Moon Lesson • Short, Sweet, and Simple
As native tribes are attuned to the Earth and its creations, whether plant or animal, it’s not too surprising why the full moon in June was blessed with its name. There is a relatively short season for harvesting strawberries and it comes each year during the month of June. The name for this moon was universal to every Algonquin tribe. Welcome the Full Strawberry Moon and all it’s short and sweet notes.
The Strawberry Moon marks the completion of spring and the arrival of summer in full. Somehow that final twist of spring makes everything feel brand new. It’s as though spring’s transition and the rise of this month’s full moon plants us firmly in this moment and Great Mother Earth says, “okay, my work here is done. Spread out and enjoy it!”. So we wake to longer days and linger joyfully through warmer nights. But before Spring vacates for good, it leaves one last love note to remind us to enjoy each moment as it comes...because in a breath that moment is changed forever.
The strawberry vine winds its way through itself, blossoms for a short period (about 4-6 weeks) and matures with strawberries for harvest for an even shorter time (about 3 weeks). Talk about short and sweet. So what can we learn from the strawberry vine and its fruit during this Full Strawberry Moon?
We learn to wind together our masculine and feminine energies. Let’s begin with our archetype for this moon.
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Contrary to Jungian psychology, wherein the Heroine archetype is often synonymous with your inner Warrior, I see the Heroine as slightly more nuanced. Your inner Heroine is more subtle than your Warrior whose aim is protection and conquest or your Huntress whose focus is to follow the clues and gain the most advantageous position for future growth. Your Heroine is your personal She-ro — your personal champion, your quarterback, and your cheerleader all in one. She saves the day. She uses her intellect, her talents, and her creative instincts to create situations that result in positive outcome. Your Heroine is the light that blots out your inner critic. She marks each moment of success and links it directly to another. And yes, many of you learned this in the Year of the Yogi, but it bears repeating here.
On this journey, I’ve decided to expand the study and personal connection of your Heroine’s role within the context of both the divine masculine and divine feminine. I believe it takes a true Heroine to look deep into their soul, and accept all of the parts of themselves, both male and female, and truly love them. So let’s what we can divine from our goddess inspiration this month.
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Quan Yin and Durga
Our first goddess this month is Quan-Yin because before she became the goddess we all know, she was a man. Yes, you read me correctly.
As the story goes, on the cusp of enlightenment, he (who would later become Quan-Yin) looks back and sees all of the suffering of humankind and wants to do something, and so gives up nirvana, and his male-hood, to become the Goddess of Compassion, Quan-Yin. For, to be truly compassionate to all beings, he needed to be a woman.
In China, Quan Yin has many different names, such as She of Great Mercy, Great Pity, Salvation from Misery, She With a Thousand Arms and Eyes. She is typically known as a goddess of fertility, and is worshipped by women, as she is considered a great protector of women and babies. The symbols of Quan Yin are children and the lotus. She is often depicted holding an infant and/or a crystal vase which contains the waters of all creation. She also often has a thousand arms, with eyes in the palms of her hands, so that she can always see the people's distress, and is able to reach out to encircle them. She may be seated on an elephant or standing on a fish or a lion, all of which symbolize the force of nature she has with all living things. Quan Yin also has a special place as a woman who cares for the unborn, ushering souls into the Underworld, and she is invoked during post-burial rituals in order to free the soul of the deceased from the torment of purgatory.
Over the centuries, her work and ideology has been so popular that she has come to many other lands, and at this time in history she truly has become the peoples heroine! It is said that she reincarnates herself wherever she is needed.
If you wish to have Quan Yin bestow fertility upon you, (creative or literal) or simply wish for her blessing or protection, this is a classic ritual that you can follow:
The custom is to leave an offering to her of sweet cakes, lotus, incense and/or fresh fruit and flowers. For literal or figurative fertility, traditionally you would do this ritual during a waxing to almost full moon. Once the offering has been made upon an altar of sorts, take a pinch of black tea and a pinch of rice and place them in a yellow cloth saying:
“As a little tea makes a full cup,
So may my life be full.
As the rice expands in warm water,
So may my heart expand with love and warmth,
The fertility of Quan Yin, wrapped neatly within.”
