When I was in Japan the past few weeks I found I had to let go of just about all the structures of devotion and practice that are the core of my daily life. In preparing for the trip, and in travelling, there seemed to be an imperative to strip down and strip away all of those conventions in my life, in part at least to make room for the powerful new information and experiences that were coming to me--but also because of the various internal and external pressures associated with traveling: being in a new place and wrestling with unfamiliar conventions and a new language and all that. So my tree calendar practice, and my daily astrology invocations; my drumming and singing and songwriting; my blogging and teaching and healing work (not to mention my day job and the other conventions of daily life) - it all came to a halt during those three weeks.
So coming back home again and gradually reengaging with all these things is sweet indeed. It's all taking a bit of time to get settled.
While we were away the moon continued to move through its cycle: we left when the moon was just about to go full in Sagittarius, while in Japan it became new in Gemini, and tomorrow (June 20) we have a Capricorn full moon at the same time as the Summer Solstice. Although this was not something I was thinking about consciously, the affirmations associated with these phases give me a useful way to reflect on the inner dimensions of my experience of the trip.
Donna Cunningham's Sagittarius affirmations from Moon Signs:
I release my addiction to excess and to unwise risk.
I release the need to know the answers and to be right.
I open myself to positive, growth-oriented influences.
I rejoice in my capacity to understand advanced ideas.
The growth of my mind and spirit is ever unfolding.
In particular, "releasing the need to know the answers and be right" was an important part of being in Japan. The language (which I had studied some but quickly found I had no reasonable right to be conversant in) and the friendly but tightly woven culture, in addition to the confusions of the transit system and many other unexpected anomalies, left me often baffled and frustrated.
Thankfully this was happening in the context of an extraordinary encounter with both "advanced ideas" and "the growth of my mind and spirit", in the form of the powerful aesthetic and spiritual energies of Japanese Buddhism in particular. I am still reverberating from this encounter and it's not ready yet to find articulation - but it has certainly been transformative. The beautiful Jizo Boddhisattva to the right, at a deeply moving temple devoted to the souls of the departed, about two blocks from where we stayed, is just one tiny example.
This Sagittarius full moon cycle is just now coming to an end, and even after returning last week I have continued to feel in the grip of this dynamic, where my fierce self-criticism has had to grapple with the unbelievable expansion of my spirit and whole being in the presence of so many extraordinary wonders. That has left me a bit exhausted and I am still recovering. So I am so ready for the new full moon cycle offered by Capricorn on Monday (about which more below).
Toward the end of our trip, on June 5, there was a new moon in Gemini, about which Donna Cunningham suggests these affirmations:
I release my blocks to spoken and written communication.
I let go of negative judgments about my intelligence.
I easily learn all the skills and concepts I need.
New ideas and understanding flood my consciousness.
My mind unfolds to its highest level of development.
This is all resonant with the Sagittarius energies above. But there is a bit of a difference between Sagittarius' "I need to know the answers" and Gemini's "I have negative judgments about my intelligence" - the second is closer to the bone and more personal, more existential, than the first. And I think this correlates with an internal shift I felt as our time in Japan deepened and reached its climax. On one level, I began to relax and felt more in touch with myself - no longer trying to fit in as much or feeling such anxiety about how I was being perceived. At the same time there was a growing sense of dislocation, and, frankly, a longing to come home, where every aspect of communication is easier and more within my grasp. There's a point at which "releasing blocks to spoken and written communication" could mean "put yourself in a place where you can be understood".
I came home really wanting to share the many potent experiences we had while in Japan. But now that I'm here, I'm finding that I need time to process and filter and discern what truly needs to be shared in order to be useful. So there is no question that "new ideas and understanding flood my consciousness" - but that doesn't mean I'm quite ready to share. That flood needs to find useful channels to flow through, and it looks like it will take some time to work that out. So I am calling on Gemini new moon (which continues its influence for another couple of weeks) to help me integrate these new understandings, as a necessary step to articulating and sharing the essence of what this amazing adventure has meant for me, in ways that will be most helpful to others.
Tomorrow, the Capricorn full moon introduces a new energy into these dynamics. Donna Cunningham's affirmations are:
I willingly let go of the sorrow and sadness I'm holding.
I release the fear and negativity that is blocking me.
I find joy and hope welling up within me.
I accept my capacity to plan wisely for my goals.
My abilities find their highest expression.
As one of my friends told me before I left, "When you go away, you *really* go away." Which is true, and was wonderful. But that also means that my connection to the spirit of this beautiful place I live in, including the teachers and helping spirits that have been working so powerfully with me, is slow to manifest itself again (the message I keep getting is "we are waiting for you to recover"). My connections with students and clients seem distant and just a bit unreal. And that all is generating some sadness: "I love my work! I love this path I'm on! Why can't it resume immediately?" And there is some blowback as a result, generating some fear and negativity as I have found myself questioning myself and my path (why? Because I'm impatient, of course!).
At the same time, as jet lag begins to fade, and as I slowly grow accustomed to the rhythms of work and home life again, there are moments where joy and hope are starting to make an appearance. Glorious summer is upon us with all its light and warmth (thankfully, not a dreadfully humid warmth as we had in Japan!), flowers are blooming everywhere, life in the natural world is in its full fever of expansive expression. I am ready for new clarity about my path forward: the work I have to do to support the organic harmonious growth of my healing and teaching practice, my self-expression through music and art, and indeed how to embody and share the potent insights of the Japan adventure.
I welcome Capricorn moon, and all the other energies of stars and planets (Sun also moving into Capricorn, Venus finding a lovely place in Cancer, Jupiter holding things in balance in Virgo), as well as the rejoicing limbs of Douglas fir and cedar, maple and alder - all welcoming us into this blessed present moment, where healing happens, where recovery happens, where new clarity about purpose and path is always available.
Looking forward to sharing much more as the dust continues to settle…