Equinox turning

by | Mar 15, 2018 | Seasons Newsletter, Uncategorized | 14 comments

 

The woman sitting next to me at the concert pulled a paper bag out of her handbag.

‘Would you like two pears from my tree?’

This was rather surprising, first as I knew her only slightly and hadn’t seen her for two decades. Second, we were sitting on pews in a church — not a place I would associate with surprise gifts or ripe pears.

However, it’s the season of abundance and anything is possible. Let’s not place limits on where and how the bounty of the season might find its way into our lap.

 

 

Can you feel the season turning? Some of the changes may be subtle as you slowly slide from one season into the next. Others may be more dramatic.

Here in the southern hemisphere we are sliding into autumn, Ngāhuru, the season of seed time and harvest, the celebration of plenty.

In the northern hemisphere you are sliding, maybe even leaping into spring. Bulbs are pushing through the earth, the sap is rising, maple syrup is flowing and the earth bounces with beauty. Here’s a link to my spring newsletter for you, in recognition of your season.

 

Equinox

It sounds like such a polarity, doesn’t it, between our two hemispheres? Yet light and dark are coming into balance, like non-identical twins who slowly approach with their hands outstretched, ready to embrace. At equinox on March 21 dark and light, night and day are equal.

 

 

Abundance

And here in the southern hemisphere, it is time for the second harvest, which is celebrated by Maori and Pakeha alike. Te Waru, the time of scarcity, is over. Ngāhuru, autumn, is the season for the kumara harvest, that vital staple crop on which Maori depended. In European growing traditions, it’s time to bring in the grapes.

It’s also a good time to harvest kawakawa, one of my favourite Maori medicine plants. I’ve been talking to the plants, asking permission, selecting the leaves carefully, and drying them in the sun. Here is my first jar, all ready to infuse and make into tea.

 

 

And soon I’ll be joining my community for a kumara dig in the sandy soil of the west coast. Gathering and harvesting invites comtemplation, and so it’s time to prepare for whatever autumn equinox harvest festivals or seasonal celebrations you may wish to create.

 

 

Preparing for autumn equinox

 

1. Harvest
What are you harvesting? You might like to start gathering vegetables and fruit, ready to create an equinox altar that is tumbling with goodness.

As you do so, try gathering symbols of your inner harvest as well. You probably worked very hard to produce it.

What are you thankful for in this season? For what bounty do you wish to offer up your gratitude?

For me, it’s the generous outpouring of appreciation that I’ve received from readers following the publication of my last book. Just two days ago I was surprised by a marvellous review. Such appreciation is every writer’s dream, and it fills me with gratitude.

And of course, those surprise pears. Their pungent taste — so different from that of shop-bought pears—brought back happy childhood memories.

 

 

2. Saving seeds
What precious seeds have you produced, to carry forward for new planting?

I’ve been slowly gathering seeds from my land and garden, and creating seed mandalas as I contemplate this theme. The one at the top of this newsletter was created especially for you.

Some seeds are tiny, like those of the rangiora at the top of my mandala. Others are still forming, like the karamu in the small shells. They are a little late this year in their turning from green to red. The two-toned seeds in the black shell on the right are beans, which have been carefully saved by heritage seed collectors.

The gardeners’ principle on seed saving is always to select the very best, and to let the poor, weak straggly plants die out and not perpetuate their strain.

Seed-saving is quite an art. For example, organic gardener Kay Baxter, in her booklet ‘Saving Seeds’, advises letting pumpkins and melons mature for a month before taking out the seed, and then to scoop the seeds out from the middle of the cavity. Evidently the best seed comes from the first pumpkins & melons to set on the vine.

Similarly, as you gather autumn seeds from the best plants, you might like to contemplate what seeds you wish to perpetuate and grow on from within your own autumn harvest.

