I’ll be posting on here (at least) every new moon.
If you’re not sure when that is, check the lunar
calendar and countdown below.
See you then!
countdown to the the next full moon on Thursday, October 5th at 7.40 p.m. (GMT):
Comment here about any of the posts below if
you'd like to! I look forward to hearing from you :)
Here is a guest post from Cathy Van Hoppe, co-conspirator on matters of the imagination and spirit and everything in between. Fellow artist and valley girl, she lives in the woods on the sunset side of the White Esk, while I live by a waterfall on the sunrise side.
I didn't see it, that huge Super Moon that last visited our skies in 1948. It was obscured from view by Scottish clouds and drizzle. But as it drew closer I was re-writing, tweaking and tailoring an Old Siberian folk tale about a Reindeer maiden and the Moon.
At the surface it is a delightful tale from the Arctic circle about how the moon came to be. Underneath this it is an unusual tale of female strength and the weakness and changeable nature of conditional love. And if you listen a little deeper still, there are also the quiet, grounded qualities of unconditional love.
I have only just begun sketching ideas for the illustrations and they may well change but here is a little peek into a Wintery Fantasy from The Far North...
Lusa, the Reindeer and the Moon
The Moon was not always as it is today.
Once he was a pale faced Prince who sailed the skies as a lost soul. Astral winds swirled in his hair as he roamed amongst the Stars, drifting wherever and whenever he pleased. For all his freedom his heart was lonely and in time he began to look for a companion with whom he could share the skies.
On Earth, in the Northern Lands, lands that the Sun leaves dark for long cold Winters, the Moon spied an Old Shepherd and his Daughter.
Just as the pale Prince rode the skies, Lusa, her Father and their people roamed the white plains and glistening Forests of the Arctic carrying their homes with them wherever they went. The Shepherds of the clan roamed even further still. In Summer they would travel North with the reindeer to calve and feed on the lush growth and in Winter they would travel South to find shelter from harsh weather and forage for food under soft snow.
The time came when the already old shepherd grew even older and could not make the long journey away from the clan. So on one cold Winter's night – though Winter itself was a long night lasting many months – Lusa set off on the long journey South alone.
Lusa and the herd travelled slowly – walking by torchlight and resting by fireside. Time passed unmarked by dusk or dawn and Lusa sang contentedly as she played her gentle drum.
The Moon flew a little closer – he had heard this music before. Such a beautiful sound – as vast as the sky and as enchanting as starlight. The prince bowed low to the trees to listen closer still. With a joy in his heart he forgot himself and his loneliness in her song.
So mesmerised was he that he unwittingly sank Earthwards with a love laden smile and when the music stopped he awoke to find himself knee-deep in snow.
Scrambling to his feet he promised himself that this was the woman he would make his own. He would take her back to the sky to sail the sea of stars in his beautiful boat and he would never be lonely again.
His lovelorn hunt began. Through the snow-laden forests Lusa’s starlit voice and gentle song guided him to her.
As the Moon grew closer Lusa began to feel uneasy – as any creature does when it feels the hunt coming. But Life gifts both the Hunted and the Hunter...
Lusa beat three strong beats on her drum. Boom Boom Boom.
The resonant sound shook the snow from the trees and the Reindeer stood silent.
Out from the herd the largest reindeer stepped. In three large elegant strides he changed his skin for man flesh.
Lusa and Taiga, for that was the name of the man with a Reindeer’s soul, bent their heads together. Their breath caressed each others faces before becoming glittering rainbow coloured ice-dust in the air.
“The Moon is coming for you” whispered Taiga.
“ I do not want to live in the sky with a pale faced prince. I am content here with you” breathed Lusa.
“Then we must hide you.” said the gentle voice of the man with reindeer feet.
The moon grew closer still. His light began to shine like a cold sun casting long shadows across the Snow.
Quickly Taiga turned Lusa into a snowdrift and then turned himself back into a reindeer and began snuffling for lichen and moss.
The Moon approached the herd. He stood tall and thin, his round face hungry and expectant.
“Where is your shepherdess?” he crooned.
But the herd ignored him and just kept on foraging.
He walked around the herd this way and that. Bending low and crooked he looked for trails of footprints in the snow, but there were none.
