A Leo New Moon slips into full shade just before sunrise this Thursday morning. It also happens to fall on Lammas Day or Lughnasadh, the ancient, North European festival situated at the mid point between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox. The festival traditionally signaled the start of the harvest season, was often linked to gathering grain, storing it safely for winter and the baking of bread.
In the quaint market town of Godalming, Surrey, just south of Staines in the UK, lie the Lammas Lands, a picturesque acreage of grassy, flood plain meadows bordering the meandering River Wey, around which the town was built. The Lammas Lands are still classified as common grazing where denizens of the town can herd their livestock - the name originating from the historic practice of taking a hay cut on, or by, Lammas Day after which cattle would be turned out to eat the fresh flush of grass that followed the hay cut.
There is a generous sheaf of deities associated with this time of fruitful abundance and a couple are worthy of a mention here. Ceres was the Roman goddess of agriculture, (grain most specifically) fertility and all things motherly. She bequeaths us the word 'cereal' providing the fundamental divine ingredient to one's daily dose of Coco Pops. The Celtic god Lugh (pronounced like Hugh) equated with the Roman deity Mercury, was the master of talents, skills and the arts. In essence an inspiring creative force, he masters multiple disciplines through clear communication of oaths, truth and law. This sun god of balmy, late summer evenings, whose beaming smile swells the ripe grain in Ceres' golden fields, is therefore worthy of a little human worship this week.
Astrologically, it should be noted that the planet Mercury finishes its current month long retrograde on Lammas Day/Lughnasadh itself, so good ole Lugh can finally party on in full sun god stylee without fear of censure. The significance for the rest of us Earth bound mortals is that from 1st August we can actively seek opportunities brought by travel, new contracts, projects, relationships, marriage and technologies with the resumption of Lugh's/Mercury's inspirational blessing of good communication.
Under this Leo New Moon we remain heavily in league with the ancestors - our wider historic family. Let's not forget that some of these forebears still live as our parents and grandparents. It's a great time this week to check in with our elders and communicate gratitude for their position and influence in the tribe (even if that occasionally comes through gritted teeth). Relationships with our parents are key to our own progress in life and the manifold issues that arise are ignored at our cost. Those issues, however uncomfortable, are often our quickest route to self-awareness and once addressed (if not necessarily 'solved') can prevent habitual karmic patterns from being passed down to future generations.
Our elders, as they confront their inevitable mortality, want to continue to feel valued as contributors to society's present, not just its past. The best way we can engender that feeling is to genuinely find value in what older folk still have to offer. Surveys have shown that after the anxiety of avoiding pain, the greatest fear most of us will have upon approaching old age and death, is of being forgotten. In engaging fully with our olds we can provide assurance that they still have a meaningful contribution to make to our present moment, which in turn will be passed on to succeeding generations.
And let's not forget that some of us are the immediate ancestral link to our own children. This would be a great week to check in with the young 'uns. To take genuine interest in their lives and to find value in their opinions and outlook. As Whitney Houston memorably once mused, "I believe that children are our future....." and, as a matter of course, our kids will determine a future for their own nippers. As adults or parents, largely convinced of the righteousness of our own perspectives, opinions and beliefs, we would be well advised to find a position of loving, non judgemental curiosity when engaging with our children and young people in general. Heaven forbid, they may even have something to teach us about the gratuitously consumptive lifestyles most of us promote by example. This would be a great week to go out clubbing or pubbing with da local family youf, or at least engage with young people in their own social environments in order to refresh our own.
Then there's the ancestors no longer with us but who, according to many wisdom traditions, still walk alongside us in spirit during our fleeting lifespans in human form. These giants, upon whose shoulders we stand, are forgotten at our peril, not theirs. This is a propitious week to check in with the souls we have loved that departed this mortal coil before us. We miss them and it's a good exercise in mental health to express that openly in tears every now and again. The ancestors are our link to the lessons of the past: the inspiration that gave rise to the great leaps of civilized human progress but also the distortions that led to the aberrations of war and genocide. Perhaps, most importantly, they provide a link to the notion of another world, that of Spirit - the deathless, unifying non physical essence that runs through everything in existence.
From a perspective confined purely to the material, we limit the spectrum of possibilities for our own understanding and growth. As discussed in Mooning Monthly 75 (link here) to deny Spirit is as good as denying ourselves the quickest, most effective route to well being and happiness. In many indigenous wisdom traditions, access to Spirit lay with the ancestors, often seen as guardians of the living. As a mortal, one had to cultivate an openness in order to ask for guidance and effectively receive an answer. There were rituals (still available) designed to contact the ancestors and commune on common spiritual territory - a check in with the dead as it were. Cultivating an attitude of openness or allowance to a wider unknown experience of life aligns us with the innate intelligence of existence. We develop a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. We discover our purpose as an inextricable part of the unified whole that exists solely in the eternal present moment or 'now'.
