The Moon's symbolism exactly opposes, complements and balances that of the Sun. The Sun is all spirit, the masculine principle, and the Moon is all soul, the feminine principle. The Sun rules the individual, and the Moon rules the collective, crowds, and groups of people generally. With no light of its own, the Moon simply reflects the light of the Sun. In this sense, the Sun is the active, or Yang principle, and the Moon is the passive, or Yin principle. As the Earth's satellite, the monthly cycle of the Moon is intimately connected to the tides, the growth cycle of plants and to all biological and emotional rhythms. At the full Moon emotions are heightened, we dream more, consume more alcohol, take more drugs, and even bleed more freely.
Audience: I work as a midwife, and things get very interesting around the time of the full Moon! We always have higher rates of caesarean sections and bleeding, and we always have an extra midwife on duty at the full Moon.
Clare: That's actually a deliberate policy?
Audience: Yes, and although I don't know of any research to support this, we have our own thesis.
Clare: I have also heard that more police are put on duty at these times, because there are more crimes, more violence and emotional explosiveness. So we can say that there are some very obvious connections between the lunar cycle and our collective emotional behaviour. This doesn't seem to be something we can control; we are caught up in it and affected by it.
Physically, the Moon rules the fluids in the body and the lymphatic system, as well as all the body's containers, such as the stomach, the womb, the bladder and the breasts. The Moon rules food, and the stomach and the breasts are connected with being fed and with feeding, the taking in and the giving out of nourishment. Looking at the list of planetary correspondences, the Moon is silver where the Sun is gold. The Moon rules watery fruits and vegetables which are round and pale, such as the cauliflower. It rules nocturnal creatures, whereas the Sun rules diurnal creatures. When it comes to people and professions, the Moon rules women generally, and anyone involved in the caring professions: cooks, caterers, hoteliers, housewives, midwives, nurses as well as fishermen and other professions connected with the sea. The Moon also rules historians and genealogists because it is concerned with the past, with history, origins and ancestors. In the mundane world it rules children's homes, old people's homes, boats and ports.
Moon myths are goddess myths in all their diversity. Unlike the masculine, which is single, clear and straightforward, the feminine, lunar principle is multiple, complex and changeable, like the changing phases of the Moon itself. The many triple goddess myths in our Western tradition describe the lunar cycle and the three faces, or ages, of the feminine. From the three Fates who spin the web of life, the three Graiai and the three Gorgons in the Perseus myth, to the three Marys in the Old Testament and the three witches in Macbeth, threeness is so embedded in the mythology of the feminine that even today people tend to react with some trepidation to the sight of three women together.
The triple goddess myths also reflect the phases of the Moon. The young Moon in its waxing phase is represented by the huntress Artemis or Diana, the virgin goddess of the forests, elusive, mysterious and fiercely independent, guardian of children and childbirth. The earth goddess Demeter or Hera represents the mature, full Moon phase of woman as mother, provider and carer. This is the socially sanctioned face of the feminine, fertile and nurturing. The waning, third phase of the Moon is represented by Hecate, the wise woman or crone, women past child-bearing age. Eventually the Moon disappears altogether into the darkest and most terrifying phase of its cycle, personified by the goddesses who rule over life and death itself, such as Lilith, destructive and vengeful, or Persephone, who holds the keys to the gates of the underworld and acts as guide to the souls of the dead.
Audience: You said there were three phases of the Moon, but aren't there actually four?
Clare: Yes, you are right. The fourth phase is actually the 'no Moon' phase, which is sometimes called the dark or black Moon phase. It occurs around the time of the new Moon, and describes the fearful and terrifying face of the feminine. The black Moon phase is devouring and malevolent, ruling nightmares and black magic. It explains the collective fear of the feminine which has led to thousands of 'witches' being drowned or burned at the stake. So you can see that the lunar symbol is full of paradox and that's as it should be because it reflects the nature of the feminine.
The alchemical Moon, called Luna, from Chymica vannus (1666)
by Joannes de Monte-Snyders. Luna in alchemical symbolism is many things, but most importantly she is the metal Mercury in female form, representing the volatile primal substance which conceals the secrets of nature.
