Today we celebrate the Autumn Equinox.
Now is the time to shore up your practice of harvesting the light.
Now is the time to stand before your home shrine, the altars which you have made, and practice rekindling the sun inside your heart.
For in the coming months, the light of the sky shall wane. The darkness will stretch out over the day, and if you are not steadfast in the lighting of your own fire, the winter will be difficult to bear.
We are entering the dark half of the year, and now more than ever is the moment to engage with your daily practice.
One of the most common responses I see to the idea of developing a daily practice is that there is no time. This assumes that a practice must be a long, complicated ritual, full of gestures and ritual phrases. It paints a practice as yet another way that the struggle of our day to day life is a weight on our shoulders.
But the daily practice can be framed another way.
Let it begin with something small. Light a candle, take one, deep breath, then extinguish the flame.
It won't take but a second.
After the flame goes out, and the thin trail of smoke drifts upward, notice how you feel. Notice if the fear that your schedule would not support a simple practice is still present, or if it, too, has been extinguished.
This moment of communion with the fire, of communion with your breath, is a moment from which a daily practice can grow. From here, you can breathe a second time, and then a third. You can spend a moment with the fire, or perhaps close your eyes. You can hold the flame in your imagination, and see the light growing to envelop the room around you.
There is no wrong way to begin.
There is no wrong way.
Fundamental to a Pagan practice is the idea that you and I -- each of us -- has the authority and the permission to develop our hearth religion in the way that is most in alignment with our spirit. This is a great gift of the Neopagan movement, but it also presents us with a challenge.
To create a hearth religion, a spiritual practice that is part of your daily life at home, you must become your own liturgist, your own ritualist, and your own priest or priestess. Should you create a home shrine, you will be responsible for tending it. The fire you light there will be the hearth fire of your home, the center of your religious practice, but you must first set aside the space and time for that fire to burn.
Your house needn't be an unmanageable temple, though. Your heart religion can begin with the lighting of a single candle.
I encourage you now, at this point when the light and the dark are equal, to examine where in your life -- physically and temporally -- you might find the space to create a simple daily practice.
If you already have a practice, you might examine how to incorporate this idea of harvesting the light as we begin our trek toward the winter. If you do not have a practice, or have never had one at all, begin with something simple. Even before the candle, begin with the recognition that you are connected to the land, to the cycle of the seasons, and make a point of remembering that daily.
The living earth provides us endless opportunities to experience reverence and worship. We have the freedom to do so in the way that is most appropriate to us.
We must simply exercise that freedom.
So may you pray with a good fire on this Autumn Equinox. May you harvest the light and keep it burning brightly in your heart, so that when the deepest darkness of winter is upon us, you will remember the summer sun.