Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.
– Buddhist saying
There will be no peace in the battle of the sexes and no ecological sanity until we have finally done away with the nonsense of sorting human virtues into masculine and feminine bins.
– Ted Roszak
The Power of Light
Solar Light, Lunar Light is inspired by some of the first recorded symbols found in ancient rocks and bone carvings: the sun and the moon. Just as both the sun and the moon are crucial to the ecology of the planet, expressions of solar and lunar awareness in human consciousness are necessary for the well being of the soul.
Light has been associated with human awareness for thousands of years, since long before the beginning of recorded history. Light holds the power to heal souls. When we call a person with great wisdom and knowledge “enlightened,” or refer to someone we think is crazy as “loony,” we evoke a connection that has existed in almost all cultures for millennia. These metaphors draw their power from long human experience. The effects of brilliant sunlight or soft moonlight on the human psyche have been described by poets, transcending the boundaries of time and place. Using the metaphors for solar and lunar in our everyday language consciously aligns us energetically with these two primary lights of life.
The power that solar and lunar light and symbols have on human consciousness makes sense. We depend on light for photosynthesis to provide us with food, to create habitable environments, and to see the world around us. We are made of light. As electromagnetic sensory information, light is a signal from the environment which mysteriously translates into our inner awareness. How we perceive the world plays a crucial role in the life of our soul. “Soul,” in the contemporary world, is borrowed from the ancient Greek word psyche. It is the root word of psychology and encompasses the modern idea of self and mind. Psychology is both what we see and the light we see it in, how we think, feel, live and, ultimately, who we are and is the prima material of life.
Solar Light, Lunar Light is about a new approach to healing the soul. The light that enables us to see the world around us also shines within; there is a correspondence between our inner and outer worlds, and our place in those worlds. Ancient traditions from countless cultures have recorded and expressed this correspondence as a mirror of their reality. They use the source of light for our planet – the sun and the moon – as symbols for different aspects of the human psyche.
Myths and visual expressions depicting solar and lunar images have long claimed a central place in the human psyche, and have evolved from ordinary everyday experiences. Our ancestors used observation of the forces of nature as their explanation for how life worked. For example, the physical sun became a symbol of power and supremacy, just as following the phases of the moon was the source of counting and, eventually, mathematics. In addition, our sun is the source of all energy of life, and affects our emotions.
On a bright sunlit day we are probably in a very different mood than on a cloudy one, or on a cool moonlit night. The ancient and universal deities reflect the difference between sunshine and moonlight, and the corresponding inner climate of the human soul. Deities with attributes such as strength, courage and clarity of vision have been associated with sunlight, and deities with attributes of emotional insight, sensuality and erotic powers have been associated with moonlight.
Biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton says, “evolution is an expansion of awareness.” As humans, it would serve us well to cultivate the solar and the lunar sources of light within us. When we do, we are twice blessed. We have two modes of consciousness; two ways to know. In 1790, Du Pui wrote that we are Homo duplex, “double brain with double mind.” Subsequent studies have shown the different modes of processing that occur in each of our brain’s hemispheres. Numerous books have been written suggesting how to access one hemisphere over the other, with the emphasis on which side of the brain is being used. Although the solar and lunar hemispheres are connected in a single seamless perception of the world, they are unique in the specific types of information they process. Adopting a unified solar-lunar consciousness opens an awareness of not only a particular side being predominately used, but the awareness inherent in that orientation. We can consciously access information coming in, not just be subject to our ordinary patterning of one side or orientation over the other.
There is overwhelming neurobiological evidence that if we have a tendency to be more lunar, alpha brain waves (8 to 12 Hz) are more dominant; these manifest as visual, emotional and intuitive experiences. Beta brain waves (12 to 30 Hz) of the solar tendency manifest in language, ego, action and modes of execution. The other two major brain wave cycles of delta (1 to 4 Hz) and theta, (4 to 7 Hz) manifest in sleep and twilight sleeping states. This book will focus on the solar (beta) and lunar (alpha) brain cycles.
Solar and Lunar: The Two Modes of Consciousness
From the earliest recorded times to the present, the sun and its deities have symbolized a distinct group of human capacities. They include the ability to think clearly, to discern and judge, to calculate, and to follow a line of logic. The sun also symbolizes an aptitude to guide and lead, and to take decisive and effective action.
