I have heard from several astrologically inclined folks whose views I trust and respect that this eclipse calls for committing to the fire the attributes, stories, tendencies, convictions, relational dynamics, and whatever else we intend to release, as well as those we would like to invoke.
I followed the eclipse (yes, quite literally, on foot and in a car) from its partial appearance at sunset to its total, bloody spectre in the deepening darkness. The streets were quiet. The people who gathered at the bluffs along the coast to observe this phenomenon kept for the most part a silent vigil.
At each full moon, eclipse or no eclipse, I tend to keep a record of my day, where I spent time and with whom, as well as the objects of my thoughts. I will also think back both to the previous full moon, and especially to the full moon six months prior, as a given full moon is thematically interrelated to the one on the far side of the year.
Six months ago, the full moon was in Taurus. Now it is in the opposite sign of Scorpio. One theme of this polarity is visibility/invisibility. Taurus represents the tangible, that which is in full bloom, or that which exudes texture, scent, shape, and other characteristics that can be observed and appreciated by the senses. Scorpio represents the hidden processes that conspire to render the tangible into existence. Scorpio refers to the subterranean cycle of decay, death, and regeneration that is always at work, though often veiled.
The full moon in Scorpio during the height of spring, when the Taurean blooms are at their fullest, asks that we remember the other side of the year, the inevitable recycling of organic matter.
And so it is a good time to anticipate release, the death of something, as we also appreciate the transitory splendor of all the colors and fragrances with which nature surrounds us.
So, perhaps it is helpful to understand the “blooms” in one’s life through the lens of the opposite full moon.
Six months ago, in mid-November 2021, where were you? Whom did you see? What conversations did you have? Where did you travel? What kind of work did you do? Does looking back at that day aid our understanding of what we have brought to bloom? And what has come to its fullness today that will be ripe for letting go in six months’ time? What actions, thoughts, relationships, or personal endeavors would you like to see evolved in another six months?
As an example of such a recording, today I did the following, some of it intentional, some of it impromptu (but no less important):
Shared a meal with my parents – a new take on an old recipe.
Did a solo yoga practice at the beach, and while walking back to my car was given a beautiful flower arrangement from a wedding party whose reception had ended and needed to divest themselves of the flowers; these flowers are now installed next to my hearth.
Sat with a dear friend and reflected on how we have both grown out of difficult personal trials over the past six months.
Cleared my desk of some editorial work.
Made myself a favorite meal of roasted vegetables in cascabel chili oil with a lime zest and cilantro finish.
Walked along the bluffs to watch the sun set over the distant mountains, and the moon rise in its partial eclipse.
Drove to the same beach where I did yoga earlier and watched the moon assume its bloody veil, while standing barefoot on the warm earth to “open the channels” of perception.
Returned home and read over some of my poetry, to find that it wasn’t as bad as I remembered.
As for six months ago, I stood barefoot watching the moon that night as well, only the soil was softer and colder, and my bones felt as hollow and resonant as a bird’s.
And for you, good reader, what threads of the tapestry of your life are woven into the other side of the year?
This can be a revelatory point of reflection, especially for those of us who like to go in for some semiotics, weighing sign for sign, or symbol for symbol. Those beautiful wedding flowers, or the yoga, or the poems, or the cascabel chilies…what do they mean? Where will they find their corollary this November?
But for me this time around, the lessons of six months are simple: Time is a healer and a teacher like no other. Things happen in their own time, rising, taking shape, falling away. It is possible to assure oneself of something intellectually without the heart’s credence, or the body’s readiness, and these can be forced, but the result is not a happy one.
It is important to be deliberate, incisive, and courageous with one’s recording and reckoning, but also tender and compassionate.
Enjoy the eclipse, and I will leave it to you, reader, to determine its meaning for yourself, as you will and must do despite my and my astrological kindred’s best efforts to win you to our convictions!
On the New Moon in Taurus, the time is here for rediscovering the simple, manifest parts of ourselves cradled within the sensory landscape of Nature’s consistency and reliable movements amidst the changes that have engulfed us all during the greater period of Pluto/Jupiter/Saturn stellium bridging Capricorn and Aquarius that signals the uprooting of the institutions whose integrity we took for granted, for the sake of some necessary greater evolution…
Earth Day 2020 is an enforced observance.
