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I've been ruminating on this for a while and I'd like to share. Finding a way to cover a great many different aspects of the art without getting stuck on something or stagnating can be a problem so I developed a method to use as a guide. I hope this is of interest.
The moon has a very nice cycle from full through the waning crescents into the 'darkness' or absence of the new moon back through waxing up through crescents back to full. I'm sure all are aware of this but we city folk tend to find ourselves removed from the influence of the night sky (even though the moon is visible in the daytime!). The ancients so revered the night sky that they postulated systems of divination, etc for all manner of things being driven by the signs and events of the night sky.
The actual science of the moon and the interaction of the sun, earth and moon are fun and interesting topics but are not the topic I wish to mention but do encourage one and all to delve as one desires.
I propose to use the moon as a mundane time piece and to modulate ones training based on the phase of the moon. While it certainly seems overly romantic and possibly silly I hope to persuade that such can be quite practical and a useful tool to enrich and broaden ones training.
There are at least 8 distinct phases of the moon that are easily discernable by simple inspection that anyone can do. There can be finer gradations to perhaps 16 phases but it takes a trained eye to make such subtle distinctions. This is also a god exercise in observation skills to see subtle variations. I list them simply for reference as the exact phase and activities associated with the phases are only general in nature and need not be very rigidly defined or adhered to -- variety and personal modification are well advised.
New moon Not visible, or traditionally, the first visible crescent of the Moon
Waxing Crescent moon . Right 1-49% visible Left 1-49% visible afternoon and post-dusk
First Quarter Moon Right 50% visible Left 50% visible most of the day and early night
Waxing gibbous moon Right 51-99% visible Left 51-99% visible afternoon and most of night
Full Moon Fully visible Fully visible sunset to sunrise (all night)
Waning gibbous Moon Left 51-99% visible Right 51-99% visible most of night and morning
Last Quarter Moon Left 50% visible Right 50% visible late night and most of the day
Waning Crescent Moon Left 1-49% visible Right 1-49% visible pre-dawn and morning
I swiped this table from wikipedia simply because I'm lazy, er, I mean efficient.
The full moon, being big and round, would naturally suggest execution of technique in big full movements. The moonlight is soft and warming so keep these properties in mind while training. Big, soft, round, warm -- the fluffy bunny phase.
As the moon wanes gibbous the execution of techniques becomes less big and less soft, gradually. Look for areas in the technique where big and round can easily become smaller without too much alterations.
The waning quarter moon is sharply divided as half a circle. Find the blend of the circle and the square in this phase of the moon. Begin concentrating on the non-physical aspects of the movement as represented by the shadowed half of the moon. Let the physical side dominate with the mental/non-physical playing a ‘following' role.
Now the waning crescent moon develops sharp points and the execution of technique speeds and becomes sharp as well. Even more emphasis on the non-physical aspects -- but still lead with the physical aspects so they drive the emphasis.
The ‘dark' moon, the new moon, it is there but not visible -- not even hidden in plain sight but clearly the moon must bee some where so our minds eye knows it is there but our light seeking eyes cannot see it. The mental, spiritual and non-physical aspects dominate and now take the lead role in training. Ponder the esoterica of the art and seek and explore the nuances and find that it is present in every aspect of the art -- look for it.
The light returns with the waxing crescent moon. Sharply pointed and dominated by the shadow -- let the esoteric be the guide and the physical follows. There is no knowledge of light without the dark so let the dark guide and define the light in this phase.
The waxing quarter moon with equal light and shadow seeks balance of the many aspects. Return to balance and unite the hard with the soft, big and small combine.
The waxing gibbous moon signals we are letting the physical side take over as the mode of expressing the effects of the mental and esoteric aspects. Technique fully powered by the power of the mind and dominance of our spirit leading to the full physical expression of the intangibles. The sharpness of the physical ,muscular expression of softened but the sharpness in there in the pointed aspect of the shadow.
Return to the fullness of the full moon with the complete balance of light and dark. The darkness is hidden behind the light but ever present.
As the phase of the moon flows so too let our training flow so as to cover as many different aspects as we are able. As our understanding and awareness grows so too to breadth of our exploration. Seek to find the balance by finding the extremes and mix appropriately. Let the moon be our guide and reminder to explore and urge us forward in our discovery.