A Speech Choir for the

Autumn Turning of the Wheel

 

©REV. LOIS E. VAN LEER

 

Group One: The turning of the wheel

Group Two: Autumn, autumn, autumn

Group Three: Seasons changing

 

- A crispness to the air

- A muteness of sunlight

 -Earth aroma fecund and full

 

ALL: Harvest!

 

-A smoldering of colors:

-Yellow red orange

-Brown tan black

 

ALL: Harvest!

 

-leaves fall and fade

-Curl in upon themselves

-Crackle and tear

-fields lie fallow

-Branches hang bare

 

ALL: Harvest!

 

 

-The winds come

-The rains come

-Cold settles in deep

 

ALL: Autumn Harvest

 

-Grains

-Tubers

-Corn

-squash

-Greens

-fruits

-Nuts

-Meat

-Fish

 

 

ALL: Thanks/giving

          Gratitude

 

- We have gathered in the sheaves and come rejoicing

   leaving the blessed earth to rest

 

-On lands in the night

 the fires burn bright and high-

 folk circle round

 

-Dancing

-Feasting

-Drinking

-Singing

-Celebrating

 

All: The turning of the wheel

Autumn, autumn, autumn

Seasons changing

 

-Autumn

-Fall

-Autumnal Equinox

-From the Latin meaning “equal” and “night”

-The day and night, darkness and light are equal in length before tipping into a daily lengthening of dark and diminishing of light

 

-The mirror of the Vernal equinox when day and night, darkness and light are equal in length before tipping into a lengthening of days and a lessening of darkness

 

-Equal day

-Equal night

-A moment brief balance

-A breath

 

-All cultures

-All traditions

-Mark this turn of the wheel

 

-Around the world there are stone cairns, temