Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Equinox Descent Mythologies

Covering beds for the winter
as garden snakes go underground.
The sun retreats from half of the world,
hibernating through longer nights.
“We must carry the dark,” Autumn whispers.
“What do you bring into the dreaming?”

Inanna descends into the Underworld of her own free will. She makes the journey to meet with her sister, Ereshkigal, her shadow self. She goes to face her hidden half and she will be undone in the dark. But when the dawn comes she will *know* herself wholly for the first time, and will re-emerge from the deep in her strength and power. 

What do you see when you face your reflection? What is light? What is dark? Can you breathe in all of the pieces and make a whole image? Do you have the strength to stand naked and unflinching before it?

Unwinding her thread, Ariadne gave her lover the map to the labyrinth beneath the surface of the earth, beneath the surface of her skin. He went in to meet her shadow self, her twin brother chained at the center of the labyrinth. The beast we call Minotaur is the primal darkness within her breast, the animal part of her that she hides. Her twin is made of big bang, the original star. She is betrayed as the hero slays that same monster in order to woo her, to protect her, to impress her. Ariadne’s hero cut out her very heart. 

Do you keep your ugliness hidden from the world? Are you not made more beautiful in the shadow of your flaws? Who decides what is ugly or what makes a thing flawed? Do you have the strength to expose your vulnerabilities? The things that make you different help shape the world. Can you shed those who would stand in judgment of you for those who will embrace you as you are?

Persephone leaves the child of springtime behind her as the sands trickle towards autumn. She steps on the path winding into the hillside, away from her mother’s eyes and arms. She leaves her parent’s home, known and fragrant with summer memories, towards the unknown house of her husband, in shadow, where she shall be lover, spouse and woman. She steps lightly on the path. She knows where it is going though she does not know the landscape and she cannot see its end. As she journeys she grows more sure-footed. She trusts that it is the right path. Either way, she embraces her choice.

What shades of yourself have you shed in your journey? Have you learned to let them go and accept the changes? Can you be a daughter or son to your parents without still being a child? Can you step into uncertainty? Can you keep your feet to your path, though you cannot see the ending?

Orpheus descends to the Underworld in grief, passing where no living being can pass. In his love, he wins Eurydice back. But the path out of the darkness is too long and too quiet and his grief was too deep. Orpheus loses faith that she is behind him even though she promised she would be there. He turns around before they reach the light and she is lost to him forever. 

Can you face the moments when you slip? Can you take responsibility for your mistakes? Can you rise above them rather than sink into embarrassed despair? Can you find faith in those darkest moments?

Oya stands at the cemetery gate as the recent dead descend into the ground. She is the beacon of light calling them to rest. She greets them with a candle or lantern, standing against the flood of their fresh grief. Oya knows the darkness and she guides them through.

That strength lives in you. Do you know how to find it?

The key of the labyrinth is a crossroad of souls. Papa Legba waits in the darkest shadows for a cry, a whistle, a trumpet of need, ready to ferry bargains and deals as we wander through our winter nights. And his hand will be the warmest hand, and he will greet you as an old friend. And he will take what you offer to appease your heart. But you can never have it back.

What would you sacrifice? What have you already given?

Tlazolteotl balances the act of love with the act of defecation. Sacred in, sacred out. She is the flow between connection and release. Birth and death. Life and loss. One follows the other, like night follows day and day follows night. She walks-between for us, holding the memory of light when the darkness overwhelms, and holds the dark so we don’t forget to find gratitude for the light.

What is sacred to you?

The veils are thinning. The darkness is winning favor as we turn into autumn. Our mythologies provide us with archetypes we can use to illuminate ways to navigate the path ahead, that we can move forward. 

What do we learn from these stories? 

We learn to not fear the dark, but to tread gently through it and embrace it. Use your personal dark as a space of transformation. Face your twilight reflection and prepare to challenge and test yourself against the chilled slumber of the earth and the lengthening nights.

Covering beds for the winter
as garden snakes go underground.
The sun retreats from half of the world,
hibernating through longer nights.
“We must carry the dark,” Autumn whispers.
“What do you bring into the dreaming?”

*Original poem, Equinox, by Sarah Lyn.

[First posted as Equinox Mythos & Mystery on September 28, 2011.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Autumn Crossroads on the Equinox

We are turning into autumn and the last of our tomatoes and beans are fruiting. The morning glories herald the dawn in vibrant hues of violet, periwinkle, and fuchsia. White moon flowers twine around the rail, their buds thick and strong. They are ready to burst open and hail the darker days of the year. Silence stills the land here, five years after the horrible flooding that made our city headlines in the news. We’ve moved on but the earth remembers. The first of the geese flying north to south in migration have trumpeted across the sky.
Smells turn crisp and quick as leaves dry, drop and decay, crunching against the bottom of our feet as we walk through the brush. Garden fruit and vegetables that missed their harvest will rot and fall. They become mulch and nourish the earth for sowing in the spring. In autumn, layers of bone, earth and leaves cover the world, dulling the sharp piquant of summertime. We bed our gardens and add bulk to our bodies against the funneling twist of leaves lifting in chillier winds. The beauty of life is migrating onward, disappearing into the earth and ether. The world outside us prepares to sleep. The world inside us softens into rest, too.
We have toiled through the languid heat of our longest days and the changing landscape heralds the lengthening dark that will descend soon upon us. This Equinox is my favorite time of year, symbolized by the crossroads. We stand at the point where the breathing world bleeds into the spirit world.
It’s a place where two conflicting truths can stand equally as firm and where balance is born. It is the place where the gateway exists. It is a gateway that lives inside you.
As the point of balance floats over our land like twilight fog, obscuring lines and blurring edges, we have the chance to touch the other side without walking through it. On Equinox, I pause to catch a breath. I stand between the long days of light and the long nights of dark. I stand at the crossroad and pay homage to those who have stood here before me, to the pause in the passage of time, and to those who will stand here long after I am gone. On this day I can see into the future as far as I can see into the past.

