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 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.

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