The final moon: sloth, poverty, sorrow, ugliness and the crow

The cold has come. And it is bitter, bitter.

I felt myself tapping heart lines in classes this week - aiming at the hard edges and addressing the bitter frailty. I was trying to soften our way into something more central, more vulnerable surely but also more sweet. I tried to address the things we don’t even know we’re doing: the posturing, the bracing, the gripping. The burial of grief and the performance of okayness. The stickiness of holidays and the grunt of winter.

We’re at the dark point of the nights, the vulnerable phase of the moon, the harsh season of the year. Tonight is the new moon, the last lunation of the year, and one called ‘dreadful’ in the oldest books.

According to sidereal astrology, we are in Scorpio. Deep, emotive, passionate, intuitive, mysterious, perceptive and hell or high water determined. Tip this out of balance and you have jealous, manipulative, prone to lashing out and struggling, mightily struggling, with concepts like forgiveness. All of those are shorthand, of course, for insecurity.

It’s a long, painful route to refined self-respect and legitimate self esteem.

Long, long ago when the demigods churned the primitive milk of the world, the milk’s froth produced a poison, halahala. This poison then gave birth to a woman named Jyestha. She was ugly. She was sad. She was diseased and full of sloth. Crows seemed to like her. No one else did.

This is all supposed to be a metaphor: as we churn the milk of our consciousness in contemplative practices, the first thing that comes up is suffering and pain. Sloth, poverty, sorrow. Mortality and crows. Hags. Poison. Scorpions.

Later, Lakshmi was born from the same churning process. Lakshmi is a much more familiar deva. Goddess of beauty, prosperity, and wealth. She is all auspiciousness, material comfort, perfect woman and domestic bliss. Immediately Lakshmi became the perfect wife while her older sister was shunned. Lakshmi cajoled Dussha into marrying her older sister, but he soon abandoned her. Lakshmi then moved her sister into the stars where she could live forever. She also took a vow. She swore she would never reside where poverty, grief, ugliness, the sorrows of the world are dishonored and outcast.

I suppose we must reckon with our hags if we want the rosy glow and fleshy comfort of wellbeing. I suppose it’s an open question whether we honor poverty, grief, ugliness and sorrow. I have a lot of questions about how one actually does that.

Jyestha is the imperfect woman. The unlovely. It’s rumored that Jysetha was respected in an earlier age, but today even to look at her image causes fear and is considered taboo. She is called Inauspicious and unlucky. I don’t know what this says of our modernity. Or rather I do, but prefer not to go into it.

She will go through a process - our we in her will - in the upcoming cold moons to an ugly woman who doesn’t care that she is ugly, who walks with pride and could care less. Or we won’t and we go through the cycle all over again.

Interestingly, Jyestha also means ‘expert’ and the older goddess was once given the deference of the original wife, the eldest woman of a family. She is self-respect and detachment from worldly things or relational measures of success and accomplishment. She stands alone and her aloneness can more perfectly see the unfolding cycles of life and death than anyone who is superficially ‘happy’ could.

It is hard to reckon that kind of self-respect. But fully apropos to the ending of a year

 Picasso. Woman with a crow.

Picasso. Woman with a crow.


Scorpio is a time of deep metaphysics and emotions, inward turbulence, waters and drowning. There is a spiritual courage and a fight. All this is lovely, noble, the good work. The difficulty is always in recognizing our insecurities. Emotion and drive comes to fruition if we realize the battle is a depth one, not necessarily something to be argued out in relationship or at family gatherings. The deepest and most perplexing places are not marriage, social gatherings, or our investments; the depth of this stuff originates and spins in the murkiness of our own hearts.  

This may seem heavy. As oldest triggers are triggered we may feel anxious or depressed. It’s okay. The transformative potential of this dark moon is considerable.  This last dark moon is a portal to the secret and forgotten worlds of our hearts and to the broken hearts of our ancestors. It’s no small thing to face inner weakness with inner strength.

There is another story associated with this area of the sky. A dragon tried to steal the Ganges, which means all the waters of the earth. Indra dove down into the serpent’s belly, sacrificing himself. He cut through the belly of the serpent and returned the waters to the earth. When you read water, think emotion. To swallow them all, to steal them from the stage of the earth where we play ourselves out, is actually a pretty apt metaphor for how many of us live our lives. What would it really, really mean, to return the waters to the earth next spring?

The challenge of course is balance - to somehow let our dark emerge to be transformed in the fire of wisdom but not lose ourselves in the process. Suppression won’t help. But letting our inner bile contaminate everything around us doesn’t help either. Silence, carved out space for retreat and healing, finding some ways to really just be with yourself will all help. Of course they are all hard things to do this time of year.

All the more reason to be conscientious about them.

We might have uncanny insights into the source of insecurities, jealousy, and negative beliefs currently playing themselves out in our relationships, given all these holy days and dark nights and triggered triggers. This can feel raw, like we’ve been caught naked or called out. And as we tend to react to core feelings at the level of our development, not necessarily our real age, inner child shit can be outright needy. Jyestha can empower aspects of ourselves that we may have silenced or shamed. I mean in ways no outside other possibly could.
 
Try to take it easy on yourself and others.  Be patient.  Open your heart and allow space for healing. You have the right to everything you feel. The unruly and angry wisdom of the ancient goddesses has power. Rather than fall into drama and power plays, to be overwhelmed by the sadness and the poverty, try to find self respect in the face of imperfect femininity. We can hone our expertise and clarify our reality as the year comes to an end.

Or we can stay on the surface and be overwhelmed.

Try to find some space for self respect.