Where Do You Go After You’ve Been to the Moon?

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In a comedy clay animation film A Grand Day Out, Wallace and Gromit, an inventor and his faithful dog, build a rocket in their basement and fly to the moon to sample some cheese (everyone knows that the moon is made of cheese…). What I adore about this timeless duo is their relationship. Gromit communicates only through facial expressions ad body language and does so ingeniously, like a pantomime artist. Wallace is a bachelor with delightful quirks, a pair of timeless slippers and a cozy waistcoat. They live in a tiny cozy bubble of their own world, building bizarre contraptions together and not needing the outside world to be blissfully happy together.  I think it was a brilliant idea on the part of the film creator to send the two of them to the moon because theirs is a perfectly lunar relationship. They understand each other without words, they feel safe and familiar around each other, bringing each other comfort, warmth and nurturing most naturally, without effort. An astrologer would say that their respective Moons must be in a harmonious aspect to each other, possibly a conjunction or perhaps Wallace’s Moon is on Gromit’s Ascendant.

Creating a magical space together with a special person is a lunar quality. A film which bestows  a similar warm heart feeling is Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson. The two teenagers in love are also lost in their lunar magical kingdom. It is the most delightful film I have seen in years. If there is a strong lunar connection between two people they will create a homey and cozy space no matter where they are, even on the move as the two protagonists of Wes Anderson were. The girl’s suitcase and the boy’s furry hat have got to be the most brilliant lunar symbols I have seen in a movie in many years. The suitcase symbolizes a miniature home, the hat is a subtle allusion to the moon goddess Artemis, the huntress, associated with the dark heart of wild nature.

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Picnicking on the Moon

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Moonrise Kingdom

I have been thinking a lot about the Moon in the last few days. It is a special week for all moon lovers:  the so called Super Moon will be visible on 23 June. The moon will appear larger, being closer to the earth and being in the full moon phase. It is interesting that this should happen right after Summer Solstice when the Sun’s power is at its highest. The exceptionally large looking moon will show its potency and importance. In many pagan traditions summer solstice is believed to be a magical time when heaven and earth can be united and when magical opportunities abound. This year with the opposition of the Sun and the Moon this sacred marriage between heaven and earth and between the Sun and the Moon may be fruitful and harmonious because the lights are in balance, neither the Sun nor the Moon are privileged. We may at least hope for a union between our conscious (the Sun) needs and the unconscious ones (the Moon).

In keeping with the moon theme, I decided to see the film Apollo 13 at the weekend. I had not seen it before. I found it quite interesting and it made me think a lot about my long-standing fascination with the moon. The number 13 is very telling: there are 12 solar months in a year but 13 lunar months. Also, right after the launch one of the five engines failed, leaving just four. Let me point out that in astrology five is the number related to the Sun, four to the Moon.  And finally, the three astronauts aboard the ship reminded me of the triad of lunar goddesses, who personified the three phases of the Moon. Thus Apollo 13 was an archetypal lunar mission: the solar (conscious) purpose of walking on the moon was not achieved but the mission was very fruitful from the lunar perspective. Symbolically, the Moon represents the feeling intuitive nature of the individual, emotional needs and emotional security, which to most of us stems from our roots, home and family, understood in many individual ways. The Moon, ruled by the water sign Cancer, is also connected with our habits and reactions, as well as with the unconscious and the rhythm of life (since all life originated in water – think of the amniotic fluid but also of the ocean where evolution of all species started). During the Apollo 13 mission, nothing tangible was accomplished that might be labeled as success from a conventional perspective, but it was not about the mission but about the people and their essential humanity: fear of survival, rapidly changing emotions, hope, closeness, attachment and love. Being able to return to earth after all instruments had been broken required a great deal of lunar intuition. Another lunar theme is the collective effort that the whole operation required: there was not a single successful solar hero but a collective hero with a thousand faces. Also during the Apollo 13 mission astronauts suffer all kinds of physical symptoms, reminding us that the symbolism of the moon is first and foremost related to the body and to Mother. “The human being is not the lord of beings, but the shepherd of Being,” wrote the philosopher Martin Heidegger. If we are reminded of our own mortality through suffering bodily symptoms, we get reconnected with the moon principle. We should extend the care of our bodies to the care of the mother earth and all living beings. The astronauts looking down towards the earth always expressed similar sentiments: how fragile and beautiful our planet is.

