“I see the moon,
and the moon sees me.
God bless the moon,
And God bless me.”
My mother used to recite this little verse whenever she saw the moon in the sky. It enchanted me when I was small, and annoyed me when I was a teenager, and now, though I might be inclined to alternate with “Goddess bless the moon (just to be fair, because in my mind, the Divine is beyond gender), it reminds me of her in the most loving of ways. When I was small, I’d wonder if the moon really did see me. When I was 13, I stood in line for hours with my Dad and my first boyfriend for a glimpse of the rocks collected on the moon by the Apollo mission. It was hard for me to reckon how desolate we were told the moon was, when it seemed like such a beautiful place from here. The fact that gravity on the moon was less made up for it, and I’d imagine bounding across its bleak terrain with a completely different gait than I had being earthbound. A few years later, I’d listen to Judy Collins singing, “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress” and wonder how the changes of the moon made it harsh and “hard to love well.”
Even more years later, I would create a radio program from home (I couldn’t climb the forbidding stairs up to the station) that would be broadcast on KRFP, our community radio station, called “StarGarden MoonWatch.” It was my astrological-literary-spiritual-political commentary on the new and full moons each month. I sometimes got e-mails from people as far away as New York City or even India who loved listening to my 10 minute broadcast online. If you’d like to hear me holding forth on the moon in this fashion, there are still some old podcasts available here. Though it’s not what I want to do now, I’m glad I did it back then. It was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. And it was lovely to discover how many people feel connected to the moon.
Mostly, though, I just love looking up at it in the sky. How day or evening, it captivates me, stops me in my tracks. Or seems to “follow” me as I walk. Or wakes me up at my window during the night. How it peeks through the black lace of branches. I decided to paint a recent experience of that, which is up at the top of this post. It will be one of the cards in my first assortment pack of Slow Miracle cards.
So I’d heard and read songs and poetry about the moon, thought about going to the moon, seen something from the actual moon, and shared the archetypal significance of the moon in astrological symbolism. But it was yoga that made me wonder about what being the moon is like, and to feel that possibility for a few luminous instants.
Of course I’ve always enjoyed being the shape of a crescent or half moon when stretching in half-moon pose. Many years ago in Southern California, my beloved yoga teacher Judy would often start our classes in her living room with that simple pose. As we’d clasp our hands and stretch them straight up above our heads first, she’d always say to “stretch your feet like stars.” In this way, the imagery of the sky has always been part of my practice. I loved trying to spread my toes as if they were the points of stars. Just thinking about the possibility of feet being like stars is uplifting to me in a playful everything-is-connected-to-everything kind of way.
Once I began my practice of facing east for Sun Salutation first thing in the morning, and became so literally connected to the sun, I also noticed that in my evening practice I was facing west as the sun was settting. Then I became more aware that each evening I was beginning my evening practice with the half-moon pose. Over time I’ve become more comfortable holding the twist as I bend into the shape of the moon. My ability to twist my neck to look up has also improved over time. Several nights ago it occurred to me as I twisted my neck and head to look up, that the turning of the head either to look up, or look down within the whole sideways body stretch might be what the moon actually experiences suspended in space as it “looks up” at the sun for its reflected light. For a brief time, twisting my head up and breathing and then twisting it back down, and back up again, gave me the sensation of being suspended in orbit, in space, spinning toward light and then away from it again. And how this creates the shape of the moon we see here on earth.
Perhaps my painting and drawing eyes are helping me to see how the fullness is always there, though some of it is in darkness. That’s not inconstancy or harshness to me, as many songs or poems suggest, but the beauty of transition. Perhaps the most compelling thing about the experience of feeling suspended in half-moon pose is that it suggests to me something holds us all in orbit together, even if we can’t see how or what it is. So I turn my head and look up, let it hang in the sky of my body. These reflections feel like prayers to me. Prayers that bring me deeper into my breath, then deeper into the stretch. For me, the workout of yoga is a by-product of this state of prayer, this state of meditation on the cosmos in all its intricate expression that I believe it’s meant to be.
At this season full of blessings, I am thankful for such feelings of connectedness, such experiences that transition is its own beauty. There’s a time for everything. Looking up, looking down, and even spinning in space.