I grew up in the California coastal city where in 1969 following a huge oil spill off the coast, the call began for designating a day to celebrate the Earth as mother divine, and rally advocacy for her survival in the face of human threats. In recent years I have witness the Earth Day festival grow out of grassroots to a showcase of industries supporting the environment: organic food truck dining, permaculture demos, booths administering CBD samples and selling hemp clothing and seaglass jewelry, walk-throughs of tiny houses and displays of what green living looks like in the 21st century, Teslas on display, representatives from local environmental groups educating the public and collecting petition signatures, and the alcoholic kombucha tents and stages with bands seeking to raise the public consciousness and appreciation of Our Mother.
This year I understood that these reminders of our interconnectedness with nature become mere trappings if we do not devote ourselves to conscious action for the sake of the environment regularly. Some of these trappings even fly in the face of the health of Earth: for instance, the insistence on consuming coffee with yak butter from the Himalayas, or eating quinoa that has been grown by large-scale industry where local farming populations are suffering, or eating almond butter produced in regions prone to drought, or flying 2,000+ miles to the Amazon for an ayahuasca retreat, as if there were only one substance in nature that could aid our self-understanding if we ingest it, bypassing the generations of shamans that were traditionally designated in many indigenous communities as those who could drink from the cup and commune with the plant spirit world, while Greta Thunberg will not board a plane.
Yes, I am feeling quite critical of the trappings, and also guilty of wearing them (well, not the ayahuasca piece – but I do practice forms of yoga traditionally reserved for the brahmins) at the expense of the environment itself.
Our growing edges as an environmentally-conscious community are many.
But of all the things we try to do and try to be seen doing to help Our Mother, She has taught me this Earth Day that I am doing the best I can to help her right now.
Now that we are in enforced isolation from each other, we are in greater communion with Nature, and are understanding that she doesn’t take very long to catch on to our lack of interference, and goes about accomplishing in a matter of weeks the goals for species protection and ozone health and clean waterways on which we have been struggling for years to gain purchase.
And we are like my neighbor’s robot sculpture clad with a mask, held back from normative behaviors, stalled and voiceless by the realization that we are not masters of nature; that we are a part of her body.
This work on “The Nature of Things” is a didactic poem, a teaching poem that celebrates Venus Genetrix, Nature herself, that births and destroys, builds up and breaks down and builds up again in ever-resilient resourcefulness. Also, if you are critical of organized religion and the ways in which it challenges our communion with nature, you might well enjoy this work! Also, if you are interested in ancient atomic theory, there are some marvellous sections on the relationship between the two essential entities Lucretius claims underpin the natural world: form and formlessness, or atoms and the void (the space in which they move).
I would like to read Lucretius and thus experience a state of ataraxia, the Epicurean freedom from fear and pain in the mind that comes from rejection of religion and superstition and acceptance of the fundamental, mechanistic forces of nature that are ever-present in nature, but that’s a lot of conditions, and I do like my astrology, and God.
But the reading is not what does it for me these days.
It is breathing the outside air and hearing wild sounds. Finding new, rich colors in the ridges of the mountains, and cultivating awe at the visibility of the islands off the coast, as if they have drifted closer to the land. Walking through the neighborhood and hearing families talking and laughing, seeing a woman dancing in her living room, a couple sitting out on their deck drinking wine. Smelling jasmine, rosemary, honeysuckle, the gritty scent of pine. When walking yesterday I felt big shapes start to shift against one another in my customary perception of the world and the wild, and as I reached the crest of the hill near my house, I had come so far away from the narrow channels of linear thinking and traveling without really hearing and seeing the world around me that I began to fear the consequences of spending too much time in that expansive presence of mind and heart.
I realized in this radical and spontaneous mindfulness practice that the yoga I practice is often just as linear as all else I do, paying lip-service to presence and mindfulness through a rigorous program of physical postures that have a “peak”, an end, a telos. And the mental experience attendant to this has been having it in my mind that I am being present and mindful more than having the felt experience of such.
