Death Moon, Birth Moon

On the evening of the last Full Moon, which many cultures call the Death Moon, I was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway to London. I only saw the moon later that night (by which time I was too tired to write a post). It was huge and lemon-coloured and I wished I was in my much-loved woods watching it through the branches of trees overhead.

As it was, I was left musing on this and that as I waited for the traffic to clear. It was a salutary time. Somewhere up ahead there had been a major crash. The Full Moon had lived up to its name.

Every so often things happen to make us even more grateful to be alive. This was one of those times for me. The crash happened just a couple of miles ahead. A couple of miles probably meant a couple of minutes’ driving time.

I thought of the folks who would soon be receiving a call to say that one of their loved ones had died and what a complete and utter shock that must be. I ran over times when I have come close to death (of which there have been several) and thought about those that I love and how grateful I am for their presence in my life.

The next day I met a group of school girls to chat with them about Watchers. They were all in the same age-group as my own daughters and we had fun talking about dragons, writing and imagination. The day after that I attended a book-signing at a Waterstones store. Most of the people I met were young parents with their children, one was a druid and several were Facebook friends who popped in to meet me.

I enjoyed both days, but as I drove westward out of the hustle and bustle of the suburbs I felt myself relaxing again; not just because I was heading to the countryside, but because I was acutely aware of the preciousness of each moment. Life goes on for those of us who are lucky. For others, its slender thread is snapped in an instant.

I try each day to show my gratitude for being alive, but for me this Death Moon brought a stark reminder to be even more thankful for each hour, each moment that my spirit continues to inhabit this particular body.

The last time I was out with the camera was two days before the Full Moon when it was still waxing. I took the picture above of it as it was rising. In the pic below you can see two ravens: symbols both of death and birth as well as magic (see my post from the New Year on messages brought to us by Ravens).

Earlier on that same walk I had seen the first young rabbits of 2012 sunning themselves by the hedgerows.

In the hedges, last year’s old beech leaves…

…sat beside this year’s new buds.

And in the ditches and pools that are so common in Devon, dead oak leaves floated…

…alongside this year’s frogspawn.

All of these brought to mind that every death is a birth, that nothing truly ends. The wheel keeps turning. Death and life walk hand in hand.

Today, after three nights away, I woke to pre-dawn mists and owls calling in the woods. Later the sun broke through, warming the dew on the grass. It is good to be alive! As this thought ran through my mind a line from Philip Larkin (who I haven’t read for thirty years) popped up through the mists:

“What will survive of us is love.”

I think he’s right – and I’m grateful for that…

With best wishes,


4 thoughts on “Death Moon, Birth Moon

  1. The moon left an impression on me, as well, this weekend. I noticed it Saturday night as I drove home through the countryside where I had spent the previous night and day in carefree scrapbook inspiration. It was huge, an odd shade of orange and peeked beneath the clouds in my rearview mirror. It was almost like it was following me and keeping me safe.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term Death Moon before but when you mentioned you’ve had some near-death experiences you reminded me of my husband who, I think if he was a cat, has already used up about five of his seven lives – one of them on our honeymoon! I wonder what the moon phases were during those times. It would be interesting to know.

    As always, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the moon, life, death and the beauty of your nature walks. 🙂

  2. Kamala says:

    Thank you Essi, this is just what i needed to hear, i’ve often suffered in the doldrums of life and forget how fragile and easy it is to slip through our fingers! I looked on that same moon from my back porch in Alabama and thought what a mysterious night it was.

    • essitolling says:

      HI Kamala, I think this is true for us all. I was lucky enough to get a real kick up the backside when I had a full Near-Death experience almost a decade ago…but I still have to remind myself to find gratitude sometimes, especially on those days when things “appear to be going wrong”. I guess the trick is always to trust in the outcome, no matter how things appear to be going. “Every outcome is the right one” could be a mantra that would serve us well 🙂

  3. essitolling says:

    Hi Susan, Now I’m intrigued to know what happened to your husband on your honeymoon! 🙂 I think the moon has a huge affect on us all, whether we’re aware of it or not…and I know you’re bringing its phases into your books (am still eagerly awaiting the arrival of Withershins, by the way!)

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