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In the Time of Reconciliation

Today we honor--even celebrate--balance. We acknowledge that from this swift point onward the nights will grow longer and longer until the Solstice. With that acknowledgement, we also ken that balance is not a static thing but a pause in the clockwork of the universe before we move on, and in.

Every six weeks there is this hinge in the year. Friends who serve as Christian clergy have looked askance when I (mock wearily) reply this way to their query about "Pagan holidays." They assume that there must be major and minor ones because they shiver to think of Christmas or Easter every six weeks, relentlessly rolling on through this beautiful and never-ending cycle that many of us refer to as the Wheel of the Year.

When we are new to these spiritual roads, we often focus on a few holy days, while acknowledging the rest. Samhain is easy because of its Hallowe'en connections and Beltane is a deeply-rooted part of our cultural imaginings. But as our practice deepens and ages, we come to know the exquisite differences and to hold each as precious and as powerful as the others. 

The Wheel of the Year is an extraordinarily ordinary vessel for connection and celebration. As Equinox, a Solstice, an opposite Equinox and opposite Solstice mark the movements of the Wheel and the spiraling of our personal work. Settled between are the four parcels of the agricultural year--a time to plant, one to tend, another to harvest and keep and a space of needed and revitalizing rest.

Simple as all true Mysteries are--and elegant, at least to my way of thinking.

In my home community and in my home church Mother Grove Goddess Temple, we mark the eight signposts with public ritual as well as private celebration. Chant and dance and poetry and fire, as one does.

As our practice goes deeper than adding a pretty wreath to the door or changing out our home altars, we find ourselves living the swirl of times in more intentional ways. When we give good attention to our sacred connections in the webs of Life, we find ourselves easing into the unrelenting current of the source.

We stand momently in the balance of this time and we catch our breath. We are on the inward swirl now--the time of deep work, of grief and shadow and unnamed longing. Best, I suspect, to go into this work as unburdened as possible and that's where the title of this piece finds its birth.

Autumn Equinox to Samhain. The Ancestors and Beloved Dead come knocking, demanding their due. The land spirits are loud as crickets as they ride the seasonal change.

 I invite you to use these six weeks to review the last year and make note of the people or the groups or the ideas you have intentionally misused. And if the wounding at your hands was unintentional, not that, too. Then evaluate your place in that timeline. Is it time to apologize, to make amends? Are you strong enough for true and healthy reconciliation? Are you ready to let go the anger and shame and grief?

Then use these weeks before Samhain to come back into relationship and let go the guilt. You are blessedly human, after all.  Greet your insistent Ancestors with a light and curious heart, unencumbered by past embarrassments. Reconciliation is a badge of honor that can free your spirit, your thinking, your heart. 

Spiral in. Spiral out. Thus the Wheel, like ancient and divine clockwork, moves through this old World.


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H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast 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.) Her 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. Contact her at,


  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Friday, 10 October 2014

    Wow, you are one of the few Pagans I know who discusses reparation, let alone how important it is. Rock on! I stress its importance in my classes, and part of my daily self-examination is to ask myself if i have done anything for which I owe reparation. I feel blessed to have had people in my life who taught me that. Blessings on your day.

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