Moon Festival

My favorite holiday is that of the Oriental Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, which is occurring in a few days on September 15. The Moon Festival has been celebrated in Asian countries for at least 3,000 years.  In September of each year the moon comes closest to the earth, which makes it the brightest and most beautiful lunar spectacle of the year.  If you’re the sort of person who is always trying to find ways to bring beauty into your life, you need to make some time in your life to commune with the moon.

I always celebrate my lunar festival with a nice pot of tea (Lapsang Souchong for me this year), and some treats.  Traditionally at their Moon Festivals the Chinese would consume mooncakes made with sugar, egg yolks and lard, which sound about as delectable as boiled suet pudding.  Here in the 21st century we could do with something a little less stolid.  This year I’m planning on frozen peach yogurt (homemade of course), along with the tea.  All of which will be a perfect accompaniment to the anticipated lunar enchantment.  And the enchantment is what matters.  You can never get enough of the moon.  If you are the sort of person who never bothers to notice the moon, or meditate with the moon, or absorb the moon’s energies into your being, you have my sympathy.  You don’t know what you’re missing.  Contemplation of the moon’s enchanted glow can give us one of the most sublime sensations we can experience in our lives.

But is that supposed to matter?  What the heck are you supposed to get out of this, anyway?  Some kind of stupendous mystical revelation from all that moonlight getting shoved into your eyes?  Well, British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins believed that if you look at something with enough careful attention, you will sense that it is gazing back.  Said he:  “What you look hard at seems to look hard at you.”  Good mystical visionary that Hopkins was, he would have been able to tell is whether or not something non-human was actually gazing back at him.

All of which means that if you actually do make some time in your life to
gaze at the moon with care and attention, then …

Balsamic Moon

I learned a long time ago that if you arrange your life according to the energies of the moon, you live a much more harmonious and successful existence. I am always conscious of the cycles of the moon and try to direct my energies according to the current phase. And I always start new projects at the Balsamic Moon. This moon is the last crescent moon visible in the early morning sky at the end of the lunar cycle–it occurs about three days before the New Moon. Traditionally the Balsamic moon is the best time to plant seeds. I’ve also learned that it is the best time to focus your energies on what you hope to accomplish during the next four weeks.

One thing I do at each Balsamic moon is randomly select a dharana from the Vijnana Bhairava centering scripture, and I meditate on this scripture throughout the next moon cycle (all the dharanas are online at Spiritual Learning). If you read through these scriptures all at once, they don’t seem too impressive, but if you just take one at a time, memorize it, meditate with it, and spend time thinking about it as you go through your days, you will discover that it can work wonders in your psyche.

This morning is Balsamic Moon for July, and as luck would have it today I chose dharana #33:

Gracious one, play the universe as an empty shell wherein your mind frolics infinitely.

I know I’m going to have some difficult moments in the next moon cycle since my dog needs surgery, but I’m very glad that I picked this dharana. It is one of the most joyful I’ve yet discovered, and I know it will help to sustain me during the next few weeks.