This is intimate. I hesitate to share because I don’t like to get too personal in public. But it’s a Blood Moon and we won’t have another until 2025. So it seems the opportune time to tell you about my lunar room, also known as the moon room.
What is a lunar room? It started seven years ago, when I moved in with my partner. I was a bit reluctant to move into “his” space but nothing on the LA housing market could compete with his two bedroom rent-controlled apartment. In order to make myself feel at home, I asked if I could have the spare bedroom. I wanted a place that could be “mine”, where I could close the door and be alone. The room was sparse except for a mattress on the floor for guests – bachelor style. I figured I’d turn it into my home office. I got a desk and switched out the floor mattress for a daybed. But the room held an entire other purpose, an unexpected one.
Every full moon, I started sleeping in the other room. Just like the ocean and the tides, women’s menstrual cycles are synched with the moon – a fact that never ceases to amaze me. It’s the time of the month when I feel the most discomfort, both physically and emotionally, and I need privacy to process it all. I didn’t want to feel self-conscious in bed with my partner, but wanted space to let my body release as it may. So a habit formed. The office/guest bedroom officially became the “lunar room.” That’s how we’ve been referring to it for years, and that’s what some of our close friends have come to affectionately call it too.
What I find fascinating is that this intuitive desire to sleep separately during my period may stem from ancient traditions. In numerous cultures where menstruation is particularly taboo, women are considered “dirty” during their periods and are forced to sleep in “menstruation huts.” I did wonder whether I was unconsciously carrying a legacy of shame by turning to my own little cave. But I don’t believe that’s the case. It may actually be a way to reclaim and transform old narratives around a woman’s space (internal and external). My lunar room is a choice, not one I’m subjugated to. I don’t feel ostracized, but rejoice in the solitude and contemplation needed during this time. Just as the moon cycles, so do I.
This month’s journey for your senses – see, hear, smell, taste, touch, balance and envision – was curated to honor the lunar cycles and tonight’s blood moon.
Blood Moon | nature
“A Pancake Moon” | art exhibit at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (Los Angeles)
On view until January 21, 2023
Go out and look up at the sky tonight (through tomorrow morning). We’re having a total lunar eclipse, also known as a “Blood Moon.” Lunar eclipses occur when the full moon moves into the Earth's shadow. When the Sun, Earth, and Moon are exactly aligned, we get a total lunar eclipse, making the lunar surface a striking red for a few hours. The Blood Moon will be visible from 12am to 6am PST, with its peak at 3am PST. If you have a telescope or even binoculars, get a little closer to this celestial show.
If you find yourself in Los Angeles, I also recommend “A Pancake Moon,” an exhibition by Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg. Their stop-motion animation, depicting a moon-egg’s journey in a dark forest, explores themes of hope, fear, and transformation. It reminded me of a Grimms' fairy tale, both enchanting and terrifying. The exhibit also includes a sculptural landscape, bringing to life the stop-motion through whimsical flora and anthropomorphic objects. The show is on view at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in Los Angeles until January 21, 2023.
“Hurrian Hymn” | music
Listen on Youtube
Ever wonder what was the first song ever written? It turns out, it was inspired by the moon. The “Hurrian Hymn” is considered the oldest song in the world, with a written record dating back to the 13th century BCE. The text praises fertility and refers to offerings made to Nikkal, a moon goddess worshiped in various areas of ancient Mesopotamia.
The tablet was discovered in the 1950's in Ugarit, Syria and is now part of the collection of the National Museum of Damascus. Since its discovery, it’s been translated to contemporary musical notation and interpreted by various performers. Listen to this one by Michael Levy.
Tuberose | flower
I recently attended “The Stars Give & Flowers Receive”, a lecture on the art of alchemy hosted by Eliza Swann and Sydney Buffman at the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles.
One of the many fascinating things I learned is that ancient alchemy, reflecting Hermetic traditions, applied the belief “As Above, So Below” to their science. For alchemists, every flower, plant and mineral had a corresponding planet or star.
So I was curious to know which plant corresponds to the Moon. I contacted Sydney Buffman, the event’s alchemist, herbalist and artist. She told me: “Narcotic florals are ruled by the moon. They have a heady intoxicating scent, and often bloom at night to attract night pollinators. The flowers are typically white to reflect the light of the moon for visibility. Some examples are: jasmine, gardenia, tuberose, and night blooming cactus flower. There’s an aromatic molecule called ‘indole’ that can be found in many narcotic florals. It’s a molecule associated with the scent of rotting, decay, death and excrement. But in small amounts, it adds a realistic dimensionality to florals in perfume.”
