In The Balance
In the run up to the Equinox I have experienced that strange unsettling feeling that I so often encounter at these times of the year when the light and dark meet each other as equals. Part of me quite likes it. Psychologically speaking it feels a bit like giving my duvet a good shake; a rather vigorous few seconds followed by that moment of suspension before it settles back upon the bed to find its place again, smoothed out into peace once more. There is something satisfying in it; engaging with a bit of chaos in order to bring, well…order.
I love September. It is such a beautiful month. The sun’s lowering angle in the sky gives out the most beautiful golden light; it’s a light that has both extraordinary clarity but also a softness and warmth to it. Keats was spot on when he called autumn a time of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’; September seems to articulate this state perfectly. The last few days has seen the sun diffused through a pale haze, making the Island look lazily ripe and satisfied with itself. Other days have been brilliantly clear, vast blue skies a stunning backdrop to the vibrant reds of haws and hips abundant in the hedgerows. The leaves are maturing into earthier colours at their edges, the horse chestnut racing ahead, it leaves already fiery. Great clouds of swallows fill the evening air, a feeding frenzy, bulking up for the arduous journey to come.
As I type, my fingers smell of the ripe tomatoes that I have just picked from the garden. That delicious sharp smell brings with it childhood memories of my father’s tomato enclosure, a mini green house of wood and plastic at the bottom of the garden, and of the toad that once spent a happy summer there in the moist heat.
Here in the Northern hemisphere, at the Autumn Equinox, we not only give thanks and offer gratitude for the immense blessings of our lives but we also contemplate and prepare for our journey towards winter. At this time when light is perfectly balanced with the dark, we search for equilibrium in our lives. As the growing darkness stretches out before us, we celebrate the paradox and mystery that in times of waning we are blessed with harvest; that in endings there are fruits to nourish us through darker times.
It’s a wonderful moment to walk a spiral back to its centre, an act that symbolises a journey inward to access that deep store within us, that place that will nourish us through the coming weeks of growing darkness. It is a returning to a sacred place within; as we walk the spiral inward, we are guided towards the darkness and repose, towards the source of all life, creation and inspiration – that we might take stock, replenish and give thanks. We can welcome the shortening days and the chance to ponder, sitting at winter’s heart to dream our dreams. From this place of balance, we can draw strength to move on with gratitude and joy into winter and as the year grows older and wiser, give praise for the joys and sorrows, and for the lesson they have taught us.
When we journey to the centre of that spiral, we take with us the abundance that we have gathered in our lives: the loves, friendships and talents that sustain us; the gifts of shelter and nourishment of body and spirit, all the precious things within us that will support us through the coming months.
I have to admit to a certain relief in the letting go of summer; after the hectic growth and movement of that season (ask any gardener!), I rather like the slowing and mellowing that autumn brings. With it comes a certain restfulness and acceptance. May the Equinox bless us all with a glorious moment of peace and deep knowing – let’s welcome the changing pace.