I was 10 years old when the moon first beckoned to me.
The call came in the guise of a homework assignment. Miss Lusk, my much-loved fourth grade teacher, told us one propitious day to go home and compose a poem. Even as she was speaking, it came to me in a flash—a lunar illumination, if you will—that I would not be writing a poem that night, but rather, receiving one.
It was perfectly clear to me that if I were to go outside alone in the middle of the night, my poem would come and it would be completely composed, sent special delivery directly to me. I knew this to be true. No doubt about it. This imperative mandate from the moon to me was completely irrefutable. Besides, the prospect was tantalizing, at once a promise and a dare.
I did all of my homework that evening except for writing a poem. It was thrilling to ignore an assignment. This was completely new naughty girl territory for me. What fun to flaunt the expectation that I would do as I was told. It was hard for me to refrain from composing, as writing was my favorite subject, and I adored Miss Lusk.
But I understood what I must do. I would stay awake until everyone was asleep, then sneak outside to find my poem. Simple, but absolutely stunning in its implications. This was 1955 and nice little girls—the tribe of whom I was a member in good standing—simply didn’t let themselves secretly out of the house to meditate in the moonlight.
Despite the daunting odds imposed by personality and convention, I did just that. For the first time in the life of this shy, painfully obedient child, my own inner prompting asserted its will. And I was impelled to follow, consequences not withstanding. I was possessed with a completely primal compulsion that was beyond thought or reason or experience, propelled forward by some ancient instinct of emergency spirit survival. I was buoyed by a sense of absolute rightness.
I itched all evening with the anticipation of my intended rebellion. I had much resolve and no reservation about the plan. My only concern was getting caught. But no matter.The moon is bigger than my mother, after all, and it obviously had something very important to tell me.
I recognized the beckoning song of my lunar muse and that my siren was singing to me. My job was to listen. To listen and learn. I didn’t once doubt that it was for my own good.Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli
So, at two o’clock in the morning, in my inaugural action as a conscious spiritual seeker, I tiptoed down the stairs and through the sleeping house. I opened the back door and stepped outside into the unknown forbidden night. Into the moonlight and the radiant magic of the moment. Into my newly found Self. Triumphant!
The back lit clouds. The silver-cast mist. The billion stars. The sacred silence. There I was, totally solitary and aglow, surrounded by the vast emptiness, the electric fullness, the complex choreographed swing of all time and space. Completely safe, embraced by the energy of the entire universe. Such a karmic calling carries with it a sense of assurance, of protection and conviction. That one small step for a girl was every bit as phenomenal as Neal Armstrong’s footfall on the moon. We both crossed the same crucial threshold toward cosmic consciousness.
It was my premiere epiphany. The moon was my temptress calling me out to play and I trusted the impulse to follow.
That alone, was a miracle. A bounding leap of faith. Had nothing further occurred, the elevation of trust and development of confidence in my own understanding of the way things are would have been empowering in and of themselves. As the Jewish Passover song Dayenu, says, “It would have been enough.”
But naturally, the poem did arrive. Intact and unbidden. I can only remember the first line any more, “As I lie beneath the sky, I look above and wonder why…” A perfectly respectable, if pedestrian, philosophical speculation in the time-honored tradition of sincere human contemplation. I snuck back inside smug with victory and the heady feeling of completing a writing project. Afraid to turn on the lights, I couldn’t see to put the poem on paper until morning. So I laid awake for the duration of the night committing it to memory.
But of course the poem was completely beside the point. What I received that night was a heady taste of personal response-ability and a newly discovered sense of self-determination that stands me in good stead to this day. That long-ago experience cemented my resolve and put me on my own unique path of self-expression. It was Donna Susan’s Commencement Ceremony, convened by the moon.
She whispered in my ear just what I needed to hear, “Come out. Come out, wherever you are.” I complied, and have been in Her thrall ever since.
Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, ritual expert, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. She has published four books, a CD, an acclaimed Ezine and writes for The Huffington Post, Beliefnet and UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum, and serves as a ritual consultant for the television and film industry. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion. You can find her at www.DonnaHenes.net and www.TheQueenOfMySelf.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.