Like everyone else, I’m weary. As a spiritual practitioner, I value the act of holding witness. While watching the news, especially this past year, I’ve shed tears freely. As times keep getting stranger, I want to keep witnessing the aberrations I see. Yet this morning, on waking to the news of yet another “largest mass shooting in US history,” I turned off the TV. I put on some nice music and made some grain-free pancakes with blueberries. Sometimes, you’ve just got to take care of yourself.
We know this. Just as mothers know in a descending plane, they should put on their own oxygen masks first. If we’re going to keep bearing alert, concerned, and compassionate witness, we need to first help ourselves. We need to nurture our spirits. I hope you’ll choose to do that this Full Moon–in whatever way you know works best for you. Especially if your patience is thin and you’re not sure you can take anymore, you need a little spirit medicine, which is just what Full Moon rituals are designed to do.
The one I offer this month draws from the potency of Beautifying Libra, where the Sun sits opposite the Warrior Moon in Aries. Perform this ritual, for the sake of your own balance, and for helping shattered hearts around the world, momentarily at least, feel whole.
Preparation is everything. You’re shifting yourself into a more powerful frame of mind. Find a quiet place where you can protect yourself from intrusion. Once there, as the Sufi teacher Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan recommends, take steps to “surround yourself with a zone of silence.” Mist the air with rose water. Light candles or incense. Or play a piece of contemplative music that will shift you from the periphery, into the calm center within. Perhaps there’s a prayer or sacred phrase that drops you in. Maybe there’s an activity, like coloring a sacred mandala. Or–bare bones it–simply surrender to the rhythm of your breath.
After a while, you may feel something subtle arising, a feeling perhaps of curiosity or expectancy. With this shift, you’re ready to go deeper. Imagine a curtain were parting in front of you, revealing a pathway through the forest. Start walking down it. Notice the details of the flora around you. Eventually you approach a clearing where sits a beautiful temple. Its spacious interior and graceful columns are open to the sky and surrounding nature. Within this temple sits a circle of figures under the Full Moon, immersed in meditation. Stepping up to the circle, you wordlessly join in, finding your place among them.
Raising the Energy
As you step into the circle, you notice a feeling like love is circling through the group. Softly, it enters you too. You feel yourself growing more present and safe. A beautiful woman with the wise bearing of an elder takes her place in the center of the circle. It’s Aphrodite. As she starts to speak, the very air begins to listen. Her words, like music more than words, seem to be weaving themselves into your very cells. Tonight’s teaching? It’s about the artful practice of coming into balance with another—the Aphrodite way.
Aphrodite smiles and takes a graceful turn through the circle, saying “To keep your balance while dancing requires an awareness in the inner ear.” Then she stops and looks deeply into your eyes. “Keeping your balance with another,” she says, “requires an awareness in the heart.”
She asks everyone in the circle to bring to mind the image of someone whom they very much love. As you do this, you notice a corresponding warmth that starts building in your heart. Strengthen this feeling by breathing into that heartspace.
The Heart of the Ritual
“You live in divided times,” the Goddess says. “It’s easy to fight. It’s harder but more powerful to be receptive. Get familiar with this feeling of love. Amplify it. Wrap it around you like a comforter. Then, so held, bring to mind the image of someone you disagree with.” Allow the image of this person to appear to you. Notice if the feelings of love begin to disappear or drift away. If they start to diminish, recall how you felt gazing at your loved one. Hold onto this love as you return your gaze to your opponent. Breathe. There is nothing to say. Just be.
Aphrodite enters your visualization and appears to hold each of your hearts on either end of a scale. Ever so gently, she tips the scales now one way, now another, as if pouring and measuring love between two cups. After a few minutes of this concentration, the scales come to a point of stillness. You notice that the entire Moon circle is filled with love—the love that comes from acceptance of another individual.
You release the image. You feel a new peace inside you. You feel centered into the quality of harmony, the precious gift of Libra. Aphrodite stands before you and sends an imaginary pearl into your heart, saying “You need only to remember this pearl to return to this feeling.” Breathe into the pearl in your heart. Continue this concentration for several minutes.
Aphrodite raises her hands, signaling that the circle should rise. Everyone bows to the center of the circle, then turns and bows to the person on either side. Turning completely around, the circle bows to the world beyond the circle, vowing to offer this empathy to humanity. Aphrodite sings a closing prayer. Rising, give thanks for your participation in this ritual, then walk back down the path through the woods, come back to yourself in contemplation, and, finally, come back to your home and life.