Full Milk Moon
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The Moon that is full this week is the one Annette Hinshaw calls the Milk Moon. After the hard work of giving birth, the Mother is laying quietly, protecting her child as he begins to grow. Milk flows from her breast fitfully at first, but as he nurses he stimulates her to produce more and as he grows he nurses more. It is the beautiful positive feedback loop of love - the more we give, the more we get so we can give more.
In order to grow into a fully functioning, well balanced human being we each need both the support of a community and chances to grow independently. Not only do we need to balance the nourishment we get from our community and from independent growth, we also sometimes need the withholding of support from our community to grow. These are the themes of Annette Hinshaw's Milk Moon and Fasting Moon, the third and fourth months of her calendar. The moons opposite these two in the waning half of the year, the Father's Moon and the Nesting Moon show us symbols of how mature adults interact with their communities. The Father's Moon asks us when we can use our resources to support the larger community while the Nesting Moon asks us when it is in our best interest to withhold our support. These four moon symbols, taken together, ask some very deep questions about how each person interacts with their larger support network.
This weekend I had the privilege of attending a Quaker Wedding at my church. Quaker Weddings, and Quaker Meetings in general, are a beautiful example of the Milk Moon's energies in action. Quakers believe that every person has that of God within them, and the capacity to hear the Light speak directly to them. We believe that a community is required, however, to clearly discern whether a leading is truly from God or not. We see God's truth as something like the old Indian parable about the blind men and the elephant. Each person sees only one small part and can not grasp the whole. A community of people have more data points and so a more accurate view of God's enormous true shape and plan. The community is required to support the individual in their search and ensure that their perceptions are within the realm of true leadings from God.
When two Friends decide to marry they do not need a minister to perform a ceremony because we do not need an intermediary between ourselves and either God or our community. A traditional Quaker wedding takes place within the Meeting for Worship and the couple simply stands, gives their vows of love and commitment and then sits back down. Out of the silence other Friends may speak words to or about the couple, or anything else they are led to say out loud. After the ceremony everyone present signs a certificate making the wedding legal. Like a mother caring for her baby or a community caring for its children, a Quaker meeting cares for it's members and gives them the support they need to do their best work. A traditional Quaker wedding is a time when that best work of the two individuals, their commitment to each other, seems to physically grow out of the work of the community, it's communal worship.
We are only barely a month past the solstice and the beginning of this new year. Is anything growing in your life along with the sun as winter grows into spring? What can you do to be a part of the community that protects and nurtures tiny sweet things? What community can help you grow if you are the tiny sweet thing? Do you have a lovely story of a community that grew a tiny sweet thing into a big, strong, very good thing? How have you seen the positive feedback loop of love work in your life? I'd love to hear that story.
Happy Full Milk Moon!
The photos are by sponng, molajen and christysherrer. Please click on the photos to go to their flickr pages and see more of their amazing work. Thank you!
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Full Milk Moon 2009: Nourishing Self As Well As Others
Full Milk Moon 2010: The Full Wolf Moon