When the Moon is waxing, the old ones advise: Plant broccoli and beans but not your carrots. Harvest lavender blossoms for your bath, chamomile for making tea. Pick fruits to eat, but not for canning. I wish I could garden, gather herbs, and pick my fruit fresh. But I spend my weekdays in an office, marking a thirty-five mile commute each way. Weekends I shop and do laundry, whether the Moon waxes or wanes.
The Earth listens to the Moon and so does everything in between. But how do office workers hear it? If we envy the old ones their Moon knowledge, we must also envy their sense of place and time. This was their secret. Having a sense of place brought a deep relationship with earth and sky. Knowing where you lived meant you could also forget yourself there, and slipping into the background, spy on rich conversations all around. Much more than keeping to a list of Moon rules, the old ones danced in rhythm to their surroundings.
During the two weeks of the waxing Moon, they’d note a burst of blossoms in the garden; in the woods, how sap was rising in the trees; in the orchards, how fruits were growing plumper, juicier, sweeter. With each New Moon, they observed how the Earth “inhales.” Everything above ground swells with the Earth’s life force, increasing with the growing moonlight, to peak at the Full Moon. Bottle olive oil or wine at this time and the liquid will burst from its container.
Today I hurry through my landscape. I travel among factory-made objects, where the life force is constrained. Man-made things are valued more for how they can resist time, or perhaps improve it, not dance with its changing nature. Fruit trees have a kind of intelligence that my stapler and office chair do not. What do fruit trees want? The same magic we do: They want to succeed.
They want their fruit to be picked. They want animals to walk away with them, eating the flesh from their precious seeds, then dropping them far from the mother tree. So they wisely fit themselves to Earth’s Moon-breath. As the moonlight increases, they flush their fruits with color, fill them with sugars, in short, entice and allure, knowing, as the old timers warn, ripe fruits decay more quickly on a waxing Moon. All the better for slipping seeds into the earth.
We might think this is a mysterious force of the Moon, acting on our earth objects, rather than a fruit tree intelligence. But what of our own species? Long ago, it’s said that women menstruated with the New Moon and ovulated at the full. Women’s physician and author, Christiane Northrup, has likened the period from menstruation to ovulation as a time of ripening, one’s literal (or symbolic) eggs. In spirit with the waxing Moon, a woman’s energy is outgoing and upbeat. The enthusiasm can peak at ovulation, when a woman is most fertile and receptive. Dr. Northrup describes how a patient’s waitressing tips often rose at ovulation with her mood. (Christiane Northrup, M.D., Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom [Bantam Books, 1998], p.104.)
No one has discovered a link between Moon phases and female hormones. But what if this weren’t the Moon’s force, but a sensitive, human intelligence instead? Many women know their cycles can entrain with other women’s; those who live or work together often menstruate at the same time. Might the women of long ago not only have entrained to each other, but along with nature, to the Moon? Might those women and men blessed with a greater sense of place and time have wisely participated with earth’s exhaling breath? So that not only women’s bodies and fruit trees, but their ideas ripened too. And everywhere, everyone enjoyed a delicious peak in receptivity when the Moon was Full.
We don’t have to know what the old ones knew or do what the old ones did. But we might learn to perceive our world with a similar sensitivity. How can we participate? From New Moon to Full, we might gather our positive energy and direct it outward. We might ripen our efforts, enticing the outer world to taste our gifts. Whatever our projects, we can designate these two weeks for relevant activities of attraction. We can be more receptive to others too.
City life makes recovering a sense of place on earth more difficult. But our bodies give us a good place to start. During the peak of the waxing Moon, the Full Moon, like the rest of nature around us, we are now filled with Earth’s life force. We retain more water, swell with fluids. It’s a good time for donating blood (it’s replaced more quickly), but bad for surgeries (more is lost). Because the body is more absorbent, the Full Moon is optimum for taking supplements and healing balms (though poisons can be more dangerous).
Last month, I tried a new lunar ritual. I’ve been putting henna’s red highlights in my hair at each New Moon, as a gesture of renewal. This time I tried it at the Full Moon, when the hair follicles might be more absorbent. The rich difference in color was dramatic! Two weeks later, the strands are a still vibrant hue of ripened plum. Proving: even an office worker can find her sense of place and dance with the Earth’s Moon-breath!
© 2000 Dana Gerhardt
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