The Deep Green Christian’s Autumn Equinox

The Wheel of the Year has brought us to a time of balance, the Autumn Equinox – that tipping point in the year where light and darkness are of equal length across the world, where daylight rapidly shortens and darkness reaches out and extends her grip across the northern hemisphere. It is a time where bushes and trees present the land with a sumptuous harvest of berries, fruit and nuts. Migrant birds are busy stocking up for journeys taking them thousands of miles from our land, whilst others arrive to our shores. Plant life begins to rest and animal life works hard to finalise storing up for the leaner winter months. Welcome to Autumn, which the great poet Keats once called the “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”.

mists.jpg
Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

The time of the harvests began with the harvesting of the grain at Lammastide. With it the song of “Harvest Home” would be raised throughout the fields and farms of yesteryear. The seeds sown around this month last year have spent long in the ground, germinating and sprouting, being ripened by the sun to produce corn, wheat and the bearded barley. From these gifts we make bread, beer and whisky, filling our bellies with food, cheer and warmth in the long, dark, cold months ahead.

The Autumn Equinox is also the time of the second harvest – of nuts, berries and fruit, again a wondrous gift from the Divine Creator through nature’s bounty. All around is food, freely available for us to pick if only we choose to stop, look and with a bit of knowledge and skill, reap. Knowing what will harm and what will feed us comes from knowledge passed down through the generations, and it’s a foolish person who simply eats without first finding out what they may do to them.

natures bounty.jpg
Nature’s Bounty: The Second Harvest of Fruits, Nuts and Berries

Beneath us, directly under each foot, lie about three hundred miles of mycelium, a vast neural network of fungal filaments transporting nutrients across the area it encompasses. They are the reason for the slight mushroom scent in autumnal woodlands. They are also real stars of the biosphere, turning rock, decaying vegetation, deceased animal matter and bodily wastes into nutrient rich, life giving matter within which plant life may flourish once more. Mycelium are the finest of nature’s recycling centres, working together across huge distances, linking every living plant in a forest together underground, channelling nutrients from one decaying plant to a living one. We are only seeing how much these hidden stars are becoming more important to helping us humans in stewardship of our biosphere in areas such as the decontamination of former industrial land. Occasionally the fruits of mycelium appear above the surface in the form of toadstools and mushrooms, some with tempting names such as “Candy Cap”, “Beefsteak”, “Hen of the Woods”, others with more ominous names such as “Death Cap”, “Dead Man’s Fingers” and “Destroying Angel”. Again, some of these fungi are quite delicious and are highly prized in gourmet circles, but others will quickly kill us. Knowing how to identify the difference between two almost identical fungi can be a matter of life and death.

dead.jpg
Dead Man’s Fingers – An appropriately named fungi.

In the Wheel of the Year it is the Autumn Equinox, or Mabon (the modern name given by Aidan Kelley in the 1970s). It is a time of calling, ripening and reaping of the harvest, and is a prelude to the old Irish new year of Samhain. The folklore story goes that at this time, Mabon ap Modron (Great Son of the Great Mother) was born. His mother was seen as the guardian of the otherworld and the earth. He was taken from his mother after three days (or three years). He was rescued by animals including the salmon, blackbird, eagle, stag and owl, or in another version of the story, by King Arthur. During his captivity, he dwelt in the Otherworld of Madron’s womb, a magical realm where he developed wisdom and strength before bursting forth in rebirth as the Son of Light.

We see the parallels in the Gospel accounts of Jesus, which point to his removal from life and his mother, and placement into the Otherworld of the dead. We also read of a future harvest where the Lord of the Harvest will call all humanity to account for our actions: embracing those who have embraced the Divine Son, and further refining those who have rejected him, revealing to them the image of the Creator that was always within them.

That Lord of the Harvest is that same Divine Child, who, having been rejected by humanity, was killed and buried in the ground. He descended to the place of the dead, and the enemy of creation looked on laughingly. His death was not due to some “cosmic child abusing father” as many of his followers have claimed in modern times, but the result of evil residing in the heart of humans, seeking power for themselves, guided by darker forces to which they had pledged their allegiance. Yet in this injustice of cosmic proportions, the power of death’s hold over creation was broken and the creation was set free to be that which it was intended to be – the “Very good” creation of the Creator. As death itself had been defeated, he rose again as the “firstborn from the dead”, ascending to fill the whole universe with himself – such is his immanence for the creation he loves.

He-is-Risen-pic-16
The Firstborn from the dead and death now defeated.

 

The Creator has given us such a rich bounty, both physically and spiritually: lessons we can take away from the natural world and the Sacred Texts; questions to ponder, meditate and reflect upon that we may better know ourselves, our world and our Maker.

For Meditation and/or Prayer

cornucopia.jpg
In fullness of natures bounty

As we are presented with a rich bounty to reach out and partake in:

  • Do we fully know the fruit we are partaking of?
  • What tried and tested knowledge are we able to draw upon in order to differentiate between that which will harm us, and that which will nourish us in our inner being?
  • How are we able to call on the Divine Knowledge in order to have the discernment to know not just the difference between right and wrong, but, more urgently needed, the discernment to know the difference between right and nearly right?
penny.png
In death and decay all around us

Like the fungi beneath us:

  • What connections have we made which we can use to help nourish others around us?
  • What needs clearing and breaking down in our lives to prepare room for the arrival of new life within us?

 

candles
Lights shining in the darkness

 

As the year spirals into the darkness once more:

  • What light have we gained during the lighter times which we can internalise and use to shine out to others in the darkness?
  • What is the source of the light that is guiding us through the darkness?

May we seek that restoration of lost balance in our lives, of restored relationships with the Divine, each other and our planet. May we seek to cultivate the seeds sown in our lives that will bring a newness of life within our beings.

Final Blessings

Blessings of the Holy One be upon you.
Blessing of the autumn sun fill your hearts with warmth and joy.
Blessing of the vine moon to light your path in darkness
Blessing of the Bright Morning Star guide you each day.
Blessings of the Holy One shine from within you.
And may the velvety darkness of the Eternal One give you peace.

Matthew Arnold, An Autumn Equinox Blessing

And the promise of the turning of the Wheel will continue, so go forth in peace, taking the blessings you have received and with them be a blessing to others during your journey.

So may it be on earth as in heaven.

spiral.gif


© 2017 Matt Arnold

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s