We are a just a few days away from the Equinox. The Equinoxes are the two days of the year where the sun crosses the equator. The exact time the sun will cross the equator this Equinox is Wednesday March 20th, at 21:58 UTC (that’s 2:58pm Pacific Daylight Time – check your local time and date).
This Equinox, the sun crosses the equator in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But because of the current situation in the Amazon basin, we will also include a dedication and intentions for peace, restoration, indigenous rights and forest health in Amazonia as part of our meditation this Equinox (thanks to Merrilee in Australia for the suggestion).
About the Equinox
Because the sun is angled directly at the equator, the daylight and darkness are equal length* everywhere in the world on the Equinoxes. Everywhere in the world, the sun rises due East, and sets due West on these dates.
Outside of the tropics, Equinoxes also mark seasonal transitions. The spring or vernal equinox (March in the Northern Hemisphere, September in the Southern Hemisphere) is the transition to the warmer half of the year. The days will begin to be longer than nights. Things emerge from winter, with deciduous trees putting out new leaves, many plants flowering, and seeds beginning to sprout. Many animals are migrating at this time (toward the tropics from the north, and away from the tropics to the south). The fall or autumnal equinox (September in the Northern Hemisphere, March in the Southern Hemisphere) is the transition to the cooler, darker half of the year. Days will soon become shorter than nights. Grains and fruits are ripening, and in some places leaves are changing colors as trees prepare themselves for the coming winter.
For celebrations of the Equinox, important themes are:
For the vernal equinox, Emergence and Pollination are also key themes to incorporate in your celebrations. For the autumnal equinox, Abundance and Protection are key themes.
What to Do
Here are a few ideas for things you may wish to do as part of a Novasutras Equinox celebration:
Co-Create a Novasutras Symbol
Engage all participants in the creation of the Novasutras symbol (see this video on creating the symbol as a ritual or meditation). This can be similar to casting a circle and calling the corners in neo-pagan rituals, as a way to open a sacred space for the gathered community. But while it should be done with reverence, in agaya and ubuntu, it need not be solemn.
On the beach, it can be drawn by participants following each other and scuffing their feet in a kind of dance, or by one or more people drawing with sticks.
You could create a symbol large enough for all participants to stand in, and let them arrange themselves by color they’re wearing (or provide hats, masks, signs, etc?), then have everyone briefly meditate on agaya and ubuntu as represented by that portion of the symbol (for vernal equinox celebrations, perhaps with a few ‘odd’ colors as flowers in the tree canopy or emerging from the ‘snowy’ ground – these flowers could focus their meditation on the cooperation that brings forth new life, such as that between flowering plants and pollinators; for autumnal equinox celebrations, perhaps some of the ‘leaves’ could be turning to their fall colors).
For smaller gatherings, people could bring appropriate materials to co-create the symbol: young leaves and/or flowers for the vernal equinox; feathers; seeds, grains, cornmeal, (of different colors), along with mature and fallen leaves for the autumn equinox. You can always use chalk or sand, or create with newsprint or butcher paper and paints or markers. You could even do a litter clean-up at a beach or park, sort the objects found by color, and array them in the symbol.
Be sure to include ‘sweeping up’ in the closing of your celebration, making sure that all materials are taken for recycling, composted, or otherwise dealt with in ways that are respectful of agaya and ubuntu.
Song and Dance
One of the main ways that humans the world over celebrate in community is to make music and dance together. In the so-called-developed world, we have grown accustomed to music as performed by professionals and merely enjoyed by spectators. While this is delightful and also welcome, it is insufficient to the natural process of community. Find simple songs, and encourage everyone to participate in singing them.
Where they feel appropriate to agaya and ubuntu (such as We Are the Rising Sun or We Are the Power in Everyone, kindly provided to the world by Campfire Chants) these simple songs and chants can remain unmodified. If you have a favorite traditional, folk, or spiritual song that does not provide a good reflection of agaya and ubuntu, change the lyrics to better suit the intentions of a Novasutras gathering. Encourage those that have acoustic instruments to bring them and play along as they can (drums, guitars and ukuleles work well outdoors).
Similarly, keep ‘dancing’ simple and fun. The Spiral Dance developed by Starhawk is a wonderful option, but a simple ‘conga line’ that becomes a circle (or better yet, two concentric circles traveling in opposite directions), or even the ‘Hokey Pokey,’ can be easy and fun for participants of all ages.
Share Food and Drink
Whether it’s a full-meal potluck or just a small sacramental bite or sip of something meaningful, sharing food in community is a uniquely human way to strengthen ubuntu. Don’t neglect the importance of this aspect of celebratory gatherings.
If you are inviting participants to bring food, ask them to be respectful of agaya and ubuntu in their choice of what to bring, and ask people to avoid ‘disposable’ materials (particularly plastics) in both food packaging and serving materials (plates, cups, cutlery).
Be sure to include ‘washing/packing up’ in the closing of your celebration, seeing that materials are taken for recycling, composted, or otherwise dealt with in ways that are respectful of agaya and ubuntu.
Other Ritual Activities
For outdoor celebrations, you may time them to include sunrise or sunset, taking that time to observe the cardinal directions. Some may choose to stack rocks for small markers of the East-West line (also a good reflection of the theme of ‘balance’ for the Equinox).
All could participate in pouring water into a shared bowl or pitcher, then anointing themselves and/or splashing the water, along with some kind of blessing or intention. If done with safe drinking water, the bowl or pitcher could instead be passed along a second time while everyone ladles out a sip of the water that they had communally added, representing sharing in the benefits of collective effort.
Participants could be encouraged to bring masks or costumes (or a longer event could include materials and opportunities to construct these) representing one or more of the themes of the Equinox (seasonal transition, balance, East and West, global unity, migration, pollination, abundance, etc).
Participants could bring small items to represent one or more of the themes of the Equinox celebration, decoratively adding them to a community altar toward the beginning of the celebration then deconstructing the altar at the end.
Invite Your Community
Perhaps you just want to have a small gathering with like-minded friends. But if you’re willing, the Equinox celebration is a great opportunity to talk with new people about Novasutras. Let us know about your plans, and we’ll add them to our Events page. You may also want to post a few fliers to publicize your event.
Enjoy the Equinox in Agaya and Ubuntu!
*The ‘day’ is actually always a few minutes longer than the ‘night’ on the Equinox, because our Sun appears to us as a large disc rather than just a point in Earth’s sky. The mid-point of the sun actually rises and sets twelve hours apart on the Equinox, give or take a minute for some local variation. So, we’re all a little on the bright side of perfect balance ????
The global environmental and social challenges we face today are daunting, and they demand a response at a scale appropriate to the problem. Join us as we build a spiritual movement based in the principles of reverence for the living world, interdependence and loving-kindness: agaya and ubuntu.
An opportunity to review our Octal Meditation and discussion from the December 2019 Solstice. We talked about gratitude, loss, growth, friendship, community, restoration, regeneration and resilience, with a particular emphasis on the record-breaking heatwaves and fires in Australia.
A wonderful quote by Thích Nh?t H?nh provides a lovely illustration of agaya “…I looked into the tree and I saw the whole cosmos in it…” Another expresses ubuntu “We are all the leaves of one tree. We are all the waves of one sea; the time has come for all to live as one.”