Beavers are industrious lodge builders, but at no time in the year are they more active than during November’s full moon. At this time of year they toil and build with extra purpose, for winter fast approaches, and instinctively they know they will live or die by their thorough preparation or lack of it.
Are we so different? Like the beaver we note the shortened days and urgently prepare for the long season that dawns. We swap fall outfits for hats, coats, gloves and sweaters. We insulate our rooms and houses, winterize cars, and prepare lawns, yards and fields for the cold winter months.
Deeper reflection is an inevitable byproduct of winter, and it is during our practices that the November full moon, known to native Americans as the beaver full moon, is also a forgiving moon. Robert Penn Warren once wrote: “You are alone with the alone, and it is His move.” In my heart and mind, I always alter this line, changing His to Her because the earth and the unknowable are ruled by The Divine Feminine.
Just this week I have met Her in all Her power and glory. This moon coincides with the earthly birthday of my own divine Goddess. In order to please her, I offered my beaver-like services, which she gladly accepted, sending me to work winterizing her yard. It is a yard of beautiful, mature plants and trees, and she charged me with trimming and clean up chores I felt quite capable of accomplishing. I worked steadily in the gloomy cold, making progress that made me feel good about myself until I was startled by an audible groan behind me. She stood there staring at the bush I was trimming. “Not that one!” She cried. “What are you doing!” Suddenly, I felt two inches tall. I apologized over and over, feeling awful. An hour later, I forgot the time of a hair appointment, which made us both late, and soon my beloved suffered symptoms of a migraine. Had my mistakes brought that on, too? I had begun the day with the beaver-like best of intentions, but I’d failed miserably over and over.
But my partner’s reaction surprised me. It surprised me because she forgave me and did so sincerely. When she came outdoors later on and gently touched my arm and smiled, I felt we had climbed over a barrier together. As I continued to work through the day, I realized that during this reflective moon period, it is natural that we feel and extend compassion to one another. Our inner landscapes can intensely mirror the world at this time. The view can be bleak, even scary. After all, these are the months when Demeter wails and Persephone spends her allotted season in the Underworld—one more literal deal with the Devil that women have been forced to make for centuries. The cold and dark can dramatize inherited and self-made shadows, the guilt, confusion and fear in a person’s heart. But the diligent among us will know the season for what it is—an opportunity to strip down bare, clear inner obstacles, and learn the lessons of patience and calm abiding. Somewhere deep down we know that spring is coming, just not yet.
This Beaver moon is perfect for deepening one’s meditation practice. It is also prime listening time. The beaver slows down in his labor, then rests. Even the watchman spends more time indoors in winter, and much can be achieved by taking advantage of the opportunity to listen to messages of pity and forgiveness from The Divine Feminine. She gathers her strength, wisdom and leadership during this moon. She nests and abides. She understands and forgives. Bow down to her. Lean into her. Lean into the thickness of the days and nights, and allow yourself to become a being that is less about striving, more about surviving, more about evolving.
Here is a poem by Wallace Stevens that celebrates the better angels of our nature.
The moon is the mother of pathos and pity.
When, at the wearier end of November,
Her old light moves along the branches,
Feebly, slowly, depending upon them;
When the body of Jesus hangs in a pallor,
Humanly near, and the figure of Mary
Touched on by hoar-frost, shrinks in a shelter
Made by the leaves, that have rotted and fallen;
When over the houses, a golden illusion
Brings back an earlier season of quiet
And quieting dreams in the sleepers in darkness—
The moon is the mother of pathos and pity.
© 2012 Robert McDowell