The New Moon And Solar Eclipse Are A Reminder Of All We Do Not Know

Get ready for a real emotional reckoning as the moon moves through Cancer

Today our moon is new and moves in the path of the sun, dimming its fiery path in our sky. Here, we are faced with themes of darkness, what is unknown and what we cannot see.

In this way, a solar eclipse teaches us about feeling what we know rather than relying on our eyes, not least because both of these planetary bodies are positioned in Cancer—the watery sign of emotional cognition. Cancer is also positioned on the north node, a moon-related placement especially interested in grappling with the lessons we need to learn in order to become the most realized version of ourselves in this lifetime.

What does it mean to know something? These days, the flow of information is abundant and all at once. You read one thing and then you read another. You love one person and then they teach you what love is not. Knowing, it seems is not a fixed state; it changes. And, it seems, in the place between one understanding leaving you and another one settling into your heart, you are also changed.

Perhaps, knowing is a kind of bird, a kind of thing with feathers. In my life I have known very few birds, but the birds I've known, I've been attached to. There was my first pet, an injured small yellow and green friend my older brother, brought home when I was four years old. My aunt Sveta's African Grey, who landed on her balcony in Ukraine and never left. These days, it is a red cardinal that visits a tree outside my window almost every morning, and wake me up calling: Look at me! Look at me! I look and I call back. Otherwise, I am very often bird-blind, aware that the city trees—bushy and wild in the summer—are the containers of secret bird life; full of species I have not yet regarded, coded messages they register between one another.

It's not hard to understand that, in this world, there is the life you see and life you have not found eyes for. But, when we are faced with the human social scene, the idea that whole other narratives and truths lie beneath, above, or parallel to our own can feel daunting, if not overwhelming. Knowing what one knows is not enough. Or, knowing is a transient state. You know something with every fiber of your being, and then you don't know anything at all.

Last night, I listened to two old friends reminisce. "Can you believe it?" one asked the other. "I really believed I would spend my life with her! I mean even now, decades later, it still feels like I could have." The friend nodded back enthusiastically, saying, "We all believed it. And, in a way, in the larger scheme of things, I guess you have."

Heartbreak aside, betrayal aside, it appears that there are lives (active now, alongside the ones we register) where we go on together. The many possible strands are endless: music projects abandoned and rejoined, and that one painting gessoed over, time and time again, but a failure to fully mask the shadow of the old one's hues. Inside every tree, every relationship, every possibility, birds alight the branches. They leave and then they return; they build nests and abandon them.

It is not enough to know something once. What is alive is changing all the time, often imperceptibly. It is not enough to know someone once, to give someone a story and predict the ending based on everything you know about plot so far—the predictable course of events. It is not enough to imagine yourself this way, capable of only one kind of life, one kind of love, one path that always leads to the same suffering. There are paths that lead to joy and the birds inside you know them, have already flown them, and will fly them again. You've got to watch the trees in all kinds of light to see those birds. You've got to wait for the soft darkness a moon can bring, when you know that one day is behind you, but you can't be sure what night will bring.

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