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Autumn Equinox: A Point of Balance on the Wheel of the Year
Article ID: 14181
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Maggi Horseman
Posted: September 19th. 2010
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At this time of year, the sun moves into the Astrological sign Libra, and we look at the changing of the seasons. This is the time of equal light and dark, where the day and night are of equal length. Even the glyph of Libra itself speaks to the setting sun, the waning power of the time of day and into the darker half of the year, when the sun sets, giving way to the power of night. Though the symbols for Libra include the scales and we seek to look at balance at this time of the year.
What is balance and how do we find it in modern, urban society? Our society is so overly focused on consumption, burning of fossil fuels, speed, movement, and noise. Turn on the TV, the radio, listen to the next advertisement, hurry, rush, go, do more is the message we receive constantly. Lights stay on all night; grocery stores are open 24 hours a day. Don’t rest, is the message. How do we connect with a time of quiet, rest, and night in this environment? What does that even mean?
Pretty soon we’ll be getting close to the (dreaded) “holiday season”. Yesterday, a woman attending one of my classes mentioned “Isn’t it funny that the busiest time, the holiday season is at the darkest part of the year?” My immediate gut response was “No! It’s not strange at all, its part of the attitude of how our society reacts to darkness, quiet, and stillness. It is the perfect example of the imbalance and isn’t strange in the least!” Our society wants to focus on summer activity, heat, and light. It is afraid of depression and other “negative” emotions. You are supposed to buck up and stay busy. Don’t think too much. Sensitive people are considered weak or lesser. Feeling uneasy, down, or discontent is something you should take medicine for. Our society is afraid of the dark. Downtime, stillness and rest are something you have to schedule in and fly across the world to do, and only do once a year.
Trees begin to draw their sap in and close up shop for the year to sleep through the winter. Many animals prepare for hibernation. The days grow shorter and it gets colder. So, if we are trying to reflect these ideas in our lives and homes as ways of harmonizing with the flux and flow of the seasons, then the question is “How do you turn inward?” “What projects to you complete now and bring in as your harvest?”
One of the ways I find myself turning inward is by cooking more, spending more time at my hearth, caring for my family, and seeking nourishment for the harsher days of winter. This is also how I honor Brigid who has a couple of mini altars in her honor in my kitchen. I also start assessing my work of the year. Was I happy with my ripening harvest or did I waste time? Do I feel I have grown or did I fall behind in ways that I need to work on through the winter so that I don’t repeat old mistakes?
Another way is that I take January off from activity. I stay at home and cancel study group meetings for the month, trips, social engagements, magickal project due dates, rituals, etc. My husband and my various spiritual communities know that we reserve January as our home’s dreamtime and to not expect to see us much between Yule and Imbolc. We spend this time, reading, resting, meditating, doing personal work, and nurturing our relationship with each other and our family. It reminds us to turn inward anytime we have the need and gives us a strong starting place for each year.
In this overly sun focused culture, how do you honor the dark exactly? Record your dreams and do personal meditations. Face your negative emotions to find their core cause. Don’t sugar coat things. Not everything in life is lovely. That doesn’t mean we should ignore a situation if it’s hard. Honor the waning of things. Elderly are often “dealt with” rather than honored, listened to, and cared for. Listen to someone going through other endings such as an ending of a relationship or a personal loss. Don’t force people to quell expressing their pain. Often when intensive emotions come up for someone in ritual, they need a safe space to be able to work through those emotions, which are normally suppressed. Rather than forcing tissues or hugs on that person, witness their experience with support and patience. The ability and space to open up is one of the beauties of magickal space and pagan ritual. Past the pain of opening up is the peace of fulfillment, connection, and healing. Give that gift both to yourself and the people with whom you share circle.
Another idea is invoking the energies of a particular Sabbat to balance out a time, feeling, or situation. Just like our whole society needs more Yule and Imbolc, maybe during the middle of the winter a bit of Litha could be helpful. An infusion of the sun and remembering the light at Litha can call back the rebirth of the sun at Yule. To do this you would not just think about the power of the sun, but you would actually feel the warmth of it on your skin, remember the glare of the sun glinting in your eyes, and the feeling of the air in the middle of the summer. See the sun in waves, wafting through you and through your magickal space. Another technique would be to have your solar plexus chakra fill with the sun’s power and energy. Feel that chakra growing stronger, brighter in the center of your chest. Visualize an image of yourself shining brighter and brighter as if you were glowing from within. Become the sun. Have your mind and vision fill as if you are the sun. Even on the darkest, coldest night, you’ll find that this much focus and energy will change your mood and the energy around you. This is just one example. Invoking the inspiration of Imbolc, the fertility of Beltane, or the connection to the Ancestors at Samhain would be other examples of how to use this idea.
The more we engage the spirit of the season through all of our senses and memories, the more we can harmonize with the Earth’s cycles and learn Her wisdom. I found myself at odds when I first started to live the Wheel of the Year of Pagan holidays. The eight Sabbats were so organized as moments on the wheel. I didn’t understand why the rest of our culture made such a big deal out of Christmas, but almost ignored Groundhog’s day, Midsummer, Lammas, etc. As a result I have done my best to treat Yuletide like any other Sabbat holiday; I decorate, do a couple of special things, and spend time with my family. The more I focus on what the holiday should be, a moment on the wheel of the year, the less stressed I am. I make sure not to overbook the season or make the holiday run away with it. It’s been helpful to my budget too.
Spreading out the holidays has helped me to live in the moment as well. I savor the essence of the current holiday and what it has to offer me. Each year is one more turn of the wheel, one more circuit of the spiral rather than a calendar taken off the wall thrown in the trash, never to return. Time becomes more fluid and flows smoother. The wheel itself expands and I can look at the seasons of my life in the same way. Mile markers are based on the year’s harvests rather than by how much time has slipped away from me. Even a lifetime is one more cycle, rather than the only chance to be alive. Each year becomes richer, more connected. I feel more invested in the yearly life process and more aware of the Earth’s richness. Life is both more precious and more sacred.
Enlightenment shines brighter on the Earth, here in manifestation. There is no need to cast off Earthly pleasures or to seek transcendence away from physical form. Balance and connection here on Earth in harmony with Her ways are the keys to the Kingdom for the Kingdom is here all around us. This is how we were meant to be the Lords of Earth and Gods manifest in our Universe.
But for this moment in time and this Mabon’s harvest, I look forward to apple picking, pumpkin carving, Halloween parties, and honoring my Ancestors. Snuggles on crisp nights and hot mulled cider await me on this season of russet and gold. I look forward to the first time I see my breath on the morning air or frost crystals gleaming on the grass. I wish you harmony and joy for your harvest this year.
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Author's Profile: To learn more about Maggi Horseman - Click HERE
Bio: Maggi Setti is a second degree initiate of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel
(www.sacredwheel.org) and has been a member since 2002 when she dedicated to the coven
Guardians of the Windsword. She is currently a member of the coven Chalice of the Living Stars
(www.sacredwheel.org/cls) . Maggi works with several Gods including Brigid, Herne, Freya, Odin,
Artio (Celtic Artemis) , and the Morrigan, but is dedicated to none. Her foci include the Celtic path,
qabala, tarot, aspecting, Faery, nature devas, herbalism and gardening, scrying, shadow work,
sacred dreaming, warriorship, kitchen witchery, women's
empowerment, and magickal painting.
Maggi received her
bachelor's degree from Salisbury University in Fine Art and
Anthropology. Since she moved to New Jersey in 2008, she has
taught both for her coven, and publicly in DE, PA, and NJ. She
holds a seat on the council of the Northern NJ Pagan Fellowship,
a local networking group. She also leads an Assembly guided
study group called Spirit Egg which will become a coven in 2011.
Maggi's spiritual writings can be found on her blog at http://lettinggoisflying.blogspot.com
as well as published articles on Witchvox.org.
Contact Maggi at firstname.lastname@example.org
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