And so the Moon flew back up into the skies to see from above where Lusa might be – but he saw nothing.
The sky darkened to an inky blue as the moon sailed away. Taiga became a man once more and returned Lusa to her body.
“ He will come again” Taiga whispered gently. “Run to the Yaranga and I will hide you there.”
So Lusa ran to the Yaranga and closed the flap. Once inside, Taiga transformed Lusa into a small oil lamp and returned himself to the form of a reindeer.
Lusa waited, listening to the steady breathing of the herd outside in the otherwise silent forest.
The Prince spied Lusa’s soft warm light as it glowed amongst the trees. Under cloud cover he slyly lowered himself to Earth. Striding determinedly through the snowdrifts he cut a straight track to the Yaranga and threw back the entrance flap. At the sight of the empty space his heart sank and he began a desperate search. Under rugs, in satchels and under coats but Lusa was in none of those places.
“ Where are you?” he crooned. He leaped outside into the cold air. Circling the Yaranga and then the trees, he looked high and low for her. Running through the forest calling sweetly and playfully the Pale Prince tried to lure her from her hiding place. Lusa remained a quiet amber light and said nothing.
When he was a way into the forest Taiga stomped his hoof in the snow and Lusa became a woman once more. She peeked out from the entrance flap.
“I’m here, can’t you see me?” she teased.
The Moon Prince beamed and ran to the Yaranga and as he neared the entrance Taiga stomped his hoof yet again.
The moon hurtled through the flap but there was nothing. He frantically checked everywhere. He checked coat pockets and tiny boxes but Lusa was nowhere to be seen.
The Prince huffed and puffed as he stomped out of the tent. His anger rising, he began recklessly searching the herd and the sleigh tossing Lusa’s meagre possessions carelessly into the snow as he went.
Taiga stomped his hoof again. Lusa peeked out from behind the entrance flap .
“ What’s wrong with you? I’m over here” she giggled.
The Moon burst into the Yaranga again and again Lusa was nowhere to be seen.
In this way Taiga and Lusa kept the pale Prince running. Deep into the forest and back to the Yaranga. Over and over until he was utterly exhausted. When they could see that he was weak Taiga stomped his hoof once more. This time Lusa faced the Moon as herself. This time her strength was far greater than his and she pushed him to the ground and bound his legs and arms tightly.
She stood over him. “I am a free spirit,” she said calmly “I do not wish to be captured or owned by anyone. Nor do I wish to leave my home.” She left him shivering in the snow shocked, chastised and cold.
The Moon pleaded with her, “Please, I will freeze to death out here in the snow. Please take me into the Yaranga and let me warm myself and then I will return to the skies and never hunt you again.
Lusa pulled the Prince inside and wrapped blankets around him. She could not bear to see any being suffer but she was no fool.
“I don’t believe you. You may sail back to the sky but when you are strong again you will return.”
But the moon promised the kind of promise that has eyes of no doubt and he said
“If you set me free I will share my light with your people.”
So Lusa carried the now warm but still weak Moon back to his vessel and watched him sail his beautiful boat up into the sea of stars.
And there he still shines – our pale faced prince of the skies that marks our months and steers our tides and sheds light upon the Northern lands in their season of darkness. To this day, out of love and respect for all the free spirited people, he leaves a small beam of moonlight twinkling in their eyes.
Welcome to this shiny new blog, where I’m muchly looking forward to sharing my ongoing curious explorations into art, nature and spirit with you.
I’ve named it murmurations, inspired by those vast, sky-borne communions of individual birds who, together, create an ephemeral and transporting synthesis of transcendent beauty.
Below are two previous blog ventures:
the button will take you to fifty-odd posts
I made on Tumblr from 2015-2016 before
I returned to the way back here…
…and beneath is trial no.1; my first posts
from 2014, made en-site as I tried to construct
a blog page from scratch ~ before I realised
life could be easier than that :)
Asking a Big Question
Note added 22nd September:
Though I knew the subject of this post on
what the Zhouyi thinks about the idea of an
independent Scotland would soon be old news,
I spent some time putting it together as I think it gives a
good example of the Zhouyi's response to a Big Question.
