As a grade school student, I listened with my whole heart and soul to what the nuns taught me. So, imagine my surprise when Sister Rosa, a nun who tended the convent grounds, warned us, a group of navy-blue-uniformed girls, about the dangers of the moon. We all stopped and stared. We felt she was going to impart great wisdom to us. We knew what she had to say was going to be life-changing. Sister Rosa had never spoken to us before.
Despite her petite and wiry frame, Sister Rosa gave the impression of great strength. She carried a sense of certitude and grave seriousness; she was well-wrinkled and deeply baked from years in the Texas sun. She spoke with a strong, foreign accent which gave her a complete air of mystery, and, oddly, supreme authority.
“Where,” she asked, “do you think the word ‘lunacy’ came from?” We were school kids, second graders, we had no idea. We just knew that lunacy meant being crazy and, for damn straight sure, we knew that we did not want to be crazy—ever.
“The word ‘lunacy’ comes from the Latin luna, meaning moon,” she said. Sister Rosa stood there in silence as she let her information slide into place. And then, as if lining up all of the chambers in a gun, Sister Rosa fired her ultimate salvo.
“Never look at the moon,” she cautioned, “for if you look at the moon, you will become a lunatic!” Sister Rosa underscored her words with her cautionary finger punctuating the air. She repeated her dictate and, as she rolled her eyes for emphasis, she also told us the tale of a woman from her homeland. This woman had gone crazy looking at the moon.
You could have heard a pin drop in the room. You could have also heard the penny drop in our minds as we scrambled to absorb this startling bit of information.
For a few minutes, I seriously considered Sister Rosa’s words as truth because the words made sense to me. Luna, lunatic, lunacy, it all added up, at least, etymologically speaking. And she personally knew the moon-looking crazy woman; that was hard to forget.
Nonetheless, I did forget. I did not take Sister Rosa’s words to heart. There was a slight thrill for the potential for a moon-induced lunacy, but that never came to pass. And I continued to love the moon.
In fact, I have an unabashed love affair with the moon. I find her peaceful, calm, consoling and outrageously beautiful. A one point or another, the moon has been my traveling companion, safe harbor and touchstone.
There is something about the moon that calls me.
Perhaps because the light is diffuse and soft and I can watch the moon show her many faces during the month, I find comfort and familiarity with the moon. I like that the moon changes; it reminds me that the world is not static. I am not static. It makes room for my own alterations. The moon tells us that change and shift, rotation and revolution are always possible.
Or perhaps it is because the moon awakens primal memories of rituals when the phases of the moon were honored and held in significance by earlier humankind. The moon seems to light the way of the ancients. It recalls forgotten times when the movements of nature were viewed as sacred and soulful. And humans were connected to the rhythms of the earth, sea and sky; all worked in tandem.
And the moon possesses a unique, one-of-a-kind magnetism and a mesmerizing quality that calls all of us at various points in our lives and in our loves and in our longings.
It is clear why the poets, artists and lyricists invoke the images of the moon and its lunar light. The moonlight can soften the harsher realities of the day. It can smudge the fine lines of worry and bring the relief of sleep and dreams. The moonlight can illuminate romance, beauty, intrigue or mystery. The moon can lead us home; the moon can conclude a day. It serves as a beacon of light within a swirl of night blue sky. It becomes a focal point in the darkness.
The gravitational tugs of the moon push and pull the tides of our oceans as well as our own deep waters. The moon speaks to our inner well springs of desires, what we choose to call in and what we choose to spit out; intentions and releases are our own push and pull of the moon.
Symbolically speaking, the moon is all about the Divine Feminine. It speaks to the silvery energies of receiving, holding, maintaining and birthing; energies that have been discarded in the competitive drives to be the best and have the most.
There are some people who gather to dance naked in the light of a full moon. Most of us catch a glimpse and stop our busy lives momentarily to take in the awesomeness of the moon’s fullness and to hang out in the spill of its shimmering incandescent light.
Moonlight is magical. Many a wondrous thing can happen under its canopy. Just the thought of those possibilities awakens my inner Puck.
Want to meet me under the moon tonight?
© Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D.