Grief is a sacred journey

A Message from the Moon: Synchronicity as Inner Guide

DSC06877I’m in a small country church. Someone turns off the electric lights. The full moon illuminates the chapel with soft apricot-toned light. Then they open a window to let night air in. I feel lonely for Vic and struggle with tears. I sit quietly in moonlight and let myself feel sad.

A week later, I shared dinner with friends at their home. After our meal, we spoke about dreams and decided to paint. With watercolors and my limited skills, I painted a full apricot moon outside a tall window.

“Look! Look!” my friend yelled as I finished the small painting. “Look behind you. What is that?”DSC01415

I turned to face the large window behind me and saw an illuminated orange-pink UFO hovering on the horizon across the valley. The dome lit up the dark night sky.

“It’s the moon,” I said, glancing down at my painting. “The magic moon.”

We turned out the lights and watched the moon inch her way upward. We watched silhouettes of towers and buildings appear and disappear.

img076It was clearly a synchronicity, the meaningful simultaneous occurrence of inner and outer events with no obvious causal relationship. For those of us who have the teachings of Carl Jung deep in our bones, the keyword for synchronicity is meaning. In this case, the same image appeared in a dream, a painting, and the most awe-inspiring full moon I’d ever seen. So what was the message?

For a year, I’d spun a busy world of doing. I lived by outer goals. I gave readings or workshops about my book, created a TEDx talk, submitted articles, was interviewed, and planned trips. Was I measuring up? Was I doing enough? Was I fast enough? Hopeless questions, since it’s never enough when I measure the value of life through the lens of outer achievement.

My life wasn’t always like that.

Venus, Mars, Moon conjunction

Venus, Mars, Moon conjunction

After Vic died, grief slowed my world. I sat in silence on the back deck and watched sunsets. On full moon nights, I walked through the fields under muted light. I tried to accept my new life and Vic’s death as part of the Great Mystery.

During that time, I dreamed most nights and recorded the messages. I walked many times a day, tended my gardens, and watched Nature’s cycles. Beneath lonely grief, I felt a sacred presence holding me.

It was a time to be, not do. Nothing to wait for, nothing to fear, nothing to accomplish. I watched the nesting bluebirds and the growth of plants. Grief banished the taskmaster who lives by computer screens and florescent lights, the one who is always in a hurry and would rather write one more word than pause to breathe or watch the stars against the night sky.

DSC09492The Moon Goddess asked me to shift my focus back toward Her mystical light and Her measured pace. In moonlight, flaws are obscured, lists can’t be read, and judgments fall away. She thrives with candle light, long walks, gentle night breezes, and a quiet unhurried flow. She wants me to attend to Her slow inner rhythm.

“Be with Me,” She says. “Be with the part of you that learned the lessons of grief and mortality. Be with waxing and waning, arriving and leaving. There is nothing more important and nowhere to go. I’m the feminine mystery of this ever-cycling life. Be still and rest in me.”

DSC05009“Go slowly, my lovely moon, go slowly.”
― Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner

***

I welcome any insights you have about this. I’m trying to slow down and change my focus, but it isn’t easy. Action is addictive. I’d also love to hear your synchronicity experiences.

For more about the importance of dream guidance, you’ll enjoy When Dreams Tell Our Future. If you’d like to know more about synchronicity, I recommend The Sacred Laws of Psyche by Jean Raffa. I also recommend my husband Vic’s first book, Synchronicity, Science, and Soul-Making.

 

 

31 Comments
  1. I’m addicted to action too. Especially being unemployed and unpublished, there’s a feeling that if I keep busy, if I look busy, then maybe I am worthy or okay. It’s funny how the moon has the power to slow me down as well. It’s like she almost demands I stop everything and pay attention.

    • Let’s both bask in lunar light. My book keeps me busy, but the underlying issues of grief and loneliness don’t go away. It’s important for me to slow down and let those feelings in. You will be published if you want that to happen. Give me an update sometime.

  2. Oh, Elaine…being vs doing has been my mission for many months and I repeatedly have to slow myself down in this society so hell bent on doing, achievement, accomplishing. I find it to be something I deal with each day if not by continually cutting my schedule back then by feeling guilty if I am not accomplishing. I will not give up. I am slowly learning to prioritize and let go, prioritize and let go…over and over and over. Guilt over “wasting” time is becoming close to non existent now but it has taken a great deal of awareness, self talk, meditation and more. You will find your way…the way of being. I just know you will. Peace and love, Mary

    • Hi Mary. Thanks for your vote of confidence and for a bit of your story. I’m trying to soften my life-long habit of accomplishing–even if the accomplishments were small. The world of being is something I’ve experienced through meditation, grief, and inner work. Now to turn there more easily than to the to-do list world. Yes, I will get there, or I will inch my way a little closer…

  3. As I was in my kitchen recently with the radio on, I was speaking to my housemate about a dear musician friend of mine (who is no longer on this planet, in physical form anyway). I started to say his name but had to preface it with- “Oh he’s often played on the other station I also listen to from Rochester. This is the Ithaca station- you’re not likely going to hear him played on this station.” I said his name was Colorblind James and just as I said that the woman on the radio said-“And this is Colorblind James”. We both dropped our jaws. Whoa! I love when that happens!

