From Lunacy to Philosophy

nar_08tintIn his excellent book “The Fourfold Path to Healing,” Thomas Cowan, M.D. talks about how women must move from a moon ruled life to a Jupiter ruled life at menopause. What does this mean?

The moon is the astrological symbol of nurturing. It also controls the movement of fluids in a woman’s body. Like tides, menstruation comes and goes according to the moon’s cycle. When we are harmonized with the moon’s rhythms, and not disrupted by too much artificial light, it is natural to ovulate at the full moon and menstruate at the new moon. This cycle frames the rhythms of a woman’s life from puberty to menopause. Many women are also tied by this cycle into patterns of nurturing, whether they have children or not.

At menopause we stop responding to the moon in such a physical way. Though we still feel its emotional rhythms, our bodies begin to come under the influence of Jupiter. Jupiter is the astrological symbol of wisdom, philosophy, truth, and justice. The transition to a Jupiter ruled life means letting go of our roles as caretakers, and stepping into positions of authority in society. This is the time to put our hard earned wisdom to use as mentors, teachers, philosophers, and social activists.

Quaker writers in 17th century England often referred to themselves as “publishers of the truth.” What an apt Jupiterian phrase for the work of speaking our minds on behalf of justice in the world. Too often, I see women at midlife caught in the role of caretaker, seemingly forever, as the task of taking care of aging parents falls to them, just as their children are leaving the nest. We need a better way. We need ways to free women in our society to be leaders and keepers of wisdom for the benefit of the community. There is much at stake. Denying Jupiter’s midlife call by staying in caretaker roles is a sad loss to our communities, and the cause of much despair and depression among women.

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