Last night I sat on the deck with my cat Toby and watched him listen to the birds. He teaches me that life can evolve a little from day to day, that life is evolving from day to day beyond the static projections of my mind, in imperceptible ways. Especially as Toby is a new member of the household as of last August, he teaches me to ask questions about why we are accustomed to do or think about things in this way or that way. Sometimes I have an answer. Often I don’t.
The considerable tragedy that remains for our own species is that millions around the world have lost their jobs, the source of their livelihoods and vocations now deemed “unessential” while those with essential jobs are exposing themselves to the virus every day at work, in the hospital, or the grocery store. And the rest of us have the distinct privilege of working from home and luxuriating in nature’s capacity to renew herself more quickly than we would orchestrate. And it is Nature herself that reminds us and challenges us to take care of those whom we know are struggling.
We are all forced to become shut-ins, observers, students of Nature. We are all forced onto the fringes because there is no center of normative behavior and interaction. And thus there are no designated retreat centers we can visit to find ourselves in nature. There are just the circumstances that have brought us to this place. The centers of our orbit prior to our hibernation. And it certainly is a once-in-a-lifetime chance we have to reflect on the centrality of those things in our lives, and how they may have at times stopped us from remembering:
We are ever in Nature, and we are ever part of Nature.
Happy Earth Day (Earth Year, as it is quickly becoming)!
The Lunar New Year of the Rat and the New Moon in Aquarius. Time to think of the bigger picture. To find solutions through untried ways. To form community alliances to achieve strategic goals. To use guile to be the first animal across the river to win a place in the Chinese Zodiac. To observe nature and pour out insights which the poets and the painters and the visionaries will quaff.
What does this “big picture” (an infuriatingly obscure phrase, in my opinion) really look like? Do we assume a broad, aerial perspective of the terrain of our lives, and suspend sympathies with those who walk the roads whose trajectories we see from high above?
Is there just one big picture, one view from godlike transcendence?
Does the big picture denote the objective view? Or does it stretch the heart’s capacities for loving awareness (to use a Ram Dass-ism)?
One complicated “big picture” book
I’ve been reading Richard Powers’ Pulitzer-prize-winning novel, The Overstory, a great opus made up of small tales, all of which carry a distinct feature of transformation involving human relationships with trees. It is Ovid’s Metamorphoses meets contemporary ecocriticism. It is a narrative ekstasis, in that it somehow stands far beyond its subjects and still looks closely at individual lives in a series of distinct moments of tender and painful intimacy. It is difficult for me to understand when I am looking at the bigger picture and when what I think is the broad view turns out to be just a lick of paint in a mural without end. I am not even a quarter of the way through, because I read and pause and digest and dream. I read before I sleep, and I dream of Nature pressing against the walls until she plunges inside. I dream about mountain lions coming in through an unresolvable gap in the sliding glass door, before they brush against me and groom themselves in the living room as if I was one of their own.
One of the stories focuses on the experiences of a man who went from playing the role of a prisoner in Zimbardo’s ill-fated Stanford Prison Experiment to serving in Nam, and then working as a ranch hand in Idaho, before drifting aimlessly westward. Aimlessly, until he found out about the clear-cutting in the national forests through which he was driving. He paid a pilot to fly him over the forest, and saw innumerable bald patches marring the green plains of Douglas Firs. His incredulity, anger, and despair transformed into a resolve that he would plant trees in those very patches of scarred earth, and trust that the new saplings would grow never to be felled, that they would survive human deforestation. That they would survive humans.
The subterranean “big picture” from Nature
Earlier this week I attended a lecture on ecopsychology, wherein my colleague giving the lecture elucidated the ways in which trees communicate with one another about environmental threats and changes. They share defense signals, even with their competitor species.
I learned about the work of University of British Columbia biologist Suzanne Simard, whose research is apparently addressed somewhere in The Overstory beyond my current place in the book. In her TEDx Talk inspired by her research published in Natureabout the communications between trees, she explains that old “mother trees” share carbon and nutrients with the younger trees in a forest, and they send extra resources to younger trees that are nutrient-poor.
