The Universe aspires to balance. What goes up, must come down. What goes right, springs back eventually to the left (or comes full circle). One woman’s paradise is another’s hell. Until things change. And it will. We all know that the only thing constant is change. And thank Goddess for that. In the Tarot, The Wheel reminds us of the Balance, and that no matter how smooth or rough the road we currently tread, it won’t last forever. But we must keep moving along.
Here we are, in the beginning of the Pagan year. And things are changing. In America, we’ll be voting in a few days. Things will change. Or remain the same. But one thing is clear – some folks will be ecstatic about the outcome of the election, and others will be miserable. They’ll be sure that things are now going to be great again, or that the country will head down the road to its imminent doom. The truth? Either way, everything will be just fine, even if it takes years and things as we know them are completely destroyed. Some people may struggle for a while, some may prosper for a while, but the fact is that whatever happens will be temporary. Germany is now a world leader. Rome is not the empire that it once was, but it’s still there. The United States may change, but it isn’t going anywhere.
Yin and Yang aren’t all or nothing. That’s why, in the symbolic representation of the concept, the black Yin swirl has a small white spot, and the white Yang has a small spot of black. There can be no light without the darkness, or dark without a sliver of light. The magick is in the shades of gray.
November begins with All Saints Day, followed by All Souls Day. I was raised Catholic, and through my catechism and learning about the lives of the saints I was taught that I should aspire to be saintlike. Even as a kid, I saw that as an impossible goal. I tried, but I was only human, and I made mistakes. Now I realize that someone was “sainted” only because the Catholic church pronounced them to be. Many of the saints were just christened pagan gods and goddesses – to allow “converts” (most by force) something familiar to continue to venerate. And, honestly, as a Scorpio, the child me was more interested in the gruesome deaths of the martyrs than in their lives. How could people come up with such ghastly means of torture? But I digress. Being saintly seemed to be against my nature as an independent thinker. I wasn’t really a rule-follower, and asked too many questions. I knew that I wasn’t cut out for sainthood.
Then there was All Souls. My priest explained to me that, since most people are striving to be saints but don’t quite make it because of our propensity for sinning, this is the day we pray for all of those souls who are hanging out in purgatory waiting to be redeemed. That also confused me. If God loved his children, why would he throw them in a dungeon because they weren’t perfect? And he’s okay with being separated from those he loves until they get enough prayers to ransom them? Is he that hard up for prayers that he needs to blackmail people into using them as currency to save their dead loved ones? Didn’t make sense to me.
I think the Mexicans had a better idea. Let’s celebrate that our loved ones have moved on to their next phase of existence, rather than inundate them with lamentations and hope they someday make it to a static “paradise” where they sit around eternally drinking mimosas and eating bonbons and have everything they want or need. Let’s reconnect and enjoy them while the veil is thin. Paint everything in bright colors and eat skulls. FIESTA!
You can probably see where I’m going with this – I realized shortly after I graduated from my Catholic college that I wasn’t really Catholic. Realizing that I was rather the antithesis of Catholic was just icing on the cake! Liberating for me, but disappointing for my family. Nothing is black or white.
So back to balance. All Saints Day assumes that there are those who are all good, with no “black spot” for balance. All Souls assumes that most of the rest of us are sinful and therefore can never achieve that coveted “St.” before our names. We need forgiveness and prayers, just for being ourselves as we were created. But we know it’s not that simple. There are some who do evil things (I personally don’t believe that there are truly evil people, but that’s another blog post). There are some who are so selfless, generous and loving as to be considered saintly. But that’s only some of the time (some have reported that Mother Teresa had a mean streak). We’ve heard the stories of mass murderers whose friends, families, neighbors and fellow church goers describe them as really nice guys that they never believed would do such a thing. Everyone is a bit of both. Every joy holds a bit of sorrow. For every angel on one shoulder, there’s a devil on the other. Yin and Yang.
November is a time of beginnings and endings. Many people see November as a dismal time of fading color, damp to the bone chills and dying landscapes. I see it as warm fires and hot chocolate; crisp, fragrant leaves and preparing for the comforting sleep of Winter while the seeds begin their journeys toward Spring.
And now a word about gratitude. Although American Thanksgiving has turned into a time to celebrate food, slowly moving through New York on garishly decorated trucks while poorly lipsynching and performing dance routines, and the beginning of a season of rampant materialism; it began as a symbol of fellowship and gratitude. I will focus on the power of gratitude in another blog, but it’s important to note that when we allow ourselves to feel truly grateful for our rough times as well as our happiness, really spend some time thinking about how much we have (not just materially, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually) and how far we’ve come, a very powerful peace settles into our lives. Recognizing the balance is a critical part of feeling satisfied that we’re exactly where we need to be. Tough times (though they may last what seems to us to be a very long time) always give way to relief and joy, and provide invaluable learning and growth. Easy Street (really no chance for your soul to learn any lessons, but a nice respite while it lasts) will eventually turn to Knockturn Alley, and vice versa. The mighty will fall, and the lowly will have their day. It’s just the way of things.
May you enjoy the balance, peace and silence that is November. Be grateful, be soulful, be saintly, be stuffed. And don’t forget to vote!
PS – Yin and Yang plate is available here.