When Night Holds Sway


November 14, 2016 at 5:53am PST /

Sun and Moon opposed at 22°38' Scorpio/Taurus

At twilight for the last few nights, flashlight in hand, I've walked down through the garden to the chicken coop to remove two delinquent hens from nest boxes that are supposed to be used only for laying eggs. The evidence of this new, unauthorized sleeping habit are boxes littered with poo the next morning.

When you build a chicken coop there are a few important things to keep in mind. Discovered over time and experience by generations past, they help support desired chicken behavior. The roosts, or perching poles, for one, need to be installed at a certain height, importantly higher than the nest boxes so as to discourage their use as a cozy nook for the night. Despite this attention to detail however, Dora, one of our Dutch Wellsummers, and Roxy, a big White Rock hen, have begun a recent rebellion against our careful design. And so I have a new nightly chore, and one I'll have to repeat each evening until they get the message and rejoin their better behaved sisters.

But as it is with many bothersome tasks in life, there are unanticipated benefits. And the timing of my new nightly errand coincided with a waxing gibbous moon rising as I made my way down to the coop. And after dealing with my two rebels, instead of rushing back up the hill to start dinner, I sat in the garden for a spell to admire, through a small rift in the trees, the rising queen of the night. Pausing there, I was further gifted by a pair of little screech owls who make their home somewhere secret in the woods below the house, and regularly visit the garden, searching for the unwary mouse. At home in the dark night, they called to each other in a characteristic "ball bouncing to a standstill" cadence: hooo-hooo-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho. Their visit reminded me of a lovely thought that sprang from the beautiful mind of the late Irish poet John O'Donohue, "When the night holds sway and the forest becomes free of strangers, Beauty comes."

"When we devote some calm time to the heart and come off the treadmill of stress and distraction, we can enter into the beauty within. Each of us can prepare for that inner arrival; where 'night holds sway' and the inner forest becomes 'free of strangers.'"

— John O'Donohue

At this time of year here in the north, fast approaching winter solstice, the lengthening night certainly does "hold sway." We lose the Sun, hanging lower in the sky each day, but in compensation, at the same time, we gain the Moon. For each month's Full Moon, from equinox to solstice, shines from a higher and higher perch, scattering its moody, silver-grey light over the cold, quiet earth.

* * *

TOMORROW'S FULL MOON falls in "drink-in-the-here-and-now" Taurus, whose strength lies in a steadfast ability to plod on: to remain stable in the face of chaos and disorder. An earthy, nature-loving sign with a "hobbity" knack for finding peace and beauty wherever she can find it (and no matter how depressing the news), these Taurean life skills comprise the collective homeopathic remedy we sorely need right now. In particular, here in America in the fresh turbulent wake of one of the worst, most corrupt, ethically bankrupt Presidential campaign cycles ever, one in which we ALL LOST.

But life often has to get really bad, God-awful actually, before enough of us are shaken out of our cozy slumber. An unfortunate truth, and of course, not just for Americans. Indian writer and activist, Arundhati Roy, perfectly, inspiringly describes the point at which we, ALL Earthlings, collectively stand:

"Perhaps things will get worse and then get better. Perhaps there's a small god up there in heaven readying herself for us. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. Maybe many of us won't be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing."

— Arundhati Roy, War Talk

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Taurus Full Moon Trine Pluto: Avarice and the Violation of Beauty

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till."

— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Many of the ills of modern contemporary life are related to a fundamental crisis about the nature of beauty, John O'Donohue maintains in his book, Beauty, the Invisible Embrace. When we contemplate the connection between the lack of real beauty and the sorry state of human affairs, perhaps for the first time, we can see just how much ugliness we allow and endure in our lives. "Much of the stress and emptiness that haunts us," O'Donohue wrote, "can be traced back to the lack of attention to beauty." Avarice and greed, compensating for a lack of beauty and love, often stems from a hollow and misguided attempt to grasp at and possess beauty or love or money — to fill a void that can never be filled. On a collective level, this insatiable hunger for more and more is bringing about a destruction of the environment such that we are turning Beauty, our earthly paradise, into a wasteland.

AT THIS FULL MOON in Taurus trine "truth-serum" Pluto, AND a "Super Moon" (Full Moon at perigee, closest point to Earth in its cycle) to boot, the cosmic reflection for us all is: How can we cultivate true inner peace and beauty? while at the same time not turn our backs on life? How can contentment be found, faith and hope maintained, despite the ever-present ugly realities?

"The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget."

— Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living



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O'Donohue, John. Beauty, the Invisible Embrace. New York: Harper, 2004.

Roy, Arundhati. The Cost of Living. London: Flamingo, 1999.

————. War Talk. Cambridge: South End Press, 2003.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Return of the King. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1955.

The moody photo of the moonlit forest is from this site.

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