Tears were shed over lost loved ones, dreams for the future and embracing emotion during an Autumnal Equinox ceremony at Rye's Wainwright House on Wednesday evening.
The crescent moon hiding between tree branches, the bright stars and clear night on the sound shore provided a sliver of light for the ceremony. Standing around a fire in Wainwright’s quiet backyard, about 20 people shared their dreams for the season, asked for forgiveness and forgave, shed tears and released painful thoughts into the flames.
Teachers of shamanic practices Susan Wright, Leigh Reeves, and Rebecca Kane led a medicine wheel-type ceremony based on indigenous American traditions to welcome the equinox, which will occur today (Sept. 22 ) at 10:49 a.m. The Equinox is when night and day are almost exactly the same length, 12 hours each. It occurs the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator from north to south.
The Wainwright ceremony focused on releasing old patterns, embracing different parts of the self–inner child, emotional teen, adult–and dreaming for the future.
“We help ourselves, help each other and help the world (when we release,)” Reeves told the group.
Four “mesas,” sacred alters, were set up in the four directions – north, south, east and west – and contained various huacas (sacred objects) to which the participants assigned meaning.
One man explained the significance of the leaf to which he had assigned meaning as “irrational anger brought on by disrespect.”
Others released anger at their fathers, Irish Catholic guilt, old relationships, negative energy and the pain of family feuds. The participants prayed for laughter, strong relationships, the end of struggle, world peace and love, among many other things for themselves and others.
Most of participants shared their meanings, dreams and prayers out loud, while others elected to partake in silence.
But although some did not speak for the ceremony, all participated in the music that accompanied the various directions. The group shared bells, percussion instruments, flutes, a rainmaker and other instruments used by indigenous cultures.
Read about each direction before you consider what dreams, emotion, energy and prayers you want to throw into a proverbial fire.
EAST: The East is about the child and creating the belonging and safety so it can be important to release old pain and old patterns, Wright said. Participants collected items from nature to serve as the huacas. They then breathed meanings into the items and threw them into the flames to release.
SOUTH: The South is about water, the inner teen, expressing emotion and authenticity. Participants played various instruments along to Rebecca Kane’s drumming.
WEST: The West is the direction of the mind, the adult mind. It is about the energy of the fire, living with integrity and recharging your own energy. Participants focused on moving into independence and adulthood with integrity, expressing gratitude and focusing on dreams for the future. “Be good to yourself and all part of the community,” Wright said.
Participants made a “Despacho,” a dispatch, for mother earth. The group placed prayers of gratitude and requests into an offering by using various food items as huacas to create the Despacho, which was then burned in the fire.
NORTH: The North represents the direction of generosity and healthy reciprocity. It is about filling up and being generous with it. “This is a process I have really come to believe in,” Wright said.
Participants took a pinch of tobacco and a pinch of seeds to create prayer ties that were then burned in the fire. The tobacco was to represent a pray for a loved one and the seeds were to represent your own dreams.
For more information on Susan Wright's teachings, visit her website here.
What are you letting go of as we enter a new season? What do you dream for this year? Please share your thoughts in the comments.