I've been studying Ogham, the Celtic language of the trees, used in the British Isles from around 600 BC. Each letter in the alphabet is created based on the first sound of the tree name, and holds with it that particular tree's teaching. These letters are in relationship to the cycles of the moon, so each year one gets to tune into the teachings of the particular tree when its moon cycle comes.
The Blackthorn tree (Straith in Gaelic), is symbolized by a straight line crossed by four diagonal ones. This symbol is its "letter". Its name comes from the long, dark thorns and its bark, which is almost black. It flowers in the spring - five creamy-white petals, and its wood has been use for years as walking sticks, its thorns to enhance cursings by being pressed into inanimate objects. The thorn can cause deep and poisonous wounds on humans. Its message is retribution.
One thing I love about the ancient Celtic spiritual traditions is they acknowledge the depth of experience of human nature, and include ways to deal without retreating or denying reality. In other words, yeah, sometimes we really fuck up, and its not because we aren't light beings or whatever.
That's where the concept of retribution comes in. It is about the righting of wrongs. My Christian upbringing told me "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind", but the Celts say that it is essential we pay our debts and settle our scores. In doing so we re-tribute that which we have disrespected. A reckoning takes forgiveness out of our heads and into our hearts through action.
When we learn these teachings from the Blackthorn tree, we allow ourselves to pay our debts, to live in balance with one another, to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. This is not revenge or returning hate with more hate. This is about give and take. What wrongs do we need to right with one another? With our Earth?
Hold the medicine of Blackthorn in your heart, and allow it to fill you with the strength to admit when relationships are out of balance. Admit to your mistakes, and stand honorably in the repair process. With accountability, we will heal. Then maybe in seeking justice, we will find peace. Know justice, know peace. Breonna Taylor #sayhername
We find ourselves on the eve of the equinox, the point of balance of light and dark. In this window of time, we have the opportunity to reflect on the balance of these dual forces in our lives and communities.
Most people I know feel much more comfortable in "the light" than in "the darkness". The darkness is unknown, mysterious, and sometimes even has negative connotation, like scary, or it is used as a synonym to evil. We are told to step into the light, out of the darkness. Taught to resist the "dark forces". And yet this duality exists so gracefully in the natural world, an essential dance to sustain life and harmony on this planet.
I personally feel encouraged to step into the darkness this year, and I look forward to the introspective journey offered to me that comes with the gradual returning of the long night sky.
Before that begins, however, we get to pause and tune into our internal compass. How is our relationship with the sun & moon? With the day & night? With the divine masculine and feminine forces? Am I in balance?
Seeking this balance is a task worth doing, and luckily you are surrounded by forces craving connection with you in this way. Should you find yourself called, and find a window of time over the next day or two, I encourage you to find a natural object and bring it to a favorite tree, beach, mountain, or creek. Take a moment to sit, to tune in to the natural forces around you, and tell them you are there to seek out balance within. Ask them to help you.
You may find an impulse to let go - perhaps a task, action, or relationship that seems ready to put to rest. You can blow the energy of it into the natural object you brought with you. Then sit with the new space that is created. Contemplate balance, and allow the urge to release to find you in all the ways it craves.
When you are done, place your object in the ground, sand, or water. Say thank you to the forces that came, held, and helped you. When you get home, you can take a moment and give back to the Earth. Perhaps you need to water a plant, or tidy an area in your yard. Perhaps you can find another way to live in alignment with balance on this planet - maybe a commitment to sourcing used materials, or reducing carbon footprint in another way. Giving back to the planet that gives us life is a wonderful way to connect with the autumnal equinox and the balance within.