Moon Mysteries in the Modern World

In these left brain, intellectual times where reason prevails over intuition and anxiety of the unknown reaches zenith proportions, the need for a lunar consciousness seems more important than ever. I notice that the fear of the feminine and the lunar ways continues to be demonised in fear-based thinking, for example, this morning I read an article that suggests celebrating or the honouring moon leaves one open to negative hyper-dimensional influences.

The author advises against ritual practice involving the moon, especially at the new and full moons, and on the eclipses because, he says, at these times many people are unwittingly engaging in black magic and occult practices which bind them into traps and agreements with dark entities. I would argue that these agreements are with the self, or more specifically with the Self, that higher part of us that is in constant process of becoming and aligning with our soul essence. We are presented with unconscious material, and we are also given a way of understanding and working with the material through the symbol… if we can set aside our ego driven will in surrender to a higher, but not easily defined principle.

The danger with the new age is that more sophisticated ways of spiritual by-passing seduce us into believing that we have worked on ourselves and can now live in the light without nuisance form the pesky shadow and sub conscious. In that case, we project the unconscious material and when we no longer find hooks in the earthly realms, we project it off planet. My feeling is that this “off-planet” realm is remotely fragmented parts of our own psyche that we have not yet found a way to own.

‘The moon and the matrix control system’, article continued to state that indigenous cultures cautioned against celebrating the moon and that humans ought to protect themselves from the dark influence of the moon. The author omitted any references to back his claim and instead cited a much-quoted statement by G.I. Gurdjieff- “humans are food for the moon”. While it is true that in the self- development system and philosophy known as The Fourth Way, Gurdjieff, and P.D Ouspensky propose that humans are “food for the moon”, however this has been distorted and is open to misunderstanding.

The Fourth Way teaches that humans are not born with a soul and for the most part journey through life asleep; it proposes that the aim of human beings is to create a soul so that they may move on after death. Food for the moon therefore refers to humanity in its shut-down, unconscious, and soulless state. In this condition we are at the mercy of the celestial and archetypal forces but as I see it, these planes are both inside and outside of ourselves and exist in the totality of psyche. Everything is psyche- we are in psyche; psyche is not in us.

Analytical and archetypal psychology is also concerned with “soul making” though in this model, to say that humans are food for the moon is more likely to mean that we are hostage to the contents of our unconscious until it comes to light. The way to ‘soul make’ then, is to bring the unconscious material to consciousness and understand our impulses and drives… what makes us behave, think, and feel in the way that we do, and do these behaviours enrich our lives or do they keep us stuck on a wheel of suffering in which we are continually repeating the same patterns?

In Jungian terms the ideal state is individuation, an integrated awareness in which the human being achieves the Self, however, James Hillman, father of archetypal psychology shifts the focus beyond individuation to soul making. For Hillman, the soul is an ambiguous entity not readily known in ways that are comfortable for the rational mind.

“The soul is a deliberately ambiguous concept resisting all definition in the same manner as do all ultimate symbols which provide the root metaphors for the systems of human thought. “Matter” and “nature” and “energy” have ultimately the same ambiguity; so too have “life,” “health”, “justice” and “God,” which provide the symbolic sources for the points of view we have already seen” (Hillman, Suicide and the Soul, 46-47).

This ambiguity does not rest easily within in a contemporary Western model born from the enlightened mind and the Cartesian splitting of spirit and matter. But nature is not necessarily rational and is accorded to a law beyond human comprehension. That is the mystery, and the mystery is precisely what every path of initiation is involved with. “The word mystery comes from the Middle English ‘misterie’ or ‘mysterie’, from the Latin ‘mysterium’, and from the Greek ‘musterion’ or “secret rites”; from ‘mustes’, one initiated into secret rites” (George, 1992, p.4)

It is not possible to truly know the mysteries; initiation is a transformative process that cannot be created in a science lab. There is an element of surrender and stepping into the unknown… in some indigenous cultures initiation was often a real confrontation with death… certainly it is an ego death, and that is difficult for the modern mind that has come to identify itself with solar consciousness – the known world rather than mysterious ways of the moon.

Solar consciousness, the sun god, is the leitmotif of the dominant culture of patriarchy. Fear of the feminine, the unknown, the darkness and the chthonic primordial nature of instinctual consciousness is well evidenced throughout history in what eco-feminist Val Plumwood has called the “master model” – an androcentric system made almost exclusively from the privileged, white, male section of society that has created a system based on duality where dominion over nature has prevailed. The “master model” excels in medicine, science and technology creating a brave new world in which artificial wombs, artificial conception, the cessation of menstruation, biomedicalization and increasing disconnection form nature reigns. In Fear of the Feminine, psychologist Erich Neumann puts it like this,

“The trend towards patriarchal consciousness is reflected in the suppression of the feminine moon myths by masculine sun myths and can be traced far back into primitive mythology. Whereas the moon myths, even when the moon is masculine, always indicate the dependence of consciousness and light upon the nocturnal side of life i.e., the unconscious, this is no longer the case with the patriarchal solar mythologies. Here the sun is not the morning sun born of the night, but the sun in his zenith at high noon, symbolizing a masculine consciousness which knows itself to be free and independent even in its relationship with the self, i.e., the creative world of heaven and spirit” (Neumann, 1994, p.78).

