Image Source: Science Alert.
On 14 November 2016, at 13:52 UTC, the moon will come the closest it has been to the earth in nearly 70 years. It is the second of three consecutive supermoons closing the year 2016. EarthSky:
Telegraph:"November 14 presents the moon’s closest encounter with Earth in over 68 years, since January 26, 1948. The full moon on November 14, 2016, will feature the closest full moon (356,509 kilometers) until November 25, 2034 (356,448 kilometers)! Maybe this helps you see that supermoons – while interesting – are fairly routine astronomical events."
Another supermoon follows on 14 December 2016 at 00:05 UTC. You can see information on viewing these full moons here, here and here."The moon will come 221,524 miles from Earth - almost touching distance in space terms. ... The closest full moon of the whole of the 21st century will fall on December 6, 2052. Make sure you don't forget."
The Farmer's Almanac explains that the full moons which bring the year to a close are known in Native American or First Nations' traditions as October's Hunter's Moon; November's Beaver Moon (which sounds rude to Brits - it is also called the Frost Moon); and the Cold Moon of December.
Moonrise behind the Taj Mahal. Image Source: Condé Nast Traveller.
Supermoon in Papago Park, Phoenix, Arizona, USA (5 May 2012). Image Source: Dave Seibert/The Republic via AZ Central.
The supermoon in the Sultanate of Oman (June 2012). Image Source: Priya Kumar via EarthSky.
A supermoon rising over the ancient temple of Poseidon in Greece on 23 June 2013. Image Source: National Geographic.
Scientists deny this, but people believe that supermoons cause earthquakes and tsunamis. Conspiracy theorists are in uproar over November's supermoon because it seems to mark a full circle with the supermoon of January 1948, and the state of Israel was founded on 14 May 1948. Some say November 2016's full moon also relates to the fate of Israel and world affairs because of President Obama's Israel Surprise. Fundamentalist Christians believe that this supermoon confirms the Second Coming of Christ. Others believe that this full moon is a sign of the end of times, or apocalyptic war. Perhaps not apocalypse, although I have started a series of posts on this blog to research and explore World War III projections. This post asks how the symbolism around the supermoon can help us cope with change.
Alternative for Germany (AfD) support in the Landtag (provincial state) elections jumped in March 2016. The populist, Eurosceptic party (depicted in the blue column above) saw big gains in Sachsen-Anhalt, Baden-Württemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. See more at: WELT via The Guardian.
In the wake of the US election, the 20th century is finally over. I have argued on this blog that a large part of the middle class was destroyed during the recession, and with their ruination came the destabilization of the western system of liberal democracies. Post-recession, there was an attempt to build an exclusivist, two-tiered plutocracy-precariat model behind a façade. That façade maintained that the broadly-inclusive post-WWII liberal democracies had weathered the shocks and continued on with business as usual. Less expected was that the system has been destabilized to the degree that the plutocracy-precariat model cannot be sustained in a Potemkin Village of fake prosperity. Battles are on in all corners to see what will emerge in its place.
My hypothesis here will be tested in a domino-series of upcoming European elections, the outcomes of which will influence each other. The first of these is the bungled Austrian election on 4 December 2016, followed by the Netherlands (15 March 2017), France (23 April and 7 May 2017), Norway (11 September 2017) and Germany (autumn 2017), Italy (date TBA), among others in Central and Eastern Europe - Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovenia, Albania. This process may continue.
Forbes: Why Historians Must Use Wikileaks To Write The History Of The 2016 Election https://t.co/atWeipaswC— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 7, 2016
There is another dimension to these developments. No matter how you vote, these changes are stressful, and as WikiLeaks' impact on the US election showed, unprecedented and rapid technological change adds uncertainty. Julian Assange demonstrated that there is an alternative way of approaching many questions now, which is virtual yet real. That alternative can no longer be discounted by the mainstream establishment on the left or the right.
There is a challenge here, for change does not have to be all negative. The Internet allows people to consider how to live and work in new ways, in new kinds of communities. For some, that comes as a tremendous relief, and cyberspace becomes a Promised Land of alternatives. At the same time, the Internet is unreliable and strange, its information dangerously malleable. Its leaders ride in from the fringes. That alternative is embodied in offensive, in-your-face über-trolls, such as Milo Yiannopoulos for Breitbart, who is permanently banned from Twitter for retweeting disgusting racist remarks. He will not go away now that he has arrived at the party. It would be better to understand the full spectrum of change, rather than assume that Yiannopoulos represents the totality of the shift. In other words, despite deep divisions, we are still all in this together; and because of hyper-technology, we are all changing, whether we like it or not.
