Honouring the lunar calendar.
Words by Rezm Orah & artwork by Rezm Orah
Full Moon to BLØØDMØØN
Before I knew any of this would happen I was already making my dirty amateur rituals during full moon nights. I was only reminded of this halfway into the Full Moon Project, or Cathartes Aura Tour, when I was looking through my hard drives and found footage I had recorded two years earlier, also on the full moon; candles, lights, prayer, set, the whole thing…
The Cathartes Aura Tour had the following hypothesis:
Would my life be changed on a daily level if I was to live by the Lunar Calendar?
I chose to structure this concept of ‘living by the Moon’ the following way:
I had to create an original performance for every full moon over the next thirteen moons and to change locations at every moon so that my experience of each cycle would be enhanced.
I have very little factual or ‘scientific’ research around this subject – my life is truly governed by chance, or instinct, or luck as some would call it.
At the beginning of the fourth moon of this journey, on my way to Mexico, I found out that the next full moon would be a Total Lunar Eclipse or Blood Moon.
It just so happened that it would be a part of a series of four total eclipses, also called a Tetrad, that would happen consecutively six months apart from each other – a rare event that will only happen again in 2033.
This would mean that two of these Total Lunar Eclipses would happen during my first thirteen Moons and the last two would happen after this ‘tour’ had ended.
I had a choice to ignore the Tetrad – four consecutive eclipses – and treat them just like a special full moon, or to embrace ‘luck’, and take a chance on extending this project somehow.
Me being me, I chose luck. I chose chance.
The first of the BLØØDMØØNs was in Mexico where two great friends and photographers were also present.
Carolina Pimenta is a talent that shares history with me since my New York years and was travelling with her partner in crime Anastasia Fugger for their own photography project, ‘Gone Project.’
The eclipse happened very late at night. We were in a beach town in Oaxaca. I remember walking around the beach an hour or so before and trying to interview a few stragglers with blankets that were also waiting to see the eclipse.
The girls were asleep. I woke them up with my body already fully covered in silver, a dance belt, and a piece of cloth I had used as a turban to shoot the sunset that same day.
*at the time of the full moon, the moon rises when the sun sets, until the time when the moon is again new and it rises and sets together with the sun*
We went down to the beach with one camera, one cheap lantern, a star-shaped piñata, a red makeshift filter, and ourselves.
It all unfolded quite naturally.
I was born out of the sea that day, came down from a bloody moon through the highest tide.
The performance was short in length, around twenty minutes. But I watched the eclipse unfold, saw the moon go through all of its phases, turning red to full in just a few hours…no wonder it had been the subject of so many terrible and dark myths of cultures from all around the world.
I started thinking about how I could translate this feeling to someone outside of myself.
The second eclipse I was in Rio for, but it would happen during the day, so I would not see it.
I called upon the resources I had there: photographer, filmmaker, a great friend and collaborator Marcelo Hallit, and a second pro with a daring eye, Tay Nascimento. To complete the magic, the night before I had received a message from a fellow artist, singer, and mystic Danae Dugardyn. She knew I loved her Goddess Oracle cards, and she is another moon aficionado. Danae told me to go get a card reading from her during the eclipse the next day. Those cards come with a suggested ritual or practice; suddenly I had a journey to embark on.
I started at sunrise by the sea, where I left off. From there I went to Danae’s house.
When we arrived at Danae’s rainforest abode, Natácia Luana had magically just come down to open the door – no communication had been made that morning. Nath was in a mask and full yellow dress.
She took us all the way up to this little pool house among the trees, an old Rio mansion in the Tijuca forest.
The set was all laid out for a ritual reading. We all took a card. My card was Baba Yaga, wild witch of the Siberian unconscious that has been with me ever since, and the suggested ritual was something I tried to convey.
I was to find the roots, the bottom of the abyss that one would fall into, but when I hit the ground I was to imagine that I had not fallen to my death but onto a soft and comforting bed of pillows.
We went deep into this city jungle.
After an instinctive turn, we stumbled upon a beast of a tree fallen down, fully exposing its roots, its pit, and there I laid until it felt like home.
Later that night we had a big live performance in a gallery space in Rio, Olho da Rua, a very full and blessed moon yet again.
The third blood moon was in great company. It was set to happen during a residency in Porto, Portugal. This was already after the Cathartes Aura tour, or the first thirteen moons had ended.
RAÍZES was a glorious time – a residency with artists that you love both personally and professionally is a bliss and a very beautiful thing to be a part of.
Carolina Pimenta was one of the artists showing the photography project they had started in Mexico at the time of the first eclipse. She co-produced This BLØØDMØØN with me.