Rather than turning away from the moon and the cycles of nature as the moon matrix article suggests, my intuitive feeling is to move closer to her. In the moon work I do with groups of women and myself I have come to trust the mysteries of transformation inherent within this path, and while it is not an easy path- transformation can be a bumpy ride- I trust that the material I work with from my unconscious is being presented to me in ways that make sense to me on a soul level.

Unlike the agendas of fear that maintain humans are being interfered with by hyper-dimensional beings who have easier access to us during certain phases of the moon , I suggest that whatever comes through us is both form within and without. What we disown in ourselves is projected into the external world and when things seem strange and untenable, it may be tempting to assume that what we are dealing with is not of human origin. What the mind can perceive the psyche can receive… and the psyche talks to us in symbols and images that do not always make sense.

The danger of over-developed, or dominant left-brain thinking is literalisation. To fear the actual moon as a threat to the sovereignty of humanity is a literalisation that I would argue is an advanced condition of both left brain thinking and fear of the feminine. It is in danger of becoming new age patriarchy.

For Esther Harding, the Jungian scholar who looked deeply into the feminine mysteries both from a historical and symbolic perspective, the moon mysteries have always represented fertility and growth, renewal, and transformation. Read in this way, the moon is indeed a portal, not for mind control, but for initiatory practices in which the mind is no longer the dominant expression. The ancient religions of the moon goddess represent the education of the emotional life as taking place not through a course of study, not even as the result of a system of discipline, but through initiation.

“Moon mysteries link our modern life problems to those of ancient peoples who recognised that in their day, as in ours, the world at times became sterile and was laid waste, not by war or pestilence, but because some essential fertilizing spirit had been withdrawn” (Harding, 1955, preface).

Many ancient cultures and still many people today consider that the cyclical blood flow of women is intimately connected with the moon, and the feminine mysteries of birthing, menstruation and menopause are at the core of female shamans. In Fear of the Feminine, Neumann remarks that,

“Woman is not satisfied, as is a man, with fulfilling a part-structure of the psyche, for example with the accomplishment of the ego’s differentiation of consciousness, Woman wants to be gripped and moved as a whole. At the spiritual-emotional level that means realization, actualization” (Neumann, 1994, p.113).

Working with the moon and the feminine mysteries are intimately involved with the fertilizing spirit of nature and the transformation of the soul, not only for oneself but for the collective…for the moon and the feminine are closely connected to the principle of Eros- connection and relatedness of all things: mind and spirit, masculine and feminine, relationships of all sorts, earth and humanity, cosmos, and psyche.

Eros as a spiritual practice or indeed a divinity may be the key to restoring the connection with humans and earth, masculine and feminine and a whole manner of splits that have occurred as a result of a world view where solar consciousness has become “not the morning sun born of the night, but the sun in his zenith at high noon”.

I propose that moon lodge and attuning to lunar consciousness as a living spiritual practice and modern initiation process is a path that can sustain women in their need to be whole and actualized. It is not the left brain talk therapy of the counsellor, or the materialist, brain centred CBT and NLP that will satisfy the feminine soul, nor is it the new age practices of positive thinking and creation of personal realities that will return the exiled feminine to her rightful seat, it is the deeply embodied, surrendered, conscious willingness to trust the soul over and above any study or discipline that may redeem the fragmented feminine.

When women embark upon this work and make a conscious decision to trust the process, they connect with their inner shaman, the wise one who anchors herself in her own felt experiences, mapping the outer reaches of inner space on the path to self-gnosis.

Unlocking the Fear of the Feminine

Algol

The next Canterbury moon lodge happens on Thursday May 17th in the usual venue of Concorde House. This circle falls just after the new moon in Taurus occurring on Tuesday 15th. Still in the new moon energies, the aspects for this moon lodge offers up an interesting combination of feminine energies. Moon (feeling), Venus (Eros) and the asteroid goddess Pallas Athena (wisdom) are at 27, degree Gemini, presenting a potent mix of sexual, psychic, and creative energies.