Psychologically the Moon rules our moods, which tend to have a life of their own. They are changeable. Moods are stronger at night; we are generally much more suggestible, much more intuitive at night. Night is mysterious and fearful. Most of us will have had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night feeling fearful, overwhelmed and confused, and it is not until the light returns at dawn that things become clear again and straightforward. This would be an example of experiencing the difference between the opposing but balancing lunar and solar principles.
Astrologically, the Moon rules the past, our childhood and our basic instinctual needs and habits. The Moon describes what we need in order to feel safe and nurtured and protected. The Moon in a chart describes how we experienced our mother, how we were nurtured, cared for and fed. And of course there is a very strong connection between food and mood. It is not unusual to hear someone say: 'I was so angry/upset/miserable/lonely that I went to the fridge and ate everything in it.' There is a strong lunar connection to eating disorders, which have to do with not having our needs fulfilled, feeling emotionally starved and vulnerable. These kinds of issues are very complex because they operate from the instinctual depths which drive us.
A distorted Moon or lunar principle can manifest in childish demands for attention or self-destructive regressive tendencies and habits; or in a clinging over-dependence, an overwhelming need to live through or for others, and the activation of the 'psychic vampire' which leaves everyone with whom the individual comes into contact feeling drained and exhausted. Eventually, of course, every child needs to learn to feed itself, and we need to learn to feed and nurture our own Moon. Only then can we be full enough to provide emotional support for others. Although this is a very simple point, it is not uncommon for us to starve ourselves emotionally in one way or another, with the result that we become emotionally demanding, self pitying and resentful. But the Moon's placement in our birth charts indicates how we can and must learn to nurture ourselves in order restore our innate receptivity, responsiveness and sensitivity to ourselves and to others and find a loving and compassionate reconnection to our instinctual natures and to our own souls. What it is that makes us feel nurtured and safe will depend entirely on the sign in which the Moon falls, and will be very different for different people.
Audience: If you follow astrology and you know that the full Moon is going to be particularly relevant to your own chart, is there anything you can do to prepare for it?
Clare: Working psychologically, if we sense that an impending full Moon is likely to bring our personal and emotional issues to a head, we could decide to 'go with the tide' and find a way in which the emotional heights can be experienced positively. How we do this would depend on our own personal Moon placement, but it might be appropriate to attend a dramatic and emotional opera or play or to take a day off work and visit the seaside, or go for a long walk or have a massage. Using the lunar energy in this way might mean that we can avoid a messy and distressing argument at home, or a crisis at work which suddenly seems to erupt for no reason.
Audience: Can I just ask you something which I have never understood? If your Sun is in Cancer, then that means you are ruled by the Moon, and everything about the Moon is the opposite of the Sun. I don't understand.
Clare: It is helpful to take this slowly, because the planet tells us 'what' and the sign tells us 'how'. So the Sun describes our personal identity, and because this is in the sign of Cancer, which is ruled by the Moon, we know that your personal identity will be expressed in lunar ways, perhaps by caring for others, or nurturing children, or working in a kindergarten, or cooking or running a hotel or in any area ruled by the Moon.
Audience: Yes, I can understand that. But if you have four planets in Leo and nothing else in Cancer, would you still be a lunar type because the Sun is in Cancer?
Clare: Well, you would say the core centre of your being is lunar and, even though that may not become the centre of your consciousness for years and years while you are off living the other signs because you have many planets in other signs, nevertheless at the end of the day, when you come home to yourself and to the centre of your unique personal solar identity, this will be lunar.
Audience: My Sun is at 0º 04' minutes of Leo. It seems as if I am absolutely split between the two signs of Cancer and Leo.
Clare: Not really. Your Sun is in Leo. It has finished with Cancer and moved into Leo. As a matter of interest, was your birth a natural one?
Audience: I think so. I know it took a long time.
Clare: I wonder what you were waiting for?
Clare: Yes, I think this often happens. You were waiting to be a Leo.
Audience: I'm still waiting!
Copyright ©2005 by Clare Martin.
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