Monday, September 22, 2008

the autumn equinox

I know the lands are lit,
With all the autumn blaze of Goldenrod.

-Helen Hunt Jackson

Today is the autumn equinox, a time of transition and opportunities to make changes in one's life. It is also a time of harvest, reaping what has previously been sown.

For me, autumn is a favorite season, and I always feel energized and excited. It's more of a "new year" feeling for me than the beginning of our calendar year.

Lately the labyrinth path has been marked by the tall, swaying goldenrod, which is said to have healing powers. Ted Andrews says that goldenrod helps us discover our own sacred quest, strengthening the aura so that we can remain true to our essence and our dreams.

On Friday, my daughter and I found an owl pellet in the dirt paddock. Owls swallow their prey whole, and the indigestible parts (fur, bones, claws, teeth) are regurgitated in the form of pellets. I noticed the pellet thinking it was an odd-looking piece of horse manure, and when I saw the white, I wondered what in the world one of my horses had gotten into. Upon closer inspection I recognized it - the fur, the tiny joints and claws - as the remains of an owl meal.

Ted Andrews says the owl regurgitating the pellet is a very symbolic act.

In the swallowing of the prey head first, the owl takes into itself the wisdom and energy of the prey. The regurgitation reflects its ability to eliminate those aspects that are unbeneficial and unhealthy for it.

This was the perfect thing to find on the threshold of the autumn equinox, the symbol of taking in and letting go, transmuting.

How well I know what I mean to do
When the long, dark autumn-evenings come.

-Robert Browning


mamie said...

I swear, Billie, your writing touchest something deep inside me. I love the way you weave the "animal speak" into your musings. I too love the fall with its brilliant colors and coolish weather. I know that winter, which is a time of rest and rejuvenation for me, is not far behind. Thanks for a beautiful and thoughtful post.

AnnL said...

I love that about the owl pellet. I don't believe I've ever seen one, but if I had, I wouldn't have known what it was. There is a Great Horned Owl around, I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for owl pellets on my walks with the dogs.

Nice post. I love autumn, also.


billie said...

Thank you, Mamie. I'm glad and honored that you feel touched by my writing.

I see winter the exact same way. It's a comfort to know it's coming.

billie said...

Ann, it usually looks like a blob of tightly compressed fur, with white or brownish bones mixed in. The joints are often still intact, and sometimes you'll find the skulls!

I've seen them in various science classes but have never found one in the wild until this past week. To find it in the paddock was even more amazing. I haven't yet learned if the owl actually lands to expel the pellet, or if it does so in flight. In any case, I viewed it as a wonderful gift.

AnnL said...

Definately a wonderful gift. Heck, I found some fox scat in my riding arena last week and I was excited about that! Not nearly as wonderful as owl.

My family and friends always look at me like I'm crazed when I mention things like this. It's nice to have found a place to share the wonder and joy in these gifts from nature.


billie said...

LOL, Ann - I often go out in the arena after it rains so I can see what tracks might be there. Same with various scats - we have a little book that helps with IDing the various animals that way.

I don't think you were reading here when I found the tiny birds' nests made of our horses' tail hairs last year. I could see the individual tail hairs of every horse woven in - that was probably the most exciting find thus far.

Right now I'm hoping to see a fairy ring before it gets too cold for all the mushrooms. :)

Victoria Cummings said...

This year, the autumn equinox is coming too soon for me. I didn't get enough summer - it flew by. Maybe you will hear the owl tonight. I love the hoo, hoo in the trees. Or next time, a feather. They are magical creatures and you live in a magical place.

AnnL said...

No, I wasn't reading your blog then. I am slowly (very slowly) trying to read back through your archives. I've gone back to May hoping to ready about your labyrinth.

I've seen horsetail nests, though. At one of the barns I used to board at. They were so neat.


billie said...

Victoria, I have been hearing the owls for a long time here, but have never seen them, or found any evidence - I love that I finally found some!

billie said...

Ann, I have heard from a number of horse folk that these little nests are quite common around barns. I thought I had found the only one in existence! :)

I'm hoping we can actually use the labyrinth in the next month or so. Keil Bay has christened it with me but then the chiggers took hold, and now the honey bees are there. We will get our turn soon. (plus the inner loops aren't complete, but every day a bit more gets done)

Matthew said...

What a lovely photo of the goldenrod and labyrinth path. And the own pellet sounds amazingly cool. I'll have to keep a close watch on the ground and see if I can find one sometime.

billie said...

Matthew, the goldenrod are already withering some, even since yesterday morning when I took that photo.

I hear the owls regularly, so I would bet you can find some pellets if you keep your eyes open.

Grey Horse Matters said...

That's very interesting about the owl pellets. I've never heard of it, but then again I must confess I'm not a great bird enthusiast and know very little about the meanings behind their lives. Autumn is the perfect season for me too, I love the colors and the weather, I don't think there is a more beautiful season.

billie said...

Arlene! How are you? It's great to see you commenting again. :)