Today is the first day of the Fasting Moon in Annette Hinshaw's calendar. She describes this as the time in very early spring when the winter's stores were depleted but the spring greens not yet coming up. She talks of a time when people would engage in fasting, either ritualized or forced on them, in order to stretch their provisions until the first herbs could be gathered.
Fasting is an important part of many religions including the Muslim fast of Ramadan and the Christian Lenten season. Lent encompasses the 40 days between Ash Wednesday (right after Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday) and Easter Sunday. My family never celebrated Lent, and hardly celebrated Easter, but in college I had a number of experiences that led me to a great appreciation of this season. First was reading Waverley Fitzgerald's article on Pagan Lent from her School of the Seasons newsletter. After the ground had be laid for my appreciation through this article I took an art history class that included medieval art. I remember learning about the story of Jesus' return to Jerusalem and of the stations of the cross. Whether by design or accident that unit of the class coincided with the lenten season and I felt a real connection to that story of suffering and rejoicing. For years now I have marked the season, even if I don't actually "fast" for the duration.
In Waverly's article she describes the pagan roots of spring fasting, and the alignment of these fasts with the seasonal changes taking place. Fasting can be like spring cleaning for your life and is often part of the purification process for an initiation, such as those for a mystery cult or when going on a vision quest. Waverly notes that "When the world is being made anew, we wish to make ourselves new. Yet any change is fraught with danger and difficulty."
Change. Danger. Difficulty. I am going through a very difficult and dangerous change right now. I am ending a relationship that has been a major focus of my life for the last year and one who's ending I have mixed feelings about. We had so many good times, but the bad started out outweigh the good and we both agreed that it was time to move on. I've been thinking hard over the last five days or so about how to bring the energies of the Fasting Moon to my aid in dealing with this change.
Brooke Medicine Eagle writes that through fasting you can create a vacuum for the Spirit to fill. How can your cup be filled unless you empty it? Brook describes fasting a joyful way to open oneself to the universe so it can fill your life with what you need. Last night I was talking to a friend and noted that this break up is like giving up eating a good hamburger so that you have room to go to the best restaurant in town later. The hard part is, I don't have a reservation, or even a date for that restaurant. I just have to have faith that it will all show up, and give it room to manifest in my life.
What I need. I need some more of that. As this season turns into spring I need to reconnect with my friends. I need to reconnect with the spirit. I need to fast.
P.S. Last night I had my first sighting of the new moon. I didn't take this picture but it looked similar to this brilliant photo by Kev n Chris. A number of years ago I learned how the moon went through her phases by observing it for months on end. It's possibly one of the only "science" concepts or facts I have actually learned through observation. I always awaited the first sighting of the new moon; it's joyous like dawn, or Easter. Seeing the new baby moon is still something I wait for and find so promising. Last night I needed her, and there she was.