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Like every archetype, the moon has its dark side (literally, in this case). Lunar darkness has to do with lunacy, depression, hysteria and compulsiveness – the mythical maenad within. The maenads, whose name meant “the raving ones,” followed the god Dionysus and were associated with orgiastic frenzy and a total lack of control. They were the antithesis to culture and civilization. They were said to devour raw flesh and they murdered King Pentheus by tearing him to pieces because he had banned the worship of Dionysus. There is uncontrollable lunar wildness in every one of us and the position of the astrological Moon may reveal more details on the extent of it.

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Gustav Dore, Maenads in a Wood

There is a spellbinding book by Andrew Smith called Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth. There he writes about the twelve astronauts who took part in all Apollo missions and he interviews the nine who were still alive at the time he was writing the book. I have no doubt that the lives of the moon astronauts were closely connected with the moon symbolism. Can you get so close to the moon and not be affected by it? Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, has battled with depression and alcoholism all his life. ‘He resents not being the first man on the moon more than he appreciates being the second,’ as a fellow astronaut observed. If it is true, it is a pity that the need to be a solar hero, to be the first one, would overshadow a life like this. However, I have heard that he turned his life around at an older age. Charlie Duke (Apollo 16) became a drunken bully who beat and terrorized his children and his wife until he and his wife, Dotty, found God and religion. Almost all of the astronauts experienced a sort of an epiphany. While Ed Mitchell returned in his Apollo 14 capsule, he glimpsed ‘an intelligence in the Universe and felt connected to it’. He then established the Institute of Noetic Sciences. An amusing tidbit is connected with Nepal, where it is believed that the dead reside on the moon. When the Apollo 14 veteran visited there he was constantly asked “So did you see my grandmother?” which exasperated him.

The moon archetype is also connected with art and imagination. Alan Bean of Apollo 12 became a painter and quit space. His subject matter is the moon and the astronauts in space. I quite like this one, called Space Reaching.

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Another astronaut, Jim Irwin, claims that God spoke to him at the feet of the Apennine Mountains. He left NASA for the Church. All astronauts spoke of mystical unity of all humankind that they experienced in space. But as Smith notices bitterly: “A lot happened out there. The postflight divorce rate was, in more than one sense, astronomical.” It is hard to rationalize such a kind of transformation that all of them underwent. I naturally put it down to the mysterious power of symbols and I see how their lives are connected to the moon symbolism.

I will be staring at the moon this coming weekend. And if you want to read something very weird about our satellite, take a look at an article called Are We Food for the Moon?, which summarizes the ideas of Gurdijeff and Blavatsky about the Moon being a parasite  and portraying humans as food for the Moon. Madame Blavatsky called the moon soulless and lifeless. But how can something so beautiful not have a soul?

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Gilbert Williams, Moon Song (via http://gilbertwilliamsgallery.com/originalworksforsale.html) 

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47 Responses to Where Do You Go After You’ve Been to the Moon?

  1. Soul Fields says:

    Thank you, I so much enjoyed this article and the perspectives. I´m joining in worshiping the Super Moon and celebrating Midsummer the coming weekend. (I now realized that in a comment I have said that the Super Moon is on Friday, Earth calling. 😀 )

    – Where is the cat? – The cat is in the Moooon, they always affirmed in an English course for children on TV when I was a kid. It was so fascinating and mysterious I´ll always remember it.

    • Happy Super Moon to us! A little maenadic dance won’t do any harm. Love, Monika

      • Soul Fields says:

        Thank you! Love, Dances with the Super Moon

        PS. I´m linking the cat and the Moon memory, as it was a little loose comment from me: I immediately connected with that memory when seeing your post and the Moon, I meant. It was perhaps because we both have just shared the importance of The Cat in our lives, and now the love of the Moon. There are of course more layers of symbolism for The Cat being in the Moon, too, but this in short.

      • I understood it the first time. 🙂

      • Soul Fields says:

        How lovely. And why doesn´t that surprise me. 🙂

  2. It’s hard to know what to make of the common experience of the Astronauts. Amazing. And I enjoyed this whole post. For some reason, the moon means a lot to me. As you know Monika, it shows up frequently in my poetry, but my curiosity is itself a curiosity. That is to say, my interest in the moon, lately, has been sudden and strong enough to make me reflective about the interest itself. I am rambling, probably because I dont feel like I have absorbed the article enough.