“Forests are built on relationships”, Simard declares from the TED stage, claiming that complex adaptive systems such as these sophisticated communication lines are the source of resilience. These systems model mutual respect. We might wish to draw cues for human behavior from the trees, which teach that there is collective well being in the conscious sharing of information, that it is in keeping with nature to make it known when we experience stress, rather than to keep silent.
One personal Overstory: When Nature stretched open my heart
Undoubtedly it was this recent series of insights that culminated in my experience of brightened vision of nature yesterday afternoon. I was driving, thinking about things embarrassingly petty, when I saw a large carpet of wild mustard on the hillside. My whole demeanor shifted from vaguely irritated and apathetic to gobsmacked. I could not believe how beautiful the color was. And then as I continued to drive I saw deep purple, rusty red, clean and bright green, in numerous textures and arrangements of plant life, and it all converged to overwhelm me and, like a curtain drawn open I could feel the fringes of my heart stretch wide open with a kind of love that was fulfilled and unreturned at the same time.
It reminded me of the day when, at five years old, I opened my eyes after having them closed for a week following a surgery, and I noticed first the colors that seemed to crowd in and vie for my attention. My eyes were new and all the living things of the world seemed more full of life than they had ever been.
And so yesterday I caught myself, perhaps for the second time in my life, knowing the world in a loving way first and foremost.
The bigger picture revealed to me then that nothing is beyond the domain of the heart, even the material of rational objectivity which I would otherwise ascribe to the mind. This five-minute reverie when my eyes swept along the colorful vista out my car window plunged me into a continuum of what I can only call impassioned consciousness.
Omniscience and empathy in poetic beloveds, Whitman and Tempest
Whenever I read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855), I watch all the people he saw in the world revolve before my mind’s eye: the farmer and the soldier and the young bride and the enslaved person and the artist and the body of the drowned man and the infant at the mother’s breast and the cat prowling back gardens. All nameless, everyday archetypes for the time. All my heart’s threshing floor, the place to harvest words and sort through meanings.
In one segment, “The Sleepers”, Whitman offers a catalogue of normally socially differentiated people whose experience of sleep endows them with a shared human experience that transcends their differing levels of privilege, age, freedom and suffering:
I swear they are all beautiful,
Every one that sleeps is beautiful, everything in the dim light is beautiful,
The wildest and bloodiest is over, and all is peace.
Sleep, the blanket experience of peace and grave vulnerability, is mundane and intimate here.
Kate Tempest’s poem, “Lionmouth Doorknocker” in her album Let Them Eat Chaos (2016) hands the listener off to a series of one-lined vignettes of people in the city in the daytime:
The workers watch the clocks
Fiddle with their Parker pens
While the grandmothers
Haggle with the market men
Then she plunges us into the intimate acquaintance of those few people who are awake in the depths of early morning, and are not the beautiful ones at peace, as in Whitman’s world.
It’s 04:18 AM
At this very moment, on this very street
Seven different people in seven different flats
Are wide awake, they can’t sleep
Now, of all these people, in all these houses
Only these seven are awake
And they shiver in the middle of the night
Counting their sheepish mistakes
Is anybody else awake?
Will it ever be day again?
Are these people more wretched because they are at the mercy of their thoughts, or because they cannot see that their experience is shared? Because they do not know about the networks of roots that run from tree to tree, from person to person, when we share pain and share the resources to cope? Because they do not see the big picture?
The pictures the Sleepers (don’t) see
Do the peaceful dreamers see the bigger picture of their own waking circumstances, and find peace therein?
Not here will I attempt to defend the validity of reporting dreams, and ascribing truth to them. But undeniably dreams do offer a different kind of vision, from which we create story, association, and meaning, as we do in waking life. And in the following example from my own catalogue of recent dreams, there is an aspect of seeing, or failing to see, which I feel is somehow related to the issue of perspective addressed in this blog entry: And yes, there is self-indulgence in dream-telling, but also in blog-writing and painting and playwrighting and any creative work.
