the charmer by waterhouse

“Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.” -Rumi

I moved out to California, my home for almost two decades now, shortly after graduating from college and my mother’s death.  San Francisco proved to be far foggier and colder than I thought. The saving grace of that first home I lived in was its close proximity to a lush forest of eucalyptus trees and California lilies, providing a sacred space where I could be alone with my swirling thoughts, feelings and grief. The elegant lily called my name, asking to be painted. Though I have a degree in art, I’d never painted, but as I painted the lily, and eventually other flowers, I found the act of painting created a container for my grief, a way to connect to the loss of my mother. So I painted, my sadness pouring into the beauty, the act of creating beauty purifying my sadness.

Cancer New Moon touches our taproot: our home, feelings, how we nurture our self and others.  How are we caring for our self? If we have a flock of dependents relying on us, are we remembering that we must tend our basic needs, first? How do we feel? Cancer connects us to the watery sea of our emotions, and just as with the ocean, our emotional tide is always changing. Life flows, an unstoppable river. The emotional residues we experience in life, from daily disappointments and stressors to larger traumas can accumulate, like silt falling to the bottom of a pool. Cancer reminds us that to heal, we must feel. Sometimes the walls we build around us, to keep the sadness out, to keep the pain out, can keep out the joy, too. During Cancer season, emotional expression and release guides us to deeper healing and allows life to more fully nourish us.

Along with your New Moon wishes, take a cue from Cancer and muck around in your emotions with the intention of releasing any emotional backlog. Claim some private space and time to honor your feelings; reflect on any self-care or heart needs you have been putting off for a rainy day. This quiet instinct may run counter to the Cancerian impulse to spend time with and care for others, but we need both. We need the family gathering, with people who root us and root for us, and people we enjoy caring for and healing, and we also need our own secret escape –our own separate sanctuary. This sign is always busy creating something; there are cupboards to be cleaned, interior spaces to explore, and others’ needs to attend to… but how many personal needs, dreams, wishes and desires have been sacrificed on the altar of family?

What dream or desire, need or nagging feeling have you been putting aside for a rainy day? It’s time to listen to that small, still, voice. Where will you do this? You need a container. Safety and privacy are essential for this most delicate inner work, and so the natural space to do this work is at home. In the kitchen, a cooking session, a cup of tea shared with your friend, the journal, can be therapy. The dining room table can easily double as a desk for writing, or a craft space. If you don’t have a home that inspires you, feels nurturing and good inside, at this New Moon why not brighten up your haven? Right now, the domestic world has protective, healing and regenerative powers to offer you.

Sorrow can be sweet. Years later I still have these paintings, and the feelings that jump out of the paintings swirl with the deepening of a soul steeped in life’s changes. Reflecting, I’m so glad I made a container to honor the sacred and difficult experience of grief. Instead of having all that heavy emotion weighing me down, the healing waters of life found and freed me.

image: The Charmer by John William Waterhouse