It's also a reminder to you to keep a record of your 'old' questions
both big and small, as looking back at readings after it became clear
which way the issue you were seeking clarity on actually panned out is
a great way to become more familiar with how the Oracle works. (Though
in this case, of course, there's no way of telling since it didn't happen!)
Additionally, recording readings is a valuable tool to help you to
honestly track your own shifting focus and intent, as by observing
the questions you chose to ask, you get a mirror into which
issues were at the forefront of your consciousness.
Scotland from the Mathew Paris map, c. 1250
I usually find political topics the last to engage my passions ~
but as a part-English person with a vote in this historic election &
todays news being that the result is now 'too close to call', I felt the
urge to share another perspective: that of the Zhouyi, who I
asked these questions of a couple of weeks ago as
I was trying to make the best decision.
When I did the readings, I was completely undecided, so
wasn't trying to skew the response to what I desperately wanted
to be the right one. (Never a good way to interact with the oracle! :)
The answer I got to the question 'What would be the
result of Scotland becoming independent?'
was earth-over-mountain: humility.
This was a particularly prized asset in ancient China, where people clearly
hadn't got around to glorifying celebrity. And if someone was celebrated, they were
expected to be demure about it and not keep track of their sum total of twitter followers.
As the Zhouyi remarks, high mountains are worn down by the waters, and the valleys
are filled up. It is the law of fate to undermine what is full and to prosper the
modest. And men also hate fullness and love the modest.
This is undeniable ~ but I've also had personal experience of getting this
response from the Zhouyi to wake me up to the reality of my humble identity
as a Very Unimportant Person. (It was in answer to me asking about asking
Eckhart Tolle to write the forward to my book and, in this context,
meant "Get real, girl, that ain't happening anytime soon.")
So, back to Scotland's reading: the second line was changing,
with the guidance that modesty comes to expression.This tells us that
when a man's attitude of mind is so modest that this expresses itself in his outward behaviour,
it is a source of good fortune to him. For the possibility of exerting a lasting influence
arises of itself and no one can interfere. (not even England.)
Apart from containing a caution for Scotland not to become arrogant if given power and autonomy,
this clearly speaks to its undeniably humble position at the moment...and for a few hundred years.
The power of this transforming second line changes humility into rising, wood under the earth.
This indicates work as hard as that undertaken by a shoot pushing up
through the ground ~ but promises great success as a result, promising a
direct rise from lowliness and obscurity to power and influence.
This made the situation abundantly clear to me: beyond any focus on
the many and varied issues involved, what was being highlighted was the
spirit of the issue as a deep desire for change which needs to be honoured.
Curious for the first time about the details of Scotland's 1707 union with
England, I found that 'Sir George Lockhart of Carnwath, the only member
of the Scottish negotiating team against union, noted that "The whole nation
appears against the Union" and even Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, an
ardent pro-unionist and Union negotiator, observed that the treaty was
"contrary to the inclinations of at least three-fourths of the Kingdom".
Public opinion against the Treaty as it passed through the
Scottish Parliament was voiced through petitions from shires, burghs,
presbyteries and parishes. The Convention of Royal Burghs also
petitioned against the Union and not one petition in favour of
an incorporating union was received by Parliament.
On the day the treaty was signed, the carilloner in
St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, rang the bells in the
tune 'Why should I be so sad on my wedding day?'
Threats of widespread civil unrest resulted
in Parliament imposing martial law.'
I was now becoming fairly convinced ~ but also did a reading to cover
the 'better together' option, which at that time was looking more likely.
I got heaven under water, waiting, which I call gathering strength.
This is about not rushing into things, of letting them unfold at their own pace,
just as we cannot schedule blessing rains to fall from the sky. But though the
second line was also changing in this reading, it has a very different feel here:
'The danger gradually comes closer. Sand is near the bank of the river, and
the water means danger. Disagreements crop up. General unrest can easily
develop in such times, and we lay the blame on one another. He who stays
calm will succeed in making things go well in the end. Slander will be
silenced if we do not gratify it with injured retorts.'
To me this brings to mind a situation like that of a family in which
the teenage daughter, though legally old enough, is told she's forbidden to
leave home as she's not ready yet: you canimagine the rows, the door-slamming,
the mutual feeling of unfairness and being misunderstood.
