The autumn equinox took place on 22nd September, when day and night were of equal length. The North Pole then began to tilt away from the sun and our nights in the northern hemisphere will continue to become longer until we reach the solstice on 21st December. The weather is noticeably cooler and the trees are shedding their leaves. At the end of next week we will put our clocks back and darkness will descend before the afternoon is over. It should be no surprise then if we feel a little out of kilter, or even majorly off balance at this time of year.
On the Buddhist calendar there is a Festival of the Autumn Equinox that can be performed on the day of the actual equinox. It is, with some exceptions, the same as the Ceremony of Feeding of the Hungry Ghosts, which takes place here at Throssel during the Segaki retreat usually held in October. The time around this retreat is also recognised as a time of change, of shifting ground. People can be unsettled, agitated, stirred up.
It helps to realise that there is nothing wrong, that change is necessary, everything is in the process of waxing and waning, being born and dying. We are called to let go. This time of year, if we pay attention to it, can help us to tune in to the change that is happening so noticeably around us and help us to recognise and accept the changes taking place in our own lives.
I recall being told, or reading, that buildings in earthquake zones like Japan were traditionally built around a central pillar. Each storey could move relative to the other storeys, but the presence of the central pillar stopped the building from being shaken apart. There is such a pillar at the core of our being which we can trust to hold steady when the world around us is shifting and shaking – allow the shifting and shaking to happen, let the world tip. It is all good.