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Cancer Full Moon: The Awakened Heart

Some years ago, I discovered that I had to have a tooth pulled. Big deal, right? Yet I was astonished at the intensity of my reaction. Most nights I found myself awake at 3:00 a.m., tormented by thoughts of mortality. My poor old tooth prompted fears that growing older would mean a future in which I drop limbs like a diseased tree. Before long I’d be old, old and frail, old and alone!

I mentioned these nocturnal worries to a friend, taking care to present the subject with humor so I didn’t seem like an hysteric. Metaphysically minded, he mused that perhaps I had manifested this tooth trauma. I wondered, is he right? Would a better mindset have saved my tooth?

Well, maybe (though I strongly suspect it would have been easier to avoid the bad dentist who failed to cap it after a root canal). But even so, it seems to me that we miss something in trying to inoculate ourselves from life’s difficulties—it’s a bit like believing in a false Santa Claus, groaning beneath the weight of unearned gifts. This Full Moon is in close aspect to optimistic Jupiter, the closest thing the solar system has to Santa, and sweetly supported by Mars in Pisces, the spiritual warrior. But it’s opposed the Sun in close conjunction to Pluto, with both square unpredictable Uranus, the planet of (sometimes rude) awakenings—a reminder that in order to best enjoy life’s tenderest pleasures, we often must first confront the gargoyles of pain and fear.

Alone with my sundry tooth terrors in the wee hours, I found something else in my heart: compassion. I found a lot more empathy for people coping with pain, loneliness, and troubles much more profound than my own. Pema Chodron calls this compassion “the awakened heart,” akin to the bodhichitta. Feeling what we feel, the negative as well as the positive, is a doorway to the complex hearts of others.

My poor tooth is long gone, but my early-morning mind still finds plenty of worrying thoughts to obsess over. The truth is, these are tough times. Lots of us are scared, and angry because we’re scared. Where is the extended family who will look after the dying aunt? How will the new graduate pay off his student loans, or the recently laid-off 55-year-old woman find a new job? Will our newly-elected leaders lead us straight off a cliff?

It may sound strange, but whenever my 3:00 a.m. self taps into this atmosphere of shared fear and pain and hopelessness—really surrenders to it—I’m immediately calmer. Suddenly I’m sharing in the world’s fear and pain and hopelessness, not just dealing with my own lonely messes. In those moments, I glimpse an alternate vision of Jupiter… not a claymation Saint Nick with a bulging bag of toys, but a kind, accepting, glowing Buddha.

Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to encounter these luminescent, warm-hearted, Buddha-like souls in real life—the avuncular elder, the wise grandfather, the fun-loving friend who never met a stranger—and it’s as healing as a comfortable nap in front of a roaring fire. Interestingly, these are never people whom life has spared from difficulty and fear. In fact, it’s because they’ve faced life’s problems and retained hope that they reassure us we can do the same. “We all get older, we’re frail and afraid,” their manner implies, “but it will be okay as long as we help each other out. We just have to be there for one another.”

Maybe my friend has it right, and I attracted that sad, wrecked tooth into my life—not as a punishment for thinking negative thoughts, but as a gift of knowing. At this Full Moon, I hope you feel genuinely happy, loving, and at peace. But if you find yourself tangled in the odd moment of sadness, regret, or loneliness, I wish you the confidence to let your own pierced heart awaken. Feel everything that you feel, even negativity and fear. When our lunar hearts are opened at this Cancerian Full Moon, let’s leave them open and let them teach us, soften us, and bring us closer to one another. Our awakened hearts can draw us, gracefully and naturally, into the joyful light of the Moon, setting us aglow with the comfort, hope, and merriment of our own Buddha natures.

©  by April Elliott Kent

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10 comments to " Cancer Full Moon: The Awakened Heart "

  • kit wilson

    Thank you! This reminds me to let this period in time teach me to awaken and let my pierced heart guide me to compassion.

  • Michele

    So that is why I have been awakening at 4 am. Now I know to just dive into those feelings. Thank you for your thoughts and guidance. Your essays are always a gift that I am so grateful to receive.

  • Tanene

    Oh, thank you April for your ‘centering thoughts’….time to relax my grrrrrrrr stance. Just ‘be with it’ and let it go. If it were dandelion season, I would blow away those fuzzy whites and watch them (and me) float away. If I could find the movie ‘The Red Balloon’ I would chill out and be absorbed within the tale. At best, I will finish up this job application I’m working on, click the ‘enter’ button and then be surprised as I celebrate achievement.

  • Katie Cokinos

    Your softly inspiring Cancerian words reminded me of the opening line to Stephen Levine’s book, Who Dies – “Feel everything.” thank you!

  • Mary Huddleston

    Brava, April!
    This is beautiful and so appreciated at this point of great change and choice in our personal and collective experiences.
    The one positive thing that I can say about current events here in the US is that the energetic climate is compelling us to clearly choose love or fear.
    I choose love.

  • I’ve had these toothy thoughts late or early in the day. It comes and goes according to a higher source. Deeper in fact. I wonder if this full moon can help release the inhibitions of rallying together and commit. Rather – devote to a more actualized version of what it means to be human. It all it’s cracked and broken state. To feel is a gift and to not feel well that’s negligence and foolishness I’d rather not endure. Mindless zombie living is not my cup of tea to be honest.

  • Hi
    Iv moved many times and lived in some strange locations usually for” necessity ” , where ever I go my tap root is my home and kids, there being no extended family.
    I looked back on the2015 cancer full moon, picture and essay ,if I can look as beautiful and happy at that age I’ll be well pleased.( teeth would be nice)
    Where do other people have their taproots?

  • Penny blanchard

    Dearest April, I doubt that you will experience poor health in your elder age. Anyone who thinks the way you do, knows what to do with your pain. Feeling sorry for yourself only pushes one further into despair. Your heart is in the right place when you can experience your own severe pain and yet have compassion for the millions that must bare pain as a constant companion.
    I love your essays and admire how you share your understanding of ” the conditions of being human.”

  • Amber

    Boy, are you spot on right now, with regards to my own situation. Being 22 Cancer sun, and the full moon triggering the overwhelming pain in my tooth. The same one the dentist said last week had to be pulled because it couldn’t be saved. I’ve also been obsessing over loosing it, and the bridge it held together. After paying $1500 for a root canal last year, under the other bridge, I was almost relieved they couldn’t fix it. My appointment isn’t until March, and have no doubt I can’t wait that long. UGH. I too am scared and angry about what transpired in November. I’m also 79,000 in debt to student loans, which only got that way after paying the $32,000 off that I owed, but didn’t count on the huge finance charges that went with it. Being 65, and low income, I doubt I’ll ever be able to pay it off. I’m afraid Trump will incur a debtor’s prison, because these Republicans are ruthless when it comes to the poor. Anyway, enough obsessing…yes, I am here in a warm mobile, that I own, and plenty of food in the refer (did I mention I’m Cancer) and plenty of people (friends) who love me. I’m blessed, and try not to forget it. However, like you, I take comfort in looking at the postings on facebook, and certainly do not feel alone in my grief for our country.

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