Solar figures were seldom depicted alone in the imagery we have of early cultures. Solar consciousness is not complete by itself. Throughout early human history solar deities have almost always been accompanied by lunar deities. The lunar deities represented a group of complementary, but different, human attributes such as the willingness to investigate reality through the senses, to know through emotions, to dream, and to receive insights intuitively.
To understand how these two aspects of consciousness affect daily life, imagine walking through a park in your neighborhood. In lunar mode, you might become aware of the feel of a slight breeze touching your cheek, then observe as it moves the leaves of a tree. You notice the sunlight as it streams through the tree to the ground. You might hear a bird singing or rustling in the underbrush, or see a squirrel as it darts up a tree and across a branch. Lunar consciousness allows you to appreciate the breadth of beauty and vitality, feeling a kindred spirit with these surroundings. The tranquility of the park seems to enter your body, to touch a place of deep quietude.
In solar mode, you might recognize different kinds of plants, be able to gauge the height of a tree or the girth of its trunk, notice signs of global warming, or identify the call of a songbird. Observations using solar consciousness are more active than receptive, and may, in fact, lead to action. For instance, you might notice that a section of the park is receiving too little irrigation and decide to alert the park service.
All of us possess both solar and lunar capacities. To be both logical and intuitive as well as strong and caring is a natural state of being. We have all inherited these age-old capabilities.
Solar and Lunar in Concert: The Conductor of Life Energies
Our thoughts, creativity, and personal relationships reach their full potential only when both solar and lunar aspects of the self are developed. When they are, these two sides work in concert. They guide us toward the decisions we need to survive and the perceptions we need to enjoy being alive. When one aspect of consciousness remains underdeveloped, we are likely to encounter serious problems and failures. Without emotional insight, for instance, logic easily becomes cold, if not merciless. Without the ability to analyze a situation, our emotions alone can deceive us, and lead us to chaotic or even disastrous consequences.
When the solar and lunar faculties work in harmony, they can produce a sum that is greater than their parts. Thought becomes more nuanced and richer when coupled with emotional insight. Cognitive scientists are discovering how empathy plays a crucial part in learning even the most analytical skills. Psychologists know that when emotions accompany clear insight, awareness deepens, moving more easily toward resolution and change. When we walk through the park, our scientific knowledge about the plants around us can increase our awe of them. The Naturalist John Muir often had deep, ecstatic experiences with nature because of his knowledge as a botanist. Yet, despite our powerful birthright of twin consciousness, many of us have developed the habit of favoring one mode of consciousness over the other from learned patterns.
Diminishing the full range of our innate human potential may be considered “normal” because we live in a culture that is out of balance. Western Judeo-Christian mythology and thinking has taken the innate complementarity of the two hemispheres and made the solar dominant over the lunar. For centuries, beginning with the earliest societies, survival depended on being able to outwit, outmaneuver, and physically overwhelm one’s enemies. Our culture evolved to value the solar capacities of strength and dominance over the lunar capacities of relationship and empathy. In public roles we prefer leaders who are strong. To be emotionally intelligent or sensually aware is often misinterpreted as being weak and is, therefore, often considered a liability. People who have strong lunar qualities tend to not seek the spotlight. We have learned to polarize ourselves in ways that are unnatural.
The Way We Define Gender
The habit of denying our full range of human capacity has had a huge impact on the way we define gender. Nature has created solar-lunar patterns in which to live. We have taken those complementary patterns, forcibly delineated them, and stamped them with gender identification, and we have come to rely on cultural stereotypes to tell us what masculine and feminine are. This idea of substituting masculine and feminine distorts what nature shows us. Without questioning from where these assumptions derive, men are described as cerebral and assertive, and women as receptive and emotional. This view has become so entrenched that when we meet a man who expresses lunar qualities we may define him as being effeminate. A woman who expresses solar qualities is often referred to as being more masculine than feminine. These views do not reflect biology, but culture. It is our system of identifying sexuality by gender that produces suffering and alienation among those who do not match up to the cultural stereotypes.
Our current ideas of masculinity and femininity can be compared to the Procrustean bed. In this Greek myth, Procrustes was a robber who kept an inn by the road. His hospitality was more a curse than a blessing to travelers, however. The guests were required to fit exactly into their beds. If they were too short, Procrustes violently stretched them; if they were too tall, he chopped off their feet. Like Procrustes’ guests, many men and women still find themselves force-fitted into the cultural bed of gender.