    Thank you Monika.
    Jim

    • Actually you are making perfect sense to me. I like how you used the word reflective because the moon reflects the light. Poetry is very much connected with the moon, like in Shakespeare – the lunatic, the lover and the poet are all influenced by the moon. I think the moon is my favourite symbol. Thanks for the reblog!

      • You’re welcome Monika. It occurred to me afterwards, just how many poets I have run across that theme their writing in celestial bodies, the sun and the moon. A good few (since I began noticing). I always pop in to their “About page”. Several have hinted of mystical experiences informing their creativity. It fits with the astronauts experience, I think.

  3. Reblogged this on The RunningFather Blog and commented:
    SymbolReader, on the Moon. Don’t miss this. The moon promises to be very, very large this June.

  4. Great article. I am intrigued by the Maenads. Several of the qualities listed about them are said also of the dakinis. Once again, I wonder about one thing being given many names emphasized slightly differently in different cultures.

  5. I agree with you about “Moonrise Kingdom” and love it. It definitely struck me as having some obvious Neptune themes as well, and I enjoyed reading your interpretation of some of it’s symbolism. I’ll have to read the link to Blavatsky and others later, but at first it makes me think of what I have heard about Vedic Astrology- acknowledging that I really don’t know anything about Vedic Astrology, I’ve been told before that in that system the Moon is also considered a “bad” influence in a way, or more like something that can hold us back. I think this idea also entered into some of the Esoteric Astrological thought of Alice Bailey, who also was influenced by Blavatsky and the theosophical society when younger.

    • I also thought of the meaning of the Moon in the Tarot, it always struck me as very dark.
      I am a bit dumbfounded by this. Most great writers, poets, artists had prominent Moons, which was demonstrated by Michel Gauquelin. From my personal research I concluded also that the Moon is connected with creative writing. So what gives? I just do not like these labels – positive/negative.

      • Soul Fields says:

        I don´t like labeling either, it is so good that this is brought up. I think it, the Moon, (as every energy) has both sides. It depends on how we use each energy. All energies can also been used, and understood, from different “octaves”. For instance I experience all the astrological signs being positive in different ways, each having the other side of the coin as well. Then it depends on how we learn to use the energies in a positive (enough ;)) way. In my tarot meanings the Moon has both sides, as do all the cards, which and when describe characters and ways of perceiving things.

        I love this whole discussion.

      • Me too, I live for discussions. I do not see myself as a tarot expert but I am thinking of the ten of cups which is connected with family and happiness and the Moon which is rarely associated with happiness in tarot, unlike in astrology, where it can be connected with emotional fulfilment. I am rambling a bit, just thinking out loud.

      • Soul Fields says:

        Yes, in the traditional tarot meanings it is so. The Moon describes the subconscious as well, so maybe there are fearful interpretations of it, because of the fear of that and the fear of the emotional side in general. At least in some traditions the Moon has been connected with witchcraft, too, another reason for fear alongside with many other superstitious believes concerning the Moon. And the feminine side in general has not had much space in the patriarchal cultures and religions. (This is not a scientific comment 😀 , but a subjective one, definetely about rambling around, which I love, too)

      • True, maybe I read the wrong books on tarot. I have written to Kelsey of the tarot nook blog. I really love her insights on tarot. Hope she responds.

      • Soul Fields says:

        Sounds good. Looking forward to if she does.

      • I never think of the Moon card in tarot as being negative, but some people could find the energy unpleasant if they do not wish to explore their unconscious, which could include the shadow side of things. To me, the Moon card means going into the unconscious and would include exploring the shadow, and could potentially involve some negative feeling emotions and issues- but to me, that is not really negative. Similarly, I don’t think the Moon in astrology is “negative.” What I heard related to Vedic astrology, which I think may be similar to what Blavatsky was saying, is that the Moon is related to karma, and also has a strong connection with past life karma, sort of how we look at the South and North nodes of the Moon as being so significant even though every single planet has them as well. I think in some systems of astrology the Moon could be seen as potentially holding someone back in a comfort zone of past life incarnation issues, instead of being more focused on their evolutionary soul development. One thing about Evolutionary Astrology which is interesting is that Jeff Green seems to avoid these negative labels altogether, including the old astrological thought of things being in a “fall” or “detriment” placement- there is more an attitude of “it is what it is” and there is an evolutionary reason why you have that.

