Autumn Equinox: Harvest Home

Autumn Equinox: Harvest Home September 17, 2019

We are not our own

Return again, return again,
return to the home of your soul
Return to who you are Return to what you are
Return to where you are
Born and reborn again
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We are created and re-created by our relationships with our world, our family our institutions, and our experiences. We are constantly born and reborn again.

Earth forms us

Air moves us, fire transforms us, water shapes us, earth heals us
And the balance of the wheel goes round and round (the balance of the wheel goes round)

As the seasons pass we return to what we were, but each season of return we are also new. As the season ends again, and a new season, begins, it is a time to reflect on how we will approach this season anew. We are reborn.

The nights are getting cooler, the days are still warm, and there is something magical in the sunlight, for it seems silvery and indirect. And we move closer to the hearth. The shorter day creates longer evening hours. For many, it marks the end of the summer and travel season. This time coincides with the return to school. Homecoming leads us into the fall marking the final days of freedom the summer provided. As we gather the last of the tomatoes or start working on our homework from school, our attention is suddenly arrested by the sound of trumpeting from the skies, as lines of geese cut silhouettes across the moon.

Week before last, the rains came and we moved indoors. We were reminded that winter rains will be with us soon.

Give thanks

The rain turned my attention to my rain barrels. All summer water is a precious resource for the garden. The water from the roof of my house is gathered together, in the rain barrels, flowing together. Then the rain from the barrels in turn feeds the garden.

Amazon river basin: many streams feeding one great river by Kmusser

The garden keeps me connected to the cycles of life. The longest day and the shortest day of the year, the solstices, and the days midway between, the equinoxes, mark the turning of the year. Now, in the time of the fall equinox, the cucumber vines are dying, the tomatoes are putting out their last crop & the butternut squash is being revealed, huge and almost ready to pick.

Mother earth, Gaia, gives us much. And we need to give back to her as well.

How shall we give thanks: We can celebrate, we can engage in ritual, and we can give back.

Celebrate with ritual

Rituals for this season acknowledge the sacrifice of the spirit of vegetation. Rituals often include an enactment of the death and resurrection of the vegetation spirit. The greenman gives way to the hunter or the holly king.

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Mythically, this is the day of the year when the God of Light is defeated by his twin and alter ego, the God of Darkness. It is the time of the year when night conquers day. This is a threshold time. We are grieving for something we are losing while welcoming the new. We are grateful for the days of heat and light while our fields and gardens ripened and we played. And now we are grateful for the shift to the cool wet of winter.

Our winter is a season of rain. So a water ceremony is common in Unitarian Universalist congregations for our ritual of harvest home. Like the Rain barrels, our community gathers the water, representing the gifts we bring to community and all we have reaped from our summer. The water ceremony represents an ingathering of our spiritual community. Our water flows together and then that water feeds the garden of our community.

Give Back

In our gratitude we give back to the earth, and all things living. Our gifts are our liturgies of care. The harvest must be shared. We take care of all in our community.

  • What harvest do you have to share?
  • What is coming to fruition within you?
  • Maybe it is a bounty of zucchini, or maybe a bounty of baby clothes…

Recess is over. Now is the time to learn and the time to share.

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Whether you are parenting, teaching in RE. Being a friend, or writing… there are so many ways you can share that which you have nurtured within yourself. And always, the best gift you can give to the universe is to continue to grow.

We Are Not Alone

And if love’s encounters lead us on a way uncertain and unknown,
all the saints with prayer surround us: We are not alone.

Growing and giving back is not always easy, but we don’t have to do it alone! We are surrounded by our community, and we are surrounded by the legacy of those who have gone before us. As the song goes:

Forward through the ages, in unbroken line,
Move the faithful spirits, at the call divine. 



Many are the faithful spirits, and they are an unbroken line, stretching back through time, like a chain. I imagine this chain is like a rain chain. A rain chain is something you hang from your downspout. The rain runoff runs down it. The rain chain I see in my mind’s eye is one with bells. Each bell sounds a note as the water runs down. Each of us is a part of the chain. Each of us sounds our own particular note. Each of us is enriched by the gifts of those who came before. We make music for the ages. They sowed what we harvest. We are not alone.

We are also surrounded by the community that exists with us in the now. We can reach out our hands and stand side by side.

We need our community. Often I feel like Piglet, in Winnie the Pooh in this passage from the books by A.A. Milne.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh?” he whispered.  “Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand.
“I just wanted to be sure of you.”

In our family, in our neighborhood, in our community of faith, we let us be sure of one another.

About Rev. Amy Beltaine
Reverend Amy provides spiritual mentoring to dispirited helpers yearning to uncover and use their spiritual superpowers to create more love and justice in the world. See more at You can read more about the author here.
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