Project Conversion

It’s not often the religion nerd and science freak in me gets some love on the same day, but here we are. Today is a unique alignment of two events: Vesak, or Buddha Day, when many Buddhists all over the world celebrate the life and awakening of the Buddha, and it’s also the night of a perigee moon, when the moon is at its closest to earth. Full moons are also an important part of the Wiccan (and some other Pagan) tradition when many celebrate a full moon Esbat, a special time of month which honors the Goddess at her full strength.

Practicing Buddhism (specifically Theravada) and Wicca last year were two of the most formative months of my experience with Project Conversion. Buddhism taught me the art of presence, cultivation of self, and independence, while Wicca helped me see the divine feminine and the natural world in ways I’d never before imagined.

Today, I will honor both.

Lord Buddha by candlelight


Observing a full moon Esbat in 2011


While Lord Buddha did not sanction a particular day to honor him (like Jesus during Christmas, he might actually find the event embarrassing), observing this day helps remind Buddhists about his teachings, specifically the Four Noble Truths:

1) In life, there is suffering/struggle
2) The cause of this suffering is desire/attachment
3) There is a solution to the problem of suffering
4) The solution is the Noble Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path the Buddha prescribed for the problem of suffering is:

1) Right View
2) Right Intention
3) Right Speech
4) Right Action
5) Right Livelihood
6) Right Effort
7) Right Mindfulness
8) Right Concentration

Today I will meditate on these teachings and work on making them a more integral part of daily living. Last year, my youngest daughter also helped me cut out a string of paper Bodhi leaves to celebrate, but she woke up this morning with a nasty stomach bug, so I don’t think she’s celebrating much of anything.

Nevaeh helping me celebrate Vesak 2011


For the full moon Esbat, I will perform a simplified “Calling Down the Goddess” ritual similar to my practice with Wicca. In the famous work, “Charge of the Goddess,” the Goddess herself instructs her devotees to seek her out, especially when the moon is full.

“…Whenever you have need of anything, once a month, and better it be when the moon is full, you shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of Me Who is Queen of all the Wise.

One common practice is placing vessels of clean water out during the night of the full moon so that one may “capture” the light of the moon and her energy in the water. The water might then be used for any number of things, such as gardening or cleansing rituals. The Goddess and I have an intense and personal history and so any phase of the moon brings out a whimsical mood. Tonight, I don’t foresee anything complicated in my ritual with the Lady. A stick of incense, a bowl of water, a white candle, and some quiet time gazing up into the night sky might be all I need.

Today, it’s “pents out” and robes on!

 Whether you’re Wiccan, Buddhist, unaffiliated, or just an avid sky gazer, partnered with nature, we have a way of making any day special if we just allow joy and wonder to happen. How will you make today special?

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