Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Musings on the Equinoxes

     In the ancient saga The Voyage of Melduin, the sailors come to a strange island divided in half by a fence. On one side of the fence all the sheep are white and on the other side all the sheep are black.
     But the strangest thing of all was demonstrated by the shepherd of the island: he picked up a white sheep and threw it over the fence so that it was in with the black sheep, and immediately its hooves touched the ground the sheep turned black. To prove this was not a fluke, the shepherd then took one of the black sheep and led it through the gate into the white sheep half, and as he did so the sheep turned as snow white as all the rest.

     This is a real demonstration that nothing is 'black or white', it very often depends on where you are standing and what your view of the situation is.

     The Equinoxes are times when as Pagans we are very aware of the nature of dark and light. Equinox literally means 'Equal-night' when the length of day and night are exactly the same, but in the Autumn the darkness is growing, while in Spring it is the light which is advancing.

     Of course, this is not a one way street, as the darkness grows and strengthens each day from the Autumn Equinox until the Winter Solstice, the light grows less, the length of the daylight shortening as the nights lengthen.

     The Autumn Equinox is also a time of celebration as most of the harvests have been gathered in, so now we give thanks for our stores of food to see us through the Winter. Of course these days, to many of us in the Western world, the harvest is not even noticed as we are so far removed from food production. We don't think of the farmers watching the weather anxiously while they wait for a run of dry days to harvest the grain which will be milled into flour for the loaves we casually buy at the supermarket and toss into the rubbish bin, half eaten.
     We don't understand that those sanitised packages of meat came from living, breathing animals - or we would rather not think about it.
     Only if you have prepared meat from an animal which you have had to skin or pluck do you have some understanding of how lucky we are to be able to have whatever meat, fruit and vegetables our hearts desire.
     In many parts of the world people are not so lucky.

     This year Graham has taken up home brewing once more. This was something we used to do regularly, years ago, but we got too busy to fit it in, so all the home brew gear was disposed of. Now we are once more in production, Graham has been collecting fruit from the local woods and hedgerows and is brewing up an Autumn Wine, composed of elder berries, blackberries, rosehips and apples.
     The wine will be used to celebrate the bounty of the Earth, and will keep the blessings of the Equinox in our minds whenever we drink it.
     I am hoping that the wine will be ready for Yule. Graham remarked 'You didn't say which Yule did you?'

     Of course we are not saying that everyone has to go and pick wild fruit and make their own wine. All we are saying is: take the time to think about the blessings we all take for granted.

    We all have our own harvests, whether it is a new baby or a promotion at work, or the mastering of a musical instrument, or a new cake recipe, they do not always come to fruition around the Autumn Equinox, but now is a perfect time to thank your deities for helping you with them.

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