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Balance is an Illusion

Blessed Mabon! Last evening, I captured the final sunset of summer. The Autumnal Equinox takes place at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time this very morning (22 September.)

A time of balance?

Some celebrate the equinoxes as times of balance, and use their energy to try to re-balance themselves and their lives. I’ve been mulling on this and coming to a new understanding, for me, that balance isn’t a real thing. It’s a passing illusion. The actual point of balance, the moment of the equinox, is not still. Time does not stop or even pause at the moment of perfect balance. Time merely crosses the balance point, to return to imbalance again. Summer becomes fall. There’s no stillness in between. The seasons flow in smooth rhythm from one to the next.

There is no balance, only change

All of life is like that. Moments of actual balance are actually transition points. They are portals. They are the very essence of change. They are powerful in-between times. The moment of the Autumnal Equinox is an instant of powerful time in between summer and fall. The moment, in fact, when summer turns to fall.

Balance is an illusion. No one can offer equal attention to numerous things at the same time. Even a juggler always has one object in his hand while others are airborne. One task must always move to the top of our pile. One experience always gets the majority of our attention. Even multi-taskers give priority to one thing over the rest. We flow from one idea, one focus, to the next in smooth succession. We are never perfectly, equally focused on more than one thing at a time. One thing moves to the front of our minds while the others hoover around us as background noise.

Be easy on yourself about this notion of balance. In nature, most moments are one thing or another. Day or night. Winter or spring. Summer or fall. Points of balance are rare and fleeting. They flash on and off again faster than a lightning bug’s glow.

Embrace the shift

Rather than focusing on trying to be balanced, my focus is on embracing the shift. My energy shifts from the old into the new. My focus shifts from growth to harvest. My wardrobe shifts from shorts and t-shirts to leggings and sweaters, from bare feet to tall boots. The leaves on the trees where I live shift from green to red, purple, orange, yellow, russet, and every color in between. We wake to frost on the ground.

Yesterday we had to drive to town for an errand. We’ve had 3 successive overnight frosts, and the trees have burst into their full glory. For the past two autumns, the foliage has been dull and unimpressive to me. But this year, fall is back in top form. The scenes that opened out before my eyes as we drove along had me near tears, it is so stunning. I’ll have more photos soon. I’m a shutter bug this time of year.

It’s not the balance. It’s the change that is the magic. Not standing still, balancing on the point of a needle. But changing, adapting, evolving, growing, expanding, shifting, learning, becoming, always becoming more than we were before.

I’m more at the end of summer than I was at the beginning. I appreciate every bit of growth this summer brought to me. I’m thinking about all the ways I’ve evolved since spring, and really ponder and “appreciate” (to increase in value) them. I want to get the full understanding from each thing I’ve learned. Kind of catalogue it all in my mind.

Take time to process

It’s Mabon. A time to process and put to use all the growth of the summer just gone by, with deep gratitude and ongoing appreciation. Here is an easy, solitary ritual to honor the growth of summer and turn our attention to using that growth as we enter this beautiful autumn.

The final sunset of summer 2020

Ritual Honoring the Shift

You will need:

  1. A pen or pencil

  2. A journal

  3. Several small squares of paper, like 2″ x 2″ or so.

  4. A small candle in a color/scent that says “summer” to you

  5. A small candle in a color/scent that says “fall” to you

  6. A lighter or match

  7. A cauldron of other fireproof dish for burning

Step 1: Set the scene. Dress for comfort. Lights down low. Phones silenced. Take a series if full, deep breaths, all you can hold, and blow them out, all you can blow. 3 of these will relax you into a magical state of mine.

Step 2: Hold the summer candle. Smell its scent and think of all the things this summer brought to you. Every experience you had was new. Each one made you more than you were before. Let the summer replay through your mind.