Gender stereotypes cause more harm than is evident on the surface. They affect those who are alienated from the conventional ideas of what it is to be masculine or feminine. When we identify with these views, we confine ourselves to the limitations inherent in the labeling. This confinement may lead to gender wounding. For example, a woman who adopts the cultural undertone may believe she lacks the capacity to do math or be assertive when she says, “I am a woman.” Conversely, a man may believe that vulnerability or expressing tender feelings makes him less masculine when he states, “I am a man.” These are mostly unconscious identifiers that have become embedded in our cultural definitions of gender. Countless men and women repress parts of themselves to fit in or avoid provoking prejudice. In so doing, they lose not only their ability to access those parts of themselves, but whole areas of consciousness from which those parts spring.
Most of us have repressed a significant part of ourselves in the name of cultural gender identity. To address the problems in our lives caused by society’s definition of gender, we must first recognize that these definitions are false, but that alone is not enough. We have to rediscover, restore and develop those capacities we have learned to hide or ignore.
Reclaiming Our Birthright
Solar Light, Lunar Light is a tool for healing. It frees the psyche from rigid ideas about gender by using the broader, inclusive descriptive terms “solar” and “lunar” instead of the more limiting binary labels of “feminine” and “masculine,” or right brain and left brain orientation.
Carl Jung was courageous and brilliant in his approach to the psychology of the unconscious mind, but he remained caught up in conventional categories of gender. This restricted his (and our) understanding of the genuine nature of the psyche. He realized that men and women shared traits, but described the different aspects of the human psyche as being either feminine or masculine. In other words, he defined men as having a feminine side and women as having a masculine side. With this logic he labeled the soul anima, a feminine foreign territory within a man’s mind; and he labeled the spirit animus, a masculine foreign territory within a woman’s mind.
Thus, instead of seeing the lunar masculine mode of consciousness (soul) as masculine for men, he continued to define men as having a feminine side. Instead of seeing women’s solar mode of consciousness (spirit) as feminine, he saw women as having a masculine side, thereby continuing the gender mis-imprint placed by society. Jung, too, was a product of the artificiality of gender labeling that began with the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian definitions. He did not grasp that the qualities described belonged to both genders. Men and women have soul and spirit of their own gender; men have a solar and lunar masculine and women have a solar and lunar feminine. The duality of mind/body thinking is the root of many emotional conflicts in contemporary society not only between men and women, but between cultures as well. This viewpoint is so deeply entrenched into our world-view that most people don’t understand that this can create a fragmented mind.
In summary, by calling the two aspects of human consciousness “lunar” and “solar,” Solar Light, Lunar Light goes beyond the conventional categories of gender and the duality of thinking. The association of the moon with femininity and the sun with masculinity does not reflect the real properties of sunlight and moonlight. Prejudices and misconceptions about gender that arose later in our history contribute to those associations. They began in Asia in about the third or fourth century B.C.E. with the end of Taoism and the spread of Confucian thinking, and in Western culture around 1,000 B.C.E. with the rise of monotheism. The ancient cultures that gave birth to the worship of solar and lunar deities included both lunar gods and solar goddesses in their pantheons.
Just as the light of the sun and the moon (beta and alpha brain waves respectively) falls upon all, solar-lunar consciousness belongs equally to men and women. Just as the sun and the moon play complementary roles in nature, the solar and lunar modes of being are co-creators in human consciousness. Co-creation is a concept that postulates that we participate in the creation of reality rather than creation only coming from a “higher” power or source outside us. By claiming both aspects of our consciousness we reclaim a fullness of being that is our birthright. With the restoration of both solar and lunar modes of consciousness, we can recover dimensions of our “selves” that have been lost
This book describes how each of us can regain those lost parts of ourselves. Solar Light, Lunar Light is a guide to seeing, to envisioning through a new lens. The following chapters describe this approach to integration and healing in more detail. Because In a Solar Light, In a Lunar Light requires a radical shift of both heart and mind, I will describe how my own thinking and life were changed by discovering the division within myself. With that discovery, exciting possibilities for a harmonious, well-balanced, and emotionally rich life became available to me.