Soon it will be Alban Elfed, which is the Welsh, Celtic and Druidic name (for many) of the Autumn equinox (Thursday, 22 September 2016) – that great event when the length of the day and the night are the same, that great time of balance. The compass direction for this Equinox is ‘west’, and so the element is ‘water’.
All praise be Yours, my God, through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious, and pure.
St Francis of Assisi
A few people have emailed me recently, seeking ideas of how to celebrate the Autumn Equinox in practical ways in a faith-group setting, as a family or by themselves, and a few suggestions follow. The list is not exhaustive and you are most welcome to respond with ideas that you have, or with what you have done in the past.
‘May the stream of your life flow unimpeded.
Deep peace of the running wave to you.’
Here, then, are a few practical suggestions of celebrating the event:
(1) Give thanks for the harvest. This could be a full-scale family meal, and/or friends meal on that evening, or part of a simple meal for one or two (such as the breaking of bread at the beginning or at some point throughout the meal. It can be done symbolically and/or accompanied by a prayer or a piece of poetry).
‘Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.’ (A Jewish prayer. Bread, here, could be seen to represent all kinds of food for this meal).
(2) As time of gratitude you might like to recount all the good things that have happened in the past year, maybe write them on a piece of paper (or in your journal). You could even invite a few family and/or friends over to do this. You might like to start a gratitude jar Some like to celebrate this time by giving thanks by inviting friends and family over, and forming a circle so that each person in turn can verbalise something that they’re grateful for. Some incorporate the use of a ‘talking stick’, so that the ‘talking stick’ is passed, in sequence, to the next person who will speak, and therefore he or she then has ‘the floor’ and all others must listen. The making of a ‘talking stick’ and gratitude jar will be the theme of tomorrow’s post.
(3) Plant a native seed, such as an acorn at this time, or make a contribution to a forest trust who will plant a tree on your behalf or in memory of a loved one, and so, ecologically restore balance in the world. In the UK, I can heartily recommend the Woodland Trust, see here.
‘Don’t say, don’t say there is no water.
The fountain is there among its scalloped
green and grey stones.
It is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,
up and out through the rock.
(4) Dedicate part of your house, a corner-table in a room, a shelf or window sill to celebrate this event of celebrating the Earth’s abundance: and so decorate it with cloth the colour of autumnal browns and those awesome autumnal orange and red colours, with nuts, berries; with autumnal flowers (real or artificial) such as fennel, hops, marigold or hawthorne berries, all of which are associated with the Autumn equinox (or anything you like); and a candle (but if you light the candle, do ensure theres a safe distance between any cloth, fabric or curtains etc).
(5) Think about ‘balance’ in the wider context. As ‘balance’ is the thrust of the Autumnal equinox (the balance between day and night), see how this affects you eg do you have your work – rest balance in harmony, and if not, what adjustments would you like, could you make?
(6) Make time to (re-)connect with your ‘inner’ self, however you do it: consider a silent meditation; consider a walking (silent) meditation or ‘amble’ in the country or city park; or listen to a soft piece of music and sip wine or coffee (and why not include chocolate) at home, just relaxing and getting ‘dreamy’ as the music plays etc.
(7) As the Autumn equinox element is water, why not place a bowl of water on the meal table, or maybe, place a bowl of water for the day near the door, and then you can ‘bless’ yourself (and remind yourself to be grateful for water) as you leave or enter the house. Holy water? And because the season’s element is water, you might want to embellish it with sea shells or the like.
‘…You give them to drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.’
(Psalm 36:8-9 part, The Book)
(8) Some might like to consider drumming, or using drum-based music to dance to. I do this reguarly, but I confess it is, for me, a private event. My dance moves are not the best in the world and I’m not sure if the public at large are ready for them, but they are ‘offered up’ as a ‘dance sacrifice’ for the season, and it’s enjoyable, and I would recommend you trying a ‘dance of gratitude’.
If you have any suggestions, please let me know.