Moon Lesson • How to Howl with the Wolves
The January Full Moon is most often called the Wolf Moon. Other names include Old Moon, Ice Moon, and the Moon after Yule. This last name is attributed to Anglo-Saxons who named this moon because it is the first full moon to rise after the Winter Solstice which occurs around December 22.
But, again, more commonly known as the Full Wolf Moon, this moon marks the time of year when wolves are particularly loud and vocal. Wolves howl to communicate over long distances. It is a way of saying “here I am” to the rest of the pack or “stay away” to intruders. During the denning season in spring and early summer, wolves only howl to pack mates. As the late summer moves towards fall, wolves call more and more to neighbors and enemies. By the time we reach breeding season in January and February, a chorus by a pack of wolves can last from 30 to 120 seconds or more...that’s significant difference from the average 3-7 sec howl any other time of year. So wolves are particularly loud and vocal in the first few months of the year, thus the Full Wolf Moon.
As people, we too begin to vocalize with passion in January. We cast our new year’s resolutions. Our words often focus on changing rather than reclaiming. In fact, we can go so far as to set ourselves up for failure by making near impossible claims to never do x, y, or z again. Then over the course of the year, defeated, we let those words quietly fade away.
But this Journey is about remaining grounded, being realistic, finding calm, and connecting to the vibration of your Truth. In Yoga, we look to our Eight Limbed Path for the practice of Satya. Satya means "to speak the truth.” To practice Satya, we must consider what we say, how we say it, and what effect it might have. This precept is based on the understanding that honest communication and action form the bedrock of any healthy relationship. For some, it is a simple enough practice to own and speak your Truth. For others, this is an area of great challenge. No matter which camp you fall in, we can all benefit from exploring ways to tap into the source within that nurtures freedom and truth. With this in mind, we use the Wolf Moon to begin our journey into a season of Sound Healing.
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Consider the spirit of the Wolf. The power of the wolf represents instinct, intelligence, appetite for freedom, and awareness of the importance of social connections. Wolf can also symbolize fear of being threatened and lack of trust. Communication is especially important for animals that live together in family groups, where coordinating, cooperating, and reinforcing bonds and status are all part of a necessary daily routine. Within a family of wolves, or family of people for that matter, communication helps maintain social stability. It is vital to keeping the family functioning together as one; it helps to reinforce solidarity and enables the opportunity for the young to learn how to be and how to survive. Finally, communication is also used to express an individual’s intentions or emotional disposition or feelings.
Now consider the Wild Woman/Shadow Sister archetype. Wild Woman resides in the shadows of your being. She is the keeper of those behaviors and attitudes that society-at-large might not look kindly upon. We all have them...jealousy, untempered anger, spite, frivolity, pettiness, our expressions of our sexuality, etc. Not too surprisingly, Wild Woman is the also the keeper of our Shame. The key to your Wild Woman is to remember that saying, "that which irritates us the most is often a reflection of some part of our unconscious selves that we reject." If we begin to look at others as a reflection of ourselves, we give ourselves the opportunity to recognize and connect with our shadows and, ultimately, see the beauty and good in others and in ourselves, as well. The more you understand your shadows the less they drive you. It is only in the darkness that you can see the stars.
But let me be clear...your Wild Woman is not all "bad". Your Wild Woman is frickin' fun! She's the one who will throw caution to the wind and buy that ticket to New York on a whim. She's the one who will drunk text her true feelings to that "one that got away". She's the one who will stop right in her tracks and follow her dream. Your Wild Woman may live in the Shadows but she can also guide your Truth into the light.
Your Real Shadow?
This is the one that belongs with you - she is mighty.
She is Brave.
She is a dark mother, a murder of crows,
a shapeshifting sister who calls on a creative fire inside you,
Let it weave through you
Move into your caverns and caves like smoke
Filling your lungs with the sweetest fragrance tinged
With the damp you know always accompanies the truth.
You are meant for the sunlight, AND you are meant for the dark.
-Sarah La Rosa
Wild Woman and Wolf go hand in hand. Wolves are some of the greatest trackers in the wild; they can sniff out a scent hundreds of miles away and follow it to the source. They are determined, and yet quiet and unassuming as they wander through the underbrush, through rivers and over hills in search of the source. If we place ourselves in the Wild Woman archetype, and begin tracking our shadows like wolves, we may just discover something worth bringing into the light.
And this is where your journey work begins. This month track down your Wild Woman, soothe her or awaken her with your song. Together we'll explore mantra, what mantra is, how and when to use them and experience the soothing sensation of a sound bath...listen. To prepare for these experiences dive into the Moon Time Exploration below.
Moon Time Exploration
This month, pay attention to the sound of your voice. Pay attention to your choice of words. How do you communicate your needs? Do you edit your requests over and over again in your head? Do you speak freely with your family? Honestly with your friends? And with integrity with associates? Are your sentences framed in the positive or the negative? For example, “I know it’s seems petty but I need...” vs “It’s important to me and my wellbeing that I…”.
Sounds carry power and words resonate beyond meaning. Take the lead from sister Wolf, she howls with very clear intention and purpose. Use the Journey Practice below and Set your intention.
