Review: The Rising of the Moon by Gladys Mitchell

June 12, 2020

This is a sweet mystery published in Britain shortly after the second world war. The moon creates an emotional backdrop as a serial killer claims young female victims under its surreal brightness.

The full moon is celebrated by lovers, poets, and Witches for its divine beneficence, but in folklore it is known as a maleficence, inciting violence, insanity, disturbing dreams, emotional disturbance, and general bad luck. The novel captures the contradictory nature of lunar energy by telling the story through the eyes of two boys, juxtaposing the innocence of childhood with the evil nature of the killings.

Simon and Keith are orphans living with a married brother, and their life circumstances make them closer than most brothers, while ensuring they are less closely supervised than most boys their age. Brother Jack and his wife are viewed by the boys as interfering, authoritarian, and No Fun, though the couple are young themselves to be saddled with responsibility for boys of this age in addition to their new baby. Probably Simon and Keith’s own parents would have paid closer attention to their activities, but the story also evokes a bygone age that emerged around World War II and continued until the nineties, when most children spent large amounts of time outdoors unsupervised, unshackled by extra-curricular activities scheduled by conscientious parents or onerous duties in farms, households, or industries. The imaginative, marginally acceptable, and faintly dangerous escapades of the boys are charming. Seen from their perspective, a dirty canal becomes a mystical landscape; a jumble of rejected items becomes a treasure trove. While adults in the story are sickened and horrified by the murders, the boys see them as high adventure. They do much of their sleuthing in the daytime after school and on holidays, when no one seems to be keeping track of their whereabouts, but they also sneak outside under the full moon to frighten themselves with dangers real and imagined. Childhood cannot discriminate.

The narrator Simon is the older brother, and at thirteen (the lunar number!) he is on the cusp of adulthood. We can expect that solving this mystery will pull him to the other side and make him an adult. The loss of childhood is something that is universally mourned, despite its near-inevitability, but most of us either grow up or die young. The moon emerges out of fantasy and horror as catalyst of maturity.

Full Moon Eclipse: It’s all about me

June 5, 2020

Full moon eclipse in Gemini this week, and while a partial eclipse in this sign isn’t necessarily the most powerful, other astrological features are intensifying things. The longer-term square between Saturn and Uranus is magnified by retrograde Venus squaring Mars, inching up to a Venus-in-retrograde conjunction with the Sun.

The dominant social feature of the moment is protests against police homicides of Black people, sparked by the murder of George Floyd. Law enforcement has remained stuck in its abysmal patterns, racism being the pattern highlighted by the protests, and people of all races are sick of the willful refusal of this segment of society to change. This is a widespread issue, social in nature, not really about any one person (although it’s important that certain high profile people in the incendiary event be held accountable).

The trouble is that eclipses, even though wide ranging in effect, are personally felt. The moon is the quintessential personal planet, ruling and fueling emotions, and detachment in favor of the greater good is almost impossible. I have felt myself being drawn into my frustration with White people on the Left, particularly the “Right-on Lefty Dudes,” for the self-aggrandizing way they capitalize on other people’s pain. I’ve seen others become distracted over the stupidity of Trump’s comments in response to the protests or the clueless-as-usual way the elite journalist class tries to interpret the situation for us. Trump’s decision to involve the military should be roundly criticized, but the heart of the protests can be whitewashed by focusing on tangential issues. Troublesome moon energy demands attention to personal feelings, however inappropriate or inconvenient they appear to the intellect. I believe the best way to handle this is to recognize the myriad of personal issues surfacing and prioritize what belongs where and what is important now. The personal is political, but not every personal issue belongs in every political response.

Of course, other important things besides the demonstrations are happening on the planet. There’s still COVID-19. I’ve seen people complain that Americans can’t think about more than one issue at a time because the attention of the moment in the US has moved from the pandemic to homicidal racist police. Well, we get to decide where we put our attention. At the same time, a popular medical vlogger in England got pulled up by Americans for ignoring police brutality on his vlog about COVID-19! Did I mention this is a self-centered transit? Me-me-me. With a solar eclipse at the Solstice, and another lunar eclipse on July 5th, expect the emotionally intense self-absorbed energy to last until at least the July new Moon on the 20th. Remember: your emotions are valid; you only need to be mindful of how they’re directed.

Water, water everywhere

May 22, 2020

This is Deer Brook Falls, a hike I’ve wanted to go on for weeks, and the trail was finally clear and passable. Photo doesn’t do it justice.

I notice that productivity at New Moon seems slow for me. It’s a time when blockages are cleared, hence it feels like things are stationary. This week I had a major water leak in my kitchen, which has been a distraction. Good thing I’m taking a break from writing.

I think it’s a good thing, working with New Moon energy, to be persistent. This can be a rewarding energy if you have the patience.

A new moon teaches gradualness
and deliberation and how one gives birth
to oneself slowly. Patience with small details
makes perfect a large work, like the universe.

~Rumi

Happy Solstice

June 21, 2019
Gary Stadler and Wendy Rule

The vocalist on this album is from Australia, where it’s Midwinter, not Midsummer, but the track feels like a dreamy summer solstice.

Photo: Geoff Gallice

The Change in Progress

July 27, 2018

I have a lot on my mind right now, but the astrologers say this is not the best time for sharing, with a super lunar eclipse in progress and so many planets retrograde.

Until next week, Hearth.

Sun Horse of the Sea

April 5, 2018

Neptune’s Horses by Walter Crane, 1892.

The Greeks believed the sun travels under the ocean at night. This makes sense when you consider that the sun seems to drop into the water when you are standing on the seashore facing west. The god of the sea, Poseidon (Roman name Neptune), owns a set of horses that pull the sun through the water, the counterparts of the horses who pull the sun through the sky. These horses can be spotted near the shore occasionally, their manes twirling in white-cap waves, their feet running onto the sand.

Poseidon the water-horse god has a persistent, sometimes violent rivalry with the goddess Athena, whose sacred olive tree grows in country bordering the sea. The waves constantly batter and erode the shoreline as Poseidon seeks to expand his territory.

Poseidon the horse god was a late-comer to the Aegean who “married” a sea goddess called Amphitrite in a patriarchal takeover of an older cult. Amphitrite, who does have a querulous side like Poseidon, is the personification of the sea and a mother goddess of animals.

Amphitrite (right) with Athena and Theseus. Everyone seems to be getting along in this picture. 500 BCE.

A New Moon

January 19, 2018

NASA photo

A new moon teaches gradualness
and deliberation and how one gives birth
to oneself slowly. Patience with small details
makes perfect a large work, like the universe.

–Rumi

The moon has recently turned to its waxing phase. Both the full and the new moon exert a strong gravitation pull on the earth’s waters, but the energies are different. I find that things seem to slow down at the new moon, so that progress being made is difficult to discern. We tend to be detail oriented and to research things at this time, rather than expressing ourselves spontaneously. Next month, at the solar eclipse, this energy will be even more pronounced.