Spring has sprung! A week ago we welcomed in the Vernal Equinox, transitioning us through a portal of perfect balance into a new astrological year.
Aries is the cardinal fire sign of Mars, wherein our great Sun in exalted. I’ll wax solar a whole lot more come the New Moon in Aries, but for now, we come to Sunday morning's Full Moon in the softer Libra, cardinal air. Cardinality is an astrological property these two share with Capricorn and Cancer as well, one of the immense energy of Beginning. These signs welcome in new seasons, beginning at each Quarter Sabbat (the Equinoxes and Solstices). They go go go, but may lack the follow through of their mutable or fixed brethren.
We are steeped here in Beginning. Though plenty of witches consider Samhain or Yule the Witch’s New Year, Ostara feels so truly New for much of the Northern Hemisphere. It is now that we have the Persian New Year of Nowruz and the Thai New Year of Songkran, as well as spring celebrations world wide like Passover, Holi in India, Maslenitsa in Russia, and quite soon, Easter (which gets it’s name from another spelling of Ostara, Eostre).
The Equinox time is one of balance, between light and dark, growth and death, release and replenish. Make room, because more is coming! We are waking up to the sun, to the vaccine, to the possibility of a life we have more autonomy over. We are in a time of healing, collectively, but with any transition comes uncertainty and apprehension, the potential for a reactionary contraction amidst the natural drive towards rapid expansion. It seems I can always find an astrological reason to account for the tension in my shoulders.
Libra knows balance. Libra embodies Ma’at and her scales of justice, weighing our hearts against her ostrich feather of Truth. Libra is the Dark Mother, counterpart to Aries’ Bright Sun King, the Emperor arcana. Libra brings our minds back into balance with our bodies, Venusian air to feed or to cool, as needed, this Martian fire surrounding us.
In the more common Golden Dawn-influenced decks, Libra’s arcana is Justice, shown with her scales and sword, reinforcing the myth we are so forcefully fed in this country of crime and punishment. And, yes, there is a strong judicious nature to Libras, in their abilities to honor both sides of any argument and give equal value to any dichotomy they might encounter. That said, I find a deeper well of wisdom in the slightly altered view of this energy Crowley applies to Libra in his Thoth deck. Here, she is called Adjustment.
Adjustment is much less passive a description of the Libran balancing act. The equilibrium here is constantly shifting to maintain. Adjustment reminds us that balance is a verb as much as a noun, that Justice is not a static concept. We can see from this angle that with each change to our environments, we must also change within ourselves, lest we find ourselves lost, a victim of circumstance.
So consider the changes we’ve all experienced this year, as we begin to feel the wheels of change once again turning, towards an potential end to the quarantine. How have you changed in response? What changes within yourself have led to growth? What changes might be maladaptive in our coming "new world"? What can you take with you and what will you focus on changing once again? Alternatively, what can you do to simply allow the adjustments to occur as the change arrives, and surrender to the trust in yourself?
And, most importantly, keep in mind that this goes both ways. As above, so below; as within, so without. As we change aspects of our inner lives, shining light on the unconscious patterns we perpetuate and choosing to end them, for instance, or learning more effective coping skills to replace ones that cause us harm, so does our outer world make adjustments to maintain the balance. This is the foundation of Magick.
So, this Full Moon, draw upon Libra’s dual vision and consider the duality of this power; we are both the creators of our own reality and also humble creatures powerless to natural forces more ancient and mighty that we can possibly fathom, be they deities or simple entropy. Surrender is just as vital to a magickal practice as creation and manifestation, one that I, in fact, find much more difficult.
Celebrate yourself as the beautiful, adaptive marvel of evolution and commend yourself on having been able to cope thus far with conditions that no one should have to contend with (though many do and have done thanks to Libra’s scourge, injustice), even if you haven’t done so as gracefully or functionally as others may lead you to believe they have. And yes, even if it hasn’t been all that bad for you, surviving this long is still worthy of celebration. Libra’s ruler Venus demands it.
This Libra Moon’s ritual offering is a ritualized adaptation of the thousand-year-old Buddhist practice of Tonglen. Tonglen, which means “giving and receiving,” is a breath work practice centered around healing the world to heal yourself, or vice versa. The relative simple practice involves centering in on a pain you are feeling or familiar with, inhaling the smokey blackness of everyone in the world’s experience of that pain, transmuting it within you, and exhaling golden healing light back into them.“Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us. Use what seems like poison as medicine.” ~Pema Chödrön
Personally, this practice embodies the tenants of Adjustment and balance. As I heal myself, I heal the world. As I transmute any suffering in the world, I inherently transmute that suffering in myself. For each inhale, there is an inevitable exhale.
