Last night I dreamed I was adrift in a small rough-edged boat, floating through the night on a beautiful, shimmering lake. I seemed to be in one of those miniature boats we make as children, using large leaves and sticks for hull and sail. It was a very old lake, I think; the waves were gently gliding up to a short beach of smooth stones and shadows. But most memorable of all was the splendid full moon just above the horizon, and it spilled across the water like quicksilver and pearls.
My long-ago dog, Sophie, was with me in the dream. And, strangely, so was one of my former cats – a longhaired beauty named Katie. All of us were hushed and entranced by the moon.
My dreams are typically neither very complicated nor difficult to discern in origin. And this one seemed to be no exception.
I had recently acquired a vintage book of children’s poems and rhymes – written with total abandonment to fun, brilliantly illustrated, with all the charm and delight appropriate to the style of its 1924 issue date. The book is titled well: On the Road to Make Believe, and it caught at my imagination, while it created images in my subconscious of childhood as we all want to believe it exists. And so the leaf boat appeared in my dream, complete with animal companions, on a warm, still, moonlit lake.
The moon seemed to have taken on its starring role in my night creation with equal ease of explanation. But that began a few days before last Christmas. The full moon that occurred that night took one’s breath away and replaced it with a sense of awe and peace. The very sight and magic of it became holiday party chatter and caused people to stop in wonder as they were scurrying up doorsteps, hands full of treats and packages. Hovering low in the sky, the moon in all its fullness that night somehow warmed the icy air and reassured inspired hearts that, indeed, perhaps all was calm … all was bright.
Since then, I have been especially mindful of full moons.
I’ve been remembering the names given to the different monthly full moons by our native American ancestors – including the wolf moon, the flower moon, and the hunter moon; February’s full moon alone was known variously – and hauntingly – as the bone moon, the hunger moon, the cold moon or the crackling moon.
I’ve also been recalling some of the folktales and lore and widespread beliefs about the moon that exist in every culture and every place and every time. Stories involving giant rabbits and beautiful princesses; or of the moon being hollow and home to an entire culture and race of beings; legends of gods and goddesses; tales of shape-shifting and transformations; and the moon’s influence in love potions and health cures, madness and meditation.
I have personally lived to see a dozen humans imprinting themselves on the very face of the moon – leaving behind bits and pieces of our species’ inventiveness, our science, our art, traces of our humanity – as if they were some kind of hostess gifts.
And yet, while the rest of our reality shifts and groans with evolution and meddling, the moon remains constant. Regardless of war and weather and religions and governments, it does not change with time or even human intervention. It is predictable in its phases. It is seen the same from every place and gaze from earth and every time in history. In fact, the phases of the moon are quite simply changes of our own earthly perspective – not changes or phases of the moon itself at all. The moon, like truth, never changes; only our perception of it.
I find all of this strangely comforting. When I die, the moon will be the same enchanting celestial entity it was when I was born. And I can know that it was the same when my ancestors went down to their own sea in their own sailing ships. And it will be the same for all those who come after me. And it was so in the vintage children’s book of 1924, and it was so in my dream last night.
I suspect we all need something of constancy in our lives and hearts. I am glad one of those constant things can be the moon. For it is the perfect mix of perception and reality, lightness and dark, reflection and insight, precise measurement and quantum mystery. And hope. Perhaps in its constancy, the moon represents the fullness of hope.
I am hoping that my dream might come to me again. Perhaps it will … on the beams of the next full moon.
© Marti Healy 2019