Moon Lesson • Lasting Warmth to Melt the Snow
Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, Native American tribes of the north and east most often called February’s full moon the Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this moon as the Full Hunger Moon since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult.
Even today, February can feel like the longest month of the year despite being the shortest in number of days. February sweeps in after the winter holidays. So if you enjoy the holidays, February is when you notice the dip in magic and cheer. If the holidays are hard for you, February's harsh weather is the last thing you want to deal with. And let's not forget, in the U.S., we celebrate Valentine's Day in February. Just like the winter holidays, for some, Valentine's day is a treasured opportunity to cozy up with loved ones while for others it is a jab to the gut. So with all of this going on, how can we nestle into calm rather than spiral into deficit or depression? How can we use this Full Snow Moon to our advantage?
We're going to melt it (insert sly grin here).
To honor this moon cycle and all the modern trappings that come along with February, we're going to explore how you can use the delicate energies of your heart center to melt an icy situation, whether self imposed or external.
Let's look at the Eight Limbed Path and hone in on the Yama of Brahmacharya. Brahmacharya refers to how we "control our senses." The practice of brahmacharya is often centered around abstinence. But let's be real. Raise your hand if "gettin' some" is on the top of your list of priorities today. If it is, this journey may open your eyes to a new way to deepen your experiences and if it's not on your list, this journey offers perspective.
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We are sensual beings, meaning that we require use of our senses (sight, taste, sound, hearing, and touch) to survive. Yet, we are sorely lacking in the touch department. Touch activates oxytocin, a "feel good" hormone required for bonding. This is what helps a mother and child bond and it's also what heightens the affection between lovers. Studies have long ago proven that lack of touch leads to improper development of children, both emotionally and physically. Let me be clear, the need for touch doesn't just turn off because you've grown up. And yet our society continues to impress more boundaries around touch. So we are left craving "something" and are not quite sure what it is or how best to fill the void.
Let's start with intimacy. Your connection to your sensuality and a blooming sex life are so, so important for your health. Intimacy that speaks to your lower chakras (root, sacral, and solar plexus) and produces orgasm can boost your immune system, improve bladder control, lower your blood pressure, reduce risk of heart attack, improve sleep, reduce stress and get this...it counts as exercise. Boom! Intimacy that speaks to your upper chakras (throat, third eye, and crown) helps to release "feel good hormones", so you just feel brighter, lighter, connected and more balanced. Sexual stimulation, with or without a partner, has been proven to reduce lower back and leg pain, menstrual cramps, arthritic pain and even migraines. Your body truly is a wonder land!
All of that said, when it comes to touch, we tend to have enough sexuality, but we are starving from lack of sensuality. There is a space where the lower chakras and the upper chakras meet — the heart. This is where the real magic happens. And this is where our Journey through the Full Snow Moon begins.
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Look more closely at the difference between sexuality and sensuality with regard to touch. Sexuality is the energy of your second chakra – the sacral chakra. Deep, passion-fueled, kissing nurtures the sacral chakra. Sensuality, on the other hand, is about unconditional love and about a deep, intimate connection. It stems from a softening within the heart...it is bolstered by compassion rather than passion. Hugs, soothing rubs on the back, and holding hands are all sensual acts. You can be sensual with your friends, your family and even an absolute stranger, for whom you feel no desire at all. Yes, sensuality can lead to sexuality, but sensuality itself is not about sex. Re-learning to open your body to give and receive touch is a beautiful and healing practice.
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Consider the spirit of the Otter. The power of otter is in embracing the reality that you must take care of yourself first in order to share true intimacy with others. Side note: on my own personal journey, I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Over and over again. I understood it intellectually, but just couldn't give myself permission to act on it. Guilt. Conflict with notions of selfishness. Someone else's need always seemed more pressing than my own. The list was endless. Well, it wasn't until I chose to stop making the list and do the work I needed to do reshape my dialogue around self-love.
Otter reminds you to allow yourself the freedom and pleasure of relaxing and letting go of your daily concerns. Otter also reminds you to take stock of what is in your life right now and accept the balance of the "good" and the "bad", while not getting bogged down by what "isn't". Find joy and wonder in the small things that give you pleasure as an adult as well as revisit those that gave you pleasure as a child.
Relationships, healthy boundaries, and division of duties/labor are central to otter behavior. Otters are one of the rare animals that tend to mate for life (only about 3-5 percent of the animal kingdom do). Researchers are fascinated by this and some attribute this faithfulness to a respect for boundaries — the females and the males each have their own raft/den/territory. They are certainly not bothered by overlapping of territory, but they do respect each others' space.
Since human relationships don't always maintain such beautifully clean boundaries, we need to make the effort to continually define them. How do you create sacred space for yourself? I'm not suggesting you need a space that is uniquely separate from your loved ones. In fact, quite the opposite. Are you willing to make the ground you're standing on sacred? How about the chair you're sitting in? What about the car you drive? A bit of incense, a special hand-made pillow, a totem in your pocket. These small and intimate gestures carry weight. Showing up for yourself in these small ways are acts of self-love and a means of reclaiming space.