Step 3: Light the candle. Gaze into the flames. When you feel ready, take up the pen and journal and begin to write down the ways in which you have expanded over the summer. Take your time with this. You can bring your datebook or planner into your space to review important dates and events, if you want. Think about each thing that happened, and how you were different after than you were before. What you learned. How you grew. What you experienced that you hadn’t before. How are you different? After you have finished with one event or experience, reduce it to a single sentence and write that on the first small piece of paper. Continue with your next experience, likewise reducing that to a sentence on a small piece of paper. And so on.

Step 4: Take the fall candle in your hands, smell it and evoke autumn in your senses. Light your autumn candle by touching its wick to your summer candle. Leave both burning.

Step 5: Pick up the pieces of paper you have written on. Read it to yourself, hold it over the cauldron. Say something like, “I learned ___ from you, Summer. I am more than I was before. I’ll use that knowledge in the fall.” You can be more specific if you want. “I’ll use what I learned to do XYZ in the fall.” But no pressure on that. Just be easy about it.

Step 6: Light the slip of paper from both candles, just touching a corner to one flame, and another corner to the other flame, and then drop it into the cauldron.

Repeat Steps 5 and 6 with each piece of paper.

Step 7: When all the papers are burned, gazing into the summer candle’s flame, feel the emotions of your memories of the summer gone past all welling up in your heart. Settle them there, knowing they are part of you now. Say, “Thank you, Summer. Go, as you must. Hail and farewell.” Snuff the candle. (Never blow out ritual candles. Snuff them.)

Step 8: Now it’s wishing time! Think of all the things you would still like to harvest in your life during this autumn season. Anything that hasn’t come yet, any new desires, write one of these things on a scraps of paper. Pause, hold the paper in your hand, and imagine how you will feel when it comes true. See it coming true in your mind. Feel the feelings. Act out the scene as if you are in a play. Imagine it clearly.

Step 9: Light the paper from the autumn candle, drop it into the cauldron. Hold your hands over it as it burns (Not too close and be careful of flowy sleeves and long hair!) and say,

Paper, ink and candle flame Arrow of desire well-aimed Loose the bow, destroy, create And my wish is now my fate So mote it be!

Repeat with as many wishes as you, um, wish. 🙂

When you have finished, give thanks to fall for the bounty it is bringing, and snuff the autumn candle.

It is done. Ground and center after ritual in whatever way is customary for you, and go on about your day.

Here’s an example of one thing I might include in the above ritual, in case it helps clarify the steps above. Journal entry: This year, I planted more garden than ever before. I grew an abundance of vegetables and herbs. I had never grown herbs before, not in any serious way. The veggies did well until the end, when canning supplies were nowhere to be found. But the herbs did beautifully, and I harvested and dried more than I have ever done in my entire life. I loved it so much. I learned even more. I feel like I got to know the herbs, their energies, and oh the smells of them! It sends my spirit soaring to smell them. The mint, the lemon balm, the rosemary! I tried freezing some of the veggies with my new vacuum sealer, but no matter how much I dried them after blanching, they were still too wet. It just wouldn’t seal. I bought big gallon jars for the herbs, and they are doing fine in those. I enjoyed planting and tending my vegetables, and I enjoyed eating them fresh from the vines. I did not enjoy so much the hustle to harvest and preserve them. I made giant vats of tomato sauce, made the sauce into some big batches of food, and froze the leftovers in plasticware. But that wasn’t my intent. But the herbs, oh the herbs! I had fun with every second of those. Planting, tending, cutting, drying, storing, taking out of storage and using, making spells and charms and dream pillows and incense with them.

Slip of paper nut shelling the above: I love growing herbs and I’m really good at it.

Later, in the wishing section, for that piece of paper: I will learn more about herbs, identify more of them growing wild, and harvest way more of them before Samhain!

So each item from the journaling, becomes and item for the gratitude/summer part of the magic, and also inspires a wish for the wishing/autumn part.

Enjoy and Blessed Mabon!

Mabon Song - Lisa Thiel

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