The Moon's Shadow

August 27, 2017

September 6th my husband and I are married 12 years after only a 3 month courtship. At the time we met I had just been living in Makanda, IL. You know, the spot that just experienced the longest shadow of totality during the solar eclipse? I remember sitting on a cliff in Giant City exchanging tastes in music, travel and the full solar eclipse that was to take place exactly here, in the way distant future of 2017. The thing is, once we got married I realized this event was actually a date on our shared calendar. Like a birthday or anniversary, a date not to forget.

It was a no-brainer. Obvious, no questioned asked, like breathing. For us we didn’t even have to discuss why. It was something we equally felt could not be missed because oh my cookies the freaking moon will pass in front of and temporarily snuff out the sun! Why would you NOT be getting there to see this if you had the means?! Seeing an event of this magnitude seemed like it would catapult you to a high perhaps equivalent to scaling the tallest mountain. Perhaps touching the auspicious.

The town of Makanda is, as a local crony would say, “the eccentric hub of Illinois”. Having lived there for 3 years I grew to know it’s people, work with a slayer of metal and polisher of dinosaur bones and diamonds, forage wild mushrooms, and basically teach myself Light On Yoga. I was touched by these woods and so was my husband. We had to pilgrimage back to Shawnee to experience a natural phenomena such as this.

If I could bottle this experience and transport you there, I would. 2 minutes of epic mind blowing in the truest sense of those words. ANANDA. Absolute absorption into a power unlike any other. I felt totally free. Anuttara, none higher.

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This alignment of “spheres” combined with our vantage point really did a number on me. Witnessing the moment my beloved and I had quietly, privately anticipated for so long with our daughters Celeste and Autumn truly was powerful and beautiful. I’ve been trying to piece together the rivulets of insight, chance happenings, and synchronicity in life that have surfaced and how I got to where I am. My heart tells me to quiet and stay open. Movement, change, flow is happening all around us and within. It’s the tension between opposites that creates power.

My mantra has come to be, “Obscurity builds potency for revelation.” This moonshadow has taken center stage as a lesson. Had I not been drained of the warmth of the sun, been consumed by the deepest emptiness and sorrow for the longing attachment of such a powerful experience, there would be no empty vessel to fill back up again with it’s light and insight. Sometimes hitting rock bottom is the impetus for finally stepping into your own. The truth there is empowering.

It’s the tension, or what is generated by light and dark coming so closely together, that’s exciting. Seeing the “diamond ring” when the sunlight comes past the uneven surface of the moon just as the moon is no longer in totality is piercing. Put very simply, light and dark are engaging.

This scenario could be mapped onto symbols of the yoga tradition. The sanskrit word hatha can be deduced to ha=sun and tha=moon. Sun equating truth and moon equating reflection. The sun is the power of revelation and calling into light. It also serves as the physical and spiritual heart containing all the potential for all that is to be known, therefor the “truth”. The moon offers truth in the form of reflected light and cast shadow. The yoga tradition views the moon as associated with the brain and sees it as inherently limited in what it can know. Apparently for the yogis, the heart (sun) never lies. What’s in the darkness? Something other. Concealment exists as truth in an obscured way, we self-reflect to get to know it’s truth.

As a Hatha Yoga student and teacher, themes of concealment and revelation are rampant and personally always dangerously intriguing. Yoga means to yoke. To ask yourself what is pulling your cart, what am I yoked to and who is leading the way , etc. is making space for revealing the deeper truth. To experience shadow is to be alive and yet engaging with shadow is uncomfortable or scary. But you have to look behind you into the blinding light or consuming shadows to see the cart you’re yoking.

The heart is associated with the sun, which connotes truth in the yoga traditions. The sun, or light of consciousness, is a state of the heart. The mind is like the moon, reflecting the truth of the heart. Hence Ha (sun) and Tha (moon) yoga. I’m geeking out here because as I process my own experience of the eclipse I can’t not connect the two with meaning.

Which brings me to Durga, my chosen ishtadevata. The Madonna of another name. Durga is shakti, which means she is the incarnate of original stirrings, movement, power, the igniting spark. The gods create her by emitting their own power/light.

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As the story goes the Devas need to make together out of their own fiery emissions someone to get rid of the demon they on their own can’t kill. The character of the demon, named Mahisa, stands in for a powerful current of shadow, unknown, occlusion that opposes the glory of recognition, knowledge, and truth. If the gods and the demons didn’t engage each other there would be no spark, no shakti, no Durga, no creative force. The original utterances of consciousness would cease to exist. Durga is what arises from opposition engaging and it’s always to some extent engaging in the manifest world. It’s tension that holds the universe together.

She IS the tension between opposites.

The beauty of the goddess lures you in but the weapons she is wielding calls you into question. What are you willing to sacrifice to balance the power? How are you engaging life and what isn’t adding up, what’s missing? For 2 minutes and 40 seconds in Makanda it was the sun that went missing. How’s that for a sign to pause and ask who/what is pulling the cart?

The moon’s shadow brought millions of people together to let down their guard in the absence of light. The absence of light made people spontaneously cry with JOY, laugh, awaken to something. Truth revealed through obscurity. We were in personal, intimate, uncharted territory.

The source of life on our planet momentarily felt like we could touch it. After all, in complete totality you can remove your eclipse glasses and with your naked eye look directly at the sun. The revelation came from how bent and warped our reality was for those few moments. The tension aroused of the perfect alignment between opposites was ecstasy. The air seemed pixelated, all around you a 360 degree sunset, stars and planets visible, crickets and street lamps turn on in the middle of a summer afternoon. The uninhibited expressions of people were real yet unlike the real you know. It made me question truth and how well we can really know.

As for Durga, she’s always been between the sun and the moon. To know her power you must be willing to make a sacrifice. Can you sacrifice the comfort of ignorance to get to know your demons, shadows? If your fear isn’t apart of the rope yoking you then that delicate tension could not tremble and set into motion truth.

“Once in awhile you get shown the light, in the strangest of places is you look at it right.”
~ Robert Hunter

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