The Great Wheel has turned once again and we find ourselves at the time of the Autumnal Equinox. The air is cooler, the leaves are turning and beginning to fall from brittle branches and all of life is giving pause to prepare for what changes lay ahead. This is the second of the three harvests and the fields are already beginning to brown as the day’s light gently wanes and we are enveloped in the quickening darkness of the setting sun. It is at this time we begin to gather our stores of ripened summer foods and draw the remainders of outdoor activities into ourselves to carry us through the winter months ahead. Soon the time for introspection and the gentle quickening of the light that will be birthed at Yule will be at hand.
Many will celebrate this Sabbat as Mabon and give honor to the God as the wild lord of the hunt and Green Man of the forests. The Goddess becomes Gaia, the great earth mother who offers up her lands as sacrifice in the cycle of life and death and to that, which will be prey and those that must be predator. In her form as Lady of the Beasts she will guide and protect her animals to insure that new life will come from those that survive the harshness of winter.
If we look to the astronomical energies that are occurring we celebrate the space of balance between the waning light of the year and the waxing of the dark. The energy of Virgo readies itself as bridge and gateway to the opening of Libra as the transition is made from one solar month to the other. This is the action of the Mutable (Virgo) flexibility reaching out towards the Cardinal newly formed growth that is the balance of Libra. And for those moments in time when the midpoint of transfer of these energies is achieved we stand at the center of the Autumnal equinox; each being in balance with the other; equal day and equal night.
One of the ways I use this turning of the Great Wheel is to reaffirm my connection to the greater world and the deeper exploration of the Anima Mundi- the World Soul. I reflect on my place in this world and on what helps to sustain that presence. I reflect on the connection that I have with all that surrounds me and the actions that I will put into motion to strengthen and deepen that connection at all levels. Using the energy and balance of the equinox offers the space of intent that establishes a closer relationship between man and animal and the acknowledgement of the collective consciousness of the world soul that is informed by both.
By definition, the Anima Mundi is considered to be the pure ethereal spirit that is contained and disseminated throughout all nature. This spirit was thought to animate all matter of the natural world in the same sense in which the soul is thought to animate the human form. If we reach back in time, our ancestors had great understanding of this premise and perceived all of life as interconnected with no separation between the human and natural world. Each was dependent upon the other for its survival and the cycles of planting and harvesting flowed smoothly and in harmony. Gaia, the goddess as Mother Earth holds within her being the essence of this animating spirit and is the sustainer of all life that is enfolded in her body.
If we use the dynamics of this concept of a World Soul, we can draw on the energy of this cycle to bring about a balance of animal and man; humanity and the natural world in which we are all participants. The potential is in the opening to a wholistic state of consciousness that is inclusive of the collective awareness of all levels and streams of existence that comprise our Greater Earth.
So, how do we reaffirm our connection? Being guided by an ecological conscience is a given expectation of all who consider themselves pagan and follow an earth-based spirituality. The actions that are in support of living lightly and respectfully on our planet is a commitment made because it is the right thing to do. This mindset is the beginning of making personal commitment to remain in balance with our world. We must also consider the natural world as inclusive of city streets, malls, the urban sprawl and clutter as well as the preserved forests, protected lands and spaces of wildlife and clean air. All are alive and all are part of the greater whole each having its own dynamics, rules, detriments and positives. That which we consider as polluted and over trafficked are the result of man’s creation and as such are connected to the spirit of man and therefore also that of nature.
One very concrete and tangible effort is volunteering at an animal shelter. My daughter walks dogs for the local shelter and has fostered kittens. Food, blankets and carrier donations are gratefully accepted by most. Spending time in a nature preserve and observing animals in their natural habitat gives a greater sense of the beauty and complexity of exchange between nature and her inhabitants. At a spiritual level, spending some time in meditation to connect with your own power (or Totem) animal will open up other pathways of understanding. Regularly working with this animal and asking it to share its mysteries and place among all of the wild can help to guide you towards those physical steps you can take in the manifest realm.
If you are so inclined, planting a garden and dedicating it as green space with emphasis on those plants that attract butterflies and birds gives sanctuary to the animals in your neighborhood. Working with medicinal herbs and plants and getting to know the energies of the Devas and land spirits will connect you more deeply with the green world. Their healing and opening properties will offer opportunity to feel the potency of their energy and listening to the wisdom of the land spirits will guide you in living in a manner that is in support of sustainability and maintenance.
And, a key component to all of these is the work we do for ourselves to align and balance those parts of ourself that act as interface for this exchange. When we work in balance with our parts of self, we are working in accord with the world around us. In order to connect with our natural world we must first find those places of connection to the wild within our selves. The Lower Self is the place of direct connection with our instinctual and basic survival nature. This is the place of the animal and of the wild that makes decision propelled by its basic needs. Those things within us that stir the desire to interact with others, to form community and to create safe haven are part of the order of the natural world.
The Middle Self draws that basic instinct up to a place of balance so that the excess of these things is in agreement with our place in the world as we know and perceive it to be. It, in effect acts as the gatekeeper allowing what is productive at any given moment to be given the pass-go so we may remain effective in our work as part of a larger whole.