We stand in the tipping point, the grey space, the limbo, the in-between. Equinox is a time for feeling and reflection, a chance to catch our breath before moving forward. This is the time of year when I pause my search for more lines of my family tree. I wrap up my current work and make notes of where to look next. I will spend the winter months researching what names I have, reading old tomes and histories so that I might discover who my ancestors were and what places they inhabited.
The genealogical research is easier for me to do in sprints, following one line through till I hit a wall, then fleshing out that line, giving it form and story. In this way the act alone is a study in my own history and I am the eternal student. By using this method, the names and dates imprint on my memory with context. Every winter my living knowledge of my family grows stronger. In my dedication, the threads between me and my ancestral dead grow thicker.
We are about to enter the labyrinth, going underground like the mythological Ariadne, under and inward. I have been practicing my embroidery, in remembrance of my Great-Grandmother Minnie, and her mothers, whose scraps of sewing craft I treat as sacred objects from a line of women I never knew. In my nightly meditations I have been embroidering labyrinths, moving into the dark to come out of the dark. It takes two full lines, two lengths of needle and thread, in at one end and out at the other, to create the full labyrinth, which is made up of two roads, crossing at the key. In this ancient tool, duality and balance snake into forms that do not lose their symbolic origins.
If I unwind the labyrinth, the four arms of the equinoxes and solstices spread before me. We stand at the crossroad, facing autumn, knowing that as we step onto the road it is already turning towards winter. The crossroad lies near the heart of the labyrinth. We turn inward to find center at Solstice, and roll outward, retracing steps to find the sun again next Equinox. In walking the labyrinth, we move like the waters of our body move to the currents of the ocean, rolling in and out, each turn in moving us closer to healing and wholeness. As life continues through the shorter days and my body moves daily through the world, I carry the peace of the labyrinth inside me, as an anchor of stillness, walking it quietly within while the world moves loudly around me.
As the leaves dry and fall, I find some of this peace in the act of showing honor to those long gone. I often walk the local cemeteries, picking up trash and litter. It is such a small offering made to the memory of those gone before. They may not be my ancestors but they belong to someone. These dead shaped the town that I live in and they had lives filled with hopes and dreams, just like mine. To me the cemeteries feel most like parks, with spirits wandering here and there. They are some of the quietest spaces, full of the grace of those who lived and those still living who remember their names.

[Originally posted as Autumn Crossroads at Equinox on September 19, 2012. Some moments updated for the current time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Morning Glories in Meditation

Every year, as spring begins to blossom, I push the base of a wooden trellis into the fresh dirt next to our little stoop. I watch as the small seedlings from the previous autumn poke their way through the earth and unfurl. I weed the bed and water the small beings reverently. As the vines grow, thin and spaghetti-like, I teach them to move towards the trellis. They grow thicker, covered in short fuzz. The leaves grow bigger, shaped like hearts. The larger they get, and the deeper the color, the closer they are to budding.
I spend each morning in a gentle meditation, wrapping the sweet vines around the trellis, and watching them catch on over the days, until they wind themselves, in and out. The trellis is the loom where nature and I create beautiful art together. As the weeks pass, the vines become a green wall, offering us a sense of privacy; our nature guardian.

When the buds first come, they are tight little spirals, growing bigger each day. When I can see the color threaded through them, I know they will open the next morning and it will be a morning treasure hunt to see where the early blooms have hidden themselves.
The flowers are full and thick and brilliant at dawn, staying to the shadows. The beautiful heart-shaped leaves act like umbrellas, extending the lives of the blossoms by shading them. At mid-morning, the blossoms glow with a luminescence that makes them seem otherworldly, as if tiny portals are opening from within the heart of the flower.
This is my favorite time of day to be in the garden, to be sitting on the stoop with a book and a notepad, stirring my own creative juices in their wake. I watch as the bees frolic and pollinate, leaving tiny dustings of pollen on the petals. I watch as the light fades from the petals.
As the day lengthens and the sun climbs in the sky, the morning glory blossoms grow weaker, their petals more translucent. The softening flowers tear easily and stick to the leaves around them. By mid-afternoon those that have survived curl in upon themselves. At dusk, the day-old flowers drop unceremoniously to the ground below.
Every day in the world of the morning glory is a new beginning, a new life. Their beauty doesn’t last because nothing lasts. The nature of life is that it ends. That is the magic of the morning glory for me. They are dead when dark descends, but tomorrow, there will be life again.
In the fall, when the garden withers, small buds of seeds are left behind on the browning vines. They will dry and shrink and loosen their eggplant-colored seeds into the ground. There, they will slumber through winter, waiting to emerge come next spring. So even in their seasonal ending, there is hope. There is always hope. But for today, under the last of summer sun, there is still beauty and joy.

[New photos, 2016. Reprinted September 2, 2015. Originally published August 14, 2013.]
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