I had an appointment with someone wise, and to visit this person I went up a marble staircase, which ended at a landing with corridors leading to the right and left, where stood, respectively, statues of a man in 18th-century Anglo-American dress (long coat, buckled shoes, stockings, breeches, and a cravat) and a woman who looked like an image of Venus, with her draped clothing gathered around her hips. Her hair was loose and tumbled wildly over her shoulders and her breasts, and a snake slithered up her torso, its tail pointing down between her hip bones and its head lost somewhere in her hair. I took the path to the right, past the statue of the man, because those were the instructions I had been given. At the end of the corridor I reached an empty gallery, in what I knew to be the British Museum. A huge crowd of people was milling around, pausing at intervals to look at the bare walls, as if there were fascinating exhibits there. I could see nothing, and this terrified me. Then a harried old man in an orange suit shuffled toward me, telling me he had been waiting for me, that I must come with him. His speech was rapid and pressured, and I feared him. He was not the one I had come to meet. I ran back down the stairs and he ran after me. I got to the bottom of the staircase and he could go no further.
Somehow I cannot content myself simply to appreciate the paradox, the irresolvable complexity between the bigger picture and the small, tender lives it encapsulates. To watch myself and others, dreaming or waking, attempt to see a broader, impartial view, and come up against the occupation hazard of having a body, and immediate circumstances that intrude upon this enlightened perspective.
But I do not say this with cynicism. For me, the ecstasy of jet-setting subjectivity is endlessly fascinating.
Aquarius takes the aerial, broad, outside-of-the-box view, and at the New Moon, grand schemes are birthed out of the known metrical workings of the world. But Aquarius is also a fixed air sign. To look out from behind the eyes of the individual is not the habit of Aquarius, but Leo, its counterpoint and opposite sign, which also fixes itself in habitual perspectives.
But to integrate the poles of this opposition, and to honor the different modes of seeing oneself and the outside, to remember that big and small abide in the heart, to recognize visions, dreams, and feelings, and to understand their comings-and-goings within oneself and others, like the wind through the trees – that might be the best practice I can follow in this Lunar New Year.
Because when I read Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, or listen to the first track from Tempest’s Let Them Eat Chaos, (“Picture a Vacuum”), I know that the broad view makes my heart pummel its cage no less than does the narrow.
It is days past the full Moon, and she seems to be waning more slowly than usual in my mind, so she is due a treatment in writing, a love letter apt for her cerebral nature…
At the Full Moon, there is always a disclosure, an illumination. But with the Full Moon in Gemini, there are multiplicities of truths and testimonies. There are variants of the same archetype. There are different characters vying to be trusted. Can they all be trusted?
The Full Moon is the imprecise mirror of the Sun, the doppelganger that can reflect solar light to just an intensity that we can behold without blinding ourselves. The Moon shines her fullest light and reveals a new nocturnal world to us that looks like day in black pearlescence.
But while the Full Moon in astrology represents an opportunity for hidden emotional contours and instinctual patterns to be revealed consciously (not in keeping with polite company sometimes), its recent position has made this process far less than straightforward. The Moon had just come from a square to Neptune in Pisces, which would give any such revelations startling, all-encompassing significance, with the caveat that the great meaning illusory. Venus, Saturn, and Pluto are meanwhile bound up in the sign of Capricorn, where relationships, personal and professional, may struggle to operate with customary ease, amidst still-hidden obstacles. And for at least that evening of the Full Moon, while the communicative Moon in Gemini wanted to facilitate collaborative communication and the open exchange of ideas, Neptune was at the ready to dissolve the clarity of the messages, and the Capricorn stellium was primed to leave the more essential truths under heavy guard.
I’ll leave it to you, constant reader, to reflect upon the manifestations of this dynamic you may have met five evenings ago now (Pacific Time, of course 😉).