The Higher Self is the point of connection with the Divine and the Higher mind. It is this self that streams information from the collective conscious and informs the actions that will ultimately be taken by the Middle Self. It is the connecting point of the highest levels of understanding of the unity and thread of commonality in all things and the source from which they originated. The work that we do in aligning these aspects of our true nature eventually brings us to the center point of balance and it is from this point that we find our place in the natural world as participant and guardian of the life that is contained therein. This is the space where our perceptions broaden and we sense the entirety of the world and can then be effective in all of our workings within it.
I invite you to join me at this time of the Autumnal Equinox and celebration of the wild. I offer a solitary ritual that you may use to quicken the memory of your place and purpose in opening to the Anima Mundi as you restore the balance of man and animal; beginning with the restoring of that balance within yourself. Blessings of the Equinox!
A Simple Ritual of Balance:
You will need:
1White and 1 Black candle
An object that represents your concept of yourself (a ring, lock of hair, picture, etc.)
An object that represents your concept of the natural world (a leaf, stone, flower, herb, etc.) and
An object that represents your concept of the animal world (picture, feather, tooth, etc..)
Place the white and black candles approximately 5-8” apart from one another envisioning them as representing the extremes of humanity and the natural/animal world. Place your object of self in front of the black candle and the objects of animal and natural world in front of the white candle.
Center and ground yourself in preparation for this ritual. Visualize yourself as a tree, reaching roots deep into the earth and drawing up the energy of the core of Mother Earth below into the center of your solar plexus. Visualize yourself as reaching upward, full-leaved and branches extended in anticipation of Father Sun’s potent kiss. Draw this energy down into the center of your solar plexus. Breathe into these two streams of energy, light and dark, sky and earth and see them co-mingling and entwining, one into the other. Breathe into the synthesis and harmonious balance of what has become a singular stream and feel yourself anchored in earth and sky, strong and resilient, ready to begin the work at hand. So Mote It Be.
Call the energy and protection of the your space of working into being in whatever manner is in accord with your spiritual practice. Call to witness any spirit guide, patron, deity or power animal that you wish to aid the work.
Make declaration of intent in witness of those seen and unseen:
“At this time of balance held within the Autumnal Equinox I call to the balance within myself and that of the natural world. I call to the world soul and all of its inhabitants as intrinsically interwoven creating the rich tapestry that is the living soul of this world. “
Come to stand in front of the black candle. As you look into the flame envision all that you are. See all the aspects and titles you carry as you move through your daily responsibilities. See yourself as a distinct and separate individual and what that individuality means to you. Fill this vision with your thoughts, emotions and will defining as clearly as possible. Look upon the object you have chosen as representation of yourself and fill it with all that you have envisioned. Breathe this picture into that object; enlivening it with your individuality and uniqueness.
Move to stand in front of the white candle. As you look into its flame, envision the many layers that comprise the natural world. Look upon the landscape of the earth as though soaring high above. Look upon the life that takes the form of the animals; mammal, fowl, amphibian and fish. Look upon the varied shapes, sizes and structure of the buildings, streets, cities and shopping areas that are scattered on the living land. See them as part of this natural world, as well; each being anchored in the earth. Breathe into what you see and envision this space as a kaleidoscope of diversity. Look upon the object you have chosen as representation of the natural world and fill it with all that you have envisioned. Breathe this collage of nature into that object; enlivening it with the energy of the world.
Move to stand directly at midpoint between these two candles. Pick up the object of Self and place it at this mid-space; front and centered at what would be the point of a triangle, with the candles as its base. Pick up the object of the natural world and place it next to and touching the object of self. Both now centrally held at a triangular point between the two candles. This is the triangle of will that holds the flame of the Divine spark. It is from this space that our souls yearn and hunger to be at one with all of life and strive towards quickening those links of connection. Soften your gaze, and breathe deeply envisioning a line of energy drawn from each of the candles towards this center point of balance held by self and the natural world. Allow this energetic strand of connection to build and become stronger and stronger in clarity. As you continue to breathe into this flow see yourself and the natural world as one. Envision yourself as part of this fabric of life and allow this vision to take the form that its wishes.
You may find yourself swimming in the ocean surrounded by sea otters, whales or dolphins. You may find yourself soaring high above a cityscape as you migrate to warmer weather. You may find yourself in the forest, deeply rooted and standing tall and strong amidst the mighty oak and grove of ancient trees. You may find yourself standing before Gaia, herself as she holds you gently within the valleys and peaks of her body. Breathe deeply and fully in this vision and allow it to move in and through you. Enlivening and informing all that you are. Allow a circuit of energetic flow to open between you and the vision held within the union of the objects of self and the world. Each inhalation receiving the gifts of this state of balance and union and each exhalation, returning the transformed synthesized form back to its origins.
When you have received all that is needed at this time, breathe deeply and allow the streams of connection to withdraw, each returning to their own source. Breathe deeply and see with renewed clarity each of the candles distinct in their individual form and each of the objects also distinct in their individual forms. This is your reminder that it is only through the union of the individual parts that the whole of its creation may be achieved. Turn your awareness to the balanced and connective energy now running through you. Offer up thanks for this experience and know that at any time you may quicken this connection and make use of the energy to heal and enliven yourself and the world around.
Give thanks to those patrons or guides that you called into your space of working. Give thanks and ground the energy of your space of working. Blessed Be!