Heart Sutra For the Balsamic Moon

Allow your judgments their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened. Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.

Reiner Maria Rilke, Letters To a Young Poet

I have been rediscovering the Heart Sutra recently in the beautiful rendition of Imee Ooi. I try to ponder its significance in the morning after I wake up and in the evening before I fall asleep. I relate to it and find great comfort in it.

Heart Sutra

In my mind it is very much related to the moon phase I was born in, i.e. shortly before the new moon, during the so called dark or balsamic moon. In this phase the moon is invisible. Symbolically it is associated with death, sorcery, gestation, right brain processes, instinct, intuition, dreaming, resting, and the goddess Hekate. In his book The Lunation Cycle, Dane Rudhyar speaks of that phase as a transition state and the seed state. In his own words:

This type of personality is, in its highest manifestations, prophetic and completely turned toward the future, even though it feels itself the end-product of the past – yet a past which outwardly or consciously it has left behind. At times the individual feels himself possessed by a social “destiny,” or led by a superior power.


Balsamic Moon, image via here

Rudhyar’s words may sound quite flattering, but I have to admit that the balsamic moon phase may be also very difficult with frequent feeling of dryness, infertility and desperation because the fruit of one’s labours are invisible and manifestation is very hard to achieve.

As a balsamic moon person, one is “poised for a lifetime between endings and beginnings,” as astrologer’s Dana Gerhardt’s put it, who quotes the story of Rapunzel as an illustration of the balsamic moon phase. I loved that story as a child. If you do not know it, here’s a link to the Brothers’ Grimm version. I love Gerhardt’s interpretation that the wife should not have been greedy and should not have desired the rampion from the witch’s garden. If the couple’s old garden was barren, they should have accepted the situation and focus on composting, fertilising, maintenance and pruning, as any wise gardener does during the dark phase of the moon. I also relate to the symbol of Rapunzel’s hair. She was locked up in the tower by the evil witch but she gained strength and wisdom and was able to develop her creativity. On her own she reached the ripeness for a change.


Balsamic phase is not the time to force growth and activity or to blindly follow one’s desires. At this time nature’s force is strongest at the roots. Growth is strengthened invisibly. Rapunzel’s story also teaches us the wisdom of the cycles and that there is the right time for everything, as stands in the Ecclesiastes:

1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: 2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; 3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; 7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; 8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8)

The influence of the balsamic phase on my life has always been quite marked. One thing that has improved over time is a new quality of openness to opportunity and readiness to embrace what the future may bring. Like in the words of the heart sutra “gone, gone to the other shore” I accept the necessity to leave the old behind and move on. Two years ago I used to have a recurring dream featuring myself carrying a large suitcase or two, and accidentally leaving it behind on the train or at a train station. I worked with this dream in therapy and I haven’t had it since I managed to grasp its meaning. I can only hope that my old moon, heavy with the experiences of all the previous lunar cycles, has learned how to unburden herself.

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30 Responses to Heart Sutra For the Balsamic Moon

  1. I am almost certain the Enneagram system is not part of your spiritual language, but as it is a large part of mine, I was fascinated and a little surprised at how synchronized Dane’s (and your) analysis of your personality under the balsamic moon phase is with my own enneagram informed observations. I love that.

    I am also beginning to understand the connection between the enneagram of personality and the broad esoterica, which included astrology, of most of it’s “mappers”.

    Realize I expect no comment or interest on the enneagram from you but I hope you’ll appreciate the ways it serves me in appreciating you, and your writing. ALso, I’ll say this openly once so you’ll know: sensitive souls react to rubricizing. If you ever feel that way from any comments I make. please let me know. It helps me be sensitive. 😉 Another deeply informative read Monica.


    • But Enneagram is interesting! I am a Nine by the way. I also love MBTI typology, where I am an INFJ. The Balsamic Moon is very much turned inwards and above all wants to know him/herself.


      • I stand corrected. Well…. ok. 😉

        Except for one thing… I was leaning toward E-5…
        No matter!


      • Scott Smith says:

        Wow! I too am a Balsamic Moon type who is an INFJ. (Plus Sun-Pluto-North Node conjunction in the 12th House!) Small world!


      • Wow indeed! I have Venus in my 12th, but Pluto! You win. Small world, indeed.


