Excerpted with permission from Mooncircles Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 3, by Dana Gerhardt and Pythia Peay.

This month's new moon on May 3 marks an unusual astrological conjunction of seven planets in the earth sign of Taurus. Each month, the sun and moon join together in one of the 12 astrological signs, highlighting a particular archetype. Thus, if April's Aries new moon was about boldly envisioning new dreams, possibilities, and adventures for ourselves, May's Taurus new moon is about coming down to earth and cultivating that dream into a reality.

Indeed, this month's addition of five extra planets in the sign of Taurus--Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, and Venus, along with the sun and moon--further amplifies the mythic dimensions of that sign. For it's own mysterious reasons, the universe, it seems, is broadcasting a bold message to pay attention to such practical Taurus themes as worth, money, and value; food, fertility, and maternal nurture; and the enduring element of the earth itself. It's a cosmic window to filter out the irrelevant and the illusory in order to rebuild our lives upon the solid foundation of "what really matters."

This new moon arrives two days after the May 1 "Quarter Day"--one of the four seasonal festivals that fall midway between the equinox and solstice. In pagan traditions, it is known as Beltane, or May Day--the joyous springtime festival marked by fertility rites to encourage crop growth.

Because of the astrological configuration of seven planets in Taurus, this makes for an especially powerful moment to celebrate the ancient earth mysteries and goddesses. Traditional astrological texts, for instance, link Taurus to money and values. But before money was used as barter, foodstuffs were a form of commerce. In addition, activities around food--hunting and gathering, planting and harvesting, cooking and storing--formed the basis of humankind's earliest religious festivals. And because humans depended upon the food that came from the earth in the same way that infants depended upon their mother for life, the earth became the archetypal image of the goddess as mother, provider, nourisher, and sustainer of life.

Demeter, the Grain Mother

The myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone formed the basis of the Greek Eleusinian Mysteries that were celebrated for nearly 2,000 years. While it is a myth that has accumulated layers of symbolism, its core meaning revolves around vegetation and the cycles of seasonal growth. As the story goes, Persephone was playing happily in a field of poppies. Suddenly, the earth opened, and a mysterious man on a horse--Pluto--rose up and snatched her down into his underworld kingdom. In despair at the abduction of her daughter, Demeter refused to allow anything to grow; the fields became barren and unyielding. Finally, a deal was made: Persephone would remain below ground with Pluto for a portion of each year, during which time the earth would lie fallow. In springtime, however, Persephone would return to her mother, and the earth would bloom in fertile abundance.

In this narrative, our ancient forebears recognized the drama of the miracle of growth. In the fall (when the mysteries were celebrated), the fields were plowed, and seed was planted. In the winter, the ground lay dark and silent, harboring the germinating seeds far below. In the spring, these seeds became tender shoots in need of careful tending. In late summer, they were brought to harvest. So this May new moon is a time to look to those areas of our own lives where "tender shoots" may be blossoming from seeds we may have planted some time ago.

In the harried modern world, we often think that creative projects must be born fully formed. Bypassing the natural stages of growth, we rush things to completion. Children, food, and all forms of work are pushed to "cook" too quickly. Yet as the agricultural goddess Demeter would teach us, true creativity mirrors the cycles of nature. Indeed, scholar Jane Harrison writes that Demeter was not just the goddess of the earth, but also goddess of the "fruits of the civilized, cultured earth." In the secret of time, therefore, is the secret of great art and great civilization.

For this Taurus new moon, center yourself in the wisdom of Demeter, mother of food and life, patient protector of her maiden daughter. See yourself as a link in a lineage of agricultural goddesses that stretches back in time, guardians of the natural cycles of growth and fertility. Then visualize your creative projects--whatever they may be--as tiny seedlings in need of your careful mothering. Protect them from harmful intrusion by imposing boundaries, nourish them with water and sunlight, savor their slow but sure transformations from seed, to bud, to flower, to fruit.

As you cultivate your creativity this way, you cultivate the quality of patience as well. For in your patience, as the alchemical maxim states, is your soul. And with patience comes joy--the capacity to celebrate the beauty of your creative work as it unhurriedly processes through the natural stages of unfolding.

Dana Gerhardt is a mom, astrologer, and corporate executive from Southern California. She's a regular columnist for The Mountain Astrologer magazine.

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 Pythia at soulnews@aol.com.

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