The equinox is a “still point of the turning world” (Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening 67). It is a pause between the effulgent explosion of growth fueled by the long days of summer and the empty fields and long nights of autumn. It is a time to gather in the harvest, all that we have worked to achieve. It is a time for gratitude and communal sharing. Yet in the shortening days, we feel a strong tug toward the dark. The fall equinox is a crossroads where energy is shifting away from growth and toward death. What is full will become empty. What has been bright will become dark. The noisy bird world of day and the insect hum of night grow quieter now. In our busy lives, this is time not only to labor but to pause.
Pausing can be difficult. But, I ask myself, will my day feel more fulfilled if I get to the end of my to do list—which never happens anyway, or if I fully participate in some activity even if it takes more time than I’ve allotted? I’m always on the fence about this, so then, I multi-task. Needing to walk for the health of my physical heart and to meditate for the health of my metaphysical one, I combine both walking and meditating in my own eclectic way. Gently sweeping away intruding thoughts, I let my sense perceptions guide me as I walk along a path through a dark green, yellow tinged wood. A crow sounds the alarm of my presence, crickets hum in the underbrush, and abundant acorns crunch beneath my feet. As my awareness shifts, I realize that it is not I walking through the woods, but the woods flowing into me. Together we are equal partners in the fullness of this moment.
I am aware of my movement in contrast to the trees’ rootedness. I stop to lean into an old cottonwood of great girth. By stilling my lateral motion along the path, I connect for a moment with the tree’s vertical motion of extending into the earth and rising into the sky. The growth up is balanced by the growth below. The trees become my teachers. They remind me, as I slow down and savor their presence, that human awareness needs to move in two directions, within as well as without. In stillness there is also growth. Sometimes before charging forth into action, it is wiser to take a breath and wait on the will of heaven, which can best be discovered when our minds are quiet and our hearts are open.
As crones our physical ability to move through the world is sometimes slowed or curtailed. Perhaps that is to remind us that we need to learn to increase the vertical movement of our souls. As we grow older, may we learn to balance doing with listening and develop our capacity for contemplation. May we come to the crossroads not only of light and dark, but of divine and human, where we find the cosmic mind of the goddess waiting for us to open our minds, hearts, and spirits to deep well springs of creativity, hope and love. This prospect of deepening grace gives me hope. Even as I enjoy the sun and abundant harvest of the fields, I yearn toward the riches of the dark. Thus the balance between light and dark, summer and fall is not an unequal one. I let go of one and embrace the other with equal love.
Melody Lee, Karen Edwards, and Dorothy Emerson, co-creators
Fall Equinox Rituals
To participate in the spirit of balance, spend some time practicing your favorite form of meditation whether it be yogic breathing, T’ai Chi, mindfulness meditation, centering prayer, or some other form with which you are familiar. Take some time to still your mind and listen deep within at this time of equal light and dark to bring your own being into a more harmonious balance of doing and being, of listening and speaking.
To celebrate the fall equinox in a more communal way, share something that you have grown, made or created with another person. In this way the love of the goddess within your heart conjoins with divine radiance in the hearts of those around you. Together we celebrate the unity of all life.