Balance as understood in Equinox Ceremonies
Everything is of the
source and everything contains the generative force, the underlying
energy of existence.
Creation is the expression of the eternal flowing movement of this force, between the situations of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ and, as we recognised at an Equinox gathering in 2010, darkness and light, forward and reverse, silence and sound, highs and lows, potentials and realised powers, revulsion and redemption.
When your energy is flowing freely and balanced, your four basic selves, emotions, mind, body and spirit, are in unity. When the mind decides to move in a direction, the body sets into motion in that direction and spirit supports the action. This benefits all of your life experience.
It is good to maintain balance and being grounded and at a gathering we usually begin by opening a circle and calling in the directions and elements. Why are we doing it? What does it symbolise? Hopefully this article will go some way to explaining and giving ideas that answer these questions. It draws on our experiences during celebrations and meditations.
What is Equinox?
"Equinox" means "equal night" in Latin and this time of year is when there is equal light and dark in our days.
Spring and Autumn Equinox are the two
times of a year when the sun rises due east and sets due west.
Also, it is a few days when the earth’s axis is straight as a door post and suggests to us a time of balance has arrived.
The Sun rises and sets directly over the Equator.
On the earth after Spring Equinox the days will be slightly longer than the nights. The sun will rise and set further north each day and every mid-day the sun will be higher and higher. We will hopefully feel the days begin to warm as we head towards the summer.
The Autumn Equinox sees the sun move further south, and each day the sun is lower in the sky. We feel it's heat and strength withdrawing as winter sets in.
Read more on the seasons at Celebrations.
| And, of course, we are based in the Northern Hemisphere of earth.
When the sun is low in the sky and rising in the south east, our winter time,
those in the southern lands are basking in the hot days of the summer.
The Festival Proclaimed – Autumn Equinox 2015 celebration:
I proclaim the festival of Autumn Equinox. We stand at a pivotal centre in the turning of the seasons. We stand at the threshold looking towards the extreme of Winter Solstice. Tonight each one of us shall pass over this threshold as we enter the dark half of the year.
I proclaim the equilibrium of day and night. Just as the wheel of the year is the annual timekeeper, so the cycle of the day marks the sun and moon's journey across the sky. This time of Equinox corresponds to the evening of the year. This is the time of sunset; the time of gathering, of drawing in, of celebrating the riches of the second harvest, and of preparing for the night and for the winter yet to come.
I proclaim the counterbalance of summer and winter. The outer world gives forth its bounty, the grain is cut and threshed. And as the growing season ends and the seeds fall and sink into the dark earth to be nourished until the spring, so we give thanks for the riches of earth and the riches of our own lives.
I proclaim the centre betwixt abundance of light and want of it. Balance lasts but a moment, for from this time on, darkness overcomes light. Night's shadow gains in strength and exceeds the length of daylight for a full half year until we reach the time of equinox again.
Symbol of the Equinox
Incorporating many aspects of Equinox and balance this symbol was created at a planning meeting. It can be read at many different levels and represents:
The Sickle of Autumnal harvest cutting the corn
Waxing, waning new and full moons ( we held the ceremony on a new moon)
Healing hands and the creative/healing space inside
Look deeply and you will also see 2 hands holding a heart
It's also 2 hands beating a drum
2 hands holding the sun, moon, earth, the atom, a flower blossom
2 intersecting Vesica Pices, doorway to the sacred
The open eye
Times of Balance are Times of Transition
At dusk on 25 September 2016 we acknowledged the underlying balance of Harvest Thanksgiving.
Half of the celebration was before sunset while the other half shared in the darkness after sunset.
As we stood in the last light of the day it was a time for quiet calm reflection and meditation.
As darkness fell these words were read out:
"Once the natural state of balance is achieved, the plateau that will give you access to the higher self and this will be open before you."
The Elements and Balance
In 2017 at Clogherhead we paid equal attention to the four elements, as the Ancients also did. To them, the elements were a symbol of balance.
The psychologist Carl Jung used the 4 elements to describe 4 basic psychological states: Earth – sensation. Water – feeling. Air – thinking. Fire – intuition. He felt that we need to balance all of these qualities to lead more harmonious lives.
So meditating within
the circle – with the 4 elements – can hopefully produce insights
on personal changes leading to balance in all aspects of our lives;
spiritual, emotional, mental and physical; work, family, friends and
|At Clogherhead the earth, sea and sky draw our attention to all four elements of earth, water, air and fire (although on this day the sun is hidden!).
At Equinox in March 2011 we walked through 'Gates of Revelation', progressing upward along the Banqeting Hall on the Hill of Tara.
