In coming up with the idea of Enchanted Moondays, I realised that the moon is perfect symbol of creativity - and she certainly makes for a spectacular muse, if nothing else!
Most of us have some sort of relationship with the moon. She’s always been in our lives, since before we can remember. I still recall staring up at the sky in awe as a little kid, much like a moon-gazing hare does, wondering at the infinite endlessness of the universe and my place in it. And in doing so, I would notice the moon - her shape, size, colour, and how she was ever-changing every night.
Few other things are so constant from the moment of our birth, and yet so elusive throughout our lives in their changing faces. It is because of this, I think, that for many people the moon is veiled in such wonder and mystery. Whenever she is full and at the height of her power, even the most rational of us often stop whatever we are doing, take a moment to look skyward, and say “Hey, look at the moon tonight!”
To our ancestors, she was a goddess. I wonder what it must have been like to sit around a blazing cook-fire in the dark of the wilderness, staring up at a sky scattered with stars and illuminated by a bright white moon, and seeing only the splendor of divinity... Never wondering what these things really are in the physical sense. Planets and constellations orbiting a vast universe, ever shifting but eternally present.
However, whilst we today have access to a scientific understanding of the moon, her magic and mystery is far from lost in the light of our new perspective. Her symbolism is potent, having endured and evolved over hundreds (if not thousands) of years, and today I present her to you anew as a symbol of our own creative natures.
Perhaps the most obvious reason for this is the moon's connection to water and the tides. Of the four elements of earth, air, fire and water (or five if you include spirit, as some like to), water is the element associated with our emotional, intuitive and subconscious selves - and any creative will tell you that these are inextricably linked to our creative capabilities and artistic processes on any given day. The connection here is quite natural when we consider the nature of water - fluid, flowing, changing, deep. Just like water, what appears to happening on the surface of a person is rarely revealing of what’s actually going on in their depths; likewise the beauty of a finished masterpiece does not reflect the agonising processes and personal transformation the artist most likely went through to create it. It’s similar to that metaphor we use when we’re quietly dealing with something particularly stressful - we might appear to be graceful swans on the surface, but unseen beneath the water our legs are paddling furiously to keep us afloat! Our creative and emotional states are innately connected, just like the moon and the tide. They are permanently in flux, and much like the tides we too experience both highs and lows. Some of us are more turbulent and cycle through emotive states more often than our peers, but I’m certain we all understand this experience to some degree.
Thus cycles of the moon, from the first winking slip of the waxing crescent to the majesty of the full moon and back again into darkness, are a suitable metaphor for the ebb and flow of our own creativity. A lot of creatives find that when they have a wonderfully productive day, their art suffers for it the day after - as if creativity simply has to be allowed to come and go as it pleases. But crucially, for most of us it always comes back, just like the moon.
Fascinatingly, the moon’s connection to us isn’t just symbolic. Full and new moons are often believed to affect people’s emotions, sleep patterns, thought processes and mental well-being - and as similar effects have been noted in animals as well as people, it’s hard to write this off as a placebo effect! And it becomes even more difficult to argue with the idea when we return to the moon’s influence over the earth’s water. Her gravitational pull combined with that of the sun is what tugs on the tides and creates a phenomenon called ‘tidal force’ (the Ocean Conservancy has a great and concise blog post all about this here). And here's the cool part. About 60% of the human body is, quite simply, water - and many of our individual organs (heart and brain included) are up to 70% or even 80% water! So really, it’s no wonder that the moon is reported to have a powerful effect on many of us. In fact, I actually propose it would be far more absurd to suggest that she doesn’t affect us. When the moon tugs on the ocean tides, she tugs on us too. One might poetically suggest that in touching us in such a way, she is moving our soul.
Of course, the moon has less enamouring associations too. The Roman goddess of the moon is famously called Luna, and it’s no accident that words like ‘lunatic’ and ‘lunacy’ have derived from this. Just as the moon has a hold over our emotional and unconscious states, insanity was similarly once thought to be caused by the moon. But then, some outstanding creative ideas were supposedly thought up during fits of madness! You didn’t think the stereotype of the tortured artist came out of nowhere, did you? That said, I certainly don’t advocate trying to descend yourself into a state of psychosis to improve your creative output - don’t do that! - but the link, although scientifically unfounded and thus tentative today, seems to still hold resonance and is interesting enough to bear mention.
I could quite happily carry on chatting about the moon and creativity and exploring associated quirky tangents, but I'm going to go away and untangle some more thoughts now, so we'll stop there! But hopefully what I’ve written here offers an appreciation of how the moon can be considered an appropriate and thought-provoking embodiment of our creative selves, and shows why she’s my chosen symbol for my weekly ‘Enchanted Moonday’ musics on the topic every Monday. And it has to be Mondays, of course, for that's the day of the moon! (In case you didn’t know, each day of the week from Monday through to Sunday is associated with a different planet and its corresponding Roman, Germanic and Norse deities - how cool is that?!)
In one last watery metaphor, I feel I’ve barely dipped beneath the surface in this post, but I hope you’ve found it intriguing! Do you ever think about the moon in a similar way? Or does she have a totally different meaning to you?
If you have something you’d like to offer up for contemplation or to contribute to these Moonday musings, leave a comment or drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org - quotes, thoughts, pictures, ideas, creations, blogs, anything goes! And of course I’ll link any contributions back to you, your website, blog or anywhere else you’d like. I’m always in search of new perspectives to play with!
Wishing you all a wonderful Moonday.
With love and magic,