Walking Behind The Waterfall At The Equinox

Walking Behind The Waterfall At The Equinox September 21, 2019

Technically, the Equinox doesn’t happen until Monday morning; but as with all such holidays, we’ll allow about 48 hours in either direction of the astronomical event to count for magical purposes.

Thus, I will count today as part of “the Equinox”, especially since I am at Wisteria for their Fall Equinox gathering. It’s a small event, but the first time they’re done a Fall Equinox one. (At least the first in recent memory, perhaps there was one many years ago.)

Some folks call it “Mabon”, but that’s not a name used much in my circles.

A relevant poem I wrote many years ago:

Turn, spin, and revolve into autumn
As we tilt away from the sun
Passing the equinox, the days growing shorter
Just a couple more weeks, then the first frost will come

But the sun is still burning as hot as it ever did;
The other half of the planet is starting to thaw
The light isn’t going, we’re just turning away from it
A shift of perspective turns summer to fall

Today I had the rare opportunity to go on a hike in the wilderness preserve area of Wisteria, part of the land separate from the event space. Wisteria is located on the site of an old open-pit coal mine, and renewing the land is a primary part of their mission,

Our guide for our hike was founding Wisterian Charlene Suggs, and one of the places she led us to was a small waterfall. While the water is just a small stream, the rockface over which it falls is two or three stories high. — we were actually able to walk behind the falls and emerge on the other side.

Photo by Kevin Nutter, used by permission

All running water has magical power; in many folktales ghosts and vampires cannot cross running water. (And the use of running water by escaped convicts to evade being trailed by hounds, at least in fiction, is an interesting parallel.) Waterfalls are even more powerfull — even in a merely physical sense, as the history of industry from water-powered kills to hydroelectric power shows.

But a falls that one can walk behind? That is a gateway to another world — or at the very least, a gateway of transformation, of ablution. Especially on (or close enough to) a day of equal darkness and light.

It strikes me that, if ritual is “poetry in the realm of acts”, then a large part of living a magical life is recognizing found poetry when one sees it. Sometimes that gets institutionalized — found poetry published to others, to stretch the metaphor a bit. I am quite sure that in Japan, a waterfall like this would be the home of a Shinto shrine, and would see a steady stream of visitors.

But this was our little secret, just the four of us. (I do not advise sneaking onto the land and trying to find it for yourself; you will get lost.)

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