Now consider the Lover/Seductress archetype. The lover archetype represents a woman's most primal urge to connect and create. The "lover" represents a woman's erotic energy, and her capacity for psychic and physical creation. When this archetype is active in a woman's psyche, she feels compelled to fulfill both procreative and creative instincts. Her energy field is charged, and she becomes a magnet to those around her. The lover archetype inspires deep communication, intimacy, sensuality, and creativity.
Every culture has a goddess of love. Whether she goes by Venus, Aphrodite, Ochun, Ishtar, Aditi, Xochiquetzal, Hathor, Freya, Erzuli, Mami Wati, Yemanja, or Lakshmi — in every culture we find a mighty woman who is celebrated and revered for her erotic charge and creative power. The great goddesses represented femininity in its highest expression; intelligence, inner strength, emotional depth, eroticism, physical and psychic creation. We call this concept the sacred feminine (source: www.womenlovepower.com). And this is why I invite you to tap into the fierce Lover within you.
Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of love and good fortune, is called upon for harmony in relationships, wealth, beauty, power, fame, royalty, recognition, and regal grace.
According to Hindu myth, Lakshmi is born out of the churning of the ocean, seated on a blossoming lotus and surrounded with honeybees and the most fragrant flowers. She is the deep-seated beauty of the Self that gets buried by woundedness and must be churned through yoga practices to be reborn again. She is the landing pad of grace within you for every situation in life. She shows you how to turn your face to the golden sun and calls you home to wholeness.
Lakshmi, your Lover/Seductress archetype, and Spirit Otter provide a unique opportunity to explore brahmacharya, as I said, by going through the back door. Rather than turning away from your sensuality, create more pleasurable moments for yourself. Replenish your joy and rekindle your relationship with Sacred Feminine, one small act of self-Love at a time.
Moon Time Exploration
Joy – Primal Feminine Energy
This month, tweak your sensory centers. Adopt simple self care practices that turn you on. Spritz on a bit of perfume (smell). Enjoy the aroma of your coffee before you sip it (taste). Paint your toe nails a sexy shade of red (sight). Shave your legs even though it's winter (touch). Invite instrumental music into your day (hear). These are just examples. The practice is to do things that cultivate 'pure joy' and encourage you to fall in love with yourself again.
Continuing our journey through the senses, this season within our Thirteen Moons focuses on sound as a tool for healing. This month, our Journey Practice is about how to use words to make Love. Towards the end of the month will explore metta meditations, what they are, and how to use them. But today, you will begin with positive affirmations built around your purposefully Self-centered acts of intimacy.
Read through the entire exercise before beginning. Materials needed: your journal and a pen
5 min Journey Practice
When I Look at You, I See a Goddess
Look in the mirror. Really look. See yourself through loving eyes. Point out the things that you find beautiful about yourself. Don't be embarrassed. And do not shy away. Be fierce and full of conviction.
Choose your words with great care and say them out loud to your reflection. Notice your reactions, both the physical and the emotional. Any time you cringe or laugh with discomfort, offer yourself one more compliment. Any time you hear the negative mental chatter chime in with a "but" or a qualifier or a belittling comment, find one more thing to love about yourself.
Some examples. "You have beautiful eyes", "Your hair looks fantastic today", "I love the way that dimple lifts when you smile", "Your legs are strong", "Your hands are soft", "Your lips are inviting", "That scar is sexy", "Your hips look delicious", "Your ankles are cute", "Your ears are kissable", "Your shoulders, your eyebrows, etc". Pick yourself apart and put yourself back together, beautifully.
This is an exercise in rebuilding your sacred temple where you stand. It's about understanding that your body is already the perfect home for your Sacred Feminine. It's about projecting (yes, projecting...not protecting) the Goddess you are so as to command the space you require for your own mental health.
Compliment yourself each morning with as many positive affirmations as you can before starting your day. Ideally, you would do this each morning for the entire month. And yes, it's okay to repeat things that you love and admire throughout the month. That's the beauty of affirmations...the more you say them, the sooner you understand them to be Truth.
Want to Level up? Make the conscious effort to recognize an act of self-Love as you do it. Create an affirmation to support the act and remind yourself that you're not only worth it...you deserve it. Say it out loud. For example, while moisturizing. Notice the feeling of your hands on your body. The affirmation might be, "my skin is beautiful and deserves this special attention." While painting your toe nails, the affirmation might be, "my feet support my entire physical being and deserve this special attention. Playful colors make my feet feel happy and free."
Write in your journal about your Snow Moon journey. How was your morning mirror preview on day one? How about after a week? How about three weeks in? After a month? Did any affirmations continually show up day after day? If so, highlight those in your journal.
For those of you who enjoy Facebook, if you bump into an affirmation (not one that is for your ears and your practice only) but something floating around on FB, repost it as a gift for the Journey women in our private Facebook group this month.
Natarajasana is the pose dedicated to the Lord of Dance also known as Shiva, the destroyer. The pose is about acceptance, balance, and grace under fire.
Your pranayama this month is designed to clear the chatter from your head so that you can hear more clearly the beating and rhythm of your own heart.
This mudra is used to connect you to the Goddess of Love and Beauty within you so that you might recognize your worth.