Tie up your little packet and keep it in the spot that you hope for the fertility to occur.
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Durga, known as the Mother of the Universe, and the supreme power behind creation, preservation and destruction of the world. Yes, the goddess Durga is yet another prime example of the balance between the divine feminine and masculine, as she cuts through all illusion with her mighty sword, with strength, but also with love and compassion.
Like the god Shiva in his divine form, containing both male and female aspects, the goddess Durga is often referred to as “Triyambake" meaning the three-eyed Goddess. Her left eye represents desire (the moon - female), the right eye represents action (the sun - male), and her third, or central eye, represents wisdom and knowledge.
The stories of the first appearance of Durga tell of her riding seated upon a tiger as a great warrior and heroine to the people, as her appearance was miraculous and came during the tyranny of the monster-demon Mahishasur, who had acquired invincible strength. The gods were afraid of this monster because neither Vishnu nor Shiva could take him down. It seemed that only the energy of “shakti” could take down the demon-monster, and so it came to be that the eighteen armed Durga went to do battle and won.
The Meaning of "Durga"
The word "Durga" in Sanskrit translates to inaccessible or fort or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another iteration of Durga is "Durgatinashini", which translates to "the one who eliminates sufferings". In this way, she is a heroine for the people — a safe place, with a strong force of protection.
The Meaning of Durga's Weapons
The lion, or alternately, tiger, that Durga rides represents her power, will and determination. Mother Durga riding the lion also symbolises her mastery over all these qualities, but not in just the simple form of mastery; for those following the goddess Durga, this is an example of her mastery over ego as well.
The conch shell in Durga's hand symbolizes the 'Pranava' or the mystic word 'Om', which indicates her holding onto the divine in the form of sound.
The bow and arrows represent energy. By holding both the bow and arrows in one hand, Mother Durga is indicating her control over both aspects of energy — potential and kinetic.
The thunderbolt signifies firmness. The devotee of Durga must be clear and fast acting on that which does not serve, as well as firm like a thunderbolt in their convictions. Like the thunderbolt that can break anything against which it strikes, without being affected itself, the devotee needs to attack a challenge without losing their confidence.
The lotus in Durga's hand is not in full bloom; it symbolizes certainty of success but not finality. The lotus in Sanskrit is called "pankaja" which means born of mud. Thus, lotus stands for the continuous evolution of the soul.
The "Sudarshan-Chakra", or beautiful discus, which spins around the index finger of the Goddess, while not touching it, signifies that the entire world is subservient to the will of Durga and is at her command.
The sword that Durga holds in one of her hands symbolizes knowledge, which has the sharpness of a sword, cutting through all which does not serve, through illusions and delusions. Knowledge which is free from all doubts is symbolized by the shine of the sword.
Durga's trident or "trishul" is a symbol of three qualities - Satwa, (inactivity) Rajas, (activity) and Tamas (non-activity) - and she is the remover of all the three types of miseries - physical, mental and spiritual.
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Each of us carries male aspects within ourselves; and for the most part our masculine energy serves us well. But we do want to be mindful of when our masculine energy has become complacent or unruly or worse, tamped down. I believe it would be remiss of me to have spent thirteen months focusing all our energies on the divine feminine, and not commit one ounce on our male, moving, active counterparts.
One of my teachers described it to me like this: Think about men as fire and woman as water; when you put the two together they do not mix, but man, do they make a LOT of steam! It is this steam that gets things moving! The water cools things off just a bit and evens out the fast burning fire, and if you think of it as a steam engine, it is this action that gets the train moving. If there is no rub, no tension between men and women, nothing would get done! In the end, we need the male parts of ourselves, we need the men in our lives, and they need us in return.
They need us to be our full feminine selves, so that they can rise to meet us with their full male selves. This is for our male partners and lovers as well as for our male friends, our sons, brothers and fathers. This is where balance in born.
As you do this work this month to honor your inner Heroine, you might consider your own father or father-figure in your upbringing and their influence on how you view the Masculine in general. If that’s too tender, maybe consider your spouse or a dear male friend in relation to your feminine aspects.
