When the earth balances on the equator and night and day are equal, it is said that you can balance an egg on end. I've tried. Balance is hard won.
Living, parenting, working, playing, gardening, canning, feeding, listening, talking, shouting sometimes when integrity demands that one speak up--it feels like standing in a river with the water rushing hard against my legs.
In the last days of summer, I did just that. I braced myself in the river below a small levy, so that my kids and then other people's kids could slide down over a little bit of white water in safety. I caught each kid as they hurtled toward me in the current and sung them toward a calm eddy. It was exhilarating--feeling the pull of the river, knowing its power and being in league with it in some small way.
It isn't passive. It's rolling with the stream of events and not getting bruised on the rocks.
The autumn equinox is also called Mabon. It is the central harvest feast, the natural Thanksgiving day and likely closer to the "original Thanksgiving" in the United States than the one in November. But regardless this has been a time for giving thanks for thousands of years, for counting up the food warmth, energy and hope stored up for the season ahead and for looking at what has been accomplished in our lives.
As leaves begin to turn and the first hard, cold rain falls, I am looking toward a different sort of winter this year. For the first time, our modest urban homestead includes more animals than just a cat. We do have a cat again, a growing young cat, pushing beyond kittenhood. But we also have ducks, who have spent the summer saving our garden from marauding slugs. Now it is time for us to deliver on promises made, The ducks will have to be fed and kept warm through the long, gray winter. This is our very real thanks for their service and our hope that they will do so again next year.
In many ancient cultures, this time of year was connected with animals--both wild and domestic--and probably for similar reasons. This is when hunting begins in earnest in many areas. It is a time, when domestic animals are drawn in closer to home and we appreciate what they give us. Those who don't have domestic animals are reminded simply by the theme of the season to extend their gratitude to the animals that give us food, clothing and other goods. We also recognize the invaluable companionship many animals give, while living with people. And last but not least, the animals who provide skilled and greatly needed aid to people with disabilities and serious illnesses.
If you find yourself wishing for a connecting to nature, mark this Autumn Equinox with attention to the balance (or lack their of) in your life. Make adjustments, ensure that you have stores of energy and hope as well as the means to see yourself and those you care for through the winter. And in that balance, whether you are vegetarian or not, acknowledge your interconnection with animals. They rely on us and we rely on them.
Find a way to show your thanks for their part in your life. Give your animals a treat, put out bird food or a treat for the deer that isn't a hunting lure.
May Mabon's blessings bring you joy and plenty!