Gustav Klimt pallas athena

Pallas Athena by Gustav Klimt

On the evening of our moon lodge this trinity of Goddesses falls in the 8th house- the intimacy and depth of the soul married with the passion and intensity of transformation. Here is the possibility of lifting the veils to glimpse the deeper workings of the mystery, and with the three feminine aspects all conjunct the same degree the psychic, emotional and intellectual abilities of the feminine weave to create an embodied consciousness directed by the power of the will and mind.  Meanwhile, as 27 degrees Gemini is directly opposite the galactic centre, there is a portal into expanded awareness and cosmic influences.

At the same time, the fixed star of Algol is conjunct the Sun at 26 degrees Taurus in the constellation of Perseus, and is located on the slain head of the Gorgon Medusa. Ptolemy labelled the star “the brightest of those in the Gorgon’s head”.  In earlier times, Algol was considered the most malefic star in the heavens and according to Gertrude and James Jobes, Algol was called Ras al-Ghul by the Arabs which means ‘Head of the Demon’…  they considered this female demon to be the wife of the devil. In Talmudic Law, Algol is also known as Lilith, the first wife of Adam who left him because she refused to be submissive to his needs. (Brady, 1998, p.188). According to Brady, “Algol is the wild raw, frightening face of the outraged feminine which has been labelled demonic or simply evil” (ibid). She continues: “the star seems to contain immense passion and power. It is the power of the feminine or the potential power of Mother Nature, not to be evil for being strong.” (ibid).

Medusa_RONNIE_RAY_MENDEZ_2000xFigure 3-Medusa by Ronnie Ray Mendez

And so, with the combination of Algol conjunct the Sun, and Venus, Moon & Pallas all conjunct in Gemini in the 8th house, opposite the Galactic centre, it is the perfect time to explore feminine power, and more specifically how certain aspects of feminine power has been demonised.

As Algol is the shining star of the Medusa’s serpent head we will explore the symbols and archetypes presented in this myth. For example, Medusa was originally a priestess in the temple of Athena, her beauty was well renowned and was such that to look upon her was breathtaking. After her transformation when she was turned into a serpent headed Gorgon by Athena, no man could look upon Medusa without being turned to stone. Herein lies a key to the myth of Medusa- when she is in her sovereign priestess state in the temple of wisdom, she is unobtainable and separate- whole unto herself but devoid of Eros – unavailable for relationship. When she is in her primordial, instinctual demonic state she is also hidden and separate equally inaccessible to connection.

Medusa is banished form the temple of Athena and turned into a Gorgon after an encounter with Neptune, the God of water (emotion). Previously destined to become the main priestess in the temple of Athena she descends into a primordial chthonic state where she is totally isolated form all living beings except her immortal gorgon sisters.

On the evening of the Moon Lodge, 17 May, wisdom, erotic love, and emotion all stand together with the possibility of integration. The light of the sun may be shone upon the true nature of the demonised feminine, not a monster after all, but in her wholeness a force to be reckoned with.

Celebrating 13 Moons

13 CropOn Friday 13th April, we will gather for our 13th Moon Lodge. So far it has been a rich and deepening journey into connecting with the lunar energies and cycles, the feminine mysteries, and magic of the circle. Aided by the drum, our inner guides, stories and the movement of the moon through the zodiac, we are learning how to attune to lunar consciousness and our inner rhythms.

April’s moon lodge– the 13th circle happening on Friday 13th feels extra special. Although the number 13 has been much maligned in our culture, it is in fact an auspicious day connected to the Goddess, the sacred feminine and Venus. In ancient times there were 13 months in a year as there were 13 moons in a year and 13 menstrual cycles. The 13 month, 28-day, relationship to time was dominant on our planet for 6000 years before the turn from lunar to solar consciousness.

The Maya, Celts, Egyptians, Lakota, Essenes, Polynesians, and Cherokee all used a 13-month calendar. The Druids also used a 13-month calendar which was connected to their alphabet and tree calendar – each consonant of the Druid alphabet represented a moon cycle. In both Mayan and Druid cultures, the extra day was a ‘non-calendar day’ or a ‘day out of time’, traditionally a day of ritual and renewal in preparation for the coming year.

There is a technical term for fear of Friday 13th- ‘friggatriskaidekaphoboa’, the ‘Frigga’ prefix comes from the name of the Goddess from whom Friday was named- Frigg, or Freyja, like Venus or Aphrodite, is associated with love, fertility and erotic love.

The number 13 is symbolic of feminine power and creative life force, and wisdom. Though Death is number 13 in the tarot deck, feminine wisdom teaches us that death also points to rebirth and renewal. On the inner planes death may herald the deep transformation necessary for our truest becoming.

On Friday 13 April Venus will be in Taurus which she rules; here Venus is mistress of her sensual pleasures, making the most of her natural gifts. In the 8th house, there is an added dimension of depth and possibly initiation or awakening.