Here on the Olympic Peninsula, “sunbreaks” – the short times of clearing sky in between rain storms—can last for a few minutes or a few hours. The reflection of the sun’s rays cast shadow and color on the thick cloudbanks so that every layer and formation in the clouds is highlighted.
On the day of the rising Supermoon that would be eclipsed just before it set, I drove to my place of ceremony under cloudy skies. About two miles away from it, I was met with a downpour. Assuming that my plans for a ceremony on the beach were out of the question, I mentally conjured an alternative as I continued on. During the many years of monthly trips to the Western Sonoma Coast to perform my Full Moon rituals, I had only a couple of occasions when the rains prevented me from leaving the car. In those times I climbed into the “way back” of my 4Runner and did ceremony there as the rain drummed its rhythm on the top of the car. So, undeterred, I drove down the narrow road that winds through the forest and down to the beach.
As I came to the end of the forest and the vista of the Admiralty Bay coastline opened up before me, the rain stopped. The clouds had parted, pushing back to the four directions, leaving the beach area bathed in sunshine. A rainbow adorned the top of the forest behind me. The beach was empty of human life, but full of those who live there. Two ravens flew over and landed on the roof rack of the 4Runner. A small herd of Black Tail deer grazed in the meadow adjacent to the beach. Along the point of sand, a huge flock of black and white ducks gaggled amongst themselves as they floated in the water. Beyond them was a small flock of seagulls. As I settled in to a protected area between two huge driftwood logs, I noticed a Red Tail Hawk perched in the top of a small tree just up the beach.
After my ceremony was complete, I sat and enjoyed the view towards each direction. To the south from southeast to southwest the sky was still darkened by the clouds full of rain waiting to fall. Opposite, over the town of Port Townsend across the water, the clouds drifted softly, undulating like a giant wave softly rose-colored from the start of the sunset. To the west the sun’s descent into the horizon was hastened by a huge cloudbank over the Olympic Range. The sun’s brilliance illuminated the clouds from behind, giving them a stained glass effect that showed the shapes and contours in various hues of gold and rose offset with ethereal blues and greys. To the east, the clouds reflected the sunset in orangey pinks accented with blue hues. The cloudbank was lower and softer looking than its dynamic counterpart in the west.
As soon as the sun fell behind the clouds and brought on the beginning of twilight, the birds flew off en mass to finds their nests, except one. The Red Tail remained at its post facing the east, as was I. I waited. Moonrise was at 4:39 PM. I had completed my ceremony at 4:40. Had the sky been completely clear, the moon would have been visible as it rose in between Mt. Baker to the north and Glacier Peak to the south. Soon it would rise high enough to be seen above the cloudbank. When it did, it did not disappoint. Clear, perfect in its fullness, and huge, it rose and worked its magic to completely transform the color of the sky from end-of-day twilight to beginning-of-night twilight.
As I drove home along the shoreline, the rising moon was constantly to my left; it was at times reflected in the water, or floating over distant forested hills, or a glimmer of bright light through the trees as I drove through the forests. By the time night fully enveloped the sky, the moon was so bright that I could barely look directly at it.
Ten hours later, I pulled aside the curtains in my room so that I could lie in bed and see the moon through the west-facing window. Over the next few hours, I watched in peaceful awe as the moon danced in all her forms: Full, Super, Blue, Blood, Dark, and back to Full again as it set at sunrise.