The Hermit’s Light: Carrying the Balance into the Dark Ahead
The Great Wheel turned once again and just a few weeks ago we found ourselves at the place of the Autumnal Equinox. Each Sabbat flows in process of energy, one to the other. What and how we choose to celebrate and honor these turnings of the Great Wheel has both subtle and overt impact on how we navigate the days and months following. It is with this intention that I offer this writing and reflection on a Sabbat of balance and the gift of exploration of the Light within the dark spaces of quiet and surrender.
The Equinoxes astronomically mark a point when the North and South poles of the Earth are neither tilted away nor towards the Sun. Twice yearly, this event means that both hemispheres are in receipt of equal amounts of day or night respectively. In the Northern Hemisphere the air is cooler, the leaves are turning and beginning to fall from brittle branches and all of life is giving pause to prepare for what changes lay ahead. This is the second of the three harvests and the fields are already beginning to brown as the day’s light gently wanes and we are enveloped in the quickening darkness of the setting sun. In a few more weeks the silence of Samhain’s energy will issue call to the Ancestors and their wisdom. But, for now we must lay the foundations upon which we will stand as we reach deeper into the waning year’s shrouded light.
In the Southern Hemisphere the September Equinox marks the time of Spring’s advent and the anticipation of warmer weather, the Waxing of Father Sun’s light and the growing of new earth towards a state of fullness at during the Summer Solstice. The point of interest here lay in the state of balance that occurs at this turn of the Wheel; one preparing for darkness and the other anticipating brilliance of light. And, for this space of time neither holds more power than the other. It is at this time that we can stand in the neutrality of both expressions of our own light taking from each what is needed.
The Gift of Lammas
The Sabbat of Lammas heralded the first stage of work required to begin the harvest and followed through with action taken to reap and preserve what would sustain life. As we celebrate the Autumnal Equinox, we are now at the mid-point, the second harvest, and the space of integration and pause to fully acknowledge and look more closely at what we have brought into our storehouse. The Autumn Equinox holds the promise of offering the space of equilateral time to assess and prepare for the next wave of descent into a darker and deeper space of introspection and transformation that will occur at the third and final Harvest of Samhain.
Many will celebrate this Sabbat as Mabon and give honor to the God as the Green Man of the forests. The balance of light and dark plays out in the actions that support survival of the fittest in all of their forms; human and animal. In this cycle of the God and Goddess, the Goddess mourns the loss of her consort, the God. The sacrifice He has made in the First Harvest prepares the way for the re-birthing of His light at Yule. The God now stands as the Green Lord of the Wild Hunt and serves to protect the animal world. His offer of sacrifice now is one of the animal world; insuring that all are slain with sacred reverence for the life given and that no meat is wasted.
The Goddess shifts her vision and becomes both the holder of the seed of the God’s light she will birth at the Solstice and the barren Crone whose wisdom has seen the return of all the cycles, year after year. As Gaia, the great earth mother she offers up her lands as sacrifice in the cycle of life and death and to that, which will be prey and those that must be predator. In her form as Lady of the Beasts she will guide and protect her animals to insure that new life will come from those that survive the harshness of winter. In her other guise as the Crone, the withering and drying of her youth and the turning within is reflected in the drying of the grasses and the falling of the leaves. Hers is the space of soon to come death that will hold the mystery of renewal and rebirth.
The Waning Light of the Year
As we move through this turning of the Great Wheel and its cycle of change, the light has begun to dwindle in outward expression in the physical world and the call to tend to the fires within and the heart (h) of promise that awaits our cycle of inner retreat and silent sanctuary is amplified as light and dark share equal space of action. This, the second of the three harvests concerns itself with the sacrifice of animal life and in those actions we affirm a deeper connection and reverence for what will be slain.?
This is the continuation of the work towards integration that was begun at the First Harvest of Lammas. As the waning light of day gives way to the waxing darkness of night, if we have used this time wisely and productively, we have been readied to stoke the light held within as darkness holds sway. The last light of the setting Sun signals the change that is at hand and the momentary poise of balance that this day has held shifts carrying us into the transformative Light held in the darkness.
The Hermit’s Light
The energy of this Sabbat could be equated with that of Sunset in the Solar Cycle. The air is becoming cooler and the instinct to withdraw into the comfort of hearth fire and home comes to the foreground. Life is slowing all around us, and nature is taking its cue from the universal cycles of light and dark as plant life goes dormant and leaves fall. The animal world offers up sacrifice of its life’s energy to feed and sustain the humans as stores of meat and game are carefully prepared to last throughout the winter months ahead. In the wisdom of the season, predator now becomes prey and what is too weak to survive will fade into the blackness of night’s eternal sleep. Father Sun’s light is dwindling in length of day and the heat that was intense and filled our cells strongly is now diminished and works at the subtle levels in the shortened time allotted.
This place of balance speaks not of the light of God and Goddess, but of the Light that is tended and offered up willingly that we as their Divine progeny carry within. Despite the busy-ness of our daily efforts and the throngs of people who surround us, the call of the Hermit resounds loudly, reminding us of the need to rest in his Light of renewal. This is not the need to retreat into solitary existence; rather the need to balance or outward activities and give due honor to the need for contemplation and introspection.
The Hermit offers the respite of time to move inward in contemplation and foster communication with the Higher Self. His Lantern carries the spark of the Divine flame that is the light shining eternally within our being. Within this inner scape of muted light and silence we are called to a place of accountability. Just as the rewards of the Harvest must be tended and monitored to ensure they last, so too what we have reaped in the full light of the Waxing of the Year and gathered as our harvest must be accounted for, nurtured and safe-guarded.
The balance of day and night that is held at the time of the Equinox provides the space of action bridged by the pause of rest to reflect. This is the lesson of the Hermit as the Light of the Autumnal Equinox and the call to heed well the need for moving into the darkness of soul’s intent before movement into light and balance may be achieved.