Here in the Northeastern part of the United States, celebration of the Autumn Equinox is heralded with the vivid paintbrush dipped in rich hues dappling of leaves, vines and whipping in the wind, corn stalks. The juxtaposition was that yesterday the temps were in the high 70′s. Such was the paradox of two events I attended as well. The first was a memorial service/tree planting for my friend Beth Rotondo Hadrava who had died a little more than a month ago. Greenshire Arts Consortium was the peaceful setting for the gathering of people-who-love-Beth. Calling themselves stewards rather than owners; are Arlene and Jim Curley. Greenshire is a peace/piece of Heaven on Earth nestled in Quakertown, Upper Bucks County. They offer workshops, concerts and hands-on, heart-on healing work. The grounds are a haven for people who are seeking reprive from hustle and bustle daily activity. As we gathered in a circle, surrounded by sheltering trees and rock formations, we honored Beth, introducing ourselves to each other as she would have delighted to hear (and actually, I KNOW she was listening, with a sweet smile on her beautiful face) and shared how we knew her. Her friends came from so many directions; some she knew through the holistic wellness community; some , like me through introduction by a mutual friend Linda Hutchings and one she met on a dance floor; her husband Jiri. Arlene, who is a minister, led the service with prayer and tribute and then asked us to each take a few rose petals that were a vibrant shade of red and embue them with blessings for Beth. We then walked in a circle and as we passed the newly planted tree, we dropped the petals onto the soil. As the ritual was completing, one of the children noticed that a puddle of water that had pooled on a rock was in the shape of a heart. Perfectly orchestrated, for this indeed was a love fest. After the service, we gathered on the porch and shared a potluck dinner and conversation about Beth’s legacy.
I felt torn at that point, since as much as I wanted to stay, immersed in the gentle energy, I knew I needed to head to my next destination, a celebration of the Equinox at the home of my friends Stephen and Kathy Redding, a.k.a. Happy Tree Farm. As always, at the turn of the seasons, they invited friends and family to gather at their home; another on winding country roads, with hovering trees; the color of cinnamon toast and burgundy waving their leaves in greeting as they pointed the way. I arrived as dusk was settling and was welcomed by a young man who offered a ride on a golf cart since the lakeside gathering was down a darkening path and I was carrying my djembe (drum), a backpack and potluck food to share. We passed people laughing, talking, swinging on swings, singing, drumming and eating. My energy lifted/shifted immediately and I smiled in welcome of that change; rather than resisting. Such is the way of the change of seasons as well. As is the highlight of the ceremonies, there was a towering bonfire, fueled by wood gathered from the grounds and also an old ladder that made it seem that the fire was climbing to the heavens. I sat on bench, getting to know a new friend named Kristan Roehrs as we spoke about spiritual journey and watched the fire move ever higher as it consumed the ladder which disssolved back into the elements of its origin…another life lesson. Shortly afterward, drum between my knees, sitting next to my friend Ondreah Johnson, who, maraca in hand, was calling out the directions, I tapped out a rhythm that came through, noticing something I had not before. I had observed that sparks from the fire had risen skyward in flickers, but a new awareness was that at times, they looked like ribbons of light being pulled into the onyx canvas. They also seemed to be dancing to the drum beats and changed pattern depending on the speed and intensity of the percussion.
Mabon; the Autumn Equinox celebration in Pagan tradition, is a time of gratitude for the bounty in our lives, a time of manifestation of our heart’s desires . The origin of the word equinox “was derived from Latin term “æquinoctium” which, in turn, came from “æquus” (equal), and “nox” (night).It refers to the time that occurs twice a year when the nighttime is equal to the daytime — each being nominally 12 hours in duration.” One of my favorite rituals at equinox and solstice is to write what it is that I want to release and what I desire to call into my life and then feed it to the fire, expressing gratitude for both. Once I completed the writing, I moved, with reverence toward the ‘towering inferno’ and tossed the card toward the bottom of the structure. I noticed that it did not land completely in the fire, but was not about to get any closer to place in into the conflagration, for fear of melting…it was that hot!
Part two of the celebration occurs today, as I will be participating in an interfaith service with the theme of “Immersed In Our Gifts Together: Breathing The Same Air”. Eager to see what breathes through us in the next 24 hours.
http://youtu.be/RlGDeCeDN9U Loreena McKennit Mabon Blessings