The idea of taking in the world’s suffering, especially if you are suffering yourself, might seem a bit daunting at first. I promise that it will leave you feeling lighter and brighter, but I’ve adapted it into the container of a ritual to give you the support of a familiar structure and the ability to end the ritual if it becomes too challenging. If one way of visualizing the process isn’t working for you, there are many others. If it’s not coming easily, Pema Chödrön has many guided Tonglen meditations on YouTube.
Balancing Breath Tonglen Ritual
Begin in a sacred way, with your favorite Zone Rite perhaps. All you will need is your breath, but it can be helpful to have a candle and/or incense to further heighten the container and signal to your senses that this moment is sacred.
Once your space is adequately consecrated, begin to slow your breath. Do not pressure yourself to clear our mind or focus only on your breath, simply become aware of it and slowly increase the length of your inhales and exhales.
As you do this, feel into your body. Notice if you are in any physical pain. Notice, too, any emotional pain you might be feeling. Where in your body are you feeling it? Is your anxiety around housing security presenting as a tightness in your chest? Is your tension headache related to the fight you just had with your partner? Is there unprocessed grief caught up in your cramping belly? No need to dwell too much on this pain, just notice it, maybe placing a hand on your body where you feel it most, and sending some light there if you can.
If you’re not feeling any pain currently, or don’t feel up to addressing anything you’re feeling right now, focus on a pain you are very familiar with, maybe one you’ve suffered through in the past. Remember where it was in your body, without necessarily bringing it fully back to you, if that’s too much in this moment.
Now extend your awareness outside of yourself. Imagine that there are others in your area, even in your building, that are experiencing the same or similar pain. Perhaps there is a specific person in your life you wish to help by lightening their load. The point of this is not to increase your suffering or empathically weigh you down, obviously, so again, don’t dwell here so long that it worsens your burden. Just know that you are not alone in this suffering.
Imagine in your chest, in your heart center, a golden light. Perhaps it is dimmed from the weight of your suffering. Imagine it is enclosed in a kind of darkened glass sphere, only its brightest rays beaming through.
Now, on your next inhale, imagine the suffering of those other folks in your community or around the world as a thick noxious cloud of black particulate, and Breathe it in. As it enters your lungs, it comes in contact with that sphere of dark glass. The toxicity and poison of this cloud of suffering begins to melt the glass, until the full power of your heart star breaks through. As the rays of your inner light touch this cloud, each particle of black dust is transmuted into shining golden glitter, until the whole cloud in your chest is shimmering gold. Now breathe it out and watch each particle return to its former home.
Breathe normally for a bit and reimagine the scenes of your community, with the suffering now gone and joy in its place. Feel the power of your newly liberated heart sun radiating from your chest.
When you’re ready, repeat. This can be on the same flavor of suffering, or a new one. See that black cloud of the world’s pain and breathe it in. This time, with your heartlight free, see tiny black seeds of suffering instantly alchemized into golden sparkles as it enters your body. Watch now as these particles feed your light, see it shine brighter. Feel those particles carry light into all parts of your body. Exhale them back into the world and heal those who suffer.
Continues this process as long as you like. Many suggest 15 minutes, but I often feel immense power just from a cycle of 3 Tonglen breaths.
If it takes you a view breaths to feel you can transmute a whole “lungful” of suffering in one breath, that’s ok. I promise you are not at risk of absorbing anyone else’s suffering. While this is a very joyful and healing practice, it’s also absolutely ok if it feels overwhelming to imagine taking on anyone else’s suffering on top of yours. What’s actually at work is almost the opposite, that by taking in the suffering of others’, both are lightened. Additionally,“That’s just not how it works. By being heroically (heroinely) willing to take on the pain and suffering of all other people who have your same affliction, what you are doing is giving yourself a damn good reason to [be] open to fully feeling, without resentment or resistance or hold-back or reservation of any kind-the physical and emotional sensation that is already present for you. You are “all the others,” inescapably. Don’t no one get liberated ’less we all get liberated, ’cause liberation is something that consciousness will spontaneously project everywhere, just like it can spontaneously project “badness” “wrongness” and “not-enoughness” everywhere.” ~Carolyn Elliott (my visualizations are also loosely adapted from her work)
When you are through, bow in gratitude and close your space as you see fit.
So it is.
Alright Lovelies, I’ll leave you with that! If you want access to the full length Ritual Guide, featuring a Plant Profile on Dandelion, a recipe for Dandelion Bitters, and an exclusive Imbalance Detective Tarot Spread, subscribe to the Patreon!
Also if you want these ritual guide excerpts sent right to you, sign up for my email newsletter!
Take a walk this weekend and see how many different flowers you can spot :)
In Love and Magick,