14 March 2012

Autumn Equinox Thoughts

This year the Autumn Equinox will occur around 9:51am (South Australian time) on Tuesday, 20  March 2012.

This sabbat marks the time when the path of the Sun intersects with the celestial equator, thus creating a time of balance between light and dark as day and night face each other. It is the time of the completion of the second harvest, that of the grape. It is also a time to contemplate our own harvest, and to give thanks for what we have received as well as the inspiration of the underlying goals and aspirations of things yet to come.

Within the Wiccan mythos, the God is moving from his guise as the Lord of the Grain to that of the Vine, before morphing into the shadowy Horned One. The Goddess, whilst wielding her sickle, is transforming from the abundant Mother Earth to that of the Crone, the bringer of death. in ancient Greece, this was the time of the great Mysteries, the Eleusinian rites which marked the Maiden Kore’s descent into the Underworld where she is transferred into Persephone, its Queen. Demeter starts to withdraw her care from the earth as she enters mourning. The God of the Vine is the twice born Dionysus, whose followers were known for their rather ecstatic rites.

Walking with balance is a perfect meditation theme for this Sabbat –  bringing balance into your life, that of work/family, career/relaxation, study/social time.  

You might like to include performing the "tree" yogic position - also known as vriksha-asana whereby you first stand with both feet together and arms by your sides.  Bending the right leg at the knee, raise the right thigh and bring the sole of the right foot as high up the inside of the left thigh as possible.   Whilst balancing on the left foot, raise both arms over the head keeping the elbows unbent and joining the palms together. Hold the posture while breathing gently through the nostrils for about 10 complete breaths.   Then lower the arms and right leg and return to the tad-asana, standing position with feet together and arms at the sides. Pause for a few moments and repeat on the opposite leg.

The challenge of the vriksha-asana is maintaining balance on one leg. Poor balance is often the result of a restless mind or distracted attention. Regular practice of this posture will help focus the mind and cultivate concentration (dharana).

When practicing vriksha-asana it may help to imagine or picture a tree in the mind and apply the following technique: Imagine that the foot you are balanced on is the root of the tree and the leg is the trunk. Continue by imagining the head and outstretched arms as the branches and leaves of the tree. You may be unsteady for a while and find the body swaying back and forth, but don't break the concentration. Like a tree bending in the wind and yet remaining upright, the body can maintain balance.

Aim to achieve the "rootedness" and firmness of a tree. Regular practice of the vriksha-asana improves concentration, balance and coordination. Because the weight of the entire body is balanced on one foot, the muscles of that leg are strengthened and toned as well.

As you advance in this posture and are able to remain standing for more than a few moments, try closing the eyes and maintaining your balance.

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