Whether we call that intelligence Spirit or Consciousness; Ch'i, Prana or Love, different wisdom traditions from across the planet commonly recognise it as our own eternal nature, our inherent connection with everything beyond the world of identified separate forms. They are names we humans have given to the nameless, above and beyond the little nametags that help to define who we think we are and yet.......that ineffable, indescribable name is ours. It is us. It is what we are. To call on Spirit, by any name, is to check in with the Self, the wider unified field in which we all play an invaluable, equal part. Apparently it's all in the maths (interesting science article on Unified Field Theory here)
We here at Mooning HQ hope we haven't alienated our readers with this sudden dip into slightly abstract Mooning philosophy. We realise these assertions challenge most of what we have been conditioned to think about our lives from childhood. Generally speaking, we don't like to critically examine the things we believe we know, particularly if those beliefs are consequently exposed as a pack of lies. It hurts. However, the intended purpose of Mooning does not lie solely in a desire to bare a metaphoric naked arse to the inescapable labels of circumstance with which we define ourselves. In challenging social norms that degrade ourselves and our precious planet (served up to us in a fetid daily plate of elitism, nationalism and consumerism; patronising, sexist, racist, violent 'entertainment'; fabricated news and social media; outdated, proselytising education, religion and politics) Mooning aims to access alternative nourishment, informed by the faint but fragrant scent of self-awareness.
in seeking self-awareness, we Mooners search for truth. It can be most regularly observed in the present moment, emptied of thought or judgement and, as one becomes familiar with the state, progressively turns that distant fragrance into the sweetest of perfumes capable of permeating even the stinkiest of circumstances.
But how in practical terms, in this busy, busy, distraction filled world, do we find our way to that state and, indeed, the present moment? Under this super familial, abundant Leo New Moon we intend to harvest one of our most potent, distracting but omnipresent fruits of technology - the mobile phone.
Here's the plan (and something of a social experiment):
Let's check in with ourselves just before we input our passcode or pawprint, every time we compulsively reach to check our messages throughout the day.
We check in by concentrating solely on our physical and emotional state in the present moment. In attentive observation of our state of being, to the exclusion of other distracting thought and activity, we quieten the mind's incessant chatter and reacquaint ourselves with a calming state of presence. With phone in hand but as yet unlocked, we can help the check in process by asking ourselves a couple of specific questions:
How do I physically feel in this moment? Tired? In pain? Energised? Cold? Maah? More than one? etc.... What are the physical sensations that attend that state? Discomfort? Alertness? Specific twitches? Inability to sit still? Sensitivity? What is the breath doing? etc.... Concentrate solely on those sensations to the exclusion of all other thought for 10 -15 seconds.
Then, what is my emotional state in this moment? Content? Angry? Excited? Frustrated? Loved up? Bored? A confusing mix? etc.... What are the sensations that attend that state of being? Tensions? Thrills? Warm relaxation? Palpitations? Enthusiasm? Nausea? Bliss? etc.... Concentrate solely on those sensations to the exclusion of thought for 10 - 15 seconds.
NOTE: It's important not to beat ourselves up if thoughts pop up to distract us, even in such a short activity. We should simply acknowledge the distracting thought and return our concentration to the sensations in our body in the present moment. The process requires patience but becomes easier and more natural with regular practice. A check in need only take 20 - 30 seconds if done effectively before logging in to our device and attend to the sociability of our so called 'friends' ...lols. As the week progresses you may wish to linger longer in your check in, particularly at the start and end of the day to see what crops up.
Potential benefits: 1. We improve our ability to concentrate on what is actually happening in the present moment rather than being constantly distracted by thought. 2. We become more familiar with what it feels like to be present in the moment. 3. We gain regular insight into our state of being, improving the vital loving relationship we should have with ourselves - ultimately our most important voyage of self discovery 4. Regular insight naturally develops greater self awareness enabling us to examine our habitual, reactionary behaviour and change it if we want 5. A more relaxed, non-judgemental attitude may develop as a result of continued practice of self observation 6. We might reach for our mobile phones less often because we don't want to do yet another frickin' check in.
Let's give it a good go this week Mooners. A simple pause in our regular patterns of thought, word and action can provide a space in which to access and engage with our wider sense of Self. What's to lose? We may even find we like ourselves.
The greatest love of all is easy to achieve Learning to love yourself Is the greatest love of all
Whitney Houston - 1985 (George Benson originally recorded this song for the film soundtrack "The Greatest" in 1977. The film is a biography of Muhammad Ali, where the great man played himself.)