Full Moon Reflection

Today many are sharing their takes on the Full Moon in Taurus as a time to set intentions for becoming more grounded, steeping ourselves in self-care, enriching our physical environment, taking time for gratitude (stopping to smell the roses, as it were) in our work, relationships, spiritual practice, physical vitality, etc.

I echo all of the above, and add the caveat: the Full Moon (in whatever sign) is additionally, and quite importantly, a time of revelation.

No one can hide under a Full Moon – her light reveals the hunter, and the hunted.

Psychologically (if you would accompany me into this marshy landscape) she reveals the things we have been working hard to keep in the shadows – the fears, the grievances, the resentments, the perceived inadequacies. We are forced to stare down these hard truths, to ask ourselves why we are afraid to look at them. In many cases, they are not as ugly or scary as we thought they were, and if we look at them with compassion, we can learn more about ourselves and unravel the stories we have woven to limit our travels, honest and empathic communications, creative self-expression, and ultimate potential.

As some of you know, I am studying women in Greek tragedy and the range of lessons they have to teach us today (speaking of hard truths). Recently at the Catweazle Club, my beloved weekly haunt for poetry and music in Oxford, I mentioned my project to a woman who had come to see that night’s show. She volunteered that her favorite tragic woman is the one I find the scariest, the one I have been avoiding for weeks now, the one revealed to me under this Full Moon: Medea.

The daughter who betrayed her father by helping the hero Jason capture the Golden Fleece through her witchcraft. The sister who dismembered her brother and scattered the pieces of him over the waves to block her father’s pursuit of her and Jason as they fled. The mother who killed Jason’s royal fiancée and her father, and then her own children, after Jason abandoned her. The immigrant spouse who became a ‘barbarian’ in the Greek city-state of Corinth, where her marriage to a Greek hero had no legal or social recognition, but, from her own perspective, had become the basis of her identity.

I asked this woman why Medea is her favorite, and she responded, ‘I appreciate her aggression…she uses the last ounce of power she has left, she kills her children, to punish Jason and free herself. Of course, the children don’t need to be read literally as children’. I asked her what she meant by the last statement, and she affirmed, ‘Well, she teaches us that you have to kill your darlings sometimes’.

This was puzzling for me, to say the least, as generally I wouldn’t imagine Medea to be an archetype of (female) empowerment – except for her speech to the chorus early on in Euripides’ play (which all should read!), a speech which comes across as quite contemporary in its clear and unapologetic definition of women’s experiences from the intersectional vantage point of woman/immigrant/single mother.

I will keep this woman’s emphasis on Medea’s ‘killing of the darlings’ (a necessary stage in her liberation?) close to my re-reading of Euripides’ and Seneca’s tragedies, especially Seneca’s, where her supernatural powers are weighed much more heavily as a factor in her wickedness, than in the Euripides version, where her general ‘cleverness’ (with just a hint of witchiness) is her formidable aspect.

Medea was the one revealed to me under the Full Moon. She is characterized by the opposite of Taurean grounding, and in fact manifests the shadow side of its opposing sign, Scorpio: hidden motives, ruthlessness, the sublimation of the soul as a result of holding grudges, and acting on these in unspeakable ways. And what scared me the most is what prompted this development in her character: a loss of self, as a result of her new identity of ‘barbarian spouse’ that the Corinthians used to marginalize her and that she herself used to go to such great lengths to punish the man who had taken away her previous, ancestral identity: Colchian princess; powerful, magical woman.

She could have used her powers for good, for healing. She could have sought to make a life in Greece on her own terms in addition to the terms of her marriage. Though I may be lending too much sympathy to her, a character who may be beyond moral rehabilitation. Does she need to be rehabilitated?

So, why am I staring into her preternaturally glowing eyes while she laughs at me under the Full Moon? Perhaps because I have an irrational fear of losing myself, since my ‘official’ purpose for being here in the UK on my immigration documents is no longer as a student but as a spouse. Did I mention this, like many fears, is irrational?

People who don’t know me often ask, ‘What are you doing here?’ when they find out I am from California. My default answer was recently, ‘Well, my husband is here working, so I’m doing some writing’ – somehow this felt diminishing, for me, even though this would be perfectly acceptable for others in my place. It felt like stuffing something away into the shadows. That thing I am afraid of.

I don’t want to give the Full Moon complete credit for this realization, but it is an apt time to understand the power of stories, the power of the paradigms of identity we carry around with us and project, even in casual conversation. It’s worth checking in with oneself, when making affirmations of ‘I do ___’/ ‘I am ___’. And if it feels diminishing for whatever reason (however irrational), go ahead and change the story – change the archetype you are identifying within yourself. Instead of being a ‘helper’ you can be a ‘dragon-slayer’ or a ‘scout’ or a ‘sage’. And a helper too, why not?

My story now for those who ask? ‘I am writing, working on a project that needs doing, that will make a sound contribution, that will resonate in the right places, with the people who need/want it. I am practicing self-inquiry. I am doing lots of yoga – who knows, maybe a teacher training someday. And my husband and I happen to live here right now.’

We all have an alchemy in us, forces ready to be set loose in the world in accordance with the story we tell. Stories, and the archetypes therein, can be powerful, revelatory medicine. They can be balms. They can offer us containers like Medea, the moral floor we can’t fall below, to receive and process our worst anxieties and fears. Stories can remind us that we are journeying, and that we will meet magical people, gods in disguise, teachers, sometimes dangerous foes wherever we go. And, whether we fall in love with, learn from, ignore, or run like hell away from them, in these forces we always meet ourselves again. Ideally, with compassion and gratitude for the never-ending lessons.

Thank you, Taurus Moon.

Taurus Moon outside my window…

Taurus Moon
A blurry, but radiant Full Taurus Moon, October 24, 2018

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