Cancer New Moon Mandala
July 15, 2015
When this cycle started I could then say with all honesty, “I feel…exhausted!” And indeed, I did. I was also preparing to go into one of the most exhausting (and exciting) things I do in a given year, volunteering for our parish festival. The hours are long, and every time we get together it’s like old home week. I love this group of people like family and look forward to being with them every year! However, feeling exhausted was not a good way to feel going into such a demanding week. Thankfully I was able to reduce my obligations and make time for some serious self-care!
In addition, I remember this cycle coming in energetically heavy – like being submerged into the deep where it’s calm, peaceful and quiet. Even the very lively and boisterous places I frequented were easily calmed and quieted. It was as if a luscious patch of deep yin (inward moving, receptive, calm) descended in the middle of the Yang season (outward moving, expanding, super-excited). This inward respite was the perfect place to ponder the changes I had begun last cycle. Do you remember the singing cicadas and crickets? How’s your love song coming along?
There are some very interesting symbols in this mandala!
Three circles lay the base for this mandala… which can symbolize an ever present, triune God: Father/Son/Spirit; or the feminine Mother/Maiden/Crone or my personal favorite for this mandala the three-fold completeness of a human being: body/mind/spirit.
In the outer circle, are 12 circuitous loops. Twelve is the number of “the whole” as if to say “It’s all here, there is nothing missing.” Following the loops is almost dizzying…as if we are meant to get lost in the motion, which has a rocking kind of feel to it if you give yourself to following it. The loops, then, are a repeating cycle with no beginning or end, just a constant, rocking flow. The more I sit with it, the more it feels like the breath of Spirit to me, the gentle caress of wind, of being gently rocked into love.
Journeying inward, next we find two squares (often symbolic of earth) but one is set on end, which for me symbolizes a foundational change. Something that has always been, is now on its ear and will never be the same again. It is radically changed, radically different. Symbolically stated, a way of doing things or a way of being is now forever changed.
These squares can also be directional in nature, representing a compass rose if you will: N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW and back to North. This too, has a feeling of extension and expansion in all directions, symbolic of something that touches everyone – the whole world.
Within the squares we find a most amusing configuration – and yet it strikes me as so sad at the same time. In this section I see 12 Pac Mans. Now, I played the game many times in my youth and must I admit, young adulthood – the incessant munching, of chasing and being chased. Here it appears that there are many chasing each other. In the blur we see many where I would suggest there is possibly only one… like a snake biting its own tail…or perhaps chasing itself through different phases or different times. It’s all here…the darkness and the light – a voracious hunger that will not be sated and yet in its unfulfilled chase something different and beautiful is revealed. In the chasing, the grasping, we find what we had all along, here, symbolized by a beautiful 12-petal flower (wholeness, w-holy-ness), whose center reveals the 8 – perfection, infinity, the cosmic Christ – also surrounded by a very tiny 12. This same eight is echoed throughout the mandala through lines that create 8 equal sections.
This Cancer New Moon Mandala holds the extremes… the craziness of the chase/the insatiable hunger within and the answer to the craziness… the answer to our deepest hunger. It speaks to me of accepting life as it is and ourselves as we are and the call from Christ and the Spirit to be authentically ourselves – whole and holy in body, mind and spirit.
The most visible symbol for the month was dragonfly. She showed up in beautiful blue and purple on very early in the cycle and in many guises throughout the month. I was fascinated to read that, as a totem, the dragonfly represents change. (http://www.whats-your-sign.com/animal-symbolism-dragonfly.html) For the past 13 years the dragonfly has been my symbol for the spiritual journey. Theresa of Avila wrote about the silk worm, others have used the layers of an onion to describe the journey, but the dragonfly was given to me – and in the dragonfly we have the silkworm and the onion all in one.
