Friday, September 16, 2016

Howl at the Moon!

Posted by: Shawna Reppert

Humans have often revered, often feared the full moon. For farmers and hunters (and young girls who like to ride their horses in moonlit pastures) its light means extra hours to work or to play outside. In early times of subsistence living, those extra hours could be a matter of life and death. The beauty of the full moon is admired by poets, artists, and lovers all. The tides rise high to greet her.

. For many pagan spiritual paths, the full moon is considered a time of great power. The new crescent and the waxing moon is good for spells to do with new beginnings, and the waning moon is the best time to banish evil, but the full moon is when magic is at its fullest strength.

And yet people who deal with the public, from customer service representatives to EMTs, will tell you that the strange get just a little bit stranger on nights of the full moon. In the Tarot, the Moon can stand for intuition, but more often it represents illusion, trickery, and things that aren’t quite what they seem. The full moon gives us light to see by, but in that silvery light colors don’t show true and shadows can mislead.

While in many traditions (Japanese, Native America) shifters can change shape at any time, the werewolf rooted in Anglo-Saxon legend only changes shape at the time of the full moon. The origin of these tales goes back so far that one can only speculate at the reasons for that stipulation. There is, first of all, the whole howling-at-the-moon thing. Wolves, of course, howl at any time, day or night, and at any phase of the moon. (As my neighbors would attest, back when Seamus-wolf was alive.) But the way that they tilt their heads when they howl makes it look like they’re crying out to something in the sky, and the moon is as good a candidate as any. Especially since wolves may howl during the day, but it’s just that extra bit more nervous-making in the dark when you can hear the wolf but not see it.

But I think the connection between wolves and the moon goes deeper than that. The moon puts us in touch with our primal selves. Is it some inherent energy? Is it the way it pulls at our blood as it pulls at the oceans? Or is it simply a reminder that, like the moon, our lives will someday wane into the darkness of death. (Whether or not you believe that they wax again is a matter of personal faith that I will leave to you.) Likewise the werewolf legend is a reflection of the thing we fear, the wildness within, our natural animal selves that rise in moments of great passion.

Just as the wolf, once maligned as a bloodthirsty monster, is now understood to be an integral part of a healthy ecosystem, so that inner wildness is an integral part of our healthy internal ecosystem.

So let me leave you with that thought. The moon is full, and I feel a howl coming on.

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Find her latest book, a steampunk Victorian detective novel with werewolves, on Amazon!   A Hunt by Moonlight

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