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Harvest Moon and Autumnal Equinox – Points of Balance

September 19, 2013

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Geese winging their way south above cattails and cornstalks, highlighted by a glowing harvest moon, leave no question about what time of year it is. The apples are ripe, tomatoes are going into canning jars, the fawns are growing their winter coats so losing their spots. The sun is still warm but nights are crisp and longer. As the Harvest Moon prepares to leap over the horizon, the impending Autumnal Equinox asks us to contemplate the question of balance once again.

In all of the realms that reside on this planet, the cycles of life we observe rest on the way light is determined by our planet’s yearly journey around the sun. Whether we live in the topics or at the poles, we have four seasons based on the length of our days and nights. At two points in the seasonal cycle (the solstices) light and dark are at the extremes. At another two points (the equinoxes) light and dark are  . . . well . . . equal.

Each of the four moments marks a turning point. At the Summer Solstice (Between June 20-22 in the Northern Hemisphere, December 20-23 in the Southern Hemisphere), we have the most light, least dark, of the year and then immediately the light begins to wane. It’s a disconcerting thought to realize that the moment we mark on our calendars as “Summer begins” is actually the high point, after which the light begins to wane again. The Winter Solstice is the opposite – the deepest dark, followed by gathering light.

The Equinoxes (around March 20 and September 22) are the midway points between the two extremes, the points where dark and light is perfectly balanced. With the Spring Equinox, we know it’s safe to come out of hibernation, greet daffodils and apple blossoms, prepare the ground and get ready to plant seeds. It’s a time of new beginnings.

At the Autumnal Equinox, the harvest is in full swing as we gather-in the fruits of our summer labors in preparation for the cold, dark times to come. Even in today’s bustling cities where artificial light blazes 24 hours a day, a deep impulse inside of us is drawn to tuck away supplies to sustain us on the inward journey ahead.

The Equinoxes are a point of balance between extremes, a moment to contemplate where we’ve come from and what lies ahead. A moment to stand still, take a deep breath, stand on the fulcrum of the teeter-totter, and look to both sides. What seeds did you plant last spring that bore fruit this summer? Have you harvested them all? Are bare stalks from which you’ve stripped fruit still standing in your garden? What seeds do you want to save for planting next year?

I use gardening as a metaphor both because I do a lot of it and also because even those who never get dirt under their fingernails can feel those cycles in their DNA. No matter how removed we think we are from nature and her patterns, our bodies and our psyches are still tuned to the cycles of the planet. Ignoring that reality is part of what causes anxiety and stress in our lives.

My favorite part of the Autumnal Equinox is savoring the last of the golden days and tucking that light into my heart to fuel the fires I’ll need for my dreaming in the dark time to come. Summer is “doing” time; winter is for dreams and internal journeys. At this moment of balance between the two, I can taste them both and value them each for the opportunities they offer me. For now, there’s plenty of “doing” left – the harvest isn’t finished, the garden won’t be put to bed until Samhain (Halloween). I don’t yet feel a need to make a fire for warmth nor to turn off phone and lights and snuggle in front of the fire with paper, pen, and cat.

What I know at this moment of balance is that as I move through these cycles, they also move through me. When there is more light, I’m called to focus outward; as the light recedes, my gaze turns inward. The degree of balance I feel in my life depends on my willingness to stay tuned to the flow of that cycle, to be aware of it, to honor it. I’ll practice for the Equinox moment tonight by standing in the meadow at sunset. As the sun touches the horizon in the west, the Harvest Moon will rise in the East, bringing another example of the balance that exists all around us. No matter what we do to the planet, the seasons will continue until the sun burns out. Perhaps, if we humans find our way back to our own balance, we – and our gardens – will still be here to enjoy it.

May you find a balance between the natural and the mystical worlds in your life this Equinox – a balance between the bright light of the external world and the rich and fertile darkness inside.

–Bridget Wolfe, September 19, 2013

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. aradia1952@gmail.com permalink
    September 19, 2013 8:12 pm

    Thanks Bridget! Wonderful, as usual Sister!

    Blessed Be!

    Peace & Love,

    Meaghan

    >

    • September 20, 2013 12:27 am

      Good to hear from you. We have our first real storm coming in for the occasion so I may be hunkering down sooner than I thought!Bright Blessings.

  2. September 21, 2013 11:13 am

    Beautiful words and feelings. Thanks!

    • September 21, 2013 1:27 pm

      Thank you for your reading and for your kind comments. I look forward to staying in touch. BW

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