      • Scott Smith says:

        I suppose I should add that knowing what my lunar phase type is (Balsamic) certainly has helped me to understand why I have always felt like I am a “ghost” in this world–or as if everyone ELSE are the ghosts and I’m the only one who’s really alive! It’s taken me a VERY long time to understand and accept the fact that this is a lifetime of endings and of letting go of regrets and . . . well . . . everything else! I have found the following anonymously-written passage to be very helpful to me in this respect, and would like to share it here:


        Why do you worry without cause? Whom or what do you fear without reason? Who or what can really kill you? The soul is neither born, nor does it die. Whatever happened happened for the good. Whatever is happening is happening for the good. Whatever will happen will also happen for the good only. You need not have any regrets for the past. You need not worry for the future. The present is happening . . . right now. What did you lose that you cry about? What did you bring with you when you were born that you think you have lost? What did you possess that was destroyed or taken from you? You did not bring anything. Whatever you have, you received from here. Whatever you have given, you have given only here. Whatever you took, you took from All That Is. Whatever you gave, you gave to All That Is. You came empty handed, and you will leave empty handed. What is yours today belonged to someone else yesterday, and will belong to someone else the day after tomorrow. You are mistakenly enjoying the thought that your belongings are yours. It is this false happiness that is the cause of your sorrow. Whatever you took, you took from All That Is. Whatever you gave, you gave to All That Is. You came with nothing, and you will leave with nothing. Change is the law of the universe. What you think of as death is indeed life. In one instance you can be a millionaire, and in the next you can be steeped in poverty. Yours and mine, big and small: erase these ideas from your mind. Then everything is yours, and you belong to everything. Your body is not yours. Neither are you of the body. The body is made of fire, water, air, earth, and ether, and will disappear into these elements. But the soul is permanent. Ponder this.


      • Thank you very much, great passage! Says exactly what balsamic moon is about.


      • Scott Smith says:

        Don’t know why I left Venus out of my 12th house stellium; but yes, I too have Venus in the 12th–as all of my relationships will attest! I appreciate your write-up on my (our!) lunar phase. Thank you!


      • And I appreciate your commenting! We bloggers cook in our stew and when someone from outside comes, s/he is welcome like the lost sheep from the parable.
        Best wishes.


  2. Don says:

    I just love the connection you’ve made between Reiner Maria Rilke’s words, which are absolutely magnificent, and the Balsamic phase. Once again a wonderful post. Thank you.


  3. Thanks for this tasty and nutritious mental meal again.
    And for being so open about your ungoing personal journey.

    What strikes me is that there seem to be two opposite meanings in your insprirations on the moon. The one is that of the balsamic moon as strengthened invisibility (well written) and a symbol for silent and new groth. The other is that of the ever recycling old moon, taking along build up burden from the past, ‘poised for a lifetime between beginnings and endings’.

    Accidentally (?) I wrote a haiku just before reading this post about sadness seeming more gathering in me (us people?) than luck. And I’m asking myself why this is and if I could change that.
    Could a old moon unburden itself or does it need the sun for that?

    For the new moon promisses we should indeed be quiet and receptive as you say with Rilke.
    I believe we can grow in that by learning of each past old moon cycle,
    So maybe thats our fate, getting wiser but sadder.


  4. Gardengypsy says:

    You just knew I wouldn’t be able to resist, didn’t you? One of the most beautiful songs the era produced, beyond doubt:


  5. Beautiful and rich in all ways, Rilke to begin, that beautiful version of the Prajnaparamita, and your thought provoking sharing. Your reflections on the balsamic moon create lunar reflections in the reader – regardless of our moon or if we know its phase or sign. That’s the power of words and sharing from within. Thank you.


  6. Carol says:

    Dear Symbol Reader, What a beautiful blog and post about our Balsamic Moon…I especially love your quote “Gone, gone to the other shore”. I am coming to believe that this Moon Phase must be understood in a Birth Chart as the dominant feature…or at least it seems so in the work that I do, and in my own life!


  7. anandajyoti says:

    Came upon your lovely blog this morning, cannot even remember what i was searching….also funny that I too am Balsamic moon birth, INFJ and Venus in 12th….like arriving at a convention of like-minded weirdoes 🙂
    Thanks for your post.

    I had just put in a summary of different resources i collected some time ago at my blog…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am very happy you did. Thank you for your compilation. I agree it is an extremely important dimension of a birth chart, the moon being balsamic. It is a huge game changer, as they say. Amazing you are also an INFJ and your Venus is in the 12th house like mine. Quite a convention!
      Best wishes to you


  8. Cinnamon says:

    Beautiful description of this Moon phase, I can feel it in my bones…interesting how the heaviness and nostalgic tones can be felt through the words.
    I’ve just started getting deeper into the phases of the Moon, I noticed its powerful influence on my life for a long time now.
    My balsamic Moon is in Cancer btw.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Cinnamon says:

    It can be…or, usually after time one can become the master feeler 🙂 After ages of feeling so much, so deeply, and remembering all emotions ever felt, yours and everyone elses… one will come to the point where it’s no need anymore to hide away from the feeling, neither to jump into it and let it consume you. Rather let it wash over you, without resistance, because you know it cannot harm you and you are safe, as safety is inherent within you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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