And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Photo by Jedediah Berry, Amherst, MA
The Autumn Equinox ~ Stepping into the power of the dark part of the yearly cycle.
This is the time when the dark, which has been growing, is in balance with the light. We are grateful for the Harvest, but we also know that Life is waning.
This is time of year when Persephone descends to the Underworld to access her deep wisdom and compassion in caring for the dead. It is the time of her mother Demeter’s grief and sorrow, and with her we weep for our losses.
This year, Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox, is especially meaningful for me. In the past few months I have gone through losses due to an autoimmune disease signaled by a medical emergency in May. Since then, I have not posted much, because I have been resting, regaining strength by walking, and most difficult, getting used to my new life. Some days are good, others are not so good. Until I wake in the morning, I do not know whether I’ll be incapacitated by fatigue, or whether I’ll be able to do some work or visit a friend.
Some days I feel that life is indeed waning. This Equinox I enter the underworld of chronic illness and seek whatever wisdom I am able to glean from this dark place. Certainly I am learning much about patience, loss, compassion, and stepping into my power as I deal with the medical community. The dark also feels womb-like at times, and I can even appreciate how this hermit-life may suit me. This is a perfect time of year for introspection, for seeking wisdom.
Will you be descending to the underworld this Autumn?
Bits of snow linger in tucked-away places, as in this large, mossy tree stump. (Click to enlarge it.)
The sky today was an astonishing blue color.
After an especially intense week I needed to get out for a walk this afternoon, even though I had told myself I would work on taxes today. It was breezy and chilly despite the sun. Old age, illness and death were on my mind because of recent events with family and friends. The brown oak leaves underfoot were dead, the tree branches still barren. Bits of ice clung to the shadowed shores of streams. In places there were bits of green, mostly from mosses.
Feeling the weight of the week (and months) past, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with the walk – but after crossing a wooden bridge over a stream, I met one of my woody, creature-like friends. She had obviously been there quite a while, for moss had grown on her forehead and snout. Her mouth was slightly open, as though she were about to speak. In an unexpected way, I found myself comforted by this critter made of life, death, and decomposition. A weight lifted from me.
The rest of the walk was in balance, an elusive balance I seek in my up-and-down life these days. I realize I have spent too much time indoors. As the weather warms, I will seek more woodland experiences – and then, of course there is the garden . . .