Navigating the Dark with Grandmother Moon's Light and Wisdom


Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars reflected in your own being. - Rumi

I considered studying astrology in college for a short while because the astronomy department at my university had a giant telescope on its rooftop. Practicality steered toward a more useful major - psychology 😅. Modern dance practice and performances, studying abroad in Spain, a research thesis on cultural buffers, self-esteem, and eating disorders, work-study jobs that spanned the gamut from preschool to hospice settings, and assisting 90-year Mrs Weiss, my talk buddy, three evenings and nights a week, ate up much of my "free" time in college.

My fantasies of rooftop stargazing didn't quite pan out as I'd hoped, but I discovered that stargazing and navel gazing were two sides of the same coin. Or perhaps they were gateways that led to similar dimensions. I enjoyed looking deep into myself for answers regarding our human condition and was intrigued that life was paradoxically contained and shaped by death.

It delights me today that the newest high school graduate in our home, my 18-year old son, is also fascinated with philosophy and recently asked his 14-year old sister, "Why is it that we're so afraid of death when it's a given--inevitable--that we will all die?"

Is it because the closer we come to realize that we have just a finite time here on earth, the greater our impetus to make the most of it while still around? When we realize that we will once again turn to dust, are we paradoxically better able to access the greatest love buried in our own hearts and in the hearts of others?

Why is it difficult to access this paradoxical wisdom of our human condition unless we are pushed to our edge? Is our human mind doomed to suffer in a reality that we ourselves split into either-or, life-death, good-bad parts and simultaneously thrive when trapped in it?

How can we get better at mastering this impossible task: feel both infinitely central and meaningful, and insignificantly small and fleeting at the same time?

This is no small feat. This universal dilemma unfolded with murderous rage when Galileo declared that the sun didn't circle the earth, but that we, humans on planet earth, were actually circling the sun.

This is now a known fact and this reaction may seem extreme, but too many of us, humans, still react with similar intensity and desperation when we discover that our loved ones and lovers are really not orbiting us nor should they. Throughout history, we have watched leaders lose it because their followers and subjects refused to eat out of the palm of their hands and the planet and world didn't bend to their insane grandiosity without consequence.

Can anyone blame us when our view of life is so distorted the moment we are born?

Starting on day one, we boldly take up center stage in the lives of our parents and families without the slightest care in the world that they need to bring their lives to a screeching halt to take care of our every need. Many other life forms are more self-sufficient at birth. Why have we not evolved out of this vulnerable, miserable dependent condition? Does it benefit us in some way?

Are we perhaps to learn on some level that it is completely natural, human, and healthy to experience and feel this important, this loved, this central, this demanding, this big as we do when we are tiny newborns?

And on the flip side, is it just as important to grant this grandiosity at least once in a lifetime to another, and to experience and feel that giving, that self-sacrificing, that surrendering, and that filled with love for another being as we do when meeting a newborn, not even of our own species?

But how is this useful if it can't possibly be sustained? Is throwing us into the cosmic mindwarp of non-dualism and paradox the only possible way? Or is this an indication that our Creator has a bad sense of humor or derives some kind of pleasure out of seeing us struggle with these impossible binds?

It's a blessing and a curse, this human condition, and even the best of us, will be busy for a lifetime or more trying to grasp and transcend its paradoxical nature, presenting itself everywhere we turn.

We may discover at some point that staying attuned to our powerful desires -- while simultaneously able to diffuse our will with just enough patience and perceptiveness of our caregiver's own inner dramas -- places us in the best position to appeal to the part in him or her that opens up to us like a flower.

Does the Universe respond in the same way?

And if so, how can we safely accept and amplify our magnificent co-creative potential and power without free-falling into deep existential terror, into the abyss and void of smallness,

meaninglessness, exploitation and violence when things turn out differently than we desired? And without attempting, as a result, to hurt everyone around us as we desperately either pull them down or crawl over them to reclaim center stage, back in charge of our lives, our world, our universe?

How can we simultaneously embrace that we are both co-Creator and microscopic speck of dust, smaller than a minuscule grain of sand compared to the many stars in our galaxy -- just one of billions of other galaxies in the universe -- and strike some kind of balance in the middle of these two?

No wonder our struggle.

This is what I asked myself. Can our simple minds conceive that there is a divine unifying order that's harmoniously spinning millions and billions of wheels, creating interconnected planetary and cosmic orbits and trajectories, like the inner workings of a gigantic grandfather clock, throughout our galaxy?

And can every single speck of us feel important and loved, non-stop, like a newborn demanding central stage, within this grand orchestra as soon as we enter the scene? I asked this, because this is what seemed necessary to make us feel secure, at peace, aligned with our divine self.

This is how navel-gazing and direct experience provided me answers. Instead of feeling restricted and confined by rigid and deterministic loops or feeling inconsequential within a vast Universe, I felt validated and liberated by my natal chart reading. I was blown away by our human potential, by my human potential. Rather than my birth being a free-fall, I felt caught by an invisible web, and I could free myself out of my karmic entanglements -- healing fear, guilt, and shame through intentional steps filled with courage, love, and self-expression, relying on guidance from mysterious sources, including the cosmos, along my journey. And if I could find a path of light out of the maze, perhaps others already did or could too.

As you move along your spiral of healing, coming around full circle once again during this beautiful monthly cycle, I hope that Grandmother Moon and the grand and predictable web of cycles and mysteries that she is a part of will remind you to stay connected to the timeless wisdom of the divine feminine that can't be squashed and eradicated no matter what. May it help you to receive, in the midst of our collective rising and falling, expanding and contracting, whatever it is that you most need along this juncture and deepest calling to continue, step by step, on your heroic journey on this planet.

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Loraine Van Tuyl, PhD, CHT, holistic psychologist, depth hypnosis practitioner, and shamanic healer from the Sacred Healing Well, is devoted to helping wisdom keepers, seekers, healers, and teachers dive deep into their self-healing potential and carve out their sacred dream paths in service of their dynamic whole self and the greater good.

Her memoir, Amazon Wisdom Keeper, is an eye-opening account of her spontaneous shamanic awakening and initiation during her graduate training in the mental health field. What gives her story an added twist is her ability to anchor into her rich cultural background and mystical upbringing near the edge of the Amazon rainforest when standing her ground, challenging indoctrinating double-binds in her field, and placing all bets on her spiritual integrity, intuitive wisdom, and clarity—each one severely tested after escaping the chaotic aftermath of a military coup in her native Suriname and losing almost everything that she knew and loved at the age of 13.

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