Here’s an example that speaks deeply to this work:
I was working with a couple who were having a hard time with fertility. Not only had they exhausted every avenue, but they were coming up on their last in vitro session. Before this session, I saw each of them individually, and it became clear over the course of this work, the woman had decided she was broken, frail, and weak. She had all but stamped out her masculine fire and taken on the Wounded aspects of her Heroine and Warrior archetypes. Her husband feeling incapable of bringing that fire back, retreated into his feelings of inadequacy and it festered and turned to anger. And her too was overtaken by his Wounded Warrior. They lacked the right balance of water and fire to make steam.
The homework for this couple was actually yoga. The wife was to take vinyasa and ashtanga practices to reheat her fire and her belief in her body and her power. The husband was prescribed meditation practices.
On the flip side, years later, I met with a couple dealing with the same situation. But in this instance the woman, in her ferocity and desire to become pregnant, had taken on intense qualities of her inner male. She had become bossy and nit-picky and needed to fully control everything around her. When I probed further I could see that this was actually a big part of her personality and it was now just amplified because she always had been the “man” in their relationship. Her inner Heroine was too activated and leaning on the side of the shadow.
We needed to dig deeper though, as nothing is one sided, and I could see that her husband longed for her to be able to lean into him and allow him to hold her. However, he had shifted into a pushover, following her every move and cue and was pouring his energy into resenting his wife for not allowing him to be a man.
The homework for the second couple was not quite as simple. This fierce heroine needed to surrender. She was to lean into him and allow him to hold her and to carry her. After many tears were shed, she finally said that she really wanted that all along, but did not trust that her husband would be there for her. As more of the story came out, she recounted that her father left when she was three, leaving her mother to be both parents. After watching her mom be both the mother and father, it was all she knew. What she ended up doing in her own marriage, though, was emasculating her husband to the point where he totally shut down in their relationship.
It all sounds so simple, but truly she had to work HARD to allow him to hold her, and to trust that he would be there for her, and he in turn had to work hard to stand up to her — women with an over-activated Heroine, Warrior, Amazon or Huntress aspect can be frightening!
But guess what? Both couples found the balance needed within and they got pregnant!
As Caroline Myss writes, “our biographies become our biologies”. So what stories have you been telling yourself? How are they effecting you? If you took the journey through 13 moons as a Yogi, you might recall the work we did this month was to write or re-write our stories from a space of self love. And now it is June, at the close of this month you will have gone three-quarters of the way through this cycle of bolstering your Healer. How is your relationship with your various aspects so far?
Before you begin the work of journeying to gather this piece of your soul, your inner Heroine, I must introduce you to your anchors for this month:
Oak and Citrine
In Western Europe, the mighty oak once covered all the fields and landscape. Although they have mostly all been cut down, myths, and legends still live on about the protective and heroic qualities of the oak.
The druids in particular revered the oak as one of their sacred trees, and would often carve symbols into the bark of certain oak trees. One of these symbols was a circle divided into 4 equal parts, symbolic of the four elements of the earth, and this was said to protect the tree from falling.
The goddess Triduana or Bridgid from Edinburgh, or her more Christian counterpart, St. Brigid, founded a retreat called the Cell of The Holy Oak, designed specifically for spiritual woman/nuns in Kildare, Ireland. It is said that here, the nuns perpetually burn acorns on their sacred and holy fires. Brigid was specifically associated with the Oak and the Rowan tree as she carried fiery arrows with which to defend the land made from each of them.
Folklore around acorns tells of lovers placing two acorns in a bowl of water, and waiting to see if the acorns would move towards each other to seal the romance, or apart, thus indicating a split. An acorn necklace was also said to have magical workings, and was worn during journeywork or celebrations as an aid in contacting the feminine energies of the earth. Such a necklace was also said to invoke the woodland goddess Diana, for times when we need to be in touch with our inner heroine.
Oak galls, or oak apples, which are the knarled knots found at the ends of branches, were also used to discover if a person had been bewitched. The oak apples were placed in a bowl of water and placed under the bed for a night; if the galls sank, the person was bewitched, but if the galls floated, they were alright. An oak gall was also made into a special talisman and, once imbued with specific energies, it was worn by those who needed healing. It was associated with healing because of its spherical shape, looking so much like the moon. You can check out modern uses of oak gall, here.
