Fall Equinox 2020

We find ourselves here, at the balance point of the year, again, the autumnal equinox. The celestial pause, resonating in our bones to mark the transition from the vigorous growth & abundance of summer into the inward seed time of the winter. The air, the birdsong, the color of the leaves, the activity of our furry neighbors, all are changing and signaling this transition time.

How do you honor this transition towards the seed/dream time? One simple gesture is to step outside, look around, and listen to the life around you.

For example,

Presently I am sitting in my garden in the sunshine as I write. I declared today somewhat of a retreat day. Time for me to wander in the beauty as I wish, contemplating the change of season and all it means. The honey bees feed on the African marigolds, the chickadees swoop in and out on the sunflowers and I’ve even been buzzed by a hummingbird as I sit here. I thought they were all gone. So, I immediately went inside and made sugar water to help fuel them on their long journey to warmer weather. My chair is snuggled up right next to the most delightful surprise of the gardening season and I smell her mixed with the scent of our grandmother cannabis (high CBD) who’s holding space in the very center of the garden.  

What is this delightful surprise you ask?

A first-time experience with white sage.

Kris and I have been growing white sage, from seed, for the 15 years we’ve had a garden here at Heartstone. She doesn’t survive our cold winters. We’ve tried bringing in a few plants, or burying them in the greenhouse so we might nurture one of these beauties to mature & flower. No luck. So, every February we fire-germinate the seeds to have “annual” plants to transplant into the garden.

This year I started our seeds as usual, and Kris delicately transplanted every single seedling that germinated. In her true “Kris fashion”, she sang to the plants as she pre-watered every hole the seedlings would occupy in the wheel. The hot dry (drought) weather we had here mimicked white sage’s natural habitat and was exactly what she needed to thrive. The center of our garden has never experienced such sage abundance. Recently our untrained eyes noticed one plant in particular growing abnormally tall (over 5 feet).  We merely thought it was a very happy plant.

Enter the delightful surprise.

This past week early in the morning I walked into the garden and noticed our tall sage plant was shooting small branches out from the tall stalks. It took me a moment and then I realized those small branches were flower stalks!  I ran into the house, encouraged Kris to come with me to the garden (RIGHT NOW!) and was gifted the added delight of watching her see this miracle for the first time.

We have white sage getting ready to flower!

Every day we excitedly check to see if she’s bloomed. (Think kid at Christmas.) The added mystery is we have no idea what the flowers look like. Hopefully we will get to witness the flower in person in our garden. Right now, it’s a race between flowering and the need to harvest before she dies from a hard frost, but with no frost in the 10-day forecast, we just might get our wish.

You can envision us happy dancing in the medicine wheel garden.

How does this story fit in with the equinox?

The intensity of 2020 feels relentless. We are continuously being asked to pay attention, stretch, grow & dig deeper into just how far we can open our hearts with compassion & understanding. It is not lost on me that our plant elder, white sage, the one who brings us home & clears away what is not needed, has bestowed a simple yet profound blessing of blooming right here. Right now.

Another simple yet profound ceremony for honoring the equinox is to contemplate what we’d like to leave behind and what we’d like to dream into being. We can then empower what we wish to discard and bring in into a stick, a piece of paper we write them on, or even a sage leaf. Once we’ve fully secured our intentions into the object, we can burn it, offering our wishes up in the smoke.

2020 keeps pushing me to put into practice everything I’ve learned so far in my life to be a better human.  Some days the best I can do for myself and others is to spend time alone, walk my dog and say my thanksgiving address. Or work my compost pile. Or take delight in the green ones growing around me. Today I get to do all three.

Perhaps the story of the blooming sage offers a little healing balm, a little delight, or a little medicine in this changing time.

Happy Equinox.

Tammi

I'm a researcher, educator, guest lecturer, and co-founder of Heartstone Center for Earth Essentials in Van Etten, NY.