Old Habits Die Hard
The Quarter Moon occurs at 4:50 am GMT on 27th January in the 7th degree of Taurus. Against the backdrop of Mercury retrograde this Moon invites us to consider areas of our experience that we tend to gloss over and to take this opportunity to reshape them. When in Taurus the Moon seeks certainty and stability. Familiarity is welcomed, the unknown avoided. This is a Moon who appreciates predictability and wobbles in the face of change. When waxing to full a Taurean Moon requires firm roots sent deep into the earth to sustain the current creative cycle. Whatever we are manifesting, be it our life’s work, a new beginning or simply a tidier house or more organised day, the strongest roots are those planted not in old soil depleted by the demands of our habitual behaviours and beliefs, but fresh new soil, rich in nourishment and powerfully sustaining.
This Moon reminds us it is we who are the soil. No matter what we hope to create or how we intend to change, it is our thoughts, feelings and behaviours which form the growing medium in which seeds of the new are planted. For any seed to grow strong and vibrant it needs to be in the right kind of soil with the right combination of nutrients. Without this a seed will do nothing but rot and the opportunity for new life is lost. It is the same for every creative endeavour: we must plant the seeds of intention, desire and aspiration in the soil of constructive attitudes and robust commitment if they are to eventually bear fruit. Pursuing future change without doing something different in the present is like planting in tired soil, starved of nutrients and bereft of the nourishment needed to give birth to the new.
Whilst a waxing Quarter Moon is a powerfully creative time, we must stay alert to the ground in which we expect our seeds to grow. We may want to change the whole world but if we are unwilling to change our attitude in the present moment, still replaying old thoughts, indulging in unhelpful habits or continuing to exercise negative attitudes which keep us stuck, we really won’t get very far and neither will our creations! It can be tempting at times to set our sights too wide, wanting to change everything about ourselves and our lives without recognising that true change happens right now in our mind and heart as we live each tiny moment of our day, not in some imagined future when everything’s sorted and we’re living the life of our dreams. If we won’t step off the roundabout of our habitual thoughts today we’ll never be able to board a more enjoyable ride into the future!
And yet no matter how much we want to change, it can be so tempting not to! Despite the sometimes mind-numbing, sometimes agonising, pain of staying the same, our behaviour would indicate that it’s preferable to the unpredictable challenge of playing a different version of who we are! Whilst it is true that old habits die hard, they won’t die at all if we continue to breathe life into them each day by reacting in the same old ways to the same old things in our same old life. The fact is breaking old habits can be a risky business, for whilst they tie us down they also keep us safe and secure in a predictable world of what the poet Molly Drake refers to as ‘narrow joy’. Whilst we may be only too aware of our half-lived life and unfulfilled longings at least we sometimes get the odd moment of peace in amongst the stress of an unchanging life, and we manage to avoid the oftentimes unnerving implications of change. We may even garner some perverse satisfaction from misfortune. We hate feeling anxious and are sick to the back teeth of misery but at least we know who we are when we feel those familiar tentacles of despair. That alone is a comfort, like an old friend to whom we neither have to explain nor prove ourselves.
Change, on the other hand, requires effort and commitment. It demands that we act differently when old thoughts and feelings arise. Rather than sinking into them we must choose a new response. We can watch them arise without claiming them as our own or do the very opposite of what they bid us do whenever they appear. ‘Everything goes wrong in my life’ is a powerful thought which can wreak havoc if we claim it, believe it and build an identity around it. If, however, we simply notice the thought pass through our mind, the feelings which accompany it and the behavioural impulse it might trigger, it is simply a thought and nothing more. We don’t have to believe it or act upon it. We can let it pass through and refuse to be defined by such an ephemeral visitor. Then, in the space at the end of the thought we can notice a moment’s peace before it arises again, demanding our attention and reaction, the one it’s always elicited when it’s visited before! This time it will be more insistent, more convincing, and we’ll have to be even firmer about not jumping on board the self-pity express. But at least this time around we know there’s that moment of peace at the end of the thought if we stay present to its passing.
All too often the very habits which hold us back are the ones which also keep us safe. They form the soil in which we plant the seeds of the new and if we want those seeds to grow we must embrace the vulnerability of letting our old ways go and doing life differently. It may mean we can no longer garner sympathy for our lot or excuse ourselves from trying something new because ‘I’ll only mess it up anyway so what’s the point?!’. We may have to stop pointing the finger at others or blaming circumstance for our misfortune. We may have to face the fact that we actually can’t do that thing we always thought we would ‘once my life changes’, but instead discover what we can do and commit to that. Leaving old habits behind reveals the potential of the future and what it requires of us. We may have to face truths from which old habits have kept us protected. If we can commit to doing what it takes to make the soil in which we plant our intentions as richly nutritious as possible, we can experience the freedom of the new alongside the fear of it! The liberation of no longer having to be who we once were but instead recreating ourselves afresh to better fit the future which awaits.
This quarter Moon invites us to do exactly that: to commit to releasing, not reliving, old habits and to tend the soil of our hearts with close attention and loving care.