The Stolen Mother Moon
from a story that Clarissa Pinkola Estes tells on “warming the stone child”, worshipfully transcribed by Licia Berry
This is about a light, a certain kind of light that is represented by the moon, a psychic light, a cool light, it has some distance to it, not the hyper-tropic mother that is all over her children every time their nose is running they might have pneumonia, this is a mother that is a little more aloof, a little more circumspect, she does not so much love by showering love as she loves by guiding, by bringing consciousness out of the darkness.
There was this village, a wonderful village, and everything happened just the way it was supposed to happen, and all the children were terrific and all the mothers and fathers loved each other, except, as there always must be in the psyche and in fairy tales, there was this one thing that was very, very adverse…..this beautiful, harmonious village was surrounded by a moat of black, murky bogs. It was dark there always, and it stank because everything was rotting. It was for that reason, the darkness of those quagmires and quicksand, that the people depended on the light of the moon to guide them at night. Some nights, she did not come, and on those nights the bogs were filled with treachery, because there were evil things that lived there. Things that live in the darkest corners of humans’ minds would come out at night and lead the poor, struggling travelers with no light into the quagmires and drown them.
Well, it turned out that several people died in the course of a very short amount of time. When the Moon Mother learned of this, she was filled with sorrow, for she cared for humans. In fact she was so concerned she decided she would come to earth and see for herself. So when the dark of the month came, she stepped onto a slow shooting star and landed at the edge of the marshes. She wore a black cape pulled around her so that no light could escape, and for as far as she could see, the bogs were like black mirrors, with a few sparse willows sticking up here and there, and the smell of muck everywhere.
Around the bottom of her cape there was a bright rim of light; she saw that and she pulled her cape even tighter. It was so cold she was trembling, and she feared the evil ones, just as we all do, but she loved the human soul more, and so she began her investigation, guided by the little golden light that leaked through her cape over her beautiful white feet.
She felt her way through the grass with the dank ponds on the left and the quagmires on the right. And just as she had thought she got the lay of the land, all of the sudden, she felt a vine across her ankles, and too late to hold herself, she began to fall forward. She reached for a twining tree, the kind under the control of the evil ones, and sure as she grabbed its branches, it sent out tendrils around her wrists and her ankles, holding her as though with manacles. And the more she struggled, the tighter it held her. And there she was in the blackest dark, shivering and straining.
She heard a voice calling from far off, “help me, please help”. She listened and the cry came nearer and nearer, and she heard footfalls stumbling; at last by the dim light of the stars, she saw a haggard, despairing face with fearful eyes and she knew it was a poor soul who had lost its way, and was floundering on to his death.
And the traveler now caught sight of the glimmer of light from the captive moon, and made his way toward the light, thinking it meant help, but there was a quagmire right in front of the moon. She was filled with sorrow because she was luring him with her little tiny light, luring him to his death. Frantic to warn him, she struggled until her hood fell back, and her dazzling hair lit the black waters; a flood of yellow, precious light of the Moon Mother glinted and the whole was as bright as day. How relieved the traveler was to see the evil ones rush back into their underwater holes.
But the moon struggled against the branches which held her tighter, and she was so glad he was safe, but the traveler ran to the edge of the marsh so quickly, with such haste and relief that he forgot to wonder about the wondrous thing that had just occurred. And the Mother Moon sank, exhausted into the mud, and as she did, her head fell onto her breast and her hood fell back over her hair and all became darkness again.
And the vile things that love the dark came too, then. They came with a kind of whisper chatter… “we’ll get her now, we’ll get her now, now we’ll kill her, yes, we’ll kill her.” They gathered around the Moon Mother, snarling and kicking and grasping, and they drove her into the ground, they who hated humans. At last, no more light shown across those dark waters. The One who gave light and even more, the One who shown down on mothers nursing their babies, the One who made sleeping women kiss their lovers’ backs, the One who put words into the dreams of poets, that One was pushed deep into the mud. The evil ones didn’t care about mothers or babies; they didn’t care about lovers or poets. The Moon Mother let one last ray of light zig zag over the waters before she disappeared completely. The evil ones rolled a great boulder over her grave and danced a crazy dance on top of it.
On nights there was no light to guide, and so many people became lost, and so many children became orphaned, and so many people suffered, that the villagers decided they must go and find what had become of the moon. Armed with torches and clubs, they trekked through the night into the bog, sinking down into the wet and slimy grass all the way up to their knees, and cold and wet they continued on. The evil things were about and surrounded them, scratching and clawing at them, but the flames from their torches kept them safe.
And they came to a great boulder, and they said they did not think this boulder was in this place before. There was a little lip of light all the way around it that shown whiter than white. With great excitement they lifted and they hauled and they tugged until the boulder rolled away. And then staring down into what seemed like the most beautiful face they had ever seen, they saw eyes filled with the love of humanity.
The light rose up, lighting their faces first from beneath and then straight on and then finally from the top as the Moon Mother escaped from her prison and climbed the dark staircase back to the sky, where now, on most nights, she travels across the sky with her hood turned down and with her radiant light everywhere.
And on those few, now predictable nights, when she veils herself in grey and does not shine, travelers have learned to stay by the hearth and wait until she shows the way again.
Do you feel the calling of your soul? Perhaps a Vision Quest is in order!
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