The Madonna statue honouring the last rays of summer is decorated with Panicum elegans, rowan berries, amaranth, vines, sunflowers, yellow and orange dahlias, yellow calendula and acorns collected by our visitors.
The Well is dressed with the foliage of Thuja plicata, Malus, Pathenocissus quinquefolia and spirea; and flowers and fruit in gratitude for the harvest – dahlias (tubers), nasturtiums (edible flowers), amaranth (grain), apples, rose hips (fruit), as well as sedum in offering to their insect pollinators.
Autumn equinox is the 2nd of the 3 harvest festivals. As we gather in our crops, we traditionally give thanks for the bounty and all that has made it possible. It is for some a time of apples, a symbol of abundance and generosity, wealth and fecundity; and in Avalon, the Isle of Apples, of love, healing and wholeness. It is also a time of vines, a symbol of unity, interweaving and learning from each other with respect for our differences.
As day and night balance, we begin to think of preparations for winter. In his poem Autumnal Equinox, Olafur Johann Sigurdsson, the Icelandic poet, writes:
In cold weather little offers lee,
Every leaf withers, lets go and is gone.
Oh, had I only, like this tree
As summer passed, sunk my roots deeper down.
Many of us have felt the restriction this year, our usual summer growth and expansiveness curtailed. However, as I read this verse, I was reminded that if we have had one opportunity this year, it has been to deepen our roots, our foundation ~ with ourselves, our (chosen) families and our communities. We have done this through the care taken of one another, in every small and grand way; and in our consideration of what really matters to us, individually and collectively.
As I dressed the Well early this morning, I thought of an allegory told in childhood. You have likely heard it. It is a story told on many spiritual paths. It is the parable of the long spoons: Someone dies and is allowed to visit both heaven and hell. In each, there are long tables filled with a feast. The diners are given long handled spoons with which to eat the feast, the handles too long for anyone to feed themselves. In hell, where the residents try to feed only themselves, they moan with hunger. In heaven, where they feed each other, all are satiated.
As the harvest of crops feeds our bodies, it is the sharing of care and kindness that sustains our capacity to love. As we start to think of winter, at this time of equal day and night, we might also consider that this sustenance also requires the balance of nourishing others with that of ourselves.
Wherever you are, however you are celebrating Autumn Equinox this year and however you connect to the Well, may the love and blessing that surrounds it fill your heart in whatever way you need. Thank you for all you share in kindness and support for its work.
With blessings, gratitude & love,
Thank you to both Danu Forest and Glennie Kindred (amongst others) for their writings on this and other Wheel of the Year festivals.