When I asked Sydney which flower would be most fitting for the Blood Moon, she suggested tuberose. She also explained “the Aztecs called it Omixochit (oh me” zu che’tl) or bone flower.”
I went on an excursion to buy tuberose at LA’s downtown flower market. Navigating across two giant warehouses, a blooming labyrinth, I finally found the enigmatic flower. The pale pink buds were still closed, discreetly hiding their seductive smell. I’ve been watching them slowly bloom, revealing their delicate white petals and releasing their rich fragrance.
Thank you again to Sydney for her generosity in sharing her botanical knowledge. Learn more about her hand-crafted fragrance project, Syd Botanica.
Beet Hummus | recipe
In honor of tonight’s Blood Moon, I’m highlighting the only vegetable that bleeds: beets.
A seasonal root vegetable, beets have so many health benefits. But what I love most about them is their bright fuchsia color. You can cook beets in a variety of ways, creating a wide range of textures and flavors. One of my favorite methods is boiling and cooling them to make a beet-avocado salad, creating a beautiful marriage of colors. I also enjoy roasting them with sweet potatoes for the perfect Fall duo.
A beet dish I had never made was Beet Hummus. So I gave it a try, adapting this recipe. I made mine with less chickpeas, less garlic, more beets. Instead of roasted beets, I used the boiled beets from the beet paint recipe (see TOUCH prompt). The result was both delicious and beautiful. Here’s my adapted version:
1-2 small beets
½ can of chickpeas
1 large lemon juiced
1 healthy pinch salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove (minced)
2 heaping Tbsp tahini
1 teaspoon cumin
4 Tbsp olive oil
A side of Beet (not Beat) literature:
One of my all-time favorite books, Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins features beets as a central character.
If you want to make beet paint, see cooking instructions under TOUCH prompt.
Otherwise, boil or roast beets for 50-60min.
Once your beets are cool and peeled, quarter them and place in your food processor. Blend until only small bits remain.
Add remaining ingredients except for olive oil and blend until smooth.
Drizzle in olive oil as the hummus is mixing.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt, lemon juice, or olive oil. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water.
Will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
For the presentation, I sprinkled a bit of za'atar, a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped mint for color (above photo).
Beet painting | craft
I’ve always wanted to experiment with natural pigments so I was excited to make Beet Paint. I followed this video and experimented a bit. I had read that if you heat up your beet paint some of the water will evaporate, making the paint thicker. I tried this, both in the microwave and on the stove. The paint did not thicken. But something more interesting happened: the color changed dramatically – from fuchsia pink to crimson red. See photo above for the difference. Layering the paint also created richer and deeper tones. This gave me a range of palette to play with and I ended up making 15 postcard-size beet watercolors. I’ll be sharing some of them on Instagram.
To Make Beet Paint:
3-4 beets (depending on how much you want to eat/paint)
Wash beets thoroughly under water
Peel beets to remove the outer layer. Wear rubber gloves if you don’t want to get your hands beet-color.
Chop beets in ½ inch cubes
Place beets in a pot and add just enough water to cover them. This will help preserve the rich paint color.
Boil beets for an hour.
Drain the beet water into a jar. This is your beet paint. Store in the fridge and use within a week.
Save the cooked beets for your next meal (recipe above).
When you’re ready to paint, you can use a side of water to dilute the beet color as you please. For better paper absorption, I used watercolor paper.
Jumbled Mantra | visual meditation by Kenshō studio
The featured visual meditation, part of my on-going series of “Jumbled Mantras,” was inspired by my video poem Lunar Cycles. Each month, I’ll include a new visual meditation to help you find balance. The message to contemplate:
Fill and Empty Me
Take a moment to reflect on what this means to you. Sit with it. Feel it in your body. Let whatever sensations or thoughts naturally arise. You can also write your insights or share them with a trusted other.
Video Poem | art by Kenshō studio
Every month, I include a symbolic artwork to help you ENVISION. My video poem “Lunar Cycles” honors our body’s cycles and the ways they reflect nature’s rhythms. Video poems are also available to watch on my site.
Got a Moon Room?