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.
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.