Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Moon Mother: Standing on the Moon


"Mommy, did you know that we live inside the moon?"                                
My son Gregory, age 4

            "Why don't you come in, Curdie?" said the voice.  "Did you never see moonlight before?"
            "Never without a moon," answered Curdie, in a trembling tone, but gathering courage.
            "Certainly not," returned the voice, which was thin and quivering: "I never saw moonlight without a moon."
            "But there's no moon outside," said Curdie.
            "Ah! but you're inside now," said the voice.
The Princess and Curdie
            George MacDonald

            There is something magical about the Moon.  Unlike the Sun which we cannot look at directly, we instinctively turn our eyes toward the Moon when we look at the night sky.  The Moon attracts our attentionThe Moon symbolizes the Imaginal Realm where thought-forms, archetypes and stories take shape.  Always shifting, always mysterious, light and dark, delusions and imagination are at play.  Life itself revealed in images!  What possibilities will you chose to live? What story, what symbol will you follow?  When we stand on the Moon, we stand at the doorway of creation, the bubbling cauldron of creativity.  What will we make of our lives?  What will satisfy us?       The Moon holds sway here.  Change is the only constant.  She is process and growth, transparent and veiled.  She is our light through the darkness of creation.

We Live Inside the Moon
            Like the Moon in this fairy tale, women tend to think of others even when we're enjoying ourselves.  Like the Moon, women are nurturers.  Throughout the ages though, when comparing women to the moon, men have most often berated us for our changeability.  But changing our minds about something, or being caught up in different emotions throughout a day, doesn't take away the fact of our essential reliability and caring concern.  In the midst of our changes, women stay centered in what's important to us: love, family, work, creativity.  That's why it is women who will put our minds and hearts into creating change in the world.  After all, we do know something about it!
Allerleirauh's dress that shines like the Moon symbolizes this gift of change-ability, as well as the psychic component that engenders this type of flexibility: the power of the unconscious, which picks up clues from our environment and tells us what we need to know to survive, to prosper and to regenerate.  Psychic abilities, intuitive flashes, visions, dreams, feelings all find their source in the unconscious.  This Moon dress symbolizes the realm of the Creative Imagination.  When Allerleirauh wears her dress of moonlight, she uses her imagination to understand her world.  And when she listens, she channels that wisdom into her life.
The Woman Clothed with the Sun STANDS on the Moon.  What does it mean to take this Moon consciousness as our standpoint?  To take our stand on the Moon might appear to be risky, since constant change seems to be pretty shaky ground.   A masculine perspective on this image of the Woman has interpreted it as having domination over that changeability.  Men are often afraid of the unconscious.  But don't forget that the Woman also has the Earth as her center, and it gives her the balance to go with the flow and ebb of life.
When my son Gregory told me we live inside the Moon, he spoke with a child's imagination, and he spoke the truth.  Jesus said, “Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  I believe it is this childlike imagination that he spoke of. We have to play more with our imagination if we want to become wise.
This imagination is how we understand our part in Earth’s ecology.  When we are in touch with the natural rhythms of life, we more easily find the balance between work, pleasure, family and creativity.  The rhythms of life still beat strongly within us and when we disregard them, we find ourselves ill or at odds with ourselves.  My dream of stealing the calendar and being called to stay by the children called me back to the rhythms of life.  To understand what these rhythms are, we have to understand the impact the Moon has on us, as it helps to set the rhythms of life on Earth.

The Moon Mother
When we lost touch with the feminine mysteries of the ancient Goddess, we were banished from our home inside the Moon.  Small children know and remember their true home, but as we grow up, we forget for the most part, how to live in the natural rhythms of life which the Moon Goddess - perpetual renewal, the measure of time, the weaver of fate - represented to her ancient worshipers.  Most of us have no idea what power and effect the Moon has over us or the world around us.  However, what was lost can be found, for the Moon still travels across the night sky and still sheds her silvery light upon our darkness.
            The first thing we observe about the Moon is that it changes shape, unlike the Sun, which appears the same every day and never fails to rise and set, full and round all through the day.   The Moon grows larger, then smaller, waxing and waning as it travels across the sky.  It rises at different times during the night and at different spots on the horizon.  And it even completely disappears for three nights.  But it comes back, and begins the process over again.  Small wonder that early humanity projected its imagination onto the Moon, since they experienced it as a monthly cycle that regulated time, its rhythms governing the tides, women's menstrual cycles, plant life and weather.  
            Ancient peoples observed that the Moon made the fertilizing moisture that makes living things grow and thrive: plants and animals as well as human beings.   The Moon Mother, imagined as a vessel of water, fertility and fecundity, was the source of being and becoming.  It was an aspect of the Great Mother who "established a unifying pattern for all living things, living and breathing in harmony, existing in an intricate and ineffable web."2   And because they could live with contradictions, these ancient peoples also believed the Moon was the land of the dead, the place souls went to between incarnations.  Just as the Moon dies and is reborn, so souls go to the Moon to await rebirth.  The creative life cycle of birth-death-rebirth is prefigured in the changing Moon.   
As I mentioned, women naturally understand this rhythm of change, because our bodies respond to these changing rhythms.  Men have a harder time adjusting to this cycle.  They don’t know how to relate to their own changing moods, and so ignore them as inconsequential.   Women's greatest gift, our ability to adapt to change, has been used against us to demonstrate that we are not as rational, and therefore not as reliable or responsible as men.    Many of us, adapting to the role of good Father’s Daughter, have tried to become more consistent.   But at what cost?
            Once again, men used themselves as the measure of all things, and their own lack of adaptability became the standard.   But not anymore.  Now the world needs people who can change, who can let go of what is outdated and open to new ideas and new possibilities.   It is a perfect time for women to step forward and use our strengths and set new standards for what makes a full and rich life.  Life is about change and if women want to live up to our potentials, we have to consciously take our standpoint on the Moon.                                                                                                                                                                         When the ancient Goddess religions were suppressed under Christianity, her manifestations were split up.  On one hand, some of her light qualities were attributed to the Church and to the Virgin Mary.  Her darker, mysterious qualities, however, were soon associated with the Devil and with witchcraft, for Christianity accepted the heavenly attributes of the feminine while rejecting the earthy spirit of the Goddess.  The Earth and women, who were seen as creatures of the earth and of the body, were relegated to the darkness of sin.  Consequently, our culture developed a split between the heavenly feminine and the earthy feminine.  This is the problem the fairy tale Allerleirauh is trying to solve.  How do women reunite our earthy wisdom with the heavenly wisdom we've inherited?

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