This was the biggest production of the tetrad. I had a clearer idea and very dear and great talent to draw from. David Gonçalves was also in residency with us and had been through the Cathartes Aura journey before. He invited a local friend Leonardo Carvalho and together they added a drone into this game; we gained numerous new possibilities.The plan was very ambitious; we gathered help from actress Catarina Campos Costa and all around wonder Niki Varanda.
I wanted to express the path the moon goes through in an eclipse in just three hours (eclipse duration)… all this with no eyes to see.
The eclipse this time was well into the morning, hot time to be playing with fire and very harsh light for filming – the BLØØDMØØN commitment implied shooting only during eclipse hours.
I crawled over glass, we almost caught fire to a vacant lot, and need the fire brigade to control the situation. I walked on water with a blood red trail and together we created some of the most beautiful images I have made to this day.
The last moon:
There is a place in Chapada dos Veadeiros, Brazil, called Vale da Lua or Moon Valley, and it is said to shine during a full moon.
I had wanted to spend a full moon there for a long time, but people would tell me it was not possible to stay overnight…
I would spend the last eclipse there.
I went alone. I packed some paint, my fabrics, borrowed a small camera and a couple of changes of clothes and set out to spend a full lunar cycle in the mystical and holy Chapada dos Veadeiros.
By now I knew what this was to become, a performance film aimed at expressing the power and feeling of this series of total eclipses.
Now I needed a performance to represent the passing of time – a lunar clock.
The Chapada lies above a crystal bed spanning hundreds of kilometres, it is a powerful place, if you know what you want, and have a clear intention they will provide.
A week before the eclipse I went to visit Vale da Lua.
I had been in the Chapada for a couple of weeks and had seen many astounding places and had received a few suggestions and invitations to see the final blood moon. My mind was set though.
I paid my way into the Moon Valley, it was low season and a weekday so very few people were around. It was beautiful. The shape and the colour of the rocks, the colour of the water, this imminent sense of danger of falling through the cracks… this was it.
I started exploring, looking for a place to hide to spend the night a week from that day. It would be a late night eclipse.
I came across this new looking sign leading up to a clearing in the forest on the river bank, a couple of large barracks, a path and some basic DIY construction tools, and nothing more, no one, no words, just that hidden sign at the entrance.
Four days later, this sign on my mind and still having no clue how this eclipse would unfold, I was shooting an interview for a very cool organisation called Aldeias do Mundo and, on the way back, we stopped at a hardware store for some supplies for the next workshop.
I got out of the car, and parked next to us was a jeep with a print exactly like the sign I saw a few days earlier at the Moon Valley clearing.
I had found my way in. I went into the store and asked for the owner of the jeep, we talked, arranged to meet, and it was set.
That space was a camping site in the making, he was building it himself with some help from the locals. He had worked as a computer analyst, or something similar, I don’t remember, for a time, then made some cash and moved to the Chapada. He worked as a guide for groups and was going to open the camping.
He loved my ambition and said I could definitely stay the night as the space belonged to him.
So two days later, I took a ride to the entrance of the dirt road that leads to the valley at sunset, walked for about an hour, took the alternative route into the park as he had explained and there I was, alone with the moon in the Moon Valley in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, about to be a spectator to one of this planet’s most astonishing astrological sights with a front row seat.
There were no lights and no sounds of cars or cities. Early in the night he showed up with a couple of ladies he was guiding in through the Chapada that were also moon enthusiasts but they left early. I could hear one group of adventurers far off to my right in the early evening but as the night fell that was it, me and that big full moon.
The valley does shine with the Full Moon at night, and the eclipse experience here was tremendous.
The full moon casts light over the whole valley, and as the eclipse starts happening and the shadow of the Earth starts obscuring the moon’s light, darkness starts to take over and you see nothing at all, only hearing wildlife, wind, water and darkness; until that moon becomes red up in the sky and slowly starts to move out of our shadow and cast the sun’s light back onto our night.
This performance was a visual exploration of this colour shift the moon undergoes.
As the sun rose and that last moon set I gave myself a freebie to create a couple more images hoping to express this magnitude of natural beauty and power.
It was a long and difficult process compiling and editing this material and putting music to it. It went through the hands of a few people until I eventually found I had to do this myself, for it was too personal; my vision was clear but my words confusing.
It is a poem in film, it seeks to express the unknown and the un-talked about.
I chose and choose to see beauty and light where cultures before and today see threat and disaster, that to me is luck.
It awaits on the other side of a door you have the key for but it can’t open by itself, it needs your little push.
I sincerely hope you feel this.
Gratefully, very very gratefully, and with so much love,
Full Moon, Cathartes Aura Tour>