If it's a 'no', the issue, having been raised, won't just go away ~ and not just
in the barely-still united kingdom, as other provinces which have been denied
independence, like Catalunya, have been reminded of their claims.
This 'no' reading changes to water over fire, fulfilment: the one gua
in which every line is in the right place (each yin - broken - and yang -
unbroken - line having correct and incorrect placements.)
In a way, though, this is not as good as it sounds, as the Zhouyi, forever mindful
of the developing seeds of coming situations, tells us that the natural way for perfect
balance to evolve, unless one is relentlessly mindful, is into total imbalance.
The water over fire shows us the image of a kettle boiling over
a fire, picture of homely harmony ~ if the fire doesn't burn down
too low or reach up too high, the water doesn't boil dry or boil over.
To conclude this long post, I have to disclose a vested interest:
just before I did my readings, my local postie asked which way I was
leaning, which at that point was more towards the staying together option.
He responded with horror, and said he'd buy me a chocolate bar if I voted yes.
This arrived promptly with the next post with an official delivery note:
It's not about the chocolate, though. More about the fact that, as
Kevin Bridges points out, as a proper foreign country we could get
our very own time zone, six-pin plug sockets, currency based on
the smackyarooni and a royal family chosen by lottery.
It has to be
What do you think of the Zhouyi's view?
moving into movement
I've just created a playlist on youtube
to act as a sketchbook for me to share
the journey of working on ~ and playing with ~
Becoming Visionary: re-creating an enchanted
world with the transformative power of Zhouyi.
So if you have any video requests, let me know!
My intent with this is to follow the
suggestion I give in chapter one of
imperfect action being better than perfect inaction.
(Read the whole of chapter one here :)
In this spirit, I made this first video-sketch
after being inspired to record a song-sketch
about a little yellow bird I saw, absorbed in eating
thistle seeds by the burn behind my house.
I would have loved to have filmed him too (I later
found he was a siskin) but I was too engrossed
in relishing the moment and writing the song!
song for a siskin
I’m sitting alone not lonely on harebell hill
Wondering if I’ll touch the heart but knowing I will
A tiny yellow bird is pecking at thistledown
Sending it flying all around me, there’s no way to frown
While a yellow bird in August sunshine is plucking thistledown
And the burn it flows so sweetly as the grasses sway upon the ground
Shaken by the gentle breezes blowing all around
And the endless blue above me is filled with thistledown
When I was seven I ran after thistledown
Called it catching wishes as I cupped my hands around
The fragile faerie form inside holding the wish I’d found
Then I’d open up my fingers, hear a joyful silent sound
As my wish danced with playful winds who tumbled it around
Sent it soaring high then gently drifting down
Those were the days when I wished on thistledown
But with all the magic in me then, there’s no alchemy I’ve found
That equals being enfolded in the wishes liberated now
By a tiny yellow sunshine bird adoring thistledown
Oh yes: you may be wondering what all this has to do with the Zhouyi.
To which the answer is: Directly? Nothing at all. Indirectly? Everything.
One of the things I love about this mysterious path is the way that it's
expanded my conception of myself, supporting me in questioning my
assumptions of who I thought I was and allowing me to go beyond them.
(In this example, realising I didn't need to limit myself to being a visual artist.)
I hope you can find this freedom and fulfilment within the Zhouyi, too.
Or, of course, you may find something entirely different, just as profound
but which I didn't think of mentioning as it hasn't been a part of my journey.
If anyone reading this has begun their own explorations with
the Zhouyi which they'd like to share, I'd love to hear them.
And if you'd like to share something but just not quite
so publicly, you can send it to:
the door is round and open
In Becoming Visionary, I quote Rumi’s poem The Breeze at Dawn:
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
…but for some time I have been going back to sleep,
irresistibly pulled deeper into the alluring and sheltered Dreaming world.
This morning, though, woken by my cat jumping into bed with me before four in the morning
and purring like an engine, I decided to get up. Looking at a floor strewn with paperwork, I was
vaguely wondering where to start creating a bit of space inside when a rising golden crescent
moon, perfectly framed between the trees, took my breath away and called me out.
