Nothing bad ever started with a skinny dip.
It was in a moonlit Minnesota lake where Edie Barrett, skivvy-less and startled by the water’s chill, found herself enchanted last summer by the beauty of the full moon. Barrett, who works in the mythology department at Pacifica Graduate Institute, knows that ancient cultures prayed to la bella luna, a symbol of the divine feminine.
Marveling at its glow, she said, “I felt like I was hooking into a legacy before me.”
Weeks later, back home in Santa Barbara, she read a disturbing news story. An Afghani policewoman had been assassinated by the Taliban for working outside the home. The story “struck a chord of urgency for me,” said Barrett, and she made a vow. Once a month, she would stand under the full moon and pray for the safety, strength, and voice of women everywhere.
Now Barrett has launched an email campaign asking women around the globe to join in her monthly ritual beginning on the next full moon, November 13. “I’m trying to acknowledge the beauty that lives in all of us, and what it means to be in this world as a woman,” she said. “Just imagine if we could get women all over the world one night a month to look up at the moon and renew our vows to live mindfully in empowered feminine consciousness.”
Now, I’m not one to woo-woo. There are no less than seven words in the above quotation that make me squirm and, in fact, you’re more likely to shift global politics by gazing at the moon than you are to hear me say “empowered feminine consciousness” out loud.
But Barrett’s plan did get me thinking: Do we have — or do we take — enough opportunities in modern life to celebrate our femininity?
“Look, I love being a woman,” said one friend. “Wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But if my husband came to me and said, ‘I’m going outside to stare at the sun and be grateful for my penis,’ I’d call the white-coat guys.”
No argument here. But as Barrett points out, looking at the moon is easy. It’s free. There’s no need to arrange childcare or transportation. What if we could make this moon-meditating ceremony anything we wanted? Praying for women’s reproductive rights, painting your toenails, howling like she-wolves, having a tea party, or, um, letting your femininity really fly free? “I must admit,” said a mom I know, “I love to sit on my back patio during the full moon and seduce my husband.”
I asked my girlfriends what their moon-worshipping ritual would look like — if they had to invent one. “I would focus on the gravity of the moon,” said one. “The pull of the moon rules our tides, releases the power of earthquakes, and stabilizes the wobble of our planet. Now that sounds like the talents and strengths of a woman!”
She would invite her girlfriends over and put their collective girl-power to work by encouraging each other to try something new, or celebrating one another’s personal victories. “My ritual would be roaring with the voices of women talking, laughing, arguing — all at the same time,” she said. “And it would have the warmth of good community.”
Another friend, and mom, said she would like to celebrate the feminine energy in her household by, well, not expending any of it. “My ritual would be my husband deciding what’s for dinner, buying it, preparing it, serving it, and doing the dishes,” she said, “while I’m in bed with a good book.”
And her prayer? “Zzzzzzzz.”