I had returned from my retreat in the spring of 2002 not having learned how to journal and not sure what was next. (You can read about that experience in the side panel above.) I turned to learning about mandalas as sacred circles and was also learning about and experiencing Centering Prayer at a local retreat house. During a Centering Prayer practice at that same retreat house, we had prayed over scripture about the Good Shepherd. My mind was filled with verdant pastures and restful waters, and, of course, my sacred word…lol. In the middle of this sacred, silent time, it felt as if something had landed on my nose, and then tickled my cheeks. In my minds eye, I saw a dragonfly whose fluttering wings tickled and my journey into symbol as “language” was ignited.
I learned that Dragonflies lay their eggs on a reed in the water or drop them directly into the water as they fly above. Water is often a symbol for the mind – air a symbol for spirit. As these tiny newborn creatures enter the water they go to the bottom, living in the darker, muddier regions – representative of our state when we begin the spiritual journey – often in the dark and blind to our own afflictions, affectations and attachments. Dragonflies will molt several times (up to twelve) in its lifetime, each time living closer and closer to the surface, closer to the light. The last time it molts it will crawl up out of the water in the dark of night, dig its feet into a reed and break free of the body it used to navigate in the water. It then spreads its wings, which must dry before it can fly. Though the night it rests, waits and dries out, becoming stronger, sturdier, occasionally testing its new wings. When the dark of night begins to fade and the light appears, it flies to greet the rising sun.
As the title suggests, the key phrase for Cancer is “I Feel.” One can feel many emotions in a given day. And how one feels is, for many, quite a personal, private experience. That is perhaps part of the reason I haven’t been posting on Facebook – the other due to the busyness of this cycle. Some feelings are buried so deeply that it takes time for them to bubble up and allow us to figure out what is going on. I have spent much of the last 13 years connecting to my feelings, which are often buried very deeply. Mandala work and Centering Prayer have been a large part of reconnecting and reclaiming that part of myself.
In the Gemini cycle I became aware that I was out of balance. Having set time aside early in this cycle for some serious self care to offset my demanding schedule, my aim was to continue the patterns I had established that crazy week into in my life going forward. So, I have scaled back on my commitments so as not to over stretch myself. I will add that some of these were very difficult to let go of. I am eating healthier having removed or greatly diminished some inflammatory foods from my diet, which by the way is helping the early signs of arthritis, and am back in the kitchen cooking more often than not. I exercise most days and am finding first thing in the morning to be the best time for me. I even get my bike out a few times a week. I schedule some “pamper me time” with some good Epsom salt soaks and am getting more sleep, though I find myself waking up around 3:15 most mornings. I’m trying to figure out if it’s just the amount of sleep my body is used to getting or if my body is asking me to examine my emotional life. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, 3:00-5:00am is Lung time and the correlating emotions are grief and sadness. So I am taking stock of my dreams to see what may need attention. I just signed up for a new online session from Abby of the Arts starting in September. I had attended Coming Home to Your Body early last year and LOVED it! With this refocus on self-care routines it seems to me to be the perfect time to revisit!
So some changes were made and yet something was still missing… I still didn’t feel I had captured the essence of this cycle, UNTIL my son and I went to see the new Mission Impossible movie, Rogue Nation, on Tuesday morning. SO amazing to me how it all comes together in the Balsamic Phase! Anyway, there was Ethan Hunt on the hunt again and as I sat there, watching this character – albeit fictional – I was so moved by him. And in a single moment I realized that what I wanted most was to feel ALIVE! I’m not sure yet what that’s all about, what it means exactly or how it will manifest, but I do know it will have nothing to do with jumping off of buildings or engaging in high speed motorcycle chases. More than likely this feeling will have something to do with continuing to sing the love song I started singing in my heart last cycle, continuing the new habits I implemented in this cycle and taking note of those experiences, people and things that fill my heart.
Now we’re not even halfway through the natural year so I know there’s more to come. And, I think back to March when at a conference the keynote speaker of the day said, “Be a reservoir – one that is filled by love and allows that love to overflow.” I don’t know what lies ahead, what the Divine Beloved has in mind, but I have a pretty good feeling about the direction in which I’m headed and continue to remind myself to stay open and keep singing!
Love, Hugs and Blessings,