March 18, 2011

An Equinoctal Regeneration.

From a year ago. Spring Equinox. Still wisely, beautifully relephant.


In the Wake of the Wave:

I am supposed to write wisely of the season, but I have none of my own wisdom at the present.

A nuclear incident like the one that threatens Japan, the one that threatens the world because islands and continents are not isolate, but speak to each other through oceans and winds, does not belong to any season. Yet Spring is here, even though this week, on top of everything else, it’s snowing in Japan.

You can read about the magic of the Spring Equinox in many places. It’s a pattern, an archetypal form, but every year of our evolution on this planet, and in our own lives, finds it arriving in a special way, with new challenges but also new gifts. The energy of the Spring Equinox is regenerative. The energy of the resurrection of life, arrives out of the dark winter in—at last!—manifest form, as blossoms and new green leaves, eggs and baby animals, as splashes of color, as warmth and love and beauty. It’s a happy holiday, but not frivolous: that urgency of sprouting, unfurling, bouncy play is necessary and serious, because without that prodigal joy nothing could grow.

Stories of Spring have darkness behind them, darkness propelling them, or they wouldn’t feel so precious and dear. In the Japanese myth of Amaterasu, the Shinto sun goddess, she, the greatest of kami, withdraws into a cave in despair after her sacred places are befouled by her reckless brother Susanowo, god of storms and oceans. Darkness falls over the land, nothing can grow. In last-ditch desperation, the spirits of the land get in cahoots with each other to woo her out of the cave. When they succeed, the earth is revivified, regenerated by her—by the Sun’s—warmth and beauty.

Myths and fairy tales aren’t only for entertainment. They describe, define, and undergird reality. In many ways, they make reality, because over time they create a shared understanding that is the filter of what people perceive. And because of that, in many ways, they are instruction manuals, because they tell how to anticipate patterns in Nature, and in human nature. They teach us how to respond, and more often than not, that response is one of kindness, compassion, and love.

Amaterasu-Omikami by Felix Hidayat

We need the power of the Spring, of its healing and regeneration, as desperately as we ever have. Japan needs the power of its guardian spirits and deities as badly as any land ever has. Whether you choose to believe in kami, we all live on the Earth. The spirits of the earth are here, the spirits of the land, in the different ways that we are able to perceive them, they speak to us. The turn of the seasons belongs to us all: that deep and ancient magic which is the magic of the earth itself. It is within us, as well as without. Call on whatever luck or resources to do that you have right now. That’s the big purpose of this Equinox.

To Japan eaten by the ocean, flattened to matchsticks, splintered to ruins: may you have the grace of Spring. May you receive the growth of the Sun. May that energy help propel you in putting yourself back together, another cycle of life, strong and new. May you receive the force of our concern for you, to help you remake your world.

norito, a ritual prayer to Amaterasu….

Amaterasu, great august kami who shines from heaven: as far as the limit where heaven stands up like a wall, as far as the bounds where the country stands up distant, as far as the limit where the blue clouds spread flat, as far as the bounds where the white clouds lie away fallen, as far as the great blue sea plain whither come the prows of the ships, and the roads which men travel by land whither come the horses’ hooves, protect your people and bring their land back to life.

Stories speak to us through patterns but the decisions of navigation through their particulars are our own. The most I can say is ever these two things, even when we don’t know what is happening: we are put on this Earth to help one another, to call even the Sun out of hiding when she seems she has hid herself forever. Whatever happens, hold to that. Help others whenever you are given the chance, protect them like a knight and help them make anew. And the other thing: however long it takes, Spring—be it the Spring of this year or the birth of a new person or the birth of a new history—Spring always arrives.

Blessed be and Love,


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