19th February 2019 Sandra Bird

The First Moon and the Lantern Festival

The Year of the Pig is well underway and with that extra little bit of daylight being so much more noticeable in the last few days I feel more motivated, more energetic, and more convinced that Spring is almost here.

The end of the 15 days celebrating the Chinese New Year culminates today with the Lantern Festival. As the name suggests, the streets are festooned with lanterns and families go outside to admire the first Full Moon of the year, which coincides with the festival. It seems we are all drawn to the light and fascinated by the Moon.

I’ve been reading my favourite book about all things Lunar and Tao and the following words taken from the entry for today are rather special, I think. I hope you find them enlightening too (excuse the pun)…

“The night, stars, and full moon bring the next day.
The red lantern in your hand lights the Way.”

“Lighting a fire was one of the first things that primitive people learned to do. Until people found a way to light the darkness, they could do little once the sun went down. After they learned to light fires, people could cook and work at night.
Now entire cities blaze throughout the night, and some places, like airports, are never dark. We have an excess of light. We are able to turn lights on instantly, and all our computers and media devices operate on light. We are surrounded by light – yet we rarely stop and really appreciate it or absorb what it means to us.
So once in a while, perhaps on this night, turn out all the lights, or go out into the wilderness where there is no artificial light, and consider what it would mean to live in a world that is dark after the sun goes down, where there is no other light but the Milky Way and the moon. Take time to absorb some of the magic that the stars and the moon give to us, the magic that is so often lost in our own blaze of lamps and flashing images. Feel the darkness. Feel the earth moving beneath you. Gaze up at the stars that fired the imagination of your ancestors. In that darkness, in that quiet, you can hear your heart beat and your breath move.
After you let time pass leisurely, light one lantern – that lantern that welcomes the spirits, that is brave in the darkness, that welcomes people home. That light is the beginning of the human. It also represents spirituality: enlightenment.
Then put that lantern out again. Consider what it’s like. Look within. Perhaps you can see the glow of your own inner light, and realise that you are the lantern.”

You can read more about the customs and traditions of the Lantern Festival by clicking here, and if you’ve not yet read what Lillian Pearl Bridges of the Lotus Institute predicts for the Year of the Pig it’s not too late. You can do that by clicking here.

And, of course, I hope you get to do some moon gazing and lantern appreciation soon too!