Moonlight Breathing (Beltana)

April 29, Eve of Beltana, a full moon.

You are invited to join us in this meditation tonight, where ever you may be, balancing the elements, balancing Light and Darkness, balancing Spirit and Body, in the splendor of the full moon.

Some think that Beltana is simply a Pagan fertility rite: sex in the forest. This may be pleasant, but such fun doesn't last long, and only hints at the eternal union of Herne and Hecate, Isis and Osirus, Shiva and Shakti, Christos and Sophia, Sun and Earth in the human heart. This inward union is expressed by the light of the full moon, for it marries the heat of the sun to the coolness of the earth, brightness of day to darkness of night, active Word to creative Silence, power of God to wisdom of Goddess.

The inner marriage is ecstatically sung by Christian mystics and wandering troubadours of Medieval Europe, by poet saints of India like Jnaneshwar and Mira, Sufi masters like Rumi, and by the poet of the Song of Songs in the Hebrew Bible. Jesus used this symbolism in his Wedding Parables. The same symbols describe the Rasa-Lila, ecstatic dance of Krishna with the Gopi girls, in the garden of Vrindavan.

The Church assimilated these 'Pagan' symbols of Spring. For example, the ritual of Holy Saturday on Easter Eve renews the mystery of baptism as rebirth from a divine womb. The priest dips a Paschal Candle, representing the masculine fire of Christ, into a cauldron of baptismal water, representing the womb of the Great Mother. For the Holy Spirit's waters were, in early Christianity, associated with Sophia-Wisdom, the mother aspect of God.

In early Gnostic Christianity, the sacraments reached fulfillment in the ritual of 'The Bridal Chamber.'  (See the Gnostic Gospel of Philip.) The Bridal Chamber is your own heart, where Jesus unites in devotional love with the soul, represented by Mary Magdalene.

Thus, physical sexuality is the outward signs of an inward mystical union. In the heart center, the Hridaya Chakra, masculine and feminine merge. The interpenetrating triangles of the 'Star of David' symbolize this union in the heart, illustrations of which can be found in Yogic texts of ancient India. A down-facing triangle, representing the sun, merges with an up-facing triangle representing the earth.

The postures of Hatha Yoga are ultimately intended to bring about this harmony of male and female forces in the nervous system. The solar force is 'Ha', the feminine force is 'Tha'. 'Yoga' means 'union': thus, 'Hatha Yoga.' These male and female forces twine around the spine (Ida and Pingala) and eventually unite as one in the central channel of the spine (Sushumna), making the human body a living Tree of Life that joins earth and sky in this garden of paradise. The original innocence of Adam and Eve are restored through Yoga.

The same is the goal of Chinese medicine: to harmonize feminine and masculine, Yin and Yang, in this human body.

Therefor on this sacred night, whatever religion we may follow, we can celebrate the mystical marriage of God and Humanity, giving birth to eternal life in the heart. Now we will meditate on the full moon, and unite the elements of Fire and Water.

Take a cool sip of water as you gaze at the full moon, or simply visualize the moon inwardly, floating in the space of your forehead. Now feel the coolness of the water element in your whole body.

As you breathe out, let your awareness sink all the way down into the dark earth, through the base of your spine. Know that you are grounded and centered and held by the gravity of the Great Mother...

Visualize a lake of deep purple light around your hips. Breathing out, sink into that nurturing sea. Surrender to the mystery of the Mother, giving thanks...

After a few minutes, as you breathe in, feel your attention rise into the heart. There, visualize green petals opening, holding a gleaming emerald. In this green jewel, golden light from heaven above mingles with purple light from the ocean below. This light is the cool healing vibration of green. Let beams of this emerald light irradiate each nerve of your sacred body. Breathing out, give thanks...

After a few minutes, as you breathe in, feel your attention rise through the throat into the head. Now starlight pours down through the opening at the crown of your head, pooling in your brow as a creamy glow of pearl. This light is the full moon in you. Welcome the full moon. Let it float between your eyebrows, bright yet soothing, radiant as the sun yet cool as water.

With inhalation, feel the full moon's light intensify between your brows. With exhalation, moon-beans disperse and fall into every cell of your sacred body...

Finally, let the full moon rest where ever in your body it naturally settles. Let it happen: don't concentrate. The full moon may rest naturally in your crown, forehead, throat, heart, or belly. Continue to breathe moonlight in and through your body...

When you have rested in the full moon as long as you like, open your eyes and light a candle. Look into the flame and visualize a playful picture of yourself doing what thrills you, in a way that brings service and joy to others. Let this be your innocent intention. Then offer the candle, placing it in the earth, or throw it in the greater Beltana bonfire.

If you are at such a bonfire, leap over the fire, offering your intention to serve joyfully in the flowering of paradise on earth. You can hold hands with a partner as you leap over the fire, or you can simply be partnered within: it matters not. For you are the union of Earth and Sky. You are One and Complete. This is the mystical marriage, the meaning of Beltana.


"O Mother Wisdom, you are the womb of night who gives birth to day.

You are ever-virgin intuition, deeper than thought.

From your unmanifest creativity, all creation is born.

Without your radiant Darkness, there would be no Sun of God.

Without your inner Silence, there would be no Word.

You are the Full Moon, reflection of the burning Sun in cool night.

In you, Flesh meets Spirit.

In your Waters, Earth is wedded with Fire.

From the Hollow of your mystery, the Garden blooms.

You nourish all seeds.

You have countless beautiful names:

Shakti, Hochma, Yin;

Hecate, Isis, Maria.

You are Sophia, Wisdom,

Theatokos, Mother of God.

But your greatest name is our breath,

the breath we take in compassion,

the breath we give in thanksgiving.

Tonight, we welcome the fullness of your grace

into every atom of our flesh

as the still mirror of ten thousand lakes

welcomes the one Moon.

You make our bodies sacred.

We are grateful.

You make our bodies sacred.

We are grateful.

We sing to the Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water,


the Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water,



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