Moon River scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) © Paramount Pictures. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.
It is very difficult to find common ground in a divided public square. Extreme tension leads us to reconsider the emotional side of Millennial life, and to have sympathy for all - in that sphere if no other - given the stress and confusion of general transformation. That brings us back to the supermoon and a very different narrative. Full moons are not omens of disaster, rather obscured vision, emotional upheavals and endings. Films with prominent lunar themes, such as Paper Moon (1973), Moonstruck (1987), or Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), promise a drama with special emotional challenges.
In the American film, Born on the Fourth of July (1989), the director Oliver Stone set his story in the mid-1960s, with Tom Cruise playing a Marine who enlists to fight in the Vietnam War. Stone used the famous love song from Breakfast at Tiffany's, Moon River, in his character's Vietnam departure scene. The use of this song drew a line between past and present.
Moon River clip from Born on the Fourth of July (1989) © Universal Pictures. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.
The use of that music in Stone's score contrasted his film with Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), which recalled a more idealistic, romanticized period under President Kennedy. Stone's contrast does not quite hold up, because Breakfast at Tiffany's had unsettling elements, too. The contrast works more because of the nostalgic music: Johnny Mercer (1909-1976) wrote the lyrics to Moon River to remember evenings on the waterways of Savannah, Georgia, USA.
In the film clips below, each movie hinges on before and after scenes, in which the moon is a pivot for the character's journey toward whatever he or she needs or wants most, beyond youthful romance, beyond convention, past the expected journey, beyond death.
Moonstruck (1987) © MGM clip. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.
Moonstruck (1987) © MGM clip: Cosmo's moon. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.
The Dead (1987) © Vestron pictures: the recitation. Reproduced under Fair Use. The film was based on James Joyce's short story collection, The Dubliners (1914), especially the story, "The Dead." The poem in the recitation is Broken Vows, translated by Lady Gregory from a longer Gaelic folk song. Video Source: Youtube.
The Dead (1987) © Vestron pictures: the finale reveals the heroine is haunted by a lost love. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.
Cyrano de Bergerac (1990) © UGC clip: Je viens de la lune (I come from the moon). Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.
Cyrano de Bergerac (1990) © UGC clip: the final scene takes the character back to the moon. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.
La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful) (1997) © Miramax: this is the Bacarolle from Jacques Offenbach's opéra fantastique The Tales of Hoffman (1881), based on earlier short stories by E. T. A. Hoffman (1776-1822). The music is used in a scene in pre-WWII Italy, and later, when the characters are deported to a German labour camp. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube. A dubbed English version of the scene is here.
Astrologers say November 2016's supermoon in Taurus leads us to balance life between the expected and unexpected, the practical and the exciting, the mundane and the ethereal. The balance, once struck, heals old wounds. All full moons supposedly bring fruition and endings. This lore comes from a time when we lived in harmony with the cycles of nature, when full moons offered an opportunity to overcome the delusions, memories and nightmares which haunt us, while witnessing the real fruit of a month's labour. Darkstar Astrology declares that this once-in-a-lifetime supermoon is your emotional severance package.
Astrologer Marina Macario advises, if you get depressed when facing the old music (or the new music), don't self-medicate with sex, drugs, alcohol, and other crutches. Astrostyle suggests, rather, take comfort in going by the book, staying in the present, chopping wood and carrying water; but don't, when going through these practical motions, relinquish your ideals.
This is a balance between compromise with reality and finding where you choose to stand; it is a balance between who you are now and who you will be on the best day of your life. There is comfort in that steady approach toward the horizon. There is also comfort in not losing sight of the horizon. This is a practical and philosophical paradox. Don't lift your head from the immediate task, yet look forward when you cannot do so. This is a supermoon which asks for the planned-unplanned moment. Keep at the nitty gritty while grasping the unknowable to see the fruits of your labours and potential.
La Luna in the Soprafino tarot (ca. 1835; this Major Arcana card is likely from the Ancient Italian tarot (2000), copying the 1992 Soprafino reprint from Il Meneghello). Image Source: pinterest.
