Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Autumn Equinox: Balance and Equilibrium

The Wheel of the Year acknowledges the annual cycles of the seasons and the natural rhythm of the earth. Recognizing our connection with earth cycles is key to developing embodied love.

Many earth and land based spirituality and wisdom traditions, such as the practices of the ancient Celtic people, celebrated the Wheel of the Year. Our ancestors experienced their lives intricately woven with earth’s seasons and tides. They held awareness for the everyday ebb and flow of night and day, dusk and dawn. And they acknowledged the slower change of the seasons; verdant summer into fall’s harvest, fall into winter’s regeneration, winter into spring’s germination, and spring’s expansion into summer once more. These turning points were considered strong magical portals. Opportunities to align with the energies of nature and augment those energies mirrored within ourselves.

These natural crossroads, the ‘in betweenperiods, were celebrated with colorful customs, rituals, storytelling, songs, music, and special seasonal foods. The wisdom of the Wheel of the Year frees us from our modern linear, driven focus, and reminds us to treasure the physicality of our bodies and the rich sensual gifts of the earth. The Wheel of the Year invites us to pay heed to the unhurried energy of our bodies, and to honor them as the divine within matter, for that is where the Divine Feminine resides. By participating in these natural cycles, we can attune ourselves to the creative forces that flow through us, and learn how to harmonize them with the Earth.

The Celtic Wheel of the Year is marked by eight seasonal turning points. The upcoming seasonal change, the Autumn Equinox, occurs September 23rd at 2:05 am PDT. The Equinox is the point of the Wheel when there is perfect balance between light and dark, where day and night are in equilibrium. There are equal hours of daylight and night on this day, which expresses the harmony between the energies of outward, physical manifestation and inward, intuitive, creativity. Nature’s sacred union. This symbolic balance of the rational and the intuitive will exist for a moment, and then the forces of winter will slowly rise and take over. Throughout autumn the land shows clear signs of this journey towards winter where the earth directs its energies inward. Leaves turn color and birds migrate. During the Autumn Equinox we can prepare for when we, too, will go into winter’s intuitive, regenerative state of inner contemplation.

The Autumn Equinox is also called the festival of Mabon, named for the ancient Celtic god, the child of light. Mabon is the second harvest, where we take stock of our yield, ready for gathering. This is the Pagan Thanksgiving where we can offer appreciation and enjoy the fruits of our labors. It represents a time to consider which aspects of our life we wish to preserve, and which we would prefer to transform.

Water is the element of Autumn. Water indicates the realm of emotions and relationships. Autumn Equinox and its element of water urge us to go deeper and embrace our emotions and the nourishing dark of our psyche with its mysterious teachings. Autumn asks us to honor the strengths that will sustain us through the cold winter months. L

Suggestions for how to celebrate the Autumn Equinox:

You can commemorate the Autumn Equinox in small ways:

1.     Enjoy seasonal fruits like pears and apples. Roast the fruits whole in a baking pan for 45 minutes at 350 degrees for a delicious autumn treat.

2.     Peel an apple and sprinkle the peel with the balancing herb, thyme. Roll the peel up after you sprinkle the thyme. Bake in a warm oven of 250 degrees for an hour or so, making sure to breathe in the combination of the sweet apple and the fresh, pungent thyme - it will help bring balance to your home and those who live there. Once dried, the peel can be kept to hold in your hand whenever you need a little balance.

(from Cait Johnson, Witch in the Kitchen)

Autumn Equinox Ritual:

3.     Fill a small bowl with water as a way to connect with autumn’s element. Set it on your kitchen counter or on your altar. Gather colorful autumn leaves and surround your bowl with the leaves. Hold your bowl of water and name 3 people you are thankful for in your life. Pick up one of the brightly colored fall leaves, and as you float it in the water, name one thing you have learned or transformed in the past year that has become a strength within you which will sustain you during the winter months ahead.

Happy Autumn Equinox!

Wheel of the Year

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