The Earth Gate is where
we manifest form as spirit using earth as our building blocks. We
attune to the energies of this gateway (solidity, physical,
groundedness, darkness, foundations, first principals) and pass
through allowing assimilation of the energy. (which we do for each
Water is the next gate. Here we reflect on the fluidity of form and the smoothness of life and how we move through it. We may consider movement, emotion, flexibility, circulation etc
Air is the third gate. We consider lightness, breath, life, levity, inspiration, paired with the solidity of earth this makes a harmonious balanced pairing.
The Gate Keeper of
Fire reminds us of the volatility and passion of life, its heat,
pleasure, expansiveness and creative transformation. Fire is paired
with water as a contrasting balance.
The Gate Keeper of Ether reminds us of the mystery of life, the spirit that brought us here from the void, breathed the passion of life into our clay bodies and experiences life in the physical.
Trees had their own protection under the Irish Brehon Laws., their Irish name, dair, appearing in many place names. Stylized as the Tree of Life, they are seen as doorways into otherworlds as well as central to a community. Many describe each tree with different qualities, such as the oak which is said to symbolize longevity, wisdom and strength, transformation and protection.
With their canopies in the air, in the light, subject to all the seasons, and their roots deep underground, nurtured by the surrounding earth, in the dark, they are a great example of life in balance.
The labyrinth walk is one path leading you inwards, from the outer world to the centre. You return, facing the outer world again. Unlike a maze which is designed to get you lost, a labyrinth helps you find yourself.
On 21 September 2018 we celebrated the concepts of Heart and Soul at this one.
We walked to the centre, to heart and soul. We sought balance, explained by our inner strength (heart aspect) and inner guidance (soul aspect) whilst being aware of our outer life and how we influence, and are influenced by, our surroundings.
|Labyrinth in An Tobar, Ardbraccan, Co. Meath.|
Yin / Yang
One of the best known symbols of balance is the yin and yang symbol. Based in Taoism, a Chinese philosophy, it is now recognised as a universal concept of dualism.
|The yin, the dark wave, is associated with the feminine, the yang, the light area, represents the masculine energies.
Yet this is perhaps a too simplistic description of this expression of opposite and complementary forces.
Often at Equinox gatherings someone brings along a set of scales.
These are from 21st September 2010 when we celebrated Endings & Rememberings at Dowth.
On this occasion they symbolised the balance of night and day...
and the astrological sign of the Scales (Sun now in Libra).
Also known as the lemniscate. This simple symbol represents a sense of balance and can be 'worked' with in many ways. Because of the simplicity it can be attributed with many meanings. However, these are usually along the lines of interconnectedness of all, harmony, equilibrium and eternity, the cycles of life.
Infinity symbol turned vertically is the number 8.
In 2010 the symbol that
arose spontaneously and essentially instantly was based on the idea
of the number 8, with the upper worlds being mirrored on earth, and
on the 8 spokes of the (pre) Celtic year. Combining these concepts
brought out this symbol based on simple shapes which include;
the closing of the sun flower,
the rotary blades of a combine harvester,
the balance at this time of year between the day and night,
sun rising and setting directly opposite each other on the horizon line,
8 celebrations of the year,
cycle of the moon,
at least 12 sickles.
Within this we may notice eyes, open and closed, amongst other things.
Two intersecting circles often used in Christian symbolsim.
and the extremes of the circles the outbreath.
The Triquetra reminding us of an eternal triple nature and many aspects of balance within ourselves is combined with a heart which calls on core energies of unconditional love and generosity.
Balanced Walking Meditation
This symbol, used to
work with Balance on the Hill of Tara, was created by placing a
stylised Brigid’s Cross within a circle.
Achieved is the balanced figure of the square within the circle, the two linked together by four lines.
Circle- spiritual - feminine qualities / Square - physical - masculine qualities.
It is quite a complicated format to follow. This focusses and entertains the mind while your physical body balances and your inner self and higher self work their magic.
Walk sideways around the outer circle, facing inwards and leading with left foot.
When ready balance the walk (life) and take one of the 4 lines to the square.
When you reach the square continue facing inwards but lead with the right foot.
When ready leave the square along the same linking path to the circle.
Now walk around the circle facing the line, walking normally, left foot then right foot.
Walk the circle until you feel balance in both feet and sides of body.
The line chosen between circle and square subconsciously may provide suggestions to helping achieve balance in life, as each line may be taken to represent certain qualities.
At Tara a symbol of earth, air, fire or water was placed on each line.These are, of course, linked to the qualities of the direction in which the line lies.
Written by NJ at Autumn Equinox 2019