Read through the entire exercise before sitting down to do it. Materials needed: your journal and a pen
5 min Journey Practice - Focus, then Act
Take a comfortable seat. On the floor, in a chair, in your car, at your desk, wherever. It only matters that you are sitting on purpose...to accomplish this one thing in the next five minutes or so.
Close your eyes. Breath yourself into this practice: Inhale deeply. Hold that breath for 4 counts. Exhale completely for 6 - 8 counts. Return to your regular breath.
Bring to mind your family. Start with just one person in your family. Focus on them. Not what they do on a day to day or even how they’ve been. Just the feelings you have around who they are to you in your life right now. Allow all the words to sift through your mind unchecked. The ugly, the good, and the bad. Let it flow. Notice any similarities in the words that float to the surface. Notice the differences. Notice how they may be different but come together in a wild and wondrous pattern. Notice the weight of the words. Any words that feel too heavy to hold, let them become even more heavy. Let them fall out your field of vision into nothingness.
As the heavy words continue to fall, begin to shift your attention to the ones that seem to float. Invite them to get lighter. Continue to use this 'float and sink' filtering process to narrow your words down until eventually you have only one word remaining for this person. Open your eyes and write it in your journal.
Remember this is who they are to you in this moment. It’s not set in stone and can change next month or next year. So there is no “right” word. Don’t change what you’ve ended up with. Just write it down. Let it rest. Do this for each person in your family. Once you have just one word for each person in your family, clear yourself out of this practice. Take a breath in and hold it for 4 counts. Empty it out for 6 - 8 counts.
These are my words from last year:
Errick - integrity
Kai - restorative
Indira - unfiltered
Kelly - fortitude
Mom - faith
Dad - rhythm
Typically the “lighter” words in this practice are kind and easy to hold. If so, for this month aim to speak to this family member with this word at the forefront of your mind. This is who they are to you right now regardless of their day to day actions. Let that point of light guide your conversations and interactions.
When I speak to my father, although I may feel impatient with a story he might be telling, I sit with the Rhythm he brings to my life. His precise rhythm is different from mine, but Rhythm with a capital R sounds with the beat of my family, my roots, my history. This Rhythm is in my blood and I cherish it. So from that space, I can sit and wait for the story to unfold. Whether it’s a story from my father or a situation I’m dealing with or being able to see how someone else’s story/music blends or clashes with mine...I am able to sit and wait while the story unfolds.
If any of your “lighter” words feel negative or harsh to you, this might be a relationship that could benefit from some healing. Healing begins from within. This is not a “your fault/their fault” situation. This is about you and how you might mend and fortify those spaces within so that you are better able to connect with or disconnect from this person. Notice I simply said “connect”...”connection” implies empathy, understanding, and forgiveness...it does not suggest unicorns and butterflies are dancing around your relationship.
Like Wolf, our relationships are integral to who we are and how we move through this world. I encourage you to repeat this practice for your friends and your associates to open a space for healthier communication that honors your needs and allows you to speak your Truth even when you might feel hurt, vulnerable or unsettled.
Look at the words in your journal, commit to doing this exercise one more time. For yourself. Breathe yourself into a steady and safe place. See clearly the words that describe who you are (not what you do). Let them filter, drop the heavy ones. But this time, as your load gets lighter, bring in the words that you’ve written down for your family, friends, and associations. Let those words dance together and notice how you relate...then filter until you are left with a single word. This word may be a word that you attributed to yourself early in the exercise, but sometimes an entirely new one floats to the surface. Seek out that word and let that be your intention for the year. Let this word be your anchor for how you move through this year. Let this word represent how you wish to show up for yourself and others. Select just one very clear and simple word that resonates for you.
Erica - Open
My word for last year was ‘open’ because in the year before I spent a good amount of time creating something. I was turned inward and my connections were suffering because of it. So my intention last year was to be ‘open’ to new experiences, mending fences, feedback, opportunities, etc.
Write in your journal about your Wolf Moon journey. In one simple and clear word, what is your Intention for the new year? Why? And how do you think this intention might support you and your relationships?
Another RANDOM FUN FACT:
Wolves are nocturnal animals, so they are in general more active at night. And wolves do howl in the direction of the Moon; they point their faces toward the sky for better acoustics, because projecting their howl upward carries the sound farther. If you’re feeling up for it...howl your Intention out on Facebook...or at least in our private Facebook forum for the benefit of our tribe.
Soothe and warm the energy of your throat chakra with these heart warming poses. Your throat is the bridge between your head and your heart...so tread carefully. Clear this pathway and nourish not just your throat but your entire system through pathway of the vagus nerve.
Your throat is a narrow area with a big job: it is the passageway for what you take in as well as what you send out as nourishment.
Your pranayama this month is designed to warm your throat, soothe your shoulders, and release tension around the base of your head.
When I consider the mudra we'll use to support your throat center, I often wonder if those old yogis noticed that when you create a knot with your fingers, the knot in your throat seems to dissipate.
Yep. Yep, I bet they did ;-)