Something about fall equinox always seems worth talking about to me. How wonderful to have a moment to pause and remember that twice a year the sunlight and darkness are of equal measure. The first day of autumn also signifies the beginning of the sun moving into the constellation of Libra, which represents balance. Most importantly there I can always feel something potent about this time of year as it relates to my own life.
All of life strives towards balance, if the conditions hadn’t been just so life wouldn’t have emerged on Earth. Symmetry and balance are everywhere on Earth and also our bodies, which are mostly symmetrical from left to right (for the most part, although my nose is crooked and my ears uneven).
The balancing act also requires an inner process. Most familiar is probably our brains,which require two sides for us to function properly. While some science debates that each side has a different function, I still experience one side of the brain is more masculine (the left – the doing, intellectual) and the other side more feminine (being- relational, right). I was rereading sections of Leonard Shlain’s “The Alphabet Versus the Goddess,” earlier this week and came across a quote by Virginia Woolf that speaks to the balance of both masculine and feminine within ourselves in relationship to the brain:
“In each of us two powers preside, one male, one female; and in the man’s brain, the man predominates over the woman, and in the woman’s brain, the woman predominates over the man…If one is a man, still the woman part of the brain must have effect; and a woman also must have intercourse with the man in her. Coleridge perhaps meant this when he said that a great mind is androgynous. It is when this fusion takes place that the mind is fully fertilised and uses all of its faculties.”
My favorite prana yama (Sanskrit for breathing technique) is nadi sudi, a practice for balancing both sides of the brain through breathing with one nostril at a time. In many traditions (mostly of Eastern philosophy) the sides of the body are ruled by opposing and yet united energies — the right side of the brain being masculine and the left as feminine. In Kabbalah, the left hand is for receiving and the right for giving during daily interactions such as giving money to pay for something and receiving the change.
Okay, back to the fall equinox. Traditionally during agricultural societies the fall is when we planted seeds to come to fruition in the spring. Plants need the quiet, inner winter time before they bloom, and so do we. While I don’t have a garden to watch, I can notice how balance and harmony within me cultivates a feeling of unity. Soon enough darkness will prevail as we move into winter with fewer hours of light. This balance of inner and outer, darkness and light also is often associated with the feminine and masculine. I used to dread this darkness and now see the importance of what the night teaches us. We need the time to go inward and come back into balance before the days become longer yet again and there is more sunlight. During fall and winter we literally inside our homes and buildings more frequently, but also our thoughts and emotions, turn more inward as well. As a way of spending less time out and more time in gestation before a new cycle begins.
To keep with the fertilize metaphors from Virginia Woolf and Coleridge, the spring is when we give birth after being impregnated by both day and night. In Greek mythology, Ares (war, masculine) and Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty) had a daughter called Harmony. Their procreation required the perfection of opposites of being to create balance. For those of us not giving birth to a child…this outer process also imitates how we relate to the masculine and feminine parts or our being and personality.
For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me as I have often had an internal process of feeling very masculine. While I may present femininely, I am often very competitive, love intense workouts, enjoy structure and order, and do well at work. At the same time, my relationships are incredibly important to me and I am very nurturing and enjoy feeling feminine. In all of us resides an inner quest for wholeness to know ourselves as both masculine and feminine despite our outward appearance. It completes itself with the unity of opposites as our inner masculine and feminine coming together and also contained within one circle. While we cannot always be perfectly balanced we can strive to be both active and receptive, intimate and separate, loving and hard working.
Carl Jung, spoke often of this inner wholeness as a necessary part of the individuation process and ultimately a balancing of one’s consciousness. Jung identified the anima as being the unconscious feminine component of men and the animus as the unconscious masculine component in women. I liked the way Wikipedia describes it: “Jung stated that the anima and animus act as guides to the unconscious unified Self, and that forming an awareness and a connection with the anima or animus is one of the most difficult and rewarding steps in psychological growth.” This concept, while difficult to describe feels intuitive and often shows up in the types of people we are attracted to…or repelled by. Often they reveal to us the unowned parts of ourselves we try to ignore. A commitment to knowing ourselves intimately makes our inner harmony possible.
I once had a psychic tell me that the work of this life for me was about sacred marriage. For a long time I thought she meant an outer one of finding my perfect, spiritual mate and I see now that she was meaning to befriend my left side of my brain or my inner masculine. To stop pushing it away and projecting it onto others and instead to own it as a deep part of myself. I don’t know that I have ever quoted the Bible on my blog, but here it goes from the Gospel of Thomas 22:
“When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter the Kingdom.”
On this Autumnal Equinox may you honor your inner sacred marriage of left and right and darkness and light to fully fertilize yourself (okay that sounds awkward and sexual, but I mean it in a truly spiritual and united way).;)
[Photo: Universal Hands]