Updated: Sep 30, 2020
Last week we crossed over the Equinox threshold into the dark half of the year, and I have to say, I'm relieved to be moving on from the warmer months. It's been challenging to navigate this unprecedented time beneath the glaring light of Summer. You'd think the sunshine would provide some element of joy, but sometimes when the outer climate doesn't match the inner landscape, it makes what we're experiencing that much more difficult. And though we're officially in the throws of Autumn, here in Northern California, Summer still hangs heavy in the air. So I'm over here anticipating the sweet solitude of darker days and the stability which will accompany the cold.
Establishing this kind of equanimity doesn't always look or feel the way we think it would or should. Under the best circumstances, balance can be found simply by enacting subtle shifts. But, there are times when systems are so out of whack, that reestablishing a harmonized state requires complete and utter destruction. Unfortunately, I believe we have landed ourselves in just such a situation. I think it's fairly clear that we are in the midst of major global disruption. From climate change to social unrest to disease, our world is desperately trying to find level ground. So, what can we do when it all feels so very hopeless and unstable? There's no one way, but one of my central approaches in maintaining my inner sanity has been to lean into nature. Getting to know the natural world beyond simply escaping into the wilds, requires us to cultivate a deep connection and respect towards all aspects of our surrounding landscapes. With this comes the gift of intimacy and of a deeper sense of belonging. Think of this as establishing a real, working relationship which necessitates consistent effort, compromise and commitment. As much as this is a primal, natural bond already written in our DNA, it also requires us to develop a deeper understanding of how we impact nature, as well as how nature impacts us. This knowledge, though largely lost in modern times, is right beneath our noses, waiting for us to recognize the intrinsic bond we share.
Beyond using nature as an escape hatch, every couple months, I invite you to engage more intentionally with the outside world. Start by posing these questions as you walk through nature (this can include more developed urban or suburban neighborhoods).
How does nature make me feel?
How can I leave it better than I found it?
What are the current smells, colors, textures?
What does this season feel like?
What phase is the moon in?
What is edible?
What is poisonous? What is this poison protecting or what's it's purpose?
There are a great many sources to help you along your path of Earth Wisdom. The books which come to mind are Anam Cara by John O'Donohue, Rituals of Celebration by Jane Meredith, The Illustrated Herbiary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Bewitching Botanicals, and The Heart of Tracking: Inner and Outer Practices of Nature Awareness by Richard Vacha.
Now, some "hints" about the current season and what you might experience, or feel into as you explore the world around you. The Fall, in western Earth Wisdom practices, is the time of water, release, dreaming, the westward direction and the Mother archetype. This archetype has both a healthy side as the one who is fiercely protective, deeply nourishing, and who sets healthy boundaries when they are needed, as well as a shadow side who possesses the ability to become overbearing, controlling and stifling. The equinox marks a moment in time when light and dark are evenly paced. Where as Lammas which took place in early August was a more energetic shift towards Autumn, the Equinox sees us thorough to the heart of the season. This moment carries with it a potency for nourishing the parts of us which are hidden, unseen and oppressed. Now is the time to recall each of our details, releasing what is no longer useful, and coming to a place in which rest and recovery are more accessible. We let go and sink into the sweetness of solitude in the hopes that come Spring, we may emerge from the darkness wholly balanced & rejuvenated.