Creating with moon cycles
a way of thinking about the creative process
A year or two ago, I offered a free experience of tracking your month through moon cycles. It was illuminating, and it underscored my feeling that the phases of the moon might help us understand the cycles of our lives, and specifically in this context, our creative work.
I should say, I’ve been thinking about the moon cycles this way for years. It’s been a very helpful way for me to think about my creative work. Because that work is cyclic…and often doesn’t seem to have a clear destination, so much as a spiral path I am attempting to dance.
Of course, creative cycles don’t necessarily match the time period of a lunar month, but hey, time is squishy, especially creative time. Anyway, read on and let me know how this speaks to you! It’s a longer post but I hope it will give you plenty to think about.
New Moon — Initiative, new starts, fresh perspective, a turning point, new light on a situation. Of course with the new moon, you cannot see it, so you remain in the dark. Maybe that’s a metaphor for how in the creative process, new beginnings often have this feeling of great excitement and anticipation, yet at the same time you feel like you’re blundering forward, unable to make out the terrain ahead—is that a castle or a cliff? Open water or a sheet of ice?
I always find myself in this place with new work—a spurt of images, words, ideas, connections will come, yet I am also simultaneously stumbling forward, trying to feel my way through a new landscape. Where is it taking me? What’s the heart of it?
Finding a way to dance along the edge of inspiration and uncertainty—that is the gift and direction of the new moon.
First Quarter Moon — the moon is growing, her belly laying full on the sky, heavy toward the earth.
First quarter is forward momentum, finding rhythm, staying the course, having faith. Half of the moon is still hidden. There is much yet to be revealed. Are you really doing this, whatever this creative thing is? Wouldn’t you be better suited to, perhaps, I don’t know, accountancy? Or maybe taking up birding as a hobby—you’re about as likely to make money with that. NO! That light is growing. If you just keep to the path that is growing clearer, letting yourself wander all its detours, all its bizarre circuits, all its follies and high hills and open waters, you will get there.
Well, you will get somewhere. And when you reach that somewhere, a new section of path will unfold.
The first quarter moon is sticking to this path and claiming it as yours, even when it would be easier to turn around and go home. It’s having faith that the path will reveal itself, even if it doesn’t make sense, even if it seems to lead in circles, even if it doesn’t appear to be the path you initially thought it was.
It’s all a circle. Waxing, waning, coming to light and then dark. If you can make peace with the circle, that will make it so much easier to traverse the path.
Full Moon — there she is, a peach on the horizon, gloriously whole, lighting up the night, throwing the shadows of trees upon the foxes and flying squirrels and swift, silent owls.
Full moon is fullness, arrival, clarity, brilliance, coming full circle. Completion? Maybe, or maybe it’s a symbolic completion that signals the transition to another phase of a project. In practical terms, this could be completing a work, that time before you share it with the world. It is satisfaction and it is also so bright, there is nowhere to hide. You are sharing your light. It’s so brilliant it lights up the things that are usually hidden.
Perhaps this is a celebration. Certainly there are a lot of feelings as you realize that all the turns of the path have come to this—all the uncertainty and fear and faith have brought you to this moment of light. Yet the path continues on, down into the gloaming. What happens now? What becomes of your precious work, the gift you have made to give the world?
Third Quarter/Disseminating Moon — this is the giving-away moon, the releasing moon, the offering moon, the resting moon, the not-knowing-what-comes-next moon.
It’s a celebration but also a release. The opening of your hand to release the twist of moonlight that has guided you down this path. It is giving your work to the world in whatever way you do—as a gift, as something that is purchased, financial exchange for creative gold. Either way the nature of what you are doing changes. It is no longer your moonlit path alone; it is an invitation, an offering, to others. It is a relinquishing of control.
Sometimes the Other is literal other people, and sometimes it’s yourself, and sometimes it’s the divine (or whatever word you use). Sometimes you aren’t letting the creation go out into the world but allowing it to transform into whatever it wants to be now; you are letting it guide you where it needs to go. You are letting go of what you have done before, and letting yourself wade back into the darkness of the unknown.
Because it is getting darker now. The last of the light is fading. Soon it will be the dark of the moon, that night of the Black Madonna, of Kali, of letting ourselves and our work be unmade, before being breathed back into being again, in darkness, before the light begins to grow once more.
Rest here. There is nothing to do but let go. Let the dark lull you to sleep and know you will wake with new inspiration, fresh clarity. Because that is the thing about darkness: it always yields to the light. And the light always softens into the yielding, holding, germinating dark.
I’ve been thinking about holding an extended “class” (er…creative moon guidance experience??) that would expand on all this, with meditations and more. What do you think? Would you take a class on creating with the cycle of the moon?
Let me know! And if you have a friend who would be interested, please consider sharing this post with them.
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