In the tarot deck, La Luna bears the same message. It says normal vision is clouded, yet you must find your way. The querent sees things in the mirrored light of mystery and follows the Tao's Pathless Path. One can and will arrive at the intended destination, but without a conventional plan, and only by non-linear thinking, and improvised, oblique strategies. Despite the flights of fancy, this intuitive push forward depends on real experience, taking real action in the real world. It looks impractical, but it is not. It looks dreamy; but it is not a retreat into futile dreams. HuffPo:
"The pathless path isn’t a straight line; it doesn’t even lead from point A to point B. The journey takes place entirely in consciousness. A mind overshadowed by fears, hopes, memories, past traumas, and old conditioning finds a way to become free. This sounds impossible at first. How can the mind that is trapped by pain also be the tool for freeing itself? How can a noisy mind find silence? How can peace emerge from discord?
The Buddha offered his answer, which is a variant on an even more ancient answer from the seers or rishis of Vedic India: transcend the personal mind and find universal mind. The personal mind is tied to the ego, and the ego is forever swinging from pleasure to pain and back again. But if you look at awareness when there is no pleasure or pain, when the mind is calm while simply existing, a fascinating journey begins. You have made the first step on the pathless path.
Which is not to dismiss the other path, the one that takes you away from home into a retreat, ashram, meditation center, or holy place. They have their own atmosphere; Seekers have stopped there for a long time; therefore, the mind can breathe a different kind of air, so to speak, an air of tranquility and peace. When you arrive at such a place, two things usually happen. You soak up the peace, enjoying the contrast with your busy life at home. But at the same time you notice how loud your mind is, how much chaos it has absorbed. So these holy place[s] cannot do the work for you. They can only suggest what the pathless path is about.
In nature, the moon serves as a giant mirror. It reflects sunlight onto the earth, mainly visible to those experiencing nighttime. Early humans' first natural mirrors were pools of water, and the moon affects the tides; as a result, lunar events are associated with mirrors and water. In literature and fables, the moon speaks of reflections, how we may see the world in distorted fashion, or how the world may distort its view of us.The inspired Indian poet Kabir points a finger at all spiritual travelers:There is nothing but water in the holy pools. I know, I have been swimming in them. All the gods sculpted of wood or ivory can’t say a word. I know, I have been crying out to them. The Sacred Books of the East are nothing but words. I looked through their covers one day sideways. What Kabir talks of is only what he has lived through. If you have not lived through something, it is not true."
Examples of the images from tarot decks below show that the moon card highlights problems or shadows that have dogged the querent (often shown as howling dogs), especially those mirrored by the world back upon him or her, in false or misleading ways. The card indicates that these issues can be overcome in a hairy process in which no one can quite see what they are doing. The road to follow is not made of earth or stone or pavement, but of water, which symbolizes emotions, memories and mysteries. The person who moves forward in this lovely environment is the crab, armoured on the outside and soft on the inside, an indicator of Cancer, a water sign which ties tempestuous emotions to solace.
The moon card in the Tarot of Prague, one of the most renowned recent decks (2003). Image Source: Baba Studio.
Moon card for tarot exhibition, No Lugar Art Company, Sevile, Spain (2012). Image Source © Cristina Vela.
The short sci-fi thriller, Refuge (2015), was shot entirely in moonlight. That fact was enough to make the film believable as a drama set on an alien world. Directed by Sam Shapson. Written by Derek Stuckert. Director of Photography Barry Elmore. Video Source: Indie Wire.
Caption for the above video: "Billed as the first ever narrative film shot entirely using moonlight, 'Refuge' is a short sci-fi thriller directed by Sam Shapson. Shapson shot it with 51,200 ISO, using Sony a7 cameras with Canon Cinema Prime lenses and Atomos Shogun 4K recorders. Obviously due to the incredibly low lighting, the images appear grainy, though it gives the film an attractive low-budget horror aesthetic and makes for some beautiful shots.
The film itself deals with three biological researchers working on an off-world biosphere, though they find things are working in a bizarre way. First, the plants seem to be rapidly evolving and then it turns out some kind of alien parasite is infecting and controlling people, a la 'The Thing' and 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers.' The tension grows, ending up in a standoff that, like most cinematic standoffs, doesn’t go so well."
See all my posts on the Tarot.
See my earlier posts on the Moon, here, here, here, here and here.