Navigating by Moonlight
Choosing a symbol to guide me through the next twelve months
Well, hello! It’s been a few months since my last post, and while I’m glad I gifted myself that break (the level of life chaos in December was extraordinary), I sure am happy to be back in this space. And writing again! Returning to the keyboard feels like cracking a window to let the fresh air in.
I rarely do much resolution-making with the turn of the calendar year. In January I’m still in hibernation mode, and it feels like fighting nature to shoot for ambitious goals. Winter is perfect for writing and tea-drinking and cocooning and doing puzzles and resting. Not so good for frenetic self-improvement plans. I’ll get to those in the spring (maybe)!
Even so, I do like to tap into the cultural energy that’s focused on reflecting and intention-setting. This year, inspired by a character in Zoraida Córdova’s wonderful book The Inheritance of Orqídea Divina, I wanted to choose an animal/plant/insect creature to serve as a symbolic guide through the next twelve months, then dub this The Year of the… what, though? Spider? Hummingbird? Birch tree?
The answer revealed itself over time. First, my spouse gifted me a wax seal kit (oh, how he gets me) that has three image options: a sun, a moon, and… a moth. Then, in early January, I sat down with my oracle deck and pulled cards for various aspects I want to cultivate in myself this year. So many beautiful symbols, so many options… but one in particular stood out.
The description in the oracle card guidebook noted that moths navigate by transverse orientation, finding their way by keeping at a fixed angle to the moon. Hence, their symbolic link to intuition and trust.
I’ve been striving to follow my intuition more, and I have a lot of thoughts about the power of trust (which I hope to expand on someday), so that all sounded lovely… but… moths? I’ve never been a fan, in large part because I have a strong aversion to small creatures fluttering close to me (though this is by no means specific to moths—I’ve always found butterfly exhibits at science centers fairly hellish).
But learning about moths’ badass navigation skills helped me cut them a little slack. How can I blame them for thrashing around in my face when I’m the one who inadvertently put myself between them and the moon??
So I allowed Moth a bit of room to flit around in my brain, and to my surprise, a forgotten memory popped into my mind. When I was a teenager, one of the first poems I fell in love with and tacked to the bulletin board in my bedroom was Don Marquis’ the lesson of the moth by archy. It feels different to read it as an adult, but my young self really resonated with the following lines:
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then to cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
Thankfully for us, we don’t have to choose between beauty and self-destruction—but re-reading the poem brought a bit more nuance to my understanding of Moth as a symbol. Trust, after all, needs to be balanced with discernment. It’s easy to get so entranced by the beauty of a flame that we forget ourselves, that we lose our way and flutter headlong into danger.
So I continued with my research. Moths, I learned in a fit of excited googling, are also thought to represent dreams and inner visions, ancestor spirits, finding your way through darkness, and transformation.
It’s hard to imagine a better symbol for my current path. The thing is, I’m slightly obsessed with dreams right now. I’ve been going through a period where I dream vividly almost every night, so the first thing I do each morning after my customary breathwork session is to write down my dreams. (Back in 2016, I opened up a note on my laptop and started jotting down all the dreams I could remember. A few months ago, the note started getting really laggy so I copied it to a document and found out why—it was over 100 pages long!) One recent dream gave me an idea for a story set in the dreamworld that I’m interested in pursuing, so I’ve been reading some Jung and want to do more of a deep dive into the topic. If anyone has recommendations (books, newsletters, dream analysts) please let me know!
And so, I decided to make it official: for me, 2024 is the Year of the Moth. As such, intuition will be my guide for my creative projects. I look forward to messing around in a fiction playground (or two). My memoir is on the back burner; this space is proving to be a good home for my nonfiction work, so I’ll see whether I get back to that this year or let it marinate some more.
Here at Cracking the Walnut, I’ll be starting a new series of articles. Though perhaps the universe will prove me wrong (please do!), I’m expecting that the news this year will continue to be full of stress-inducing and/or horrifying headlines. Even on a personal level, things just feel different lately—clunkier, with unexpected obstacles cropping up at every turn. I recently came across the term “permacrisis” and thought that it pretty well captures where we are right now. So how do we face what is in front of us with clear eyes and an open heart? It’s a dilemma I’ve been grappling with personally, and want to explore it in this space.
My one other goal (there I go, making goals even with all my anti-resolution talk) is that I want to send my paid subscribers something in the mail this year! Is this goal partly an excuse to use my moth wax sealer? Why, yes. Yes it is.
So, onward we go! May the Year of the Moth be illuminating and transformative.