Full Moon PurificationNov 29, 2023
The heart skipped a beat as the lungs expanded sharply to draw in a breath. The cold water shocked the body after a week spent in uninterrupted heat. The Island of Gods revealed a new face at the Temple of Sebatu. Ecstatic visions came completely unexpected during this full moon of prayer and purification.
Here on the magical island of Bali everyone knows when the moon is full and when it is new. When I heard that the full moon is a special time to pray and purify and Sebatu Temple’s sacred waters are known for miracles, I decided to take my chances. It felt odd to ask for help with this undertaking. Back home in Germany I have learned to expect people to tilt their heads to one side and offer a smile of sorts if I would mention such devotional plans to them. Here I got a reaction that I can only compare to asking for a cup of coffee at breakfast. It is one of the most normal things to do and everyone knows how to help with preparations.
A sarong and temple scarf were ready for me, as were all the appropriate offerings. After an arduous drive of almost 2 hours, during which I had to keep a baby entertained, we arrived at the temple. For some reason I had expected a small hike or at least walking some distance, yet reaching the waters took no more than a minute. I received guidance on how to make the offerings and how to pray while making them. There was sprinkling of water, incense, some money, and flowers placed behind ears and on the top of the head.
Finally it was time to get into the cold waters. I began at the spout furthest to the left. Each spout was a different experience, a different set of prayers. By the time I had made it half way, I felt my perception shift, the sensations in my body changed and the prayers began to flow not from my mind, but from my heart and my soul. As I went further, it felt like they started to come from another place entirely. In this place I was the whole and the whole was me and the words came as if they had always been spoken in this way. I knew what to do and how to do it with the utmost clarity.
I learned that to speak these words is about more than just a means to an end. My experience in that moment was that the importance lay not so much in what I was asking for, but rather the effect of doing so from the heart in a way that brought both laughter and tears flowing across my face with ease. Prayers are not necessarily a way to ask for things that you want, rather they can be away to commune with the world and the cosmos, and are a powerful technology to feel peaceful, at ease and in harmony within and without.
As I prayed beneath the waters knowledge dripped into me, some of which was confirmed immediately after. I saw sights with more and other ways than my eyes. What beauty and delight, what fierce inner power and clarity showered my whole being! Wonder and awe became all my experience and there was nothing but my body, the waters and these prayers that I simply cannot take credit for because I cannot claim that they came from me. They came from the world!
In what feels like a lifetime, then and now as I look back on it, I made it to the final spout. A strong stream gushed out of it, more powerful than the rest. Following instructions from a Balinese, I bowed my head beneath the waters, showering all my parts in the stream. Here I purified and released all that no longer serves. Here I let go completely and surrendered to the ecstasy of the moment. My heart opened wide and I felt my capacity for caring and kindness expand as a sense of connection to all washed over me.
I wonder what life would be like back home if rites such as these were as readily available to everyone as they are here. What if we all knew how to do this and the places to do them in were abundant? Would we still be so materialistic and individualistic? Would we still suffer so much from stress and anxiety? Would we still drive ourselves to do and keep busy all day long? Would we learn something of the blessings that just being can bring? Would we at least try to turn our lives into something that is good for all beings on this planet?
How spiritually impoverished my homelands feel! If I would do this thing on a full moon in my own lands at sacred waters, what strange looks I might get should I share it! Yet if I say I went and followed a tradition that is alive and well in a far away land, what interest it receives! Why is this so? Why is a practice that rewards us with so much clarity, the sensation of being reborn, and the deeply emotional connection of true prayer ridiculed in another context? What can I do to reclaim practices such as this in my homelands? Which waters offer themselves? Which plants for offerings? Which symbols speak to our hearts?
The Rauhnächte, what we have called the Mysteries of the Wild Nights, are our first big attempt to bring more awareness to the spiritual traditions of our homelands. Across the world there are so many of Germanic and Celtic decent who do not speak German and there are many living in Germany who do not know of this beautiful tradition that is alive and well today. The Mysteries of the Wild Nights are a beautiful way to work with a meaningful time of the year in order to make peace with the year gone by and enter into the new year with purpose, clarity and a sense of what awaits us. It is a way to connect to the moon and the sun and it hinges on the darkest night, the winter solstice.
If you are interested in learning more about this beautiful tradition, you can download our free Mysteries of the Wild Nights calendar 2023 HERE. You can also join us for our free community Winter Solstice Ritual HERE.
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