Sunday, October 19, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Eating in the Light of the Moon

Eating in the Light of the Moon: how women can transform their relationships with food through myths, metaphors, & storytelling by Anita Johnston, Ph.D.

Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationships with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, & Storytelling is a book written by Anita Johnston, Ph.D. about disordered eating in women. This book points out that 95% of people diagnosed with eating disorders are female, and therefore focuses on women and the divine feminine qualities that she believes become imbalanced with eating disorders. Johnston uses myths, metaphors and fairy tales to explain how the problem with food is really just an illusion; food is a metaphor for a hunger inside of us that is much deeper than physical hunger. In fact, we’re so used to tuning out our bodies’ true signs of hunger that we only know when we are famished or completely stuffed. She explains how it is essential that we learn again to pay attention to the subtle signs that our body is giving us. This book is full of symbolism and is a great journey of self-discovery. 

"Storytellers speak in the language of myth and metaphor," the author says. "They tell us a truth that is not literal, but symbolic. If we hear the stories with only the outer ear, they can seem absurd and untrue, but when listened to with the inner ear, they convey a truth that can be understood and absorbed on a deeply personal level. In this way, stories help us connect with our inner world, to the natural rhythms and cycles of the earth, and to the power of our intuitive wisdom." This book utilizes symbolism throughout to shed light onto the dark places of your psyche and explain that feelings are important and meant to be dealt with, not numbed out or covered over.

Johnston focuses on rediscovering the inner feminine, our intuition, and using that to shed light on our disordered eating. Through stories, the author tells of our struggles with food stemming from hidden feelings and an imbalance in our energies, our intuition has been ignored and our light has been extinguished. There is some reason that we turn to food for sustenance. Johnston explains a woman’s recovery as being a journey into a great labyrinth, where we have to wind around and around until we reach the very center of it, our core where all of our demons dwell, and then we have to face them and make the spiraling journey back out of the labyrinth into the world again. A woman must heal her relationships with her femininity, her sexuality, her body and her Self before she can conquer disordered eating.

I loved the use of metaphor in this book, it really speaks my language. What I got most out of this book was that food is a metaphor for other forms of sustenance, for a different kind of hunger, not only the physical. The most memorable part of this book for me was the metaphor about the animals that were starving and that couldn’t reach the fruit from the splendid tree because they couldn’t remember its name. They sent 3 different animals back to the lion to learn the name of the tree so they could eat of its fruit. Both the gazelle and the elephant could not make it back from the lion without tripping into a hole and forgetting the name. Finally, they sent the tortoise, whose great-great-great grandmother had told about the tree and how to remember. After getting the name from the lion, the tortoise repeated it to itself over and over again until it reached the other animals, “Ungalli. Ungalli. The name of the tree is Ungalli.” It repeated this over and over again until returning to the tree and announcing the name, and immediately the limbs of the tree extended to the ground and the animals were able to eat of the fruit. This story explains how you need to know the name of your hunger in order to recover and how you must keep it in front of you the entire time of your journey. Johnston says that it is only when your hunger is named that you can be truly fed. She explains the difference between nourishment and Nourishment with a capitol “N”. The woman who suffers from disordered eating must keep the name of her hunger in the forefront of her mind and repeat it to herself whenever she struggles with her own personal food symbolism.

This book focuses on how women who suffer from disordered eating have lost touch with their bodies and have become disconnected from their inner feminine; there is an imbalance between their masculine and feminine selves. It highlights the importance of the symbolism in our dreams and suggests using them for knowledge about our hidden fears and feelings. It also guides you, through insights and practical exercises, toward empowerment, explaining how to regain the power of your intuition and get in touch with your feelings, instead of stuffing them down or numbing them away. It focuses on feeding your “shadow sister” who wishes to be heard instead of starved or stuffed, by recognizing those parts of you that have been hidden or lost. Once you can see through the illusion that food is really the issue, you can dive deeper into your feelings and really begin to feel them again. Remember your hunger; always know what it is that you are truly hungry for, be it acceptance, love, respect, or creative expression. Keep it in front of you at all times and you will be able to give yourself the Nourishment that you TRULY desire. The name of the tree is Ungalli!!


Eating in the Light of the Moon: how women can transform their relationships with food through myths, metaphors, & storytelling by Anita Johnston, Ph.D.
Johnston, Anita Ph.D.
Carlsbad, CA. Gurze Books. 1996

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