Sun Up, Sun Down - The Spirituality of Natural Cycles
Once while standing in line at a book store I overheard two elders discussing something that had one of the men rather alarmed. Upon hearing much excitement and apparent reasons to worry fly from the mouth of his friend, the other man replied simply, "sun up, sun down." The excited man again exclaimed how truly dreadful the situation was, but his friend replied again, just as emphatically, "sun up, sun down." For about 15 minutes this exchange went on. And the little old man with his own brand of wisdom was resolute... no matter how bad it seems, there are certain inevitabilities. If it is bad, it will always get better. Why stress? When there seems there is nothing that can be done, you can take refuge in the knowledge that things will shift and new opportunities will present themselves.
I love this idea. I loved the idea so much I had to find a way to ritualize the knowledge so that I could use it to get unstuck when I'm in either a literal or a mental rut. If you've studied Kemetic or some other Afrakan philosophical system, such as Ifa, you may have come across the three goddesses who preside over the phases of creation, dissolution and renewal. In Kemet they were known as Auset, Nebethet and Hetheru. Their Ifa correspondences are Yemaya, Oya and Oshun, respectively. Each has a part to play in the maintenance of the world, and in our personal lives.
Instead of being swept along by shifting events and "tides" (pun intended), I wanted to know how to get in the driver's seat. Enter, the moon. It goes through phases just as surely as my life does. Eventually I started to see how the events in my life were actually reflecting her phases.
During the waning moon I would get into arguments with my loved ones and I would usually find myself in a pretty nasty mood. Around the full moon I would feel lighthearted and optimistic, and sometimes very dreamy. This is due to the following influences:
New moon - Nun - Internalized
Occurs when the moon is dark, and invisible to the eye. Reborn from the waters of Nun, the moon is 'new,' refreshed, ready to begin another cycle. This is the time for planting seeds of intention, laying foundations. Often you will find yourself behind the scenes planning and getting yourself ready to begin whatever needs beginning in your life.
Waxing moon - Het Heru/Oshun - Renewal
Occurs during the transition from new moon to full moon. The moon is growing here, just as your seed intentions are growing. This is the phase where you need to focus on feeling joyous and optimistic about your intentions. This is a period of potentiality that must be nurtured and encouraged. Be happy, as though you have already attained your desire. Imagine it, fantasize about it, and recite corresponding hekau (mantras).
Full moon - Auset/Yemaya (Isis) - Creation
At this phase, the moon is full with potential and that potential is finally birthed. Here we reap the manifestation, the quality of which was determined largely based on the work we did during the waxing phase. Here we celebrate and show gratitude for what we have. If the manifestation is lacking or off in some way, we take note and prepare to make refinements during the coming waning moon. Along the way, if you pay attention to your dreams you will get glimpses of just what you are creating in your life. This allows you to make adjustments and feel even more joy at the anticipation of reaping the results.
Waning moon - Nebethet/Oya - Dissolution
Consists of the transition between the full moon to the new moon. This is where we face the disappointments and their causes. We take an honest assessment of our lives and of ourselves in order to understand what isn't working for us and needs to go. This is the phase of dissolution. Say goodbye with rituals of fire to purge the dead weight you've been carrying.
A Priestess of Oshun
With rituals and meditations geared to each phase I've found that my "witness" consciousness is able to analyze my experiences with clarity. I don't get so bent out of shape at the small things. Latching onto and getting in tune with the flow of nature makes me feel more in control of my life.
I hope you feel inspired to connect with the cycles around you. The goal, I think, is to begin to feel mastery over ourselves rather than feeling as though we are at the whim and mercy of the countless forces around us.
This concept of feeling oneness with nature is at the root of mother goddess worship. Through her ancient wisdom teachings, represented in many traditions (although sometimes badly altered or credited to others), we can see how to become empowered as co-creators with the divine.
It's quite a hefty subject, but I'll try to tackle it in next week's article. Be well and in full mastery.
Aunkh, Udja, Seneb,
Sekayi Khita Hetep
For further study and spiritual practice:
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Made of high quality cold-cast resin
6-7 inches apprx
Perfect for small places
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