 

Equinox Blessings,
Juliet

 

Ngāhuru was . . . ‘the longest and happiest month of the year.’
—Teone Tikao, Ngai Tahu

 

This post is an excerpt from my Seasons Newsletter. To receive the Seasons Newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of this website and receive a free audio meditation.

14 Comments

  1. Penny O'Neill

    What an unexpected, wholesome gift! There is something so earthy about such gestures and a reminder to me to give in these ways more often. As you are feeling your season of abundance ending, I am feeling the expectation of spring.
    In reading this, Juliet, I find myself thinking of my maternal grandmother, Yia Yia, who could not read, nor write, but, saved seeds from year-to-year, keeping them in her own unique filing system of colored tissues. How I wish I had ancestors of those seeds.
    Thank you for this encouraging post. Best to you, Juliet.

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Penny, thank you for this wonderful story about your Yia Yia and her seed saving. I love the system of coloured tissues!

      Reply
  2. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – you are good at following life with the seasons and reaping the rewards. We had a swap seed day here … but we didn’t go – and probably wise … as I don’t want to garden – I would if things were easier. The garden will grow without me …. and I’ll enjoy what fruits come along …and find other small enterprises selling their fruits and veg as they come to the fore. What a generous offer, though as you say somewhat surprising … but the pears found a good home – cheers Hilary

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Hilary, how encouraging that people are still doing seed swaps in different parts of the world – and you in Canada right now. The pears were a treat indeed. She had brought them for a friend who didn’t turn up to the concert, so I was the recipient, and very grateful too.

      Reply
  3. Sarah Grace

    This is so lovely! I often write about the Equinoxes and I always feel a little strange that it won’t fit for my friends south of the Equator. If it’s okay with you I will share this blog when I share my thoughts on Spring Equinox. Such a lovely meditation!

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Sarah, thank you. It can be a bit of a challenge writing to both hemispheres, but I always try and include something for my northern hemisphere readers. You are welcome to share my blog, with the link.

      Reply
      • Sarah Grace

        Thanks Juliet. Yes, I would just share the link and send the readers to you! Happy Equinox, and it’s lovely to connect.

        Reply
        • Juliet Batten

          Thank you Sarah, lovely to connect with you too!

          Reply
  4. Jenny Moss

    I love this season. The beginning of Autumn colours here in the south has begun. As well as the fruit we harvest from our own trees I have already picked wild hawthorne berries and made a batch of hawthorne jelly to give away to friends. The wild briar rosehips will be next. Just waiting for a good frost ! The birds are gathering too and soon they will be feasting on crab apples and other garden seeds and berries. I am gathering seeds from my flowers and they sit on the table in my Feng shui wealth area. In the next few weeks I will continue to enjoy our wonderful bright cosmos flowers which delight me every day. Fire wood stacking time time………………….. Lots to be thankful for here in Central Otago.

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Jenny, what a beautiful comment. I do enjoy hearing about what’s happening in the South Island. I’ll be making a trip to Centre Otago at the beginning of April and am looking forward to entering the season of the south. I remember gathering wild hawthornes from the hedges in Dorset where I was awaiting the birthing of my son. It’s such a treat to gather from the wild. I would love to post some of your comment on my Facebook page, with pictures of your hawthorne and crab apple jelly, if were are happy to send some. I’m sure other readers would love to read this. Cosmos flowers are gorgeous too. What abundance there is in your comment. Thank you so much!

      Reply
  5. Vicki Lane

    As always, I love seeing your autumn beginning when our spring is springing. That lovely balance . . .

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Thanks Vicki. I’m enjoying that balance too.

      Reply
  6. claire coveney

    I have gathered my pumpkins, apples and beans still growing, This Indian Summer may end soon, The butterflies flit in and out of the light.
    The temperature changes up and down, light softens and deepns, shadows lengthen.
    Wood is piled in the shed.
    Anticipating change

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Claire, that’s such a poetic picture, capturing the season so beautifully. Thank you.

      Reply

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