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And now, let’s talk about Monday’s Full Moon in Pisces!
I only write when I’m inspired.
Have you ever heard this? Have you ever said it?
It’s a fickle thing, inspiration. When conceived of as an elusive muse driven by whim and chaos, it can be a dangerous thing to depend on for the professional writing life. As the quote that has been attributed to numerous writers goes, I only write when I’m inspired, and conveniently, I’m inspired at 9 o’clock every morning. Discipline matters more than inspiration, in this ethos.
My Saturn-ruled ass is guilty of over-ascribing to the school of discipline, of prioritizing consistency over the inner voice, of being judgmental of other writers who bemoan a lack of aha! moments and a consequent lack of production. Just write, I think. What can be so hard about that?
But dismissing inspiration altogether is folly, too.
Inspiration — the divine kind, the big magic kind — is closely associated with the deeply spiritual Pisces archetype. The inexplicable creative bursts that come out of nowhere. What the ancient Greeks called daemon, often interpreted these days as external muses or influences, were more often meant as the inner Spirits already within, already guiding, already present —
already accessible to each and every one of us.
I spent the other night devouring Melissa Febos’ forthcoming craft book Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative (pre-order it! it is that rare book that exceeds the hype). I am not sure that I can quote from it (what I read was an ARC), but what I will say is that Febos reminds us, her readers who are also writers, that our modern English word inspiration has its roots in old, old words for breath. This promptly sent me on a journey to the Oxford English Dictionary where entries for inspiration read thusly,
3. The action of inspiring; the fact or condition of being inspired…; a breathing or infusion into the mind or soul.
a. spec. (Theology, etc.) A special immediate action or influence of the Spirit of God (or of some divinity or supernatural being) upon the human mind or soul; said esp. of that divine influence under which the books of Scripture are held to have been written.
b. gen. A breathing in or infusion of some idea, purpose, etc. into the mind; the suggestion, awakening, or creation of some feeling or impulse, esp. of an exalted kind.
A breathing or infusion into the mind or soul.
The… awakening or creation of some feeling or impulse.
The earliest entries for 3a are from the year 1303 CE; for 3b, from 1651 CE — times before faith and God and Spirit had been completely rooted out of the everyday creative process.
Discipline is essential for the translation of inspiration — but one must be paying attention to be inspired in the first place.
These days in professional writing circles, inspiration is often talked about like a grand ideal, like something up there, just out of reach, instead of something down here that we can always drop into. A visitor, rather than a resource within us we simply have to bother to visit, to tend.
When I picture inspiration, I think of a well. There’s a fairy tale-like quality to the image. There are wishing wells, of course: that if only you have the will to wish, the magic of the watery depths will make it so — no further work on your part necessary. And the foil, of course: the terror stories of being trapped at the bottom of the well with no way out, like Bruce Wayne long before he was Batman.
In such stories, wells are a space where you either get stuck or hope to remove the stickiness of life: states we often hope “inspiration” will solve. But in my own imagination, a well is a source of sustenance — an ordinary place, somewhere in a country field that I’m simply collecting water from.
Monday’s Full Moon occurs at 28* of Pisces at 7:55p Eastern. The moon will have connected with both dreamy Neptune by conjunction and transformational Pluto by sextile earlier in the day, amplifying its creative intensity. There is also the potential for some strong spiritual themes to emerge in the work. It’s a good day for journaling and mindfulness practices, to see what naturally rises to the surface.
For those who want to dig a little deeper, bear in mind that this is a Jupiter-ruled moon. Jupiter, the healer-teacher of the sky, is in systems-minded Aquarius, receiving a supportive trine from Mercury in Libra. Some innovative ideas around aesthetics may be in the air, as well, providing some contrast to the Neptunian fantasy.
If inspiration is breath, then breathing is also a way to collect inspiration — rather like collecting water from a well.
In Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary, Briana Saussy writes about breath as a way of blessing the physical body in ritual. It is also a way to bless spaces, objects, other people — and our creativity and writing. Saussy writes,
Breathe in a deep breath, and as you do, bless your physical body in the way that works best for you. You might simply think, ‘Thank you, blessed body, for being here’ or ‘I love you’ or ‘May you be healed.’ If it feels right, you may place a hand on your heart, your stomach, or your abdomen to actually feel the breath/blessing as it fills your body.
Exhale completely, acknowledging that releasing your breath fully is as important as breathing in deeply. Upon exhaling, allow yourself to release one thing — big or small — that you can let go of for the rest of the day. After you have exhaled completely, take a moment to feel thankful for your breath and the body it nourishes.
If you’re looking for a moon ritual, or a way to enliven your own relationship to inspiration in this moment, I can’t imagine a better way than simply being present with the breath that is available to you, right where you are.
Happy Full Moon.
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