For the Full Moon in Gemini, let’s explore Hermes (Mercury), ruler of Gemini, and the ability to traverse boundaries, expand beyond limits, and chart the unknown.
One of our greatest challenges, as humans, is to use what we’ve learned from the past without becoming bound by it.
Our ego faithfully records our experiences through the lens of “How can I stay safe?”. If it had its way, we’d trod the same ol’ territory, again and again and again, attempting to reduce the potential for failure to zero.
In myself, when I get overly attached to an avoidance of risk…
…this is often paired with an irritable, impatient, even demanding attitude. I seem to enter a headspace where, on an unconscious level, I’m expecting life to order itself in accordance with my plans, and when it doesn’t–WTF!!!?
Maybe I find myself fuming and near to tears, because the brand new ink cartridge in my printer is defective. This should be working!!
Or I can barely restrain my stank-ass tone when a customer service rep redirects me to yet another department. This shouldn’t be happening!!
I hear this attitude in myself when I confuse being successful with somehow arriving at a level where things are no longer difficult. As if I will magically reach a point where life doesn’t entail effort, discomfort, or unexpected change.
“When I make more money, then [fill in the blank with all sorts of unrelated outcomes, like, I’ll feel more confident in my body, I finally won’t care what my mom thinks…].”
“After I sell my next book, then [insert more unrelated outcomes of your choice–seriously, pick whatever you like! It doesn’t matter!–I’ll finally have motivation to create that program, I won’t experience any social anxiety in big groups…].”
In this headspace, when things start to get challenging I take that as a sign that something’s wrong.
Maybe I’m doing something wrong, someone else is doing something wrong, or the world is just wrong. It shouldn’t be this way!!
Well, but…says who?
This attitude of entitlement and the expectation of ease and reward leaves me feeling brittle and defensive, more liable to throw in the towel well before the finish line–the opposite of the creative, curious, intrepid outlook that rallies my energy, that supports me in doing the work my soul came here to do.
What’s Hermes got to do with it?
Hermes, with his winged sandals, is able to travel between realms, ferrying messages and energies between the mortal and divine planes. (No wonder, then, he’s associated with magic, for what is magic but a translation of energy from one form to another?)
When I’m expecting life to be easy, demanding things go my way, I begin to narrow the space I’m willing to travel, both literal and metaphorical.
I start to avoid interactions where I’m not sure how the other person might respond.
Setting a boundary? No way! What if the other person gets mad? Or stops talking to me entirely? Or tells other people I suck? I can’t script how they’ll respond, so better to swallow my needs and hope it’s not possible to literally die of resentment. (Wait, is it?)
I start to avoid projects where the outcome feels too uncertain.
Not sure if I’ll be able to get a book deal? If the book will find an audience? If I’ll get bad reviews? Better to distract myself with home improvement videos for four hours, and then feel so zonked out afterward that I don’t have two coherent thoughts to rub together, and writing goes out the window. Again.
I start to avoid pursuits that I might not be immediately good at.
Never played rugby before? Immediately decline the invitation to join the local amateur team, even though they’ve assured me zero experience necessary and it sounds totally fun. Better to stick to things I can unquestionably excel at, or that I can practice obsessively in private, so no one will witness my failures.
Can you hear all of the energy swirling down the drain hole of fear?
So much thinking, and worrying, and planning, all to avoid uncertainty, leaving me with very little energy to actually live.
Hermes, before setting out on a journey, isn’t obsessively checking Weather.com and traffic updates.
And often, he’s not merely popping over to the neighboring town for brunch. As a psychopomp, some days Hermes is crossing the boundary between life and death. Ya know–no biggie.
If Hermes can make this epic-ass journey while packing light, what can we learn from him?
Well, when we look at what he does bring on his travels, we’ve got the winged sandals (talaria), the winged helmet (petasos), and the winged caduceus (kerykeion). That’s an awful lot of wings.
One way to think of these wings is as symbols of the imagination. Our ability to imagine, to conjure possible futures, allows us to traverse the boundaries of the here and now, melding what is with what could be.
The attitude this evokes is not, “This should be, dammit,” and more, “I wonder if…?”.
It’s an attitude of willingly embracing the unknown; of releasing demands that life go according to our plan; of understanding that surprises are so inevitable, can we really be that surprised?
For Jung, Hermes represented a mediator between the conscious and unconscious realms.
Psychological maturity is a process of ongoing dialogue between the ego and the unconscious, one in which neither side surrenders completely, but they learn to work together, bringing their respective strengths to the table.
As the ego discovers how to navigate the strange, seemingly contradictory information arising from the inner depths, it has to expand its sense of self. It can’t encounter the inner Other and remain exactly the same.
The ego’s narrow definitions of Who I Am and How the World Works must evolve. Who we think we are has to get bigger. And bigger still, until it’s not entirely clear where we end and the universe begins.
The encounters between ego and unconscious spark the imagination, inspiring What Ifs and I Wonders.
“Hmm…I don’t know how my brother will respond when I set this boundary, but I wonder how I can support myself no matter what happens?”
“Well, I suppose there’s no way to tell how this book is going to do ahead of time. What if I just sit down and write it anyway?”
And here we start to feel a shift. Over meticulously trying to avoid places that might challenge us, we start to think in terms of, “How can I meet this challenge?”
What skills might I practice, what things might I learn, what people might I ask for help to expand into this larger sense of possibility, this larger sense of who I could be?
We strap on the sandals of imagination, we travel beyond the limits of what we already know, and we enter the realm of what’s possible.
As one of my witchcraft teachers once said, “Where there’s fear, there’s power.”
How can we support ourselves as we move into the places we fear, building our awareness, our resilience, and our skills along the way?
Maybe we can start before we feel 1,000% ready.
Perhaps we can try a thing we’ve never done before, releasing the need to be good at it.
Maybe we can forgive ourselves for our mistakes, taking responsibility without self-flagellation.
I liken this to my work as a Structural Integrator. When we have a restriction somewhere in the body, we can either learn how to release that restriction, or we can spend every moment of every day negotiating around it, as those negotiations become restrictions in and of themselves.
It might feel easier to stick with our well-worn workarounds, because we know what to expect, more or less.
But I wonder…what if…there was liberation beyond our wildest dreams, just around the corner?
Let’s find out–one moment, one choice, at a time.
Happy Full Moon.