The full moon is in the middle of the night tonight. I plan for the week on Mondays because it is the day I refresh my to-do list in my bullet journal, which answered my “is it today or tomorrow?” question with a resounding “today.” I do not have reminders about the full moon in my work calendar.
However, I am trying to observe the full moon more often, inspired by this passage in the Life of Proclus by Marinus and translated by Guthrie:
Although he was anxiously invited by the teachers of eloquence, as if he had come for this very purpose, he scorned the oratorical theories and methods. Chance led him to hear first Syrianus, son of Philoxenus, at whose lecture was present Lachares, who was profoundly versed in the doctrines of the philosophers, and at that time was an assiduous auditor of the philosopher, although his art in sophistry excited as much admiration as Homer’s in poetry. It happened to be late dusk, and the sun was setting during their conversation, and the moon, quitting her conjunction with the sun, began to appear. So as to be able to adore the goddess alone and leisurely, they tried to dismiss the youth who to them was a stranger. But, after having taken but a few steps from the house Proclus, — he also seeing the moon leaving her celestial house — stopped in his tracks, undid his shoes, and in plain sight of them adored the goddess. Struck by the free and bold action of the youth, Lachares then said to Syrianus this admirable expression of Plato’s about geniuses: “Here is a man who will be a great good, or its contrary!”
Admittedly, Proclus set the standards fairly high for everything, and many of us can only hope to have ourselves even half as together.
On clear nights, there is a window of time from about 8 PM to about 9:30 PM when I can actually see the full moon rising with enough clearance that I don’t need to contort myself to experience the beauty and power of the moon. After I finished working a bit later than usual, I did personal correspondence while preparing to leave my apartment for a healthy walk in a park that is just busy enough that I haven’t figured out when one could do something like a libation without drawing stares from onlookers.
The sun was low in the sky, and when I went back to my apartment, I did a short Yoga International sequence. Afterward, instead of making dinner like a responsible adult who knew that she needed to start a ritual by 8:30 PM, I chatted with my girlfriend for a bit. Later, because I was ravenous, I made an arugula salad while I fried some over-hard eggs and fretted about my lack of punctuality.
It was at about this time, 8 PM, that my youngest sister sent the family group text a photo of the full moon, which precipitated a string of full moon images from myself and our mother. (Our midsis was silent, but she’s dealing with a lot right now.) During the exchange, I kept thinking about that bit in Marinus’ Life of Proclus when he’s describing Proclus’ display of piety to the moon that excited his teachers-to-be and wondered what he would think about modern pagan families gushing about the moon in a group text.
I only ate half of the eggs and a portion of the salad before I started the ritual — enough to feel like I had eaten something. I have a small wood table that I use for temporary shrines, which I needed to use because I cannot see the moon from my main shrine. The only time it makes sense to not create the temporary ritual space is when it’s overcast and there is no chance of seeing the moon.
And then I did the ritual, a slight variation of this one: I added prayers to Hekate and Artemis and just did some silent contemplation instead of some of the stuff towards the end. There was only one stick of incense (frankincense), and I made libations of water. Many of my thoughts were about the sublunary sphere and something that Earl Fontainelle had said in a SHWEP podcast episode (maybe this one?) about Plotinus’ comments about why he doesn’t go to Gods’ temples for the new moon celebration, the meaning of the sublunary sphere, and material daimones. I experienced a mild bit of heartache over what a ritual like this would be like in the physical presence of other people.
Finally, once the incense had burned down, I enjoyed the moon.