Last week I got the chance to sleep out in the bush with a group of friends, some old and some new. In the early evening, we set up camp at Southern Cross Koppie overlooking the Sabi Sand Reserve. Camp consisted of sleeping bags, a cooler of beer and some sausages. As dusk settled, we began to see the full moon coming up over the horizon with a beautiful yellowish glow reflecting the opposing sun. We each chose our own boulder and sat down for a short period of silence.
“Just as a man who wants to go farther and farther East will end up in the West, those who accumulate more and more money in order to increase their wealth will become poor.” – Fritjof Capra (on Daoist philosophy)
Sitting there with a dramatic moonrise to the east contrasted by an intense, radiant sunset to the west, I felt caught between two cosmic forces. From the perspective of earth, the two represent perfect opposites. The moon is receiving while the sun is giving. In Chinese, the characters for nature’s two equal and opposing forces, Yin (阴) and Yang (阳), contain the symbols for the moon and sun respectively.
The two ideas come from Daoist philosophy, and together they comprise the Dao, literally “the way”, which is the universal dynamic energy that underlies and dictates everything. While Yang is the masculine, aggressive, competitive, and moving, Yin is characterised by the feminine, intuitive, contemplative and grounded. For 2500 years, Daoist’s have favoured the allowing and receptive nature of Yin so as to let the Dao guide their actions.
I feel as though I have always undervalued receptive energy so, that night, I decided to see if the moon could shed some light on the subject. I chose not to close my eyes, not to focus on eradicating my thoughts, and instead face east and ask for guidance from the archetypal feminine. On an emotional level, I felt peace; I was able to let go. This allowed me to settle into an emerging presence that gave permission to all of my anxieties instead of shutting them away. Two of the people I had only recently met, George and Josh, expressed the same sentiment. They both said they felt calmed by the moon. George commented that it didn’t feel at all passive; its presence was purely allowing.
We had a small fire burning as we began to chat about what it was like to be out in the bush compared to where we all grew up. We came from as far as the U.S. and England and as close as the reserve itself, but we all connected on how remarkable it was to be out under a full moon with a clear view of the Milky Way. I confessed that while I hadn’t expected to be chatting about feminine energy that night, especially with other men, I was also relieved. The reality is that it’s the antithesis of the societal norm for manliness. For much of my life I have focused on being bigger, louder, and excessively competitive because, in all honesty, it’s fun. I love winning, and I love pushing my limits. But, leading up to my time in the bush, I started to notice that the other side was being neglected. Overemphasising the masculine traits was hindering the development of their counterparts, namely empathy. Rebalancing with the feminine, then, gives way to a sense of compassion which creates space where allowing others to be themselves is the most you can give, where less is more.
Getting the opportunity to be out in the bush that night was a doorway into nature’s balance of power. For over three hours we listened to lions roaring under the moon and a blanket of stars. Each hour brought the audio closer and louder. The contrast of the competitive versus the contemplative fell away, replaced by a feeling of unity that can only be experienced in the wild. You can read about it in the nature guides and astronomy textbooks, but, at the end of the day, you need to feel the pull of the moon for yourself and wonder what kind of energy you want to embody.
Rich Laburn is filmmaker, photographer and writer who is based at Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Spending his time capturing scenes of the wild and communicating the beauty of the African bushveld, he runs the Londolozi Blog as a way to entertain and engage people wishing to visit these wild lands.