Somehow, more than I’d ever been aware of before, all the constellations
harmoniously echoed the shadowed shapes of the horizon, reminding me of the
extraordinary book The Star Mirror by Mark Vidler. (“At the dawn of the new millennium
the brightest stars of the sky are coming into unprecedented alignments with the highest mountains
on earth and forming mirror images with sacred sites around the world.”)
This night, they seemed unprecedentedly aligned with my humble high dale.
Above the sleeping valley, which overflowed with luminous
moonlit mist like a chalice held in offering, a line of light ~ one of
the last of the Perseids meteor shower ~ pierced the darkness.
Where the two worlds touch felt tangibly,
sublimely present ~ right here, right now.
The dawn chorus is at its peak and
all of life is in full abundant manifestation,
with the Beltane full moon tonight
(lunar countdown here).
Life is sweet.
Sticking to the abundant manifestation theme,
I’m excited to announce that each of the Zhouyi’s
sixty-four hexagrams, or gua, now has its own page!
Much doing things sixty-four times still needs to follow
so that the name, a quote, links and more are all on there
too, but at least each gua now has space to grow into.
Rather than identify all of them by name on the sub-menu
(of the ‘oracle cards’ page) I reckoned it was more user-friendly
~ particularly if you want to look up a reading from elsewhere,
in which case the name and number could well be different ~
to identify them according to the trigrams, or ‘primary gua’
which make them up, as these never change.
(Apart from when they change into each other, of course,
which is a main feature of the Book of Changes ~
but that's another story for another time :)
Therefore joy, for example...
￼ ...is tagged as lake under lake.
I'll be working on expanding these
gua pages in the following weeks.
(later note: er, make that months)
For today, have a blissful Beltane!
That the Sabian symbol for this Scorpio full Moon is
Crowds Coming Down The Mountain To Listen To One
Inspired Man is very apt, as this is also the most
sacred Buddhist festival: Wesak, anniversary
of Buddha's birth, death and enlightenment.
A potent way to honour this day is to focus with
renewed dedication on one's spiritual aspirations
and practise, including simple kindness to others.
The rewards for such efforts are said to be
immeasurably magnified not only on the day
of the full moon, but throughout the whole
of the sacred, merry month of May.
Buddha the Conquerer by Nicholas Roerich, 1925
If you can't fit in hours of practise this Wesak,
the esoteric tradition teaches that Buddha returns
to Earth for eight precious minutes at the moment of
this full moon, and that this is the most potent time in
the whole yearly cycle to be receptive to spiritual
attunement ~ and to chant the powerful
From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into the minds of men.
Let Light descend on Earth.
From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let love stream forth into the hearts of men.
May Christ return to Earth.
From the centre where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide the little wills of men—
The purpose which the Masters know and serve.
From the centre which we call the race of men
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.
Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.
I have to admit that, though having been taught this
many years ago, and resonating with the energy and
spirit of the words as a whole, I haven't used it as a
practise, as I got stuck on my resistance to the line
"and may it seal the door where evil dwells."
This, for me, evoked imagery of a cellar door to
a dark room full of malevolent, disowned shadow
forces who, when someone unsealed the door (as
inevitably happens in fairy tales) would burst out,
madder and more malevolent than ever.
Writing this blog reminded me that the gift of
the Invocation remained unused by me: there had
seemed no way around it, as I couldn't put all of my
heart into something which didn't feel wholly right ~
and making any change would have felt sacrilegious.
Then I came upon an entreaty ~ by the spiritual teacher
known in esoteric circles simply as the Tibetan ~ for "a united
use of The Great Invocation on the day of The Wesak full moon."
This mentioned that "All whom you can reach in the countries of the world
must be instructed and helped to spread the use of the Invocation in their
own language, and with the wording that will make it acceptable..."
With this encouragement, I decided to pen a version that evoked no
resistance in me ~ that I could happily use ~ and came up with this one:
This is my Beltane/Wesak offering, and what I'll
be invoking as the moon becomes full tonight.
What would be your most heartfelt, uplifting
offering and invocation? I'd love to know.
© shenpen chökyi 2013-2016