The First Triad of the Moon Path involves meditation, dream work, and “shamanism” or vision seeking. We will discuss each of these separately, but first we should establish some general principles for the inner journey of the Moon Path.
Why do inner work in the first place? Many of us carry a vision of who we would like to be. We also carry a vision of who we perceive ourselves to be at this moment in time. The Humanist Psychologist Carl Rogers called these two visions the Ideal Self and the Real (or Perceived) Self. At the times when we do not feel at peace with ourselves because of some anxiety, stress or depression, it is most often due to a conflict between our vision of who we would want to be, and who we actually perceive ourselves to be. In other words, we experience a conflict between the Ideal Self and the Perceived Self.
Let’s return for a moment to our metaphor of the Wheel of the Year as a balancing force between the powers of Chaos and Order. From this perspective, the Ideal Self represents the power of Order, and the Perceived Self represents the power of Chaos. The way to strike a balance between these two powers is to introduce a little chaos into the order, or introduce a little order to the chaos.
What would this balance look like in actual practice? If conflict and inner turmoil are arising within you because of the gap between your Ideal Self and your Perceived Self, then the way to achieve balance would be to narrow that gap or to close it completely. Suppose for example that your Ideal Self is a person who is organized, punctual and capable of completing multiple tasks at once during the day. On the other hand, your Perceived Self (the person you see yourself as) is not very organized, always late, and incapable of meeting all the goals you set for yourself in a day. The conflict within you has arisen in this case because you have set impossible standards for yourself, yet you feel you should be able to meet those standards anyway. One way to find balance in this situation would be to realize that your Ideal Self doesn’t have to be perfectly organized and punctual all the time, thereby allowing a little chaos to enter into the “perfect” order established in your vision of your Ideal Self. Another way to introduce balance is to impose a little more order upon the chaos of your Perceived Self by taking the time to plan better so that you are more able to meet the schedule set by your Ideal Self.
The ultimate goal of the Inner Journey of the Moon Path is to strike a perfect balance between the Ideal Self (the Persona of Jungian Psychoanalysis, or the life of perfect Order) and the Perceived Self (the Shadow of Jungian Psychoanalysis, or the life of perfect Chaos). This is the Triad of Ideal Self, Perceived Self, and Individuation. Individuation in this case means that you have achieved a state of balance and integration between Persona and Shadow. The more you learn about your own inner wants, needs and desires, and the reasons for them, the more you will draw closer to achieving the balance of Individuation. In short, if you can change your thoughts and feelings, you can change your world. But in order to change your thoughts and feelings, you must first know what those thoughts and feelings are. The Moon Path is a way to learn about your thoughts and feelings so that you may change them if you so desire.
Another Triad of the Moon Path is Acceptance, Change, and Wisdom. The Serenity Prayer, attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, says:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
There are many things we may wish to change about ourselves and about the world. We may even be able to change many of them. But those things we cannot change, we must learn to accept. If we do not, then we will be endlessly frustrated by attempting the impossible. Of course, it can be very difficult to tell which things we can change, and which things we cannot. This is where wisdom enters the picture. A purpose of the Moon Path is to gain enough inner wisdom to be able to know the difference between the things we can change, and the things we must accept.
One way to gain such wisdom is to consider the Triad of Past, Present, and Future. Think for a moment about the last time you were anxious or stressed out. Do you remember what caused your anxiety? Did that cause of your worry have something to do with an event that happened in the past, or an event that might happen in the future? Until someone invents a time machine, there is no way to go back and change the past. So worrying about something that happened in the past is counterproductive. Likewise, if you are worrying about something that may or may not happen in the future, you are wasting energy that could be put to better use in the here and now. Unless you have a crystal ball, there’s no way of knowing for certain what may happen in the future. By worrying about it, you are expending energy that could be used to prevent the possible future disaster from happening in the first place.
Let’s bring all these Triads together now in order to establish a framework for taking the Inner Journey. When conflict arises within you due to conflicts between your Ideal Self and your Perceived Self, you restore balance and eliminate or reduce that conflict by seeking wisdom through acceptance and change. If the conflict between your Ideal Self and your Perceived Self has to do with something that happened in the past or something that might happen in the future, then that is something you will have to learn to accept, since it is impossible to change the past, and it is impossible to predict the future with any degree of certainty. The only changes you may make involve things that are happening right now, in the present moment.
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