Action Without Meaning

When Grey and I were talking before the book club started posting, she said, “But I’m not doing the fables.  They’re going to have to go to someone else’s blog for that.”  And I thought, “Crap.  I’m going to have to talk about the fables.“\

Chapter 2 of Eating in the Light of the Moon is subtitled “Rediscovering the Feminine.”  If you’ll remember, when I read this chapter with my therapist last year, I had a small panic attack at the idea of having to be like, a girl.

The fable is one which personifies the moon as a woman (duh).  The moon, whose light is “soft and subtle,” represents an almost care-taking force, one that worries about the people in her land when she is absent (in the new moon phase).  When the moon is absent, the people are tormented by dark forces in the woods, ones that seek to harm.  In the fable, the moon seeks to explore (undercover, of course) what happens in her absence, but finds herself trapped under a boulder.  The moon was eventually saved, but for the nights that she was gone, nighttime was not safe.

Johnston sums up the moral of the tale best on p. 13-14:

When we stop listening to our feelings and intuitions, our psyches are plunged into a darkness that can be frightening.  In this darkness, our feelings, hungers, and desires become mysterious, destructive sources, ready to wreak havoc on our bodies and minds.

I’ll be honest.  This is the part of the book where I start rolling my eyes.  I am a research nerd (remember my correlation matrix?).  Johnston has no research in this book.  There are no citations, no peer-reviewed journals.  She is pulling from these stories ideas that, for the most part, are very reasonable, but it sometimes seems like she is stretching it to make a point.

Sometimes I want to scream, “Maybe it’s JUST a story!”

But the truth is that there is never just a story.  Every story has a purpose – to teach, to comfort, to relate.  Whatever the purpose, you can be assured that the storyteller has one.  Anita Johnston just happens to have found a variety of stories that relate to women, their place in society, and their inner lives.

That said, this chapter is one that always gets me kerfluffled.  Anita describes the masculine and feminine traits as follows:

Masculine:  SUN,  direct action, single-minded focus, logical thinking, goal-oriented, linear structure, focus on productivity & achievement

Feminine:  MOON, stillness, ambiguity, emotion, relationship-oriented, intuitive, nurturing

Her assertion is that neither the masculine nor the feminine principles are “right” or “wrong.”  We all carry masculine and feminine traits with us — the goal is balance, not the domination of one or the other.   She also supposes that in most women with disordered eating, the masculine dominates the feminine.  (Johnston states that with an overbearing masculine side, there is a lot of action, but no meaning behind it.  Our feminine side, she says, carries our inner truth.)


We are driven (how does one keep going on so little fuel?).
We are goal-oriented (thinner, thinner, thinner).
We believe in a definite hierarchy (thin > average > overweight).
We are “logical” thinkers (well, we think it makes sense).


This fable shows a world where the feminine is subdued, silenced, neglected.  The darkness overtakes and even the masculine can’t control the damage.  The goal is not for the moon to reappear and overtake the sun.  Both sides (the relational, emotional and the action-oriented) are needed for one to navigate their way in the world.


In order to recover, according to Johnston, we have to make a “deliberate, conscious attempt to reclaim our feminine side.”


Time to break out the eyeliner and push-up bras, ladies!


No, I’m kidding.  But seriously, what can you do this week to reclaim some of your lost femininity?

3 thoughts on “Action Without Meaning

  1. We are “logical” thinkers (well, we think it makes sense)

    I don’t know what you are talking about; my logic is flawless ;-) But hmm…. that does sound like a masculine trait, doesn’t it? Most of my guy friends THINK they make sense, too…

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