      • Thanks, this is really illuminating both in a solar and lunar way. Yes, I also believe that the Moon can hold us back like the crab walking backwards or like the attraction of regression, relying on old habits, giving way to fear, etc. I feel I need to read Jeff Green.

      • Sorry for the delay. I love the Moon, I pray to it, and call it “mom.” I’ve been doing this since I was a child. When I was 12 I bought this interactive pop-up astrology book in cartoons and would stay up late completely dumbfounded that I wasn’t a Cancer! Of course, I’m ruled by the Moon. I knew this deep in me. It commanded me! It wasn’t until my early 20s that I saw my chart…. sure enough….

        But first things first: The Moon card in Tarot is not identified with the Moon astrologically, it’s identified with Pisces. Cancer is the Chariot. And the Moon is the High Priestess. Coming at it from an astrological perspective, the Moon card in Tarot gets a bad rap for the same reason the 12th House gets a bad rap. Interestingly, just today, a good friend of mine sent me this article on the 12th House, because I’ve had so many transits happening there in my chart — http://theastrologyplace.blogspot.com/2011/02/astrology-of-sorrow.html?m=1.

        The article links the 12th House with Sorrow, while mentioning Neptune and Pisces, too. Monika and Gray — I’m sure you can both shed more light on these issues than I. But I’ll tell you my personal take on the Moon card —

        As a fixed energy, if you were to forecast instead of guide by way of Tarot, the Moon/Pisces energy is a limitless ocean of unconscious. You can drown if you panic and/or don’t have a strong stroke. It’s the classic, cliched creative genius lunatic, with potentialities for bipolar behavior, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, or the addicted, intoxicated painter/writer. The Moon is black, the Moon is white, the Moon is divided, the Moon is in constant flux.

        I would respond to this — The Moon is also receptive and reflective, which unnerves many Westerners. A part of me wonders if this isn’t just straight-up sexism by way of essentialism. I always associate the Moon card with a difficult passage, like psychic labor, and I agree with Gray’s take. It’s not at all negative, and pain can very quickly give rise to immense pleasure and personal power in overcoming or charting a new and dangerous path. I always think of this line from Karen Finley’s “The Black Sheep,” which you can read here http://www.creativetime.org/programs/archive/1990/TheBlackSheep/BlackSheep.htm, whenever I think of the Moon card:

        “We are sheep with no shepherd –
        We are sheep with no straight and narrow
        We are sheep with no meadow
        We are sheep who take the dangerous
        pathway thru the mountain range
        to get to the other side of our soul.”

        That last bit, that really nails the Moon energy for me. Also these lines later on:

        “Black Sheep’s destinies are not in
        necessarily having families,
        having prescribed existences –
        like the American Dream.
        Black Sheep destinies are to give
        meaning in life – to be angels,
        to be conscience, to be nightmares
        to be actors in dreams.”

        As for the High Priestess/Moon energy — that’s more about unexplainable power, esoteric knowledge, female independence and unnerving knowing — as in, someone who can look right through you.

        This is a wonderful discussion, and I immensely enjoyed the article, Monika. I hope my additions helped a bit. If you have any other questions, ask! And as for the Moon from a 12th House angle, I’d love to hear further thoughts. 🙂

      • Wonderful, there is so much here. First of all, I have just read the poem and oh my God I do resonate with the Black Sheep.
        The Moon and Neptune surely resonate and it really makes a lot of sense.
        Kelsey, I am also very lunar. My Moon makes a sharp square to the Asc and Venus, the ruler of my Moon, is in the 12th house. In my tarot readings I often got the High Priestess.
        I saw in your chart that you have been going through a lot of 12th house stuff as you say. I hope you will emerge a true mystic, light as a feather with all karma burnt.
        All my love and gratitude,
        Monika

      • Thank you, Monika. 🙂 The High Priestess is generally considered the Tarot reader card, whereas the Hanged Man is Uranian and considered the Astrologer card. They’re both numbered 2 using the method I use — drop the first two numbers as 000 to XX0 — and you’ll have a meaningful polarity that further corresponds to the Minor Arcana.
        “The Black Sheep” is pretty relatateable, at least for the people I choose to associate with. Haha.
        BTW — Having the combination of heavy Lunar and Mercurial energies in the natal can be difficult in and of itself just because both are so quick! At least that’s what I’ve found in my own life. When dealing with others who have heavy Pluto and/or Saturn, I find myself getting frustrated with their interminable slowness, and they get frustrated with my changeability.

