in which magic grows and the deep waters of the spirit flow.
It doesn’t matter if your cup is half empty or half full; either way it will stagnate. You must ever empty and refill it. May you find learning and comfort in both its fullness and its emptiness.
The Chinese “Wáng”, or “King” symbol, which can be found on the forehead of every tiger. The three horizontal lines represent heaven, man and earth, and they are unified by the vertical line, the king. Or the White Tiger.
“Hattara Sonja with his White Tiger” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 19th century
May your equinox and whole autumn season be richly blessed
by the majesty and protection of the White Tiger of the West!
© 2017 M. Everwhite – All Rights Reserved
Featured image – English Birch at the Parc du Mariemont in Wallonia, Belgium by Jean-Pol Grandmont