Friday 17 October 2014

The Thirteen Moons and the Wheel of the Year

 I have steadily been working away on the Oracle deck.
This project has become intensely personal since it began. There was no 'dipping my toes in the water' with it, but instead I have been plunged deep into the waters of Myth, and Journeying, and Soul Searching. If I had known quite how rough those waters would be at times, I'm not entirely sure I would have taken the plunge, but it's been pretty amazing too, so I'm just sort of hanging on in there at the moment!

When I was first shown the deck, in dream, it was very clearly set out, in 3 layers, or subsets. The first of these is the Thirteen Moons.

 Each Moon card represents a full moon within the year, with the first moon (the Quiet Moon) being the one that falls immediately after the Winter Solstice, the start of the old year. Each moon also has an associated tree/shrub. (Although these are similar to those used in the Celtic Tree calendar as set out by Robert Graves, and also have similarities to the names used in other cultures and localities, it is not an identical list, as I am working very much with my own landscape of Dartmoor, and in my meditation and journeying, the ones I have used are the most appropriate for me)
In order, they run:
Quiet Moon : Pine (Dec/Jan)
Rising Moon: Birch (Jan/Feb)
Travellers Moon: Rowan (Feb/March)
Birth Moon: Blackthorn (March/ April)
Potent Moon: Oak (April/May)
Water Moon: Willow (May/June)
Spiral Moon: Honeysuckle (June /July)
Weavers Moon: Heather/Whortle (July/August)
Harvest Moon: Apple (August/September)
Hearth Moon: Hazel (September/October)
Blood Moon: Holly (October/ November)
Cold Moon: Ivy (November/ December)
The 13th Moon, the Singing Moon: Elder, does not fall in every year, and when it does, it comes between the Hearth Moon and the Blood Moon.

   Essentially I am trying to capture the energy and atmosphere of each full moon, and it feels really important that I paint them at the actual time of the full moon. (I missed the Weavers Moon this summer, being too too busy, and will now have to wait until next year to get that one right). I don't usually know the meaning of the card much in advance - I may have an idea, but the real meaning comes as I work on the painting.

 This painting, the Lammas one, happened exactly like that. It was slow and tricky to do. I meditated on it before hand, and clearly saw the elements needed for the card. But I scribbled around with them for several days, trying to get them into a pleasing format which also represented 'abundance' which is what I generally associate Lammas with. It just wasn't coming. In the end, I went with the image in my head (the final design for the painting above) grumbling away to myself as I did so, because it didn't really seem to represent abundance at all. As I worked it, the word that kept popping into my head, however much I tried to dismiss it, was 'implacable'. And so there it is. As usual, the card showed me it's real meaning as I worked it. 'Implacability'.

The next card is one of the 13 moons. This is the Harvest Moon, which fell on the 8-9th of September this year. I stuck with the traditional name of Harvest Moon for this one, as that is what it is usually called, certainly here on my patch of Dartmoor, but actually, in my head, this one is called something else. 
This is the Witch Moon.
This, for me, is perhaps the most magical point in the year. Of all the turning points in the year, this is the one that calls loudest to me. I can feel it, REALLY feel it  - in my body, and my heart and my soul. It is as if there is a momentary pause in the cycle of the year, as if everything is held in balance for a few days, before the wheel rolls on. Maybe it is simply because mid - September is a time of plenty - harvests are mostly in, the hedgerows are full of berries, the living is easy for a brief moment at the beginning of Autumn, and so perhaps it is just that there is finally a breathing space, a time to be still and listen. Even in a busy 21st century life I feel that, and how much more so must it have been for our ancestors? It is a time of edges, and that is where magic is found most easily. In liminal places and times, it is easy to slip between the edges.
In regards to the card, it means it is a time to cross thresholds and embrace transformation.


As well as the 13 Moon cards, there is a subset of Wheel Cards, representing the 8 major points in the Wheel of The Year.
This one is the Autumn Equinox, and it's the point at which I nearly threw the whole card idea deck out of the window! As I mentioned earlier, it has become an increasingly personal journey, and as I work each card, it seems that the meaning of each card becomes an issue that I have to work through myself. It gets a bit intense at times, and this was the worst so far. The meaning of this card is 'Truth', and my, did the Universe throw some stuff at me with this one. I worked through my own truths, got totally sucker-punched by someone else's truth, staggered back to my feet again, to find myself confronted with a whole lot more truth. In amongst this it was pretty hard to find the time or will to work on the actual painting, but I also felt that finishing the painting was the only way to reach the other side. 
Anyway, it got done, and ultimately it was all for the best (yeah, yeah, I know it's all for my own good and growth etc. - but I don't want too many lessons like that please), but it left me reeling slightly, and dragging my heels about tackling another painting!

In the end, the latest card, the 'Hearth Moon' was much more straightforward. The issue here was a more practical one - this card means  'preparation (for a trial/challenge)'. So I can busy myself with practical things this month, and give the soul searching a break ;)


Els said...

I'm at awe ! what a journey, what a fantastic piece(s) of work !!!!

(I hope to find it someday ...)

S said...

Thank you for sharing this… A deeper layer of insight into our beautiful land and our selves...

Kathleen said...

These are fascinating! What deep work. I hope I have a chance to read these cards one day.

Unknown said...

These are absolutely phenomenal. I will be purchasing a deck the second they go on sale!! Thanks so much for sharing the process-- it is sooo inspiring.

Bedford Gypsy said...

Such a wonderful blog, and many thanks for my Eostre hare print

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

Utterly brilliant Danielle! I must say I don't believe I could have done what you have done with the effort, thought and insight you have practiced. Wonderful pieces of work.


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