      • That’s an interesting observation. I think I am similar to you being lunar and mercurial but I also have a heavy Saturn anchor and a full tenth house.

      • I just heard in in your video that you do not believe in karma, haha. Well, I sort of do. About the 12th house, I think it can be connected with sorrow but also with bliss. It can be compared to a sacred chamber, where you are alone surrounded by your favourite mystical toys. It often indicates secrets of course. I actually have learnt the most about symbols during my 12th house transits or while a transiting planet was aspecting my Neptune. The 12th house are underwater palaces or underwater ruins.
        Also the 12th house energies, the collective unconscious, may be draining if you do not set boundaries and let other people’s unconscious issues invade you, I do not know how to put this better. I mean being reflective of other people’s moods and issues.
        Oh, and you are super lunar indeed in the eyes of both exo- and esoteric astrology. In esoteric astrology Virgo is ruled by the Moon.

      • I do feel drained and I definitely feel quiet and still. I’m easily overwhelmed right now which is making me feel a bit weak — even though I know this is temporary. Usually, I’m comparatively vigorous. But not now.
        As for the Moon, that makes sense. I always identified more with it than any particular sign. 🙂

  6. Soul Fields says:

    Reblogged this on Soul Fields and commented:
    This is such a wonderful, well written and timely post about the Moon. Timely because of the Super Moon on Sunday, the solstice and the Midsummer celebrations here in the Northern Europe during the weekend (and wherever it is celebrated).

    Here is one way to celebrate during this approaching full Moon:
    Festival of Goodwill
    http://orindaben.com/pages/home/festgoodwill/

  7. Great post. So many great tidbits to it. Fascinating bit on the Apollo men. I am inclined to believe that they never made it to the moon, but I do believe that even the effort to do so must have pushed forward their lunacy. So many (near) alignments this year! I look forward to summer solstice and a great big delicious moon. 🙂

    • I just finished reading the linked article. I have studied Theosophy, Gurdjieff and Ouspensky as well as Gnosis, so I have a somewhat skeptical view of the moon. I can also be mesmerized by its allure. Sometimes I also entertain the theory that is a follow mechanical satellite. I used to make up stories as a child that I visited the moon at night, and they were not all pleasant. I have a poem I wrote long ago based on theories similar to the linked article, maybe I will share it sometimes.

      Namaste
      Sindy

      • Thank you, Sindy. It is really valuable to hear from someone who has actually studied the subject. I have some knowledge of gnosis from university and via Jung but I do not remember what they said about the moon.

  8. I studied a certain “cult” of Gnosis which is linked on my About page. It has been like 5 years now, so remembering the specifics are just not there. In an act of defiance, I threw away all my books and notes. lol But is was along the lines of the article as the “Supposed Master” from whom the teachings came from studied Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, Theosophy and all the esoterica. However he claimed he was a totally awake being and his knowledge was from direct experience.

  9. lol 🙂 your welcome. In hindsight, it was a rather rash and impulsive action, much like my regret of burying all my tarot cards in the Los Angeles crest forest around that same time.

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  12. starcounsell says:

    Hi Monika, What a delicious article. Thankyou. I am very lunar and live an giant forest (nearly 3 thousand acres) so your fascinating lunar writing resonates with me. Such fun. I have never seen the Gustav Dore art of the Maneads before. Three cheers for you. Lunar wishes from Hilary.

  13. Erik Andrulis says:

    Thanks for directing me here. I enjoyed this – the invokation of Joseph Campbell (hero with a thousand faces), the weaving of the mythological (maenads), and the germane modern day examples of archetypes in film and literature (esp. Wallace and Gromit, who I love). Peace, Ik

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