Happy Equinox!

Today is the autumnal equinox in my hemisphere, so it is officially time for mulled beverages, cozy sweaters, and autumn hiking. I made offerings to Persephone, the Horai, Helios, and Sulis this morning in honor of the occasion — pomegranate and sandalwood.

My shrine, with offerings burning down for the equinox.

My partner and I hiked over the weekend at a nearby state park because the weather shifted towards autumn about a week before the equinox. My world has been very small ever since the pandemic started — this apartment, the laundromat, a park near my apartment, the post office drop box, ShopRite, ALDI — and the trail maps didn’t seem aligned with what was actually happening on the ground.

A fallen tree, the split wood still fresh.

It was because the forest was so expansive, with the sound of a distant roadway artery and the murmur of cars slicing through wind, with large rocks in the path and boulders nestled within the first autumn leaves.

The forest in late afternoon.

It was the paths that joined and separated, the fallen trees with their just-split wood, the chipmunks dashing out whenever we stood still.

A chipmunk frozen in place upon a boulder who must know that I am taking a photograph even with the great distance between us.

As we walked, I thought back to Plotinus:

So, let us grasp by discursive thinking this cosmos all together as one, each of its parts remaining what it is and not jumbled together, if possible, so that if any one of these should occur to us – for example, the sphere outside the periphery of the cosmos – an image of the sun follows immediately and together with it all the other stars, and earth and sea and all the living beings are seen, as if all these were in reality to be seen in a transparent sphere. Let there be formed in your soul, then, the image of a luminous sphere having all things in it, whether moving or stable, or some moving and some stable.

Keeping this image, take another for yourself by abstracting the mass from it. Abstract, too, places and the semblance of the matter you have in yourself. Don’t try to take another sphere smaller than it in mass, but call on the god who made that of which you have a semblance, and pray for him to come. And he might come bearing his cosmos with all of the gods in it, being one and all of them, and each is all coming together as one, each with different powers, though all are one by that multiple single power. Rather, it is that one god who is all.

Plotinus, trans. Gerson, 5.8.9.

I thought about just how massive and intricate the rocks were upon the path — about the sheer size of all that was around me multiplied and extended out far beyond. It seemed giddyingly absurd that the world was so large (because this is only one state park out of many, one world out of many, one galaxy out of so, so many), and suddenly much more complicated to consider a visualization like the one in the quotation from where I stood in the cultivated wild.

We rested for a while on one of the boulders near the path as the afternoon light lengthened the shadows before going back to the car. At the grocery store, there were stacked cartons of fresh cider, gourds, and hard-skinned squashes.

Happy Equinox, and may the Gods grant you what you most need in this new season.

A fallen tree with a hole at its center, a gateway to another world …


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