I have observed the Moon since I was a little girl, and always fantasized on it. The Moon seemed like a magic, guiding and protecting entity. I’ve also been a huge Sailor Moon fan ever since, and that’s probably were my love for the universe started. When I found myself away from home and in lockdown, I observed the Moon to discover if my feelings were the same as in my home in Italy.
The Moon as a magical entity
Elen Hawke analyses the Moon and its phases by the magic and myths associated with it. She describes deities associated with each phase and what activities you can do to propitiate the best effects in your life. These include meditation, burning incense, starting new projects. Hawke draws from Wiccan practices to suggest activities that will allow you to benefit from the full power of the Moon. Although I did not study or embrace Wicca, I found Hawke’s suggestions over a full Moon cycle intriguing. However, I felt my apartment wasn’t the right place to try some. As if I became estranged from nature, I needed to rebuild a connection with it. For the first time I spent long periods without little contact with nature, with circadian rhythms messed up due to shift work.
Only then will I be able to fully enjoy the practices she describes in her book. My mother and I use to burn incense or take time to enjoy tea when I’m in Italy. In Germany I felt that the pace of living is different and didn’t allow me to appreciate the little things. Instead, I’ve been watching videos from The Green Witch (video below) and The Cottage Fairy to feel at peace and keep a piece of nature in the back of my mind. Now that I’m home again, I started to walk every morning. Taking pictures of flowers and cats, I can’t wait to see the Moon again.
My vision of the Moon sometimes is rather whimsical. It probably reflects the more playful aspect of my personality, the one wondering over various aspects of nature. In the past year I gravitated towards practices that allow yourself to align with the natural cycles to live a more authentic life.
It was easier to imagine characters from folktales in my hometown in Italy. Every now and then some deer jumps out of the woods or some fox calls. There, as a child, I recreated the magic of those stories, as the ambiance of the tales is similar. I was waiting for the full Moon to see the rabbit making mochi, as told in Japanese folktales. Even from the city I could imagine white rabbits making mochi and enjoying it, as all around was quiet and sleepy.
The Moon as guiding and inspiring goddess
Growing up reading Greek mythology, to me the Moon and goddess Artemis are one. Illuminating the streets at night with the moonlight, she was considered the protector and guide of travellers, especially in the woods. However, on moonlit nights the woods are populated by animals: hares, deers, foxes, wild boars and bears; for this Artemis was also the goddess of the hunt.
Accompanied by the wood nymphs, the Dryads, and followed by dogs, she walked through the woods, wearing a short dress, bow and quiver. She hunted the beasts, but she loved them and protected them, and woe to those who unduly slaughtered them.
As I had to make an important decision, the Moon sometimes represented someone to speak to. A goddess empowering me to decide with autonomy, not distracted by others’ opinions. For Jean Shinoda Bolen, Artemis is the female archetype that guides women in cultivating their self-sufficiency and personal fulfilment. In pursuing with idealism and determination the causes in which they believe, often close to the principles of feminism and the protection of minorities. She guides a woman in her personal fulfilment, in being able to feel good alone with herself and nurture an interest in areas of her choice. In sustaining a woman in exploring uncontaminated territories, whether of a physical or intellectual nature, and in seeking interest and involvement in an area, a cause or a discipline.
The energy of Artemis is what makes women proud of their self-sufficiency, allowing them to protect it from the
invasions of others. I’ve always proud myself on being self-sufficient and independent, especially as an expat. I can rely on myself in most occasions, and have the guide of the Moon to help me do so.
Artemis is the personification of the independent female spirit. She represents the sense of integrity, of completeness. The value of a woman does not depend on who she is with, but on what she is and can do. Artemis’ ability as an archer makes her the archetype of a woman who sets herself a goal and reaches it; therefore she represents the ability to realize our own projects. A woman who finds satisfaction in being fully herself, free and self-sufficient, in fighting for what she believes in and in contact with nature, which represents the wildest part of us.
This is what we should aspire to be.
The Moon as a link between humans and nature
After observing the Moon consistently, I started to be more aware of the gap between me and nature. In the past years we witnessed one of the scariest aspects of he duality between humans and nature. Our society, founded on the certainty of having finally dominated nature, is facing its devastating power. We ignore problems as global warming and pollution, that should instead remind us to live in harmony with and respect nature.
Being aware of the rupture between man and nature provides us with an important key of interpretation and action; we can no longer look at nature as something to be submitted and bend to our will, but we must learn to live with it, to respect its rhythms and limits, to use our technology not only to meet our immediate needs, but also to preserve the environment in which we live.
So I once again turned to Eastern mythologies in search for stories closely linked to nature. The Japanese Tale of the bamboo cutter tells the story of Kaguya, princess of the Moon. Descended on Earth, she is found by a bamboo cutter after she took the form of a little girl. The princess spent her childhood in total freedom, in close contact with nature. One day, without warning, her father brought her to the capital; his intent was to enhance her extraordinary beauty and offer her the possibility of a happy existence. In the city, Kaguya’s life, initially lively and carefree, changed radically and she became unhappy. She refused to marry the emperor, and went back to the Moon to reunite with her folk.
Mio Bryce and Jason Davis describe this tale as an hymn to find simplicity in the beauty of small things. In this myth, nature has a very strong symbolic meaning, and it is truly present when its absence is total. The young princess, locked up within the luxurious walls of her prison, remembers nature with painful nostalgia, dreams about it, longs for it.
Princess Kaguya finds true happiness in the little things that make her feel part of this planet, one with its beauty, but also with the tragic nature of the cycles of its seasons, that would eventually lead to her return to the Moon. Sharing Princess Kaguya’s feelings is a result of the current situation and lack of freedom. Yet freedom is one of my core values, so I need to reconnect to that part of me that wants to embrace nature and simple things.