The Quarter Moons remind me of how clumsy I was as a girl. I skinned my knees at roller skating. I had a hard time getting my balance while learning to ride a bike. I could fall just by walking across a sidewalk, when for no reason at all, my ankles would suddenly give way. My body, it seemed, often misread the situation, moving out of rhythm with the surrounding world. At the Quarter Moons now, when situations are inherently wobbly, I am often that girl again, misreading the moment, gawky and out of step with the surrounding swirl.
What is it about the Quarter Moons that make them so tricky? There aren’t any good Quarter Moon ceremonies that I can think of. And unlike New or Full Moons, the Quarters aren’t much mentioned in recipes for spells. Simply put, they aren’t all that popular. We’re neither buoyed with the fresh-start feel of a new Moon, nor dazzled as we are at the full Foon’s revelations.
At the First and Last Quarter Moons, we’re at a half-way point in the waxing and waning cycles. The Moon is half-lit, which means the sun and Moon are at right angles, in the astrological relationship known as a “square.” This is no resting place. Squares mean change! Otherwise you’ll fall out of rhythm with the surrounding world.
You can see why I might get wobbly. Like most people, I love the idea of growth. But I hate the reality of change. And that’s what the Quarter Moons have taken as their territory. They shift tempo on us, marking the moment for trickier, more light-footed steps. Stumbling at the new beat, we can find ourselves suddenly down on the path, with psychic knees skinned. I’ve done a lot of that lately. In a few short weeks, I’ve gone from an urban corporate life to a country life that includes a water shortage and a slow well. I’ve gone from parenting one child to step-momming three more. I’ve gone from sleeping alone to sharing my life with a man. Everywhere I turn, but especially at the Quarters, I’m stewing in change.
The moments I can log in my “success column” are still few. Yet observing my failures, I’ve been gathering some notes I can share. Maybe they can help us both at the next Quarter Moon.
Quarter Moon changes are almost never what you think they’ll be. Forget whatever bright changes you planned to make. They’re likely a thinly disguised version of what you’ve already been doing. And if you thought the Moon wanted to change somebody else instead, discard that expectation too. Rather, when you’re facing something extremely uncomfortable, that’s not at all what the you-that-you-thought-you-knew would ever have done, then: Surprise! That’s the step you need to take.
Quarter Moon changes rarely arrive as dramatic events. They’re sly that way. They don’t show up with a marching band, blowing horns and beating drums. They slip soft as moonlight into our lives, changing the tempo through more subtle means. Look for their new rhythm in uncooperative or critical people, things not working out, things that make you feel lonely, angry or sad. It’s easy to miss these moments as personal change timers. That’s why most of us just feel itchy at the Quarters and wonder why the same problems keep happening to us again and again.
Quarter Moons bring two choices: act or refrain. It’s simple. You’ve either got to do something you’ve never done before or stop doing something you’ve always done. The general lunar rule is that you should take new action at the first Quarter Moon (about a week after the New Moon) and you should stop and rethink your moves at the last Quarter (about a week after the Full Moon). But since we’re discussing change, don’t get too comfortable with general rules.
Make friends with your resistance and fear. Maurice Sendak wrote a wonderful story about a boy who has a monster in his bedroom closet. The boy pulls his dresser in front of the closet door, gathers up his army men, his guns, his stuffed animals and his flashlights. Night after night he quakes in his vigil, until exhausted, he finally opens the closet door. The monster roars weakly, then whimpers, then crawls into the boy’s bed, after which everyone has a good night’s sleep. Whenever we need to change, there are monsters of resistance and fear in our closets too. Say hello. Get to know them. Bring them into bed with you until they fall asleep. Their power to halt your growth will disappear.
There’s more to learn of course, as much to learn as there are Quarter Moons ahead of us. Get ready: each one will bring a surprisingly new change of tune.
© 2001 Dana Gerhardt
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