One interesting manifestation of this Neptunian/Gemini Moon magic
At the Full Moon I met a friend for tea and cake, and instantaneously the café transformed into a vortex for those whose company I enjoy: I saw my colleague whose office is next to mine, having an early dinner; I saw my yoga teacher reading and annotating an enormous tome prior to being set upon by an enthusiastic student; then arrived two old friends whose daughter was my schoolmate for several years. The space was dreamlike, and I delighted in seeing the little worlds I have inhabited in this city throughout my life comingling there. And though the one I was meeting was the one I knew the least at that point, the whole scenario was made all the more interesting by the array of experiences and interests we shared (all quite Gemini-themed): books, ideas, humor, and realms of study.
(Unanswerable) question time
Kinship with another in some (i.e. not all) aspects makes us Full Lunar aspects of each other. We reflect the other just enough for them to see a part of themselves more clearly (whether more or less favorably), and vice versa. And the countless other aspects of ourselves we keep latent, bound up, awaiting yet another appropriate mirror…
Or so my current musings go, in keeping with the sentiment in Cicero’s treatise on friendship, De Amicitia (Section 23): Anyone who looks upon a true friend is looking at a copy of himself.
But surely one could say the same about the enemy, the beloved, and the stranger, if one believes that we see ourselves wherever we go, because we are all forms of Self, in essence, or by some other explanation.
And then there are the many questions to be posed: do we see ourselves in another moreso when we first meet them, or after we have come to know them? Or is the image of the person more of a representation of our worldview, or of our past conditioning, than of ourselves in the present moment? Is it both – is our view of ourselves, and our view of ourselves in another a microcosm of the ways in which we view the world? If we do not allow space for others to grow and transform themselves, how can we support ourselves in doing the same? Do leopards change their spots, or is there a stasis in the essential elements of a personality that defy projection? Or perhaps the perception of stasis or change in a person reflects the same phenomenon we see in ourselves.
Or perhaps the more essential question:
Can we look with love, upon ourselves and others? Can we give ourselves the space to run and writhe and rest in response to the fluctuating feelings and life situations that pass through our bodies in subtle and quite unsubtle ways?
Can we be gracious towards ourselves, knowing that these fluctuations are human?
I have a feeling that no matter how much yoga I practice or how many teachers I study with (including the long-dead ones), I will still be spinning in the dramas of self/other. So, instead of enlightenment I am going for emotional intelligence; not the absence of knowing these fluctuations, but the ability to recognize these fluctuations and their effects. To steep myself in the effects and acknowledge this, in all its complexities.
And when I sit with another person, or look into a mirror, I reliably alternate between feelings of kinship, otherness, disassociation, kinship again, attraction, repulsion. And it is curious to wonder, as does the protagonist at the beginning of Simone de Beauvoir’s novel, She Came To Stay, does the world around me take shape because I am looking at it? Do I have a face if I cannot see my face, or touch it? Do I exist if no one is looking? Do I always have to be the one looking at myself?
The kinds of cerebral things that plague one in the wake of the one night in a given year when the teacher (Sagittarius Sun) looks himself in the mirror and sees the student (Moon in Gemini)…
Three poems about a mirror, a doppelganger, the self as watcher of the self
I’ll end this post with a digest of poems that have aided the above cogitations, in chronological order of production:
Narcissus, a young hunter desired by all young men and women refused all his would-be lovers, the last of whom cursed Narcissus. Narcissus stopped one day by a still, clear pool in a clearing in the woods, and fell in love with his reflection he could not embrace, though he tried ceaselessly. Once Narcissus discovered that he was desperately in love with his own reflection, he knew that he would die of heartache, because he could not physically possess his beloved as desired other.
And so he wastes away, and his body transforms into the Narcissus flower. And in the Underworld, his soul stares longingly at its own reflection in the River Styx for eternity.
I do not know what possessed me recently to look back at the work of a 19th-century German poet I had not encountered in almost 10 years.
But I felt good to reacquaint myself. Told in first person, “Der Doppelgänger” is about a man who is wandering empty streets at night and arrives in front of the house of his past beloved, who has not lived in that place for a very long time. He sees a man in front of him, wringing his hands in despair. And then the man turns and looks at the poet-narrator, who is shocked to find that he sees himself in the moonlight (“Der Mond zeigt mir meine eigne Gestalt!”).
