Saturday, July 21, 2012
Where we see nightmare terrors, once people saw strangeness and otherworldliness, imagining the moonlit night as the realm of the Faerie Folk. The Hollow Hills, lit by the silvery light of the Moon, were inhabited by the beautiful, magical fays or the People of the Sidhe, very like the magical elves of Tolkien's Middle-Earth. Although the faeries have been connected with the spirits of the dead, they are rarely depicted as truly malevolent. At most they are tricksters who make fun of clumsy humans. Like the land of the dead, their land exists out of time; there is no death, no age, no sickness, no ugliness. It is a moonlit land where its inhabitants feast, dance and make music, and while there is no death there, there are many accounts of births.5
While there is a psychological danger of getting lost in such a fantasy world, the real peril for a mortal going to the Faerie realm is that you lose your sense of time. The tales say that humans who go there for a night of feasting and rejoicing soon find out upon returning to this world that many years have passed away. We fear getting lost in such a world, but we also fear losing the world as we know it, which is the price of living with this new vision. Faerie is the land of our hopes and dreams. Inevitably, it is the gifts we bring back to our own world from that realm that make the lost time fruitful.
But this realm of feminine, lunar consciousness does not lead to lunacy if we approach it with consciousness. We have to wear the golden dress of the Sun before we can dance in the silvery dress of the Moon. The Moon symbolizes the light in the unconscious, the ability to bring conscious awareness to the unconscious, a necessary task if we want to nurture our Souls. We do this when we pay respectful attention to our dreams and intuitions, our feelings and instincts; listening to their wisdom gives us greater insights into our life choices and those of others.
If we can look at our nocturnal nature, with its strangeness (which really isn't so strange) and its otherworldliness (worlds which are open for exploration), if we can look at it without fear and terror, we might find its true magic and learn to integrate it in consciousness. Anyone who has worked with her own dreams will understand this. Our unconscious visions and dreams can fertilize our daily lives, and give us direction and wisdom. As a source of our dreams, and therefore of our creativity, the Moon was revered as the Muse of the Arts. And as the cyclic pattern governing all life and renewal, the Moon shows us that times of rest, meditation, vision and gestation (the fallow times) are as important a part of life as times of growth and production. The time spent in Faerie is well spent if we return with creative vision and birth it in this world.
Possibly the reason the moonlight is potentially so frightening to us is that it covers over our daylight reality with enchantment, giving everything a new look, an unfamiliar shaping, an unrealistic blending. The night is alive with shapes and sounds that we do not see or hear in the daylight world, or shut up within our houses. As a culture, we have chosen the daylight and rationality, so we devalue a light and a consciousness which is unfocused and ever-changing.
In the moonlight, the boundaries of things are blurred; new relationships are imaginable. Things flow in and out of each other as the light moves. Dark and light interact in one sphere to create wholeness, unlike the Sun which creates an opposition of light and darkness. Solar consciousness is the driving force behind our culture, and it is associated with the masculine principle. It is a consciousness that separates and discriminates, makes boundaries and creates shadows. Lunar consciousness, associated with the feminine principle, dissolves those boundaries and unites things. It takes in discrimination and transforms it into discernment, turns boundaries into transitions and shadows into doorways. Just as the world needs both lights in the sky, we need both types of consciousness. To honor both types of light equally, we have to learn how to feel our way in the dark until it is just as comfortable as moving through the light.