Excerpted from "New Moon Invocations and Practices," in the April issue of Mooncircles Newsletter

With the new moon cycle occurring between April 4 and 18, here are some symbolic images and myths to help attune you to the lunar energy.

The Edge of the Horizon   As a young girl growing up on a farm in a small, Midwestern town, I often felt lonely and cut off from the wider world. To comfort myself before falling asleep, I would gaze longingly out my bedroom window at the horizon. In the distance, the lights of the city twinkled brightly, beckoning with its promise of adventure. My soul yearned toward this symbol of unexplored promise. The image of the horizon has always stirred in me the Aries pioneer who dares to venture into terra incognita. Thus this Aries new moon, coming right on the heels of the spring equinox, is a time to contemplate the horizon in your life: Where is your "edge," the border where the familiar verges with the strange and new?

To help you discern the nature of the new adventure, it may help to meditate on images of the horizon found in nature--an ocean sunset, where water and sky meet in a blaze of color. Or hold within your mind the sight of a distant range of mountain peaks soaring like cathedral spires. While meditating on the horizon, experience the sensation of being pulled forward.

Prometheus, the Firebringer  In the myth of the Greek god Prometheus, we gain insight into the archetypal role of Aries. Defying Zeus' edict never to take anything that belonged to the gods, Prometheus, filled with compassion for the cold that humanity suffered, outwitted Zeus by stealing a spark of fire from Olympus. Furious, Zeus condemned him to be chained to a mountain, where each day an eagle tore at his liver. Prometheus refused to give Zeus the apology he demanded (how like an Aries!); eventually, however, he was freed by Herakles.

Though it is a cautionary tale that warns about the suffering we surely will endure for daring to defy "the powers that be," it is also a parable about the deeply human need to progress, to uncover new truths, to take a risk, to simply be brave. This Aries new moon, therefore, provides a timely opportunity for contemplating the Promethean tasks you may fear taking, yet must risk if your soul is to unfold in its evolutionary journey. Have you shunned love for fear of rejection? Dammed up creativity for fear of failure? Feared asking the boss for a raise? Abandoned political action out of cynicism? Or turned away from spiritual practice for lack of energy? Any one of these areas may be the place where you need to "steal fire" from the gods, to claim divine gifts that are your birthright.

The Initiator  Aries is the first sign in the zodiac, the mythic character who initiates the first act in the grand cosmic drama. Like The Fool in the tarot deck, who sets off on the heroic journey, or the Jungian archetype of the puer aeternus, our hero Aries steps blithely off the edge of a cliff headlong into adventure. The sign of spring, Aries can be experienced whenever we are gripped by the fiery impulse to shed the past in order to birth a new future. The snake sheds its skin, the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, and the new moon is born again from the dark of the old Moon. In spiritual traditions, the decision to step out of our old ways of being in order to be reborn anew is ritualized as an "initiation." Having made the decision to undertake the journey of spiritual unfoldment, the student is initiated by his or her teacher in a special ceremony of prayers, invocations, and blessings.

Thus this new moon is a propitious time to initiate what I call "first-step" action as a ritual way to consecrate the new direction that your soul is drawing you toward. If you have identified an area in your life where you feel a calling, sanctify it with a ritual gesture: Light a candle, compose an invocation, or find an object for your altar symbolizing your new quest. You may even visualize yourself standing before a holy being--a high priest or priestess, or a wise spiritual teacher--who gently blesses your undertaking. But don't stop there: Follow your meditation with a concrete action by picking up the phone, writing a letter, or putting brush to canvas. Follow the quintessential Aries motto and "just do it."

The Sacred Flame  It takes energy to overcome lethargy and courageously initiate new action. Perhaps this is why the element assigned to Aries is fire; courage, enthusiasm, passion, and heat are among its attributes.

In the ancient goddess traditions, the light of the moon was kindled in temples by torches and candles. The Latin word for torch or candle is "vesta"; thus the Vestal Priestesses tended the perpetual sacred fires that were kept burning in the temple of the Moon Goddess. To meditate on the qualities symbolized by the sacred flame, you may wish to light a candle on your altar, then, with open eyes, contemplate the flame. After a few minutes, close your eyes. As you breathe in, feel the heart of the flame rise up your spine; breathing out, feel the luminous white aura extend in a halo around your body. Then imagine that you are a single candle flame flickering brightly among a host of other candle flames; each candle a soul, each soul a star, illuminating a cosmic temple.

This month's full moon will take place April 18, 2000, 10:42 a.m. PDT, 1:42 p.m. EDT.

Pythia Peay is the editor of "Awakening: A Sufi Experience" by the Sufi teacher Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, and is at work on "Soul Sisters: A Sacred Way for All Women," to be published by Tarcher/Putnam in 2001. For information on subscribing to the Mooncircles Newsletter, contact her at soulnews@aol.com.

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