I was turned onto moon gazing at a seminar taught recently in California by my favorite qigong writer, Damo Mitchell, a seminar on a completely different subject—the classic Daoist Dragon Dao-Yin exercises.
But Damo was asked if and how women’s practice should be different than men’s, and he was willing to digress, albeit apologetically: It really shouldn’t be him talking about women’s practice, he said, because he is a man, but his partner, Roni Edlund, who is currently rewriting one of his books from the point of view of women’s practice.
However, according to Damo, where men are energetically connected to the sun, women are energetically connected to the moon, and it therefore behooves them to spend time looking at the moon and developing an intuitive awareness of where it is and what stage it’s in at any given time.
If you’re premenopausal and take up moon gazing, he said, you will begin menstruating around the time of the new moon, when it will be much easier on your body. But even if you’re post-menopausal, you will benefit from attuning yourself to the moon.
Damo said that when women train in accordance with their female energy system, they progress significantly faster than men, but when they follow men’s methods, it takes them as long as it takes men.
If Roni is rewriting an entire book, there must be a lot of details involved, but Damo said the two most important things for us women to do are (1) to gaze at the moon for at least 2 or 3 minutes a day and (2) to change our practice so that when the moon is waning (its yin phase), we take it easy and mostly just observe what is happening in our energy body. Then, when the moon begins to return to fullness (its yang phase), we can resume our practice with as much intensity as we wish.
He said that female students at his school in the UK were initially reluctant to kick back half the lunar month—but when they did they realized that they did indeed progress more rapidly.
This was all most interesting—and the moon-gazing part sounded lovely and perfect for where I’m at. I’ve been looking for new ways to connect with nature. I’ve also been trying to come up with some sort of ritual to end my evenings on a positive note, instead of just letting them dwindle to exhaustion. So, yes, perfect.
I resolved to take a little walk before I went to bed every night to check in with the moon—and by the way, Damo did say that you need to go outdoors: Gazing at the moon through a window or, heaven forbid, on a computer screen, won’t suffice.
Now some of you may already see the flaw in my thinking and may be laughing up your sleeves, but try to contain yourselves.
When I got home from the seminar, I went out three nights in a row and saw neither moon nor stars, just the glow of street lights and porch lamps reflected against the cloud cover. OK, fine. I live in the Seattle area, and the Seattle area often has clouds at night. I was willing to wait.
The fourth night, there were stars as well as a few clouds—but no moon. Anyway, not that I could see. So I bought an app for my iPhone, and the fifth night I went out looking for the moon with my iPhone in hand—but I still couldn’t find it. I figured I just didn’t understand how the app was supposed to work.
The next day I stumbled upon a little chart on the weather page of the “Seattle Times” showing the phases of the moon and also giving the times at which it would rise and set that day and the next—all daytime times.
Sigh. I’d thought I’d be able to see the moon every night that skies were clear, if only I looked in the right place. The moon is supposed to shine at night, right? What was this business about rising and setting, and why was it happening during the day?
True, I’ve noticed the moon in the daytime sky many a time. I used to chant a little ditty about “Way up high in the big blue sky sits the moon, Mr. Moon…” to my grandson when he was little and he and I would walk home from the park and see the moon above his house.
But frankly, I’ve always felt that it was just plain wrong for the moon to be visible during the day, and somehow I never quite figured out that if I saw it during the day, that was it, it had done its thing, and it wouldn’t be coming out again at night. I’d plead Seattle’s frequent cloud cover as my excuse, although I think it’s more a case of ignorance and failure to pay attention.
I love the moon I see at night. Several times I have driven south from Canada to Seattle with a giant yellow moon sitting east of the freeway mile after mile and have felt just incredibly blessed to have it there guiding me home through the dark. And once I stepped out on my patio late at night to shake out a tablecloth after a dinner party, and the full moon shining through a lacy cloud cover was so incredibly beautiful that I considered waking up my neighbor to get her to take a look.
But the moon by day? Not so much. It seems chalky, faint and small, and it’s nowhere near as visually compelling as clouds can be against the blue of the sky.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, I fear that it’s going to take me a while to bond with the moon.
Seattle’s cloud cover is the least of my problems….
NOTE: This post is a sequel to last week’s post on “A Twisted Universe,” which was also about differences between men’s and women’s qigong practices.