Approaching the Season of Balance

With Imbolc and a polar vortex behind us, we are entering the early planting season here in the southern highlands of Appalachia. As we approach the Vernal Equinox–the quaint season of balance–I am acutely aware of the precarious balance in the human world, even as the natural world turns in its Wheel toward the start of the agricultural year.

As happens a couple of times a year, this cool UU church in a neighboring town has asked me to do the service for them around the Equinox. My title is “Whose Resurrection is it Anyway?” and I am researching dying-and-resurrecting Divines. There are many of them, of course. It is a common theme in the world’s mythologies. But as I’m researching (something I love to do), I am also reading the news feed on Facebook and listening to the BBC for the news.

Balance, it seems, is a tricky thing.

I am personally balancing my increasing frustration with the general state of the “environment” and the ecosystem degradation that my species is so adept at incurring with the report this morning of a student is a public school one county over who has been threatened and harassed for starting an Atheist club in her high school.

Sturm und drang.

And as I rail against a culture (my own) that would allow either of these things to happen, I am also balancing my fear and concern for friends who are undergoing treatment for cancer. As much as I can shake my fist at the behavior of “those Christian”, I am also sitting quietly at my home altar, adding my prayers to those of my non-Pagan colleagues who so deeply want our friends to be healed, to get better.

That is what interfaith does at its very best, friends. It creates a world where people on different spiritual paths form relationships, friendships that go past a lunch-time meeting. When one begins to form these alliances, it becomes harder to point the finger at entire religions and stereotype them as anything in particular.

The situation in the neighboring county is probably out of my sphere of influence. We are fairly self-sufficient and isolationist around here and my jumping into the fray would be seen as outside agitation–even though my Ancestors are buried in the offending county and it is the county right next door.

It is hard to strike the kind of balance that would have some sort of sustainability–certainly Nature rarely does it. Everything is moving, spinning, rising–especially this time of year. There is activity, there is work, there is rest…and the cycle begins again.

I am letting that be my model as I move forward–in both my life and my work. I strive less for the ephemeral concept of “balance” and instead focus on the work and the rest, and I deem both those things holy. I know that my interfaith relationships will become messy and complicated sometimes, and sometimes they will be clear as clean glass.

For that is the nature of the world and of these complicated humans who are making such a mess of it.

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About Byron Ballard

H. Byron Ballard, BA, MFA, is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has served as a featured speaker and teacher at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference and other gatherings. Earlier this year, she presented “Gnarly Roots: Exploring the British Sources of Appalachian Folk Magic” at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference and will facilitate a workshop on Deep Grounding at the Glastonbury Goddess Conference in August. Her writings have appeared in print and electronic media. Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press). She blogs as “Asheville’s Village Witch” ( and as The Village Witch for Witches and Pagans Magazine ( Her pamphlet “Back to the Garden: a Handbook for New Pagans“ has been widely distributed and her first book “Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo” (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on “Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet”. She facilitates the Mountain Area Interfaith Forum in Asheville, NC and was active for many years in the United Religions Initiative.