This past Friday night, in the middle of the night, the moon was at her newest (darkest) in her cycle. I was restless, dreaming of water and, vividly, two huge water rhinos chasing me around a lake.
As human beings mostly made of water, we are affected by the pull of the tides the moon generates. We notice—subconsciously at least—the extra light in the night sky during a full moon, and the deep dreaming darkness of a new moon night. We tend to want to sleep more and feel more tired during the new moon, while the full moon shines a light on what lives in the dark: if you’ve been hiding something, from yourself or someone else, the full moon may very well reveal it.
There is a drawing inward during the new moon, and a pulling outward during the full. Perhaps partly for this reason, many babies are drawn out on their small rivers during the full moon pull, along with the blood tides of menstruation. Yogis don’t call it “moon time” just to be poetic.
Within yoga mythology, the goddess of the moon is Lalita Tripura Sundari, which means “she who is lovely in the three worlds.” The three worlds are consciousness, unconsciousness and the dreaming state. She presides over what we know and what we don’t know that we know.
Lalita has 16 manifestations for each phase of the moon through the 16 nights of a cycle from new to full. I learned from Eric Stoneberg in one of his courses on Rajanaka Tantra yoga and the Nityas, or Eternal Moon Phase goddesses, that new moon night is the night of Kameshvari, whose name means “Always Empowering Desire.”
For this reason and others, it’s traditional to set intentions during the New Moon. It’s a fresh start, a chance to look at what we truly want, and hope to create that as the moon waxes towards full.
There’s something about the darkness and loneliness of the new moon night that was especially striking to me this time around. Knowing that the moon was probably blasted off the Earth a long time ago when a meteor hit and got her stuck in eternal orbit, I wondered if she ever feels desire for what used to be her body. I wonder what she feels as she moves the water, if she ever wishes she could touch, as she tosses and turns in her night cycles.
This episode of Radiolab is a reading of Italo Calvino’s imaginative story about what life would have been like when the moon was close enough to touch: “The Distance of the Moon.”
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Ed: Brianna Bemel