Equinox, royalty and rituals

by | Sep 16, 2022 | Seasons Newsletter | 12 comments

 

 

Did you notice the elaborate protocols set in place for the ten

days following the death of Queen Elizabeth?

Every step has been prescribed, within an hour of her death, from the different locations for her body to lie in state, to precise timing, and the sequence for Prince Charles to step fully into his role as King Charles the Third.

Did you wonder why?

Transitions can be turbulent times, potentially dangerous even. When an old order ends and a new order has not yet been established, anything can happen. Anarchy may break out.

In the case of British royalty, accession rituals ensure that certainty steps in quickly and stability is maintained.

Seasonal transitions

Seasonal transitions can be turbulent as well, especially the shift from winter into spring, which is full of sudden reversals. Frost or snow nips many a tender bud that was enticed by the lure of warmth. Icy winds threaten new lambs, snatching away any gentle welcome into life.

Nature is not subject to rules of accession

This is why from ancient times people have needed rituals to provide steadiness and assurance during times of seasonal transition. Rituals help us to participate in the changeover, to release the season that is passing and with faith, welcome in the new.

 

It is the same with life transitions

Death can occur in any season. My older sister died half a day before the Queen and I was unprepared for a strange feeling that rushed in with the grief.

As I wandered from one room to another, I realised the feeling was disorientation. An old order had been disrupted.

As head of the family of five children, my sister had felt like a protector, the one in charge. Without her, we needed to re-constellate. There were no prescribed steps for doing this, and no accession guidelines for families. However, a spontaneous reaching out to one another is taking place, and new connections are being formed.

 

Photo credit: Anne Ruffell

The Queen’s role

On a much larger scale, for her loyal subjects, the Queen represented a protector. There are, of course, those who saw her as a figurehead of an obsolete institution; yet for many, she was someone who touched their lives in a personal and memorable way.

In 2018 I had a glimpse of that side of the Queen. She was in the Tower of London, being interviewed for a BBC documentary as she watched film footage of her 1953 Coronation.

Out of their case came the crown jewels, and as the Queen held in her hand two pearls that belonged to the doomed Mary, Queen of Scots, she commented rather wistfully that the pearls were ‘not very happy.’

‘They’ve just been hanging out here for years,’ she continued. ‘It’s rather sad . . . the trouble is that pearls are sort of living things and they need warming.’

The Queen knew her pearls. Every day she wore a triple string, one of three that she owned. She knew how to keep living things warm in the face of disruptions and hurts, attacks and loss.

She knew how to keep the Throne warm and alive, a place of stability.

For this, she is remembered with affection.

 

A blessing for you at equinox

There is a moment in the seasonal change when balance occurs. At equinox, light and dark are equal in both northern and southern hemispheres.

May you find balance at equinox, wherever you are.
In the north, may you find relief from the heat.
In the south, may you find relief from the cold and the floods.

May you find a place within that brings stability through all seasons.

Blessings,
Juliet

 

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature

— the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.

—Rachel Carson

 

 

Books for the seasons of life

For guidance in aligning with the season of life that you are in, or about to be in, my Seasons of Life books are there to help you.

The Pomegranate Journal: the art of getting older one day at a time is my latest book, described by one reviewer as ‘a lovely book: intensely personal and intimate, yet providing so much space for the reader to engage with. . . . a treasure and absolute pleasure to read!’

Growing into Wisdom will guide you through the significant midlife crossing that most people experience in their late 40s or through their 50s.

Spirited Ageing will take you into your 60s and beyond, and prepare you for a life-enhancing approach to growing older.

12 Comments

  1. Dawn McKenzie

    Love and condolences to you and your whanau, Juliet.

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Dawn.

      Reply
  2. Alys

    My aroha is with you at this sad time dear heart, the queens passing brought back my grief at my father who died 6 months ago. Challenging things have stopped me being able to grieve till now.
    But as you and I know their spirit is all around us but it is still hard for us left behind

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Kia ora Alys. How sad to hear of the death of your father so recently. Maybe the queen’s dying will open up space for you to grieve. It is never too late to let the tears flow. A father is such an important person in one’s life.

      Reply
  3. Peta

    Thank you for a particularly thoughtful newsletter Juliet, and for naming the role of ritual in times of uncertainty. I was very moved. And blessings on you at this time of the death of your sister – the whole family has to shift and re-orientate itself at the death of a member. Love to you.
    And surely we are needing global rituals at this time of climate change and uncertainty – food for thought….

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you so much, Peta. It’s been a slow time, as it needs to be. Global rituals in this time of climate change, now there’s a thought to ponder.

      Reply
  4. Penny

    Brightest Blessings Juliet – thank you (as always) for your personal story. In a lovely way it was like your sister lead the way for the Queen back toward that shining white light.
    Stability amongst transition and change? My life has been chaotic lately with two house moves since the previous equinox. I look to the sun whenever she shows and sit or stand to feel her rays. Sunlight is free. And I’m going to try and focus on the ‘now’ instead of worrying about the future or pining over the past. There is relief as well as joy in that. I wish it for you and your family too xxx

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Penny, and may you find peace and stability as equinox arrives. Focusing on the ‘now’ sounds so wise, and enjoying the sun. Blessings.

      Reply
  5. Julia

    Dear Juliet, thank you for another beautiful email. I loved hearing your description of the role of ritual in the Royal family to maintain stability. I loved that story about the Queen and the pearls and her knowing how to keep living things and the throne warm. A story many will not have heard.

    I am very sorry to hear of the passing of your sister and I can imagine it is very disorienting but that new connections with your siblings are being born out of it. I am so glad to have your thoughts to reflect on as my 91 year old Dad is in hospital having fallen in his rest home bathroom. I feel so grateful every time I see him now never knowing if it will be the last time. His elder years have brought out a sweetness and connection with him I never had growing up really so it is very precious.

    Thank you for the reminder to find peace and balance at this equinox time and in other times of change.
    Much love to you!

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Dear Julia, thank you for your tender and beautiful reflections and condolences. How truly wonderful that you have found such a sweet connection with your father in his elder years. I’m sure you will be treasuring every moment. Love to you too.

      Reply
  6. Christine

    Dear Juliet, I am deeply moved by your newsletter and I am so sorry to hear you have lost your sister. I feel your vulnerability. You have expressed so clearly how intimate connections between family members and friends are in grieving times.

    I also loved hearing the story of the Queen talking to the pearls, cold and locked away needing to be kept warm and alive as she herself has kept the throne warm during her lifetime.

    A time of transition, the beautiful quote from Rachel Carson giving us some much needed reassurance.
    Thankyou. Arohanui, Christine.

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you dear Christine for your beautiful response. It warms my heart.

      Reply

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