To the Moon and Back

I was once asked how I knew I had fallen in love. ”Why, it was when every day became poetry,” I replied.

How would it feel then, to live as if you were always in love? That’s what I experienced at the Sisters Academy.

Nothing was an accident at the Academy. A gorgeous, glimmering serendipity was everywhere, but accidents? None. Almost getting lost as one first entered the Academy, stumbling a little blindly through the thick, dark, heavy, fringed masses of curtains that constituted the ”Vagina”. Eggs scattered everywhere, carefully set outside the teacher’s doors, cooked into the meals, lying in forms of crystal, glass and fiber throughout the Academy’s many levels. A steady hum of soft voices, improvised song and tapestry-like conversations warmed up the womb at all hours. We stewed and grew, all of us, like the sweet succulents in the Gardener’s room. Each class watered us hungry little seeds, each teacher sang a song of love in the garden of our souls. Our beds were a series of connected cradles, placed in neat rows in a carefully darkened room. Our birth loomed both heavy and light before us.

Our poetic selves waited for us to find them through broken mirrors. The Academy didn’t try and pass itself off as a utopia, but rather offered to balance the lack of emphasis on the aesthetic dimension that the ”outside world” is so marked by, particularly in the capitalist, consumerist, industrialized Western world. For three weeks it existed to challenge, elate, and push to the limit all those who dared to enter its doors. Birth is no painless experience, and I didn’t go a day without experiencing an astringent, cloying combination of longing, euphoria and the emergence of suppressed memories that occasionally brought me to my knees. Facilitated by our amazing teachers, each sense was at constant and heightened attention. One was an ephemeral veil of lace, another a dancing flame. One walked and danced like a queen, yet another offered to paint you with his gaze from the shadows. I found the poetry that had spoken to me my entire life sang in loud, unafraid, shining verses around and around my head, in circles of light and shadow. It was the song of my rebirth, of finding my twin through my poetic self.

Her name was the Moon. I realized it at the very first Evening Gathering, led in the most beautiful, nurturing whisper by none other than the Sister herself. All my life I’ve been a child of the sea. The moon has special significance in my religion—literally given to us by God to guide us. And I have traveled in blurry, bright circles all my life. Certainly now when I had fallen in love with Sweden during an exchange semester, returned to my country of origin, and come back to Sweden yet again after the longing became unbearable. Next month, after nearly three years, I’ll leave Sweden again (whether it’s for once and for all or just another arc in the cycle is to be seen). I’ve gone through phases darker than I could have imagined for myself, and emerged each time, painfully but surely in the growing light. When the Sister asked us to consider how our poetic selves behaved in space, I realized what is and must always be true for myself. No matter how small and dark I can feel, I BELONG in space, sharing the light that will certainly come. And how much lovelier a night is when it is moonlit. So lovely that the impression of it stays long after the moon has disappeared.

The moon is shining impossibly bright right now. I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude for all my teachers, and all my fellow students, who provided an environment of generosity, honesty and compassion at every step. Who cried and laughed with me, and stroked my hair and spoke to me of bees and kissed my face and sang until our voices twisted around each other like moonflower vines. I will remember what happened at the Academy for as long as the Moon swims the seas of the galaxy.

I made a promise to myself at the Academy, to no longer let myself be imprisoned by time, by an artificial sense of impending anything. If we must speak of time, I will say that two (infinity) days passed unawares and yet shone with a diamond light through each moment, like the moon itself. Suddenly it was time to begin the exit ritual. To be born. My hands were washed slowly and sweetly in oils that smelled of myrrh and jasmine. I donated a small, paper part of an enormous experience to the Archive. My eyes blinded by a flood of light at the end of a dark, dark tunnel. Gold was brushed over my fingertips like a whispered secret.

I was dazzled by bright, gray skies as I left, taking one last glance at the beautifully impish Mortal and her dark, kohl-lined gaze as she shut the large, steel doors to the Academy, their industrial façade betraying nothing of the magic they contained. A weighty tiredness drew over me and I closed my eyes as I waited for the bus, feeling every bit the newborn cast [back] into the outside world.

On the bus ride home, a young man sat next to me. Remembering to be Untamed in small steps, I started a conversation with him. Right before we parted, he revealed he was a student of astronomy that would be present at the Observatory that evening. That I was welcome to meet him there. And as he left, I laughed with surprise, and delight. Of course he wanted to see me again—for I was the moon.