Sunday, 27 January 2013

Wolf Moon

Urban fox
...the traditional name (or one of them) for the January Full Moon. The nearest we get where I live is the urban/suburban fox: I did have an elderly parishioner years ago who referred to them as wolves ("I saw another wolf outside the corner shop last night"). If you click on the caption you'll see that this isn't my own picture (I wish!) though we do have a regular visitor to our garden.

This last week it's been a treat to watch the snowy landscape from the train window (when the trains have been running!) and I've often seen the footprints of foxes alongside the tracks. In winter, when creatures are cold and hungry, our proximity to nature and wildness is more visible. It saddens and angers me when people seem to think this is something to fear or fight against: one of my favourite quotations is from David Abram (The Spell Of The Sensuous) - "we are only human in contact and conviviality with what is not human".  [LATE EDIT: after writing this I listened to Choral Evensong on the radio. The first reading was Exodus 8 vv.1-9 - now that's an example of contact with the non-human which might not have been quite so convivial. Ribbit!] One of the blessings of sharing my life with a dog is when I glimpse the wolf in his eyes and feel the wonder of a relationship with a creature of another species: a deep memory of Eden? A tiny foretaste of heaven?

It saddens and angers me too when people use the word "wild" (or indeed "feral") to mean evil or depraved. I believe wild is connected at root with will - that's to say (so I believe anyway) our deepest desire. So to be "wild" is to be truly who I am, without veneers or distortions. Carl Rogers would say this is to be in touch with my "actualising tendency" - that is, to seek the best for my self and in doing so to give the best of myself to others, the world and the universe. Ignatius would say it is to get in touch with God's unique dream for me, beneath the surface incongruities and "inordinate attachments".  In line with my word for the year, I'd say that both of these mean to remember that God is creating me each instant, and seeing me as GOOD - because God is good.  My prayer is that the beams of this Wolf Moon will light all that has the potential to be wild and true and good in me, and that God will give me grace to choose what fosters that wild goodness, which is God's.

In the words of Hopkins' poem Inversnaid:

Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;        
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

By the way, have you noticed my new Moon phase thingy at the side of this blog? I've wanted one for a while, and found the wherewithal at Rowan's blog Circle of the Year.  And welcome to my newest follower, Angela of Bright Star. Have a look at her wonderful wintry pictures before the snow is a distant memory!


  1. A waning, gibbous moon! What wonderful, portentious language!

    1. Mmm, I can go over the top sometimes! Mind you, I've never thought of a gibbous moon in quite the same way since discovering the world of Husborne Crawley and the Moon Gibbon Folk

    2. ... If anyone reading this hasn't a clue what I'm talking about, have a look at and scroll down to the section "Of The Moon Gibbon". While you're there, have a look at the whole blog - it's brilliant!

  2. Interesting comments about the Will, I think of what your saying in terms of our deepest desire which is to know and love God, written on our heart. There's the Will of our nature, that which intsinctively directs us, and the free will that must choose to direct us toward that which is just...

    Its interesting that I see your post tonight having just finished Eric Barr's novel Roan, The Tales of Conor Archer, a fantasy novel based in Celtic myth intersecting with native American myth and capturing the power of creation. Here's a quote form his description of Conor's magic "The Celtic word for it is neart. It's the real reality beneath the reality. Take a look at how modern Celtic poet Kathleen Raine describes neart in her poem, "The Wilderness." This great Scottish/British poet, Kathleen Raine, captures well what another great English poet, Gerard Manly Hopkins, did when he wrote, "The world is charged with the grandeur of God," and though the world has tried its best to darken that truth, "for all this, nature is never spent/There lives the dearest freshness deep down things." That's what the Celtic concept of neart is; that and glimpsing the 'bright mountain behind the mountain."

    Anyway, thanks for the post.

    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting, Michael. I do find "deepest desire" a good way to talk of the Will - the word "will" carries a lot of negative baggage for many of us... I love your reminder of the "bright mountain behind the mountain". Yes, I think that's what Hopkins is getting at in his idea of "inscape".


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