Natural Citrine is a premier stone of manifestation, imagination, and personal will. Carrying the power of the sun, it is warm and comforting, energizing and life giving. It stimulates the chakras like the sunlight of spring, clearing the mind and stirring the soul to action. Its frequency awakens creativity and imagination, and sustains the process of transforming dreams and wishes into tangible form. With its pure yellow energy, Citrine encourages fullness of life, fresh beginnings and new pursuits.
Natural Citrine does not hold or accumulate negative energy, but rather transmutes, dissipates, and grounds it, making it extremely protective for the environment. It works out problems on both the physical and subtle levels, transforming negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones. It is one of only two crystals on Earth that never needs to be cleared or cleansed. The other is Kyanite.
Citrine is a transparent, yellow variety of Quartz, ranging in color from pale to golden yellow, honey or almost brown, and may contain rainbow or sparkle inclusions. The name comes from the French word citron, meaning lemon. It was used as a gem in Greece as far back as 300 B.C., and because of its color, is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Gold Topaz, Madeira or Spanish Topaz, or Safranite.
Called The Merchant's Stone for its properties of increase in the cashbox, sparkling yellow Citrine not only assists in acquiring wealth, but helps in maintaining it. It is a stone of abundance and manifestation, attracting wealth and prosperity, success and all things good. It also encourages generosity and sharing good fortune. Citrine assists in all fast money ventures, and is especially helpful in financial speculation and for commercial success. Carry one in the purse or wallet to attract money and stop excessive outflow. Citrine Cathedral Quartz is particularly useful to those who have experienced emotional or physical lack, especially ingrained poverty consciousness over several lives. The crystal returns to the problem's core and corrects the underlying belief, replacing it with a positive outlook, and allowing for spiritual and physical abundance to carry forward.
Citrine is an excellent crystal for interpersonal relationships. It smooths family or group problems and can promote solutions and cohesiveness.
Be careful: Much of the commercial Citrine on the market is heat-treated Amethyst or Smoky Quartz that produces an enhanced Citrine color, usually a deeper amber or orange-reddish shade. Most Natural Citrine is a pale yellow color.
A small warning: We are working with our masculine divine this month. Citrine may exacerbate aggressiveness in some. It is not recommended for those with a fiery, quick-tempered nature, and should be avoided by people with a tendency to gossip.
source: The Crystal Vault
Connect with Branch & Stone
Gather your Citrine stone, if you have one, place it in your right hand (or place just inside your bra cup near your heart if you’re doing your own drumming), get comfortable and close your eyes.
Your intent in this journey is to ask the tree for any messages or information/wisdom it has for you at this time, regarding yourself as a Hero. This could be gifts you bring to your community or things you are working on to develop within yourself at this time.
Sit with your Altar. Yep, the one you started last month =)
By now you have 9 stones or totems of your choosing that represent various aspects of your Feminine Divine. Retrieve your bundle from it’s safekeeping. Open it up and place the items you’ve gathered in a circle arrangement on your fabric. This is the beginning of your medicine wheel. In addition to finding your object that represents your Heroine this month, I’d like you to honor a Masculine aspect (real, present or past) this month. This will be your first active outward healing on this journey.
Place a representation of that Masculine aspect in the center of your wheel. Do one offering each day to either release, mend, or comfort this “masculine story” in the center of your medicine wheel. You might sprinkle it with tobacco or corn meal, an offering of peace and respect. You might light an incense stick or a candle for a few moments each day, a gateway of release and transformation. You might rinse it with moon water, a cleansing and soothing tonic. Offer it honey, to bring sweetness to the energy or situation. Open your mind and allow the first notion of what’s right to come forth. Only you will know what practice will be appropriate for you at this time.
Journey for your Sacred Object
Begin with your power animal, asking them to take you to the opening of the grove.
After you find the oak tree, sit with your back against its rough bark, and keep your heart open to whatever will come to you, and state the intent of this journey by asking:
What aspect of myself as a hero brings a lesson for me at this time?
And in a separate journey: What aspect of the heroine do I need to work on more in myself? Make sure you notice everything you see, as it is “all important”, and then give yourself a few days to process. Please journal or muse on your feeling of what this message you received means to you. Remember, the message may not necessarily be in words, she may show you images or sing a song, or anything really.