I received a beautiful unpublished poem in a poetry exchange, a poem whose author I have never met. The poem was a portrayal of the wasting condition of anorexia from the perspective of the mirror, which sings of its own silence, love, and despair.
And there it all was: the sad futility felt by the family members of the person suffering; the body which is a feared adversary, and a hated prison; the body which works by its own will to keep the soul intact; the body which is always waiting to be loved; the body which is part of the self, and not. And the questions remained with me surrounding the narrator’s point of view: who is watching? The inanimate mirror, or the reflected and disowned aspects of the self that know they are feared when they are looked at, the tender pieces needing the love of the only one whose view matters, the one who looks.
It has been six lunar months since I did my final evaluation as part of my yoga teacher training. It was the full moon at the height of spring, and all of the songs on my playlist had to do with things in full bloom, especially roses. This even included such tonally disparate selections as Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose”, and A Perfect Circle’s “Rose”. [I turned the volume way down, after realizing that I am not my teacher who stitches together all manner of soundscapes until I feel like I’m in a Baz Luhrmann film, as shifting emotional tones overtake the room and pass over my face like masks, until I become acquainted with the awareness that underlies all transitory states of thought and feeling. I turned down the volume because it feels more comfortable for me to teach yoga or anything else when I can take a lot of cues for pacing, pausing, and minor adjustments to the curricular plan from the students – their energetic vibe, areas of curiosity, level of engagement/disengagement].
Back in May I themed my 25-minute evaluation class on the full moon in Scorpio, which can serve as a reminder during the height of the spring season, when all is in bloom and the earth is verdant and colorful, that many underground, unseen processes of decay, death, and regeneration have resulted in the visible beauty of springtime. I translated this into a meditation on the body, on all the hidden rituals of dissolution and reconstitution of resources our organs perform every day, in each moment, by their own will, to sustain our lives. I didn’t have time for it, but was tempted to weave in a mythological theme: each spring the maiden Persephone returns to the home of her mother Demeter, the goddess of growing things, after spending three months, or half the year with her husband Hades, Lord of the Underworld.
And each fall she dies, and her mother takes away the light.
Today the full moon is in Taurus, and for the past couple of days in the fullness of the season when the light is waning, I chose to honor the visible and the readily available. I chose to hearten myself, to nourish my body, to appreciate those who surround me, in the following ways:
Sitting in the foggy morning quiet and foregoing the normal vigorous movement routine.
Baking rich autumnal foods: a stilton tart, and spiced butternut squash loaf.
Taking the time to appreciate my colleagues for their craft.
Eating delicious Sichuan food with old friends and speaking about all manner of trivial and consequential topics.
Watching Joni Mitchell performances on Youtube with my dad and talking and laughing about the peculiarities of the artists we know and love.
Hanging out with the cat.
Writing a poem.
What’s your way of honoring that which is visible and present for you, including perhaps some difficult, previously hidden things which circumstances have dredged up and dragged out into the light?
Here’s to spiced butternut squash loaf!
Here’s to Stitlon, butternut squash, and quince paste tart!
Here’s to Sichuan food, especially Dan Dan Noodles (top right)!
A poem for the full moon, for the body: In Situ
And finally I’ll share what I wrote today, inspired by exploration of relationships between the body’s outer and inner forms. Because we also have a retrograde Mercury in Scorpio, the inner forms ought to be remembered too…
in tired steps to fill the invisible scaffolding
of a slim and pointed spire
so that all her cells stand
to emulate the reach of her fingertips
clamoring silently for skies ready
On her knees
in fragile angularity, like brittle bones
of deer’s knees
meeting wretched ground
forgets its feet
when she tries to make it smaller
and folds herself in half
and avoids looking downward
but anyway, her eyes shift there.
Her pupils twist themselves around and pierce
flesh beneath her navel
swelling like heady summer air
that fills the empty nights
with floating lightning bugs and
She folds herself up and eats half
And drinks half
And nourishes the half that has been good today,
while the other beckons like the waiting night,
the deep forest beyond the
guardrails edging the road.
And still she looks, until her probing pupils widen