    • Great story, Janet. Now I want to know what Colorblind James means to you. When you think of his music or of him, what memories come up, what activities were you doing, what was that moment in your life, what were the feelings. It’s in those associations that I’d look for the directions being given by the unconscious for your life right now.

  4. The moon is my companion now through this life after my beloved Pete has died. It will be three years on May 4th. Every full moon we celebrated with poetry, candles and a full moon kiss. I too am trying to fill my life with sometimes frenetic activity and for me it serves to push away the grief which is just as hard now as it was three years ago. Thi piece made me think. Am I doing this right! Should I not take more notice of our mother the moon and rest in her phases? Thank you Elaine. I’ve experienced synchronicity too but this piece of beautiful writing from you, coming just now, is mine. I think it’s telling me that activity won’t solve grief. Ok it pushes it to one side for a while, but it still remains. If Pete were here he would tell me to slow down. Sit, read poetry, meditate.
    I love this account of an imprtant experience and it resonate with me. Jan

    • Jan, I’m sorry to hear that grief is as hard as it was three years ago, and I don’t find it surprising. Grief softens for me, but it does not go away and it’s always around in the periphery of thought, even when I’m busy. When I sink into grief, it can be a teacher and that’s where my dream is trying to direct me. Sounds like Pete has the right beautiful advice and this is what we have the power to do. Still, a full moon kiss is irreplaceable. But what a memory to have and share. Thank you.

  5. Like you and a previous reader, I find myself addicted to action and struggling every day to find a balance.

    Last evening I read a poem about moonlight by Elizabeth Searle Lamb:
    The moon
    sends ripples of light
    into the darkness
    of the pond,
    the shadows
    dappled
    by drifting clouds;
    so does faith
    send its shaft
    of hope and peace
    into consciousness
    as I drift
    Into the darkness
    of sleep.

    I think your farm has a lake, not sure about a pond. And I didn’t know Vic wrote a book about Synchronicity. You are still scholars and soul-mates together.

    • Beautiful poem, Marian. Thanks for sending it. Our whole culture is addicted to action and I was taught as a girl to measure my self-worth in that way.

      I have streams on my land and a swamp, but no lake or pond. The lake I love is Seneca Lake, three miles downhill in the valley.

      Vic wrote three books. The first was about Sychronicity. The second was Head and Heart where he worked to bring together his spiritual/mystical side and his physicist/scientist side. The third was Tibetan Buddhism and Modern Physics: Toward a Union of Love and Knowledge. The last was requested by the Dalai Lama and Vic worked on it while undergoing cancer therapy. It was published just a three months before he died. Sigh… I edited all his books a few times, just as he helped me with whatever I was writing. Part of my job was to help him make his ideas more accessible to nonscientists.

  6. Just beautiful, Elaine. There is solace in just “being.” Thank you.

    • Thank you, Ava. The moon was beautiful as Willow and I walked in the field yesterday evening. Watching it helps me settle down. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  7. The moon has played a significant part in my healing process. We are coming up on 122 full moons since my beloved son,Eden, passed away. At some point I thought that I would lose count, however after almost tens years I am still counting and looking to the moon for the connection of me,as a mother and my beautiful boy.

    • I’m so sorry about your son, Joleen. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through, but you’ve created a powerful feminine way to keep track of him and the time since his death. You’ve also created a ritual to help you hold this difficult experience. I won’t forget this.
      Do you know this poem? It’s one of my favorites. It’s written by Rumi and is called “The Window.”

      Your body is away from me
      but there is a window open
      from my heart to yours.
      From this window, like the moon
      I keep sending news secretly.

  8. Synchronicity rules. It is the full moon on 4th May exactly three years since my Pete died. A message from the moon to me. Thank you Elaine. I know you understand

    • I do get it, Jan. I know you will honor your dear Pete on May. I was grateful Vic died in the spring so there were flowers and nesting birds to balance the deep sadness. I think you know the poem I shared in the previous reply. We may have even discussed it. But if you don’t know it, you’ll love it. Wishing you a grateful heart.

  9. Of course, you know how I love this post, Elaine! I often refer to the Feminine archetype as Lunar, so as not to confuse it with gender roles. We all have Solar and Lunar parts to our psyches. I think this synchronity of yours is a loving echo from the universe, nudging you toward toward slowing down and accessing the rejuvenation you are intuitively feeling the need of. Another synchronicity for you is that before checking out your blog here, I was working in a section of my book titled “Lunar Qualities of the Divine Feminine.” Also, before coming here, I posted a quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes that reads in part “This is what the wildish [Feminine] nature offers us: the ability to see what is before us through focusing, through stopping and looking and smelling and listening […] If you’ve lost focus, just sit down and be still…” Big hugs, my friend

    • I thought you might like this one, Jenna. I like to use the term Lunar, too. Moon Mother. Yes, just sit down and be still. Or in my case, go outside and pull some weeds, leave the keyboard and stop thinking. That’s what I plan to do right now. I had a busy but glorious day. Now time for breathing and walking and taking in the sunset and moon rise. She’s waxing.

  10. So lovely, Elaine. I remember the vividness of dreams after my father died, and I’ve always loved the concept of Synchronicity. Do you happen to know another author in that field, Joseph Jaworski?

    • Thank you. I don’t know Joseph Jaworski, Shirley. I just glanced through his books at Amazon. Sounds like a very different focus, but I can’t tell without digging in. Is he an author you’ve read? Vic’s approach was grounded in the Jungian definition of synchronicity. Since Vic’s book came out in the 1990s, the definition and use of the term have broadened and the word is used commonly. What’s often omitted is the importance of meaning, something Vic (and Jung) insisted was the crux of the experience.

  11. I chose the moon card today, as part of my 3 tarot cards a day readings, based on the work of Angeles Arrien. I am also in her system aligned with the moon as my archetype for personality. She says it is the card of karma and authenticity and choices and inner truth. How can you not love the moon? She is gorgeous and so evocative and so heart wrenching and constant. She never lets you inside, but she shines her beauty and stillness like a mystery, one you can only feel into and not possess. She reminds me that I am not the big control, I am just a moment in time, a poem or a song. I think she brings the feelings of loss and heartbreak and wonder and longing right to the surface, where sometimes we just don’t want to feel them anymore. Sometimes we have to ‘ get busy’, in order to ground ourselves and have some fun and focus and blessed relief from the hugeness of that place beyond. We are only human after all. What can we do when there is something as big as love and then something as big as grief? I don’t know. But, writing and reading and sharing and breathing are all good things. Thank you for bringing these conversations together Elaine.

    • Thanks for your comment, Alice. I have Angeles Arrien’s tarot cards, too, although I haven’t looked at them for a long time. More than ten years ago, I drew three cards every morning. Ah, the beautiful Moon card… I love what you’ve said. I think I had to “get busy” to find my way back into a new life and counter the constant pull toward the Underworld caused by loving someone who had died. We are only human, but it’s important to take care of my body and inner life first and then let the rest follow. All I know to do with Love and Grief is turn toward them as my Teachers.
      There is time for everything.
      Sending you gratitude and wishing you a Blessed Beltane.

  12. This is a beautiful post, Elaine, that really spoke to me. I have always been a “doer,” hell bent on accomplishing things and crossing them off my to-do list.

    Adrian’s death did slow me down and give me a necessary pause to grieve and cry and be still. The grief is still with me, but part of my process is to transform the feelings into art through painting and writing. The creative process helps me to relive the pain in a new transformation. I lose myself in the process.

    But I still haven’t learned how to “just be.” Thanks for reminding me to let go.

    • Thank you so much, Lynne. I can only say I’m practicing–and that I’m not a bit good at just being. Grief knocked me into that quiet place and it lasted for a few years. I never thought I’d remember those years with fondness, but at least I got a break from the doer. It’s wonderful you’ve allowed grief to flow into painting and writing. I can’t imagine getting through grief without a strong creative outlet.

  13. Doing vs being… the ultimate struggle in a world that continually expects more. After a particularly bad couple of weeks a month ago, I’m finally finding some balance, but it’s an ongoing battle inside my head. Constantly moving, multitasking well beyond what one’s mind is built to handle; even when our bodies are finally still, our brains race. I’m making a concerted effort to slow down and take time to just “be.” Maybe someday I’ll master it.

    Thanks for this thought-provoking piece, Elaine.

    • Doing is a social illness, but it seems we can only change it by making an individual decision to reverse the trend. I’m lousy at this, but I’ve made a few small moves. Before breakfast and before thinking about the day’s to-do list, I meditate a short time and then take a 15 minute walk with my dog to listen to birds and watch the progression of spring. This is a beginning–but I can demolish the inner calm in 10 minutes of computer frenzy.
      We will keep searching for the balance, Ann.

  14. A blessing to be reminded by nature that sometimes we have to pause and reflect. You put it beautifully Elaine, “A time to be, not to do.” 🙂

    • Debby, I’m being challenged because the world says do, do, do. I have to say, “I will, but first a walk and then time to breathe. Then the to-do list.” I obviously need to keep more balance, but I’m easily lured to do one more thing. I’ll keep practicing.

  15. E . . . I thank I may have shown you this before, but maybe it fits here as well . . .

    Moon

    Does she forget herself
    Approaching?
    Or after?
    Does the destination
    Consume her
    As she passes close enough
    To feel her skin scorched
    By his breath?

    Is she carrying
    Her name,
    Whispering in the fire
    Her offering,
    Calling his attention
    To the birth
    He hasn’t conceived?

    She wants to be filled
    To be emptied again.
    Her grief is not like ours
    When we feel sorry –
    More like the rains
    Swelling the rivers,
    Flooding the fields.

    Her terror
    Weaves us
    A basket for fruits.
    Her rapture
    Sends us on down the road.

    • Exquisite. I haven’t seen it before. Thanks so much, Fred. I love filling and emptying, whispering her offering to the fire, skin scorched and swelling rivers. I love watching the changing moon.

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