Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Snow Moon

The Snow moon has started with the New Moon on Friday January 11th and the Full Moon will be on Sunday January 27th. The cycle will end with the next New Moon on Sunday February 10th, which will be the beginning of Death Moon.

In Western Europe we usually have two big cold spells. The first one takes place in late November, while the second one normally happens late January, early February. This is why this period is called the Snow Moon. It is an English name that has been used for this Moon since the 16th century, but apparently the same name is used by the Native Americans for this Moon.

It is a strange time. Just as you despair that the Winter will never be over and nature will never stir again, the bulbs start to show their heads, peeking out of the dark Earth. The first buds on the trees are visible, and the nature promises return of Life. Then it becomes cold and it starts to snow. The returning Life is covered with with a white blanket and disappears from sight again. In the days before the invention of the supermarket, it would also herald the time of hunger. The last food would have been eaten during the Midwinter festival, and the left over scraps would be finished at this stage. The waiting game was to about begin - who would make it through the Winter, who would die?

In spite of the cold, the snow and the disappearance of the signs of life returning to the vegetation, the first lambs are born in this time period. The Pagan festival of Imbolc - "In the Belly" in Irish - falls in this month, on the first of February. This festival celebrates the imminent return of Spring and with the birth of the lambs it also heralds the return of milk - which would have been an important part of people's diet, and has the same colour as the snow.

The Snow moon is that last period of time where Nature is waiting, holding it's breath. The first signs of Life have been seen, but are covered by a blanket of snow, hidden from the eye. If the bulbs and trees are viable, they will make it through the cold spell: otherwise the Death Moon will claim them.

Associative Meditation

If you want to use a free associative meditation for this Moon, you could do the following exercise.

Sit down comfortably and close your eyes. Focus your thoughts on how your body sits on the chair of floor. Once you feel comfortable, shift your focus to your breathing. Slowly breath in and out, inhaling and exhaling deep, but in a comfortable way.
Clear your mind, and start by picturing snow. Imagine the feel of it, the way is smells. Picture it intensely, vividly. Then slowly let go of the image and see what your mind comes up with next.

When you feel you have come as far as you would like to go, bring your focus back on your breathing. Slowly breathing in and out, and bring your attention back to your body. Feel how your body is making contact with the chair or ground. Then slowly open your eyes, wiggle your fingers and toes, and stretch out. Have something to drink or eat if you feel you need to.


You could use any of the following associations as a starting point instead of Snow. They are some of my own associations, my train of thought. Your associative meditation could (and probably should!) go in a completely different direction:
Snow, bulbs, budding branches, returning life, cold blanket, white, virginal, milk, lambs, surviving.

Visualisation

If you would like to use a more defined image for a meditation on the Snow Moon, here are some ideas on where and how to start.

Sit down comfortably and close your eyes. Focus your thoughts on how your body sits on the chair of floor. Once you feel comfortable, shift your focus to your breathing. Slowly breath in and out, inhaling and exhaling deep, but in a comfortable way.

Imagine yourself standing at the edge of a small forest. The trees and the ground surrounding the forest is covered in snow. It is a bright day, with the Sun shining and a small Moon sickle visible in the sky. Underneath the blanket of snow on the ground, you can see the green sprites of the bulbs reaching out for the light. The reflection of the Sun on the snow makes your eyes blink: it is bright, but very little warmth is coming from the sun. You smell the scent of the snow, and you can feel it crunching under your feet. You see a large branch that has broken off on the ground next to you. You decide to sit on the branch and  let yourself relax, soaking up the atmosphere. Maybe a bird or a deer will approach you, or one of the other creatures of the forest. It could be that nothing happens, and you just sit and relax. Maybe some thoughts will come to you that will bring you a greater understanding of what is going on in Nature. Either way,  don't force anything - just let the visualisation take it's course.

When you feel you have spent as much time in this place as you would like, say goodbye to the forest and thank it for whatever you have experienced there. Bring your focus back to your breathing. Slowly breathing in and out, and bring your attention back to your body. Feel how your body is making contact with the chair or ground. Then slowly open your eyes, wiggle your fingers and toes, and stretch out. Have something to drink or eat if you feel you need to.

Disclaimer


If you aren't used to this kind of meditation, it could help to set an alarm. Start by doing up to 5 minutes per session, once a day. Meditating is good, but too much of anything isn't!

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