When the moon is full I go absolutely crazy, I do. I go mad. I want to run and jump and leap through the streets, I want to have sex with trees, to dance until dawn. I want to climb mountains wearing soft butterscotch boots that go all the way up my thigh. I can feel radiant energies shooting into and out of every part of me. I don’t know what to do first! I feel totally crazed. It’s a truly wonderful sensation and it lasts (as I believe the full moon does) for about three days — maybe longer, depending. Then I forget about it somehow, just to be surprised all over again.

The best thing is to be caught by surprise at the first sight of the full moon, driving in the car, or better yet, standing on a hill somewhere staring at the view, when suddenly the great fat full ripe sweet sensual moon pops up from behind a mountain or a cloud! It has nearly knocked me over a few times, quite literally. I don’t know whether to worship it, or laugh like a loon (or luna), or go play my little Mustang electric bass as loud as it will go, or wear out two or three friends with my inspirations. And it moves so fast! It always seems that the full moon rises faster than any other moon.

I’ve been in the desert for the full moon, a place so thick with living silence that you can almost hear the moon rising. I love to go out there in the Summer, and save my energy by lurking in the shade of rocks in the day-heat so that when night comes I can take long long walks in the floodlit moonscape. It is almost bright enough to read by in the desert. I know it is bright enough to write by, because I have written inspired reams in its light. The madness is a little different when I am in the desert, because I am more naturally grounded. But I am so totally in love with its beauty, so totally surrendered, it seems as if nothing short of expiring on the spot would be a fitting gesture of appreciation.

I have seen the full moon rise over the ocean as I sat on the sand, and pierce me right to the heart with the silver laser shot over the water. I have had Her Royal Fatness rise above the forest as I lay on a nest of pine needles, waiting for Oberon the Forest King to show himself. I have often slept in my bed with the full moon caressing my face and bathing my eyes with beams through the window — a sleep different from all others.

When I was a little girl, I used to have recurring dreams where I could hold the moon in my hands and bite it. But that’s another story.

Renais Jeanne Hill
Burbank, California

The sky eats the moon each month. We eat her too. When we kneel before the priest, the round bread he gives us is the moon.

On the street, you can see it in their faces — the ones who have just eaten the moon.

New York, New York

Impartial moon!

Two stories I like come out of the discipline I prefer (Zen). The first, a simple encouragement, assumes that someone is pointing to the moon. It runs: “Forget the finger, see the moon!”

The second, a so-called koan or intellectually-insoluble riddle, concerns the teacher Gutei, who, whenever he was asked about the Dharma (Truth) would simply raise one finger. At the end of his life, Gutei commented that throughout his whole career he had always used this single-finger teaching yet he had never managed to exhaust it.

At any rate, one day, Gutei was away from the monastery when a pilgrim stopped for a visit. Entering the teacher’s room, he found one of Gutei’s students, whom, the pilgrim assumed, was Gutei himself. The pilgrim asked about the Dharma, the student raised a single finger in imitation of his teacher, and the pilgrim bowed and left.

When Gutei returned and found out what had happened, he called the student to him and had him recount the story in detail. When the student raised his single finger, Gutei pulled out a knife and with one swipe lopped it off. Howling with pain, the student ran to the exit. Just as he was about to leave, Gutei called to him. The student turned. Gutei raised a single finger. The student came to an honest understanding.

Given these two stories, I sometimes wonder idly: is the finger pointing to the moon the single-finger clarity or shall we forget the single-finger clarity and see the moon?

Wonderful, clear moon!

Adam Fisher
New York, New York

The moon, ah yes, the moon. If you mean the round disc that floats its way into my life to wreak all sorts of havoc. If you mean the round orange ball of a midsummer which takes a normal, healthy human and disposes of it into a heap before, during, and after its arrival. Yes, I know the moon. The emotional tides it creates in my life continually amaze me. When I don’t notice it knocking, I’m thrown into turmoil about why and how I got to be such a creature. When I see the footsteps that precede its coming, I am able to handle the refuse it drags me through. Yes, I know the moon all too well. Yet I love its fullness in the starry camping night, its crescent in a cold winter’s eve, and its newness when it is not apparent in the sky. The moon and I run in sameness. I am new when it is not there; I am full when it is.

Alan Ransenberg
Atlanta, Georgia

To me the moon symbolizes what Hamlet told Horatio: “There’s more twixt heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy.” It symbolizes the mysterious irreducibility of reality — how truth is always more complex than any theory or ideology.

So much about the moon is amazing — its effects on seeds (even on seeds kept indoors), on the biorhythms of blind people, on human violence and domestic disputes (which significantly peak at the full moon). The moon is linked with mystery (the side we never see), with time (months), with mental illness, perhaps (“lunacy”). It is also linked with eros or romance. There’s something so beautiful about a crescent moon on the horizon, or a full moon bright enough to give one a sharp shadow or to illuminate a lacy rack of clouds.

Now, the sun symbolizes something quite different to me. The sun is revealed truth — graspable, tangible truth. As a Christian, to me the Bible is the sun. But it can be abused. The wooden, literal, fundamentalist reading of the Bible (that which leads parents to teach their children “creationism”) is really a kind of sun-worshipping idolatry. Ezekiel’s vision of men in the temple worshipping the sun (Ezekiel 8:16) is in a sense still true today.

By the same token, worshipping the moon is the cult of the occult, also quite depressing to me.

For many of us the “sun has turned to darkness,” the “moon become as blood” (Joel 2:30, Revelations 6:12). Sun and moon are threats to one’s right hand (Psalm 121:5-6) — the right hand for me symbolizing one’s sense of duty or conscience, as opposed to one’s sense of pleasure, the left hand (cf. Matthew 6:3, Ecclesiastes 10:2). One’s moral bearings can be distorted by both sun and moon.

But the way out, the answer, is to be true to yourself, think for yourself, and trust yourself and God within you. If you have trust, then sun and moon don’t matter. In the new earth or New Jerusalem of Isaiah and Revelations, sun and moon are replaced by God who is Light (Isaiah 60:19 but see also 60:20). In the new earth, we’ll have new hearts (of flesh, not stone), new spirits (Ezekiel 36:26). We’ll have new flesh on our bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14) and a new outlook on life. Because we’ll not fear sun and moon. Rather, we’ll have reverence for the wonder of it all, the glory of the sun, the sublime otherworldliness of the moon.

Mark B. Peterson
Charlottesville, Virginia

In Philippine folklore, the moon is always blood-red. She is an apocalyptic being dressed in a gown of white flowers — lovely to behold, both virgin and witch, the sum of all a man’s fantasies about woman.

But there is a terrible side to this fascinating goddess. She is also the force who transforms the maiden into a creature of darkness — bat-winged, long, dark hair streaming through the nightwind as she flies half-bodied, deep red eyes scrutinizing the countryside below for signs that say: here lies a pregnant woman. Then, over the thatched roof of a nipa house, she lets her long, lizard’s tongue down, slithers it through the mosquito net, until it finds, inside the mother’s womb, a fetus to curl her tongue about, extracting the child ever so gently with an almost bizarre tenderness.

The people of those islands know her as manananggal (“she who takes away”). I understand her to be the dark side of the moon, the one we call nightmare, and who causes such enigmatic acts of fate as miscarriage. There is this side to her. But certainly, there is also another facet to this demoness, a side made monstrous by the fact that the maiden must lose all her beauty and then swell up into unwieldy ugliness while her man, who did all this to her, now casts amorous glances at other, more attractive women. The woman is no more insecure than when she is facing motherhood — afraid of, and seemingly being eaten by, the child inside her. Her bitterness goes right down to her biological roots: the weaker of the two sexes, exploited, battered, humiliated constantly, forced to serve a child-man without whom she would not be able to survive in a more muscular world.

The legend of the manananggal, then, tells us that we are all in a sense abominable abortions — and that she, as nightmare, is our real and first mother, for it is she who delivers the soul even before the baby is born.

Until we find her — after going on a long journey into a place of brooding, thick-leafed trees, into a town called Fiesta — there can be no real spiritual birth ahead of us. And when we arrive at this town in the middle of nowhere, there will be food to tempt us, aromatic and beautifully laid out, though we may not know even then that this cuisine is really entrails, organs, the livers of so many unborn. One will be tempted, almost beyond resistance, for here the food speaks to our hunger with promises of immortality, powers beyond our reckoning — the capacity to tap into that golden cauldron where the guts of the race fester in a soup of unowned guilts and evasions, made even more potent, no doubt, by a morality that loves to put the blame on the stranger and the child, the lover and the idealist, the weak nation out there, the loner.

He who gives in to this culinary debauch will find himself the heir of all his darkest thoughts. He will become the black magician who hides his heart in a set of Chinese boxes so he may have the power to rule without risking his heart. In the event of a war, he will also find himself accused of being the devil who eats children — though it will not be generally understood that he prefers to eat their souls so he may have their minds and their bodies to use.

The manananggal may appear extraordinarily hideous in this tale from the Orient. Yet, again, she is really no stranger to us. Our fairy tales are more fastidious. They make a differentiation between the princess and the dragon. But in this story, the princess and the dragon are one. They have not yet been separated — and this is probably because the prince who is to come is still too caught up in the mother to be able to know what he is about and how he can help. And the princess too is much caught up in the power of the father. She wants a prince who is like father although she really wants a prince who has found himself so that she may find herself in him.

The manananggal is a dualistic creature. During the day, as the folktale goes, she is a beautiful woman, restored to her lower bodily half — that part, from the waist down, which she leaves at the rounding of the moon. She is truly winsome and full of potential generative power then. Yet, under this masculine light of the sun, she is also a plaything, even less than a child, a mere object of pleasure, the snide contempt of males who fear her potential power and who must then reduce her to something they can manage.

At the fourteenth or fifteenth day of the moon, this oppressed side of hers emerges to be confronted. A battle ensues. Plots and stratagems are hatched to slay this ogress who flies with leather wings. The cross is brought up to her face. Perhaps a recognition in Christ of what human suffering is all about — this attachment to pain, the refusal to let go of our hurt — will cure and transform her. Garlic and cement lime are applied to her quivering, lower torso. When the sun rises and she must make her return, there will be no joining of the upper to the lower body part. There will be a recognition that she is, after all, not a whole being — but sick and divided against her own procreative powers because her mind has taken in male judgments and is now full of self-loathing. And perhaps, while she languishes in her despair, someone, the prince, may come and say: the nightmare is passed; only the dream remains. And then, maybe then, both man and woman may learn to nurture what is broken in each other so that when the full moon appears once more, they will write verses to each other, praising the dream in each other’s eyes, watching the moon ride the calm midnight sea with the wind blowing full into its sail of stars.

Edward Cortez Garrett
Tucson, Arizona

The Aztecs, the Stonehenge Druids, and a lot of other heavy clans from the past got into tracking the sun and the moon. You’ve seen the zodiac stones and the elaborate paraphernalia to clock the midsummer sun’s rising. Eclipses were tubular because they represented the marriage of these two mysterious orbs. If the sun was the male god chasing the moon, the female god, through the sky, then hey! you can catch the intensity of the eclipse. Cosmic!

What did they know that we don’t? Modern astronomy, bathed in Harvard and respectability, eliminates the life blood of true astrological mystery and symbol and so loses in spirit what it gains in big telescope dollars. No, modern astronomy cannot tell us what they knew that we don’t because modern astronomy says, “They were puerile superstitious cavemen without our sophistication.” All Neil Armstrong could say when asked how he felt in relation to Cortez and Columbus and Byrd and Genghis Khan after being the first human on the Big Green Cheese was, “My mind has been mainly directed to fulfilling my tasks.” How functional. A cog in a computer. An asterisk in a TV generation where we are spectators to everything and nothing is real in itself.

I don’t want to imply that I have the Answer to what the moon really means. But I know, with the ancient astronomers, that the moon is a symbol, put in space by the Creator, its meaning to be extracted by study and thought. (Have you ever studied the intricacies of its motions in relation to the earth? Incredible complexity for such an apparently simple system!) All of the creation is a parable waiting to be meditated on for Divine meaning. What else can the first chapter of the Good Book mean?

Let there be lights
in the expanse of the heavens . . .
and let them be for SIGNS and for seasons
and for days and years.

— Genesis 1:14

The moon has no light of its own. Yet it appears to shine onto the earth. The moon gets its “light” from the sun. The moon is a symbol of those earthlings, Aquarian beings, who are harbingers of God, vessels of His Spirit. The sun represents God. The earth stands in need of direction and help from divine teachers in its blackness of night and the moon, drawing spirit-light from the sun, is the organ that can shed light to the earth. So you decide. Do you want to stay on the earth and stand in need of the light or do you want to give your life to God and be a vessel of His Spirit to help enlighten fellow-earthlings of their need of redemption?

If you do, take a trip to the moon.

Larry Pahl
Glen Ellyn, Illinois

It has only been in the last few years that I have noticed the effects the moon has on me and those around me. The effects, of course, were always there — it was I who was unaware. The full moon finds me pensive, introspective, yet ready, at a moment’s notice, to party until dawn. The new moon brings me energy; I propel my life forward at these times, completely in control.

It was a lover who first helped me to recognize the moon’s influence. We would stay awake all night the evening of a full moon. We would lie outside, weather permitting, and gaze at its ripeness and talk of a million things, or we would simply be with each other, not talking at all. In these thought-filled moments it seemed we were party to some secret message the moon beamed down to us. It always remained indecipherable, yet we both felt it.

This friend, now in Saudi Arabia, still comes to mind when the moon is big and round. In talking with him on the telephone, we compare the moon’s cycles here with the cycles there — halfway around the planet.

“It’s a full moon here tonight,” I tell him, “and it’s fitting we’re together — if only by telephone.”

“That can’t be,” he replies, astonished. “It’s a full moon here!” The difference being it is night at my home and day at his. It is one more thing we share, long after our affair has ended.

After our conversation I go outside and look up to the sky. The moon hangs there — illuminated — and tells me, “Even when you are unaware, I always know where my children are.” The message, at last, is clear.

Diane W. Rolfe
San Antonio, Texas

Full moon: intuitive force flows freely; plants grow tall and high under the night sky.

Blue moon: lovers feel the tide, a force beyond themselves making them a part of generation after generation of sea beasts.

Dark side of the moon: a hidden part of my nature beyond loneliness.

Moon of she, my mate, with moon in Cancer, Taurus rising.

Earth moon: revealing little, concealing much to the passerby.

The mystery of moon-gazing that causes the lowliest bard to sing.

(Darryl Carlton)
Richmond, Virginia

The round laughing eyes of the woman-in-the-moon catch me in flight from my car to the front door and after I’m safely locked in I gaze at her through a crack in the shade.

I’ve heard of her legendary powers to move tides and wombs, to cause outbreaks of emotion that turn certain people into murderers and werewolves! And across all cultures, people have endowed this floating disk — now white, now blue, now yellow — with a flattering array of supernatural qualities.

I was walking on the Ile de la Cite in Paris that night in July 1969 when moon myths were undermined. A deep sense of loss came over me when I looked up and could imagine those happy astronauts walking on her face. Another step in territorial conquest. A limp little American flag, its staff wedged between moon rocks, waiting for a never-to-arrive earthlike gust of wind.

And yet, there was no apparent revenge for this intrusion. No cataclysmic events to tell us we’d overstepped our bounds. Did the moon-maiden always know that some day her imperious solitude would be broken and had prepared her soul to bear it? To continue to laugh and laugh through the aeons . . . anyway?

Elizabeth M. Earle
Chapel Hill, N.C.

We see the moon because it reflects the light of the sun. But what if the moon were a mirror? The glare would be so strong that we’d never again see the stars. Monotonous daylight would prevail. Fortunately the moon is a dusty, lackluster, pockmarked rock. The light it casts is poised perfectly, sublimely, between luminescence and shadow. The moon is perfect because of its imperfections.

Brian Knave
Johnson City, Tennessee