Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nature's Balance

Nature Bethelites can find in their own backyards.
By Don Goodrich

"Hail! Journeyer of the Heavens,
Queen of Brightness, King of Beauty!
Gifts of gladness richly bringing,
Autumn sheaves and red leaves’ fall.
Generous be the heart within us,
Open by our Hands to all
Justice to be in equal measure,
Harvest thankfulness our call."
- Caitlin Matthews, Celtic Devotional
 We are in balance with nature once again. Yesterday, September, 23, was the autumnal equinox; 2011. This is a day annually observed because it is believed that night and day are equal in time on this day. This is not exactly so. The further north of the equator the longer the daylight simply because it takes longer for the sun to cross the planet farther north. And since this is the vernal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere, night is slightly longer the farther south of the equator.  But, on this day of the equilux (the true term for equal day and night), light and dark are closer to equal than on any other day. This excludes our vernal equinox when the same phenomenon occurs.
So why is it then that our scientifically driven meteorologists always report the equinox as not just a date, but a specific time (2011-vernal equinox/March 20 at 11:21 p.m.; summer solstice/June 21 at 5:16 p.m.; autumnal equinox/September 23 at 9:04 a.m.; winter solstice/ December 22 at 5:30 a.m.)? The term equinox refers to the exact moment that the sun’s center is directly over the equator, occurring twice every year; spring and fall.
The observance of the equinox has a druid origin. The Celts celebrated the autumnal equinox as the birth day of Maban, the Green Man, who was the son of Mordon, goddess of Earth. They referred to their commemoration as “Mea’n Fo’mhair” in honor of the Green Man, god of the forest. The Incas at Machu Picchu in Peru also celebrated these seasonal events. They built a device, the Intihuatane Stone, which indicated the equinoxes along with many other celestial customs. This stone has been shown by modern science to be extremely precise in measuring the time of these occurrences.
Now that you know why you should feel balanced don’t risk a tight rope walk on this day. The illusion that one can balance an egg on its wide end on thee autumnal equinox is only a myth. Though it is possible to perform this balancing act, it has more to do with the composition of individual eggs than the time of year or the location of sun and equator.
The autumnal equinox does have a unique importance to us in America. It is customarily the birth of fall, the third season. It is when we often finally accept that summer is over.  Autumn is a major harvest season. The growing season is completed; the first frost, if not already here, is soon to come. The Harvest Moon is the first full moon after the equinox. It is Halloween and Thanksgiving, Election Day, the time to finally prepare for entrance of winter. It balances us for the crossover to winter, then spring and another rebirth. We need the rest of winter for spring’s rebirth. And it is the season of the leaf peepers, a pastime as American as baseball.
Autumn is genuinely magical for me. As I head out early for a walk the crisp air freshens my lungs, puts a spring in my step. The palette of color across the pod at Huntington hypnotizes me. A brisk breeze has me flipping up my collar. A wisp of the first wood stove fire brings peace to me knowing we have enough wood put up for the winter.  Everything slows, even my walking pace. There is no rush. The heat is over; no race to week the garden; frantic trips to the shore, done; crowds in the parks, gone. Nature will rest for the next few months, rejuvenate. It is a time for the Green Man to rest. It really is my time to relax, my time at peace. Breathe, exhale slowly, smile and simply enjoy life.
"‘Tis the time of gold leaves
Of oats, rye, and wheat
The time of corn husking
And apples so sweet
We enter crisp Autumn
As the sun’s warmth fades
We finish our harvest
With scythes’ sharpened blades.
Thanks to Maban and Modan
We thank the Green Man
With cider, wine, and herbs
Wild barley, pecans
We celebrate our bounty
As we embrace the deep Fall
And to our great Mother
We give thanks above all"
- Dobhran, 1999

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