There once were four women, all mothers, who lived high atop a canyon ridge in the Santa Monica mountain range. They lived there a long time before they ever met each other, since each had their lives and their children’s lives to manage and none of them had husbands to help. Their quiet little town had walking trails and horse paddocks and the women had come to love it. Although they lived far above the ocean, they could sometimes smell the salt when they rode their cars down the deeply-chiseled drive of Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
The women lived well enough in this canyon surrounded by chaparral, sage-brush, and California oaks. They could walk along the creek where the children would try and catch lizards. At night, they could lay in bed after the children fell asleep and listen to the call of the coyote as it drifted over the mountain. But as much as they loved the canyon and their children, the women were often lonely. They needed something other than motherhood and their many daily tasks to fulfill them.
Then one day after school, two of the mothers realized their children were in the same class, and got to talking as they made their way up the hill to the parking lot. They learned that neither of them had husbands, and often felt overwhelmed by all they had to manage on their own. They warmed to each other instantly, as if they shared something very important. They both knew what it was like to struggle to make ends meet and to feel the children’s happiness rested solely on their shoulders. One of the women, who was very creative, shared that she sometimes felt anxious in the afternoons, when her son would come home and the hours before nightfall stretched long before them. She didn’t always know how to entertain him; how to keep him inspired and hopeful, when she herself felt listless and empty. The other mother, who was very outgoing, said, “We should meet up together!”, and after thinking a moment longer, “We should gather at a time when things feel promising, like when the moon is full!”
And so, it was, that these two mothers, with their sons, would meet together each month at the full moon. They’d each bring food and wine, since children love food and mothers love wine. Sometimes they would hike up the red rocks of the canyon and watch as the moon rose, casting its opalescent light on the chaparral, oak trees and valley below. Sometimes they would gather at each other’s houses, which worked out nicely since one had a fire place and the other a dog. They’d play games and listen to music. They’d laugh and tell stories as the children romped outside in the moonlight. They’d feel hopeful and connected, and better yet, inspired, since they would always talk about their creative dreams.
After a bit of time had passed, the two women realized their circle was not complete. They needed more mothers and children to fill-out the round, to share the goodness of what they had made. They felt they had discovered a great treasure. Honoring the moon and each other every month enhanced their respective worlds immensely. They believed it helped the children too, by giving them something sacred, rhythmic. By showing them that nature has cycles beyond the seasons. Best of all, the children got to see their mothers as vibrant, creative and joyful people when in the company of like-minded women.
The two moongals set out to find their sisters, which wasn’t hard, of course. The outgoing one met hers in a hair salon, where she learned that this new mother had just moved to the canyon with her daughter and didn’t know very many people. The creative one met hers through the art community, where she learned this new mother lived with her teenage children and worked as a commercial artist. By the next full moon there were two more women and several children. For their ceremony, the group decided to collect milkweed pods and climb to the top of the red rocks. The younger children giggled and twirled round when the mothers told them they could make as many wishes as they wanted, but for each wish they must toss the downy seed-tufts on the canyon wind. After all the wishes were spent, they lingered, watching the white pod-feathers drift down the ruddy wall of rock as the moon looked down in her silent splendor.
The four women never thought the moon circle might end, all those years they gathered and laughed and feasted. But after a long while, it did. One mother moved away, then another. A third got married and the fourth had a baby. Life took them away from each other through geography and circumstance, but they never forgot what they created. Whenever a far-away sister would visit, no matter how much time had gone by, the women would circle again. They’d sit together and talk about their lives, their now-grown children, their persistent dreams. Sometimes the coyote song would float through the window as the great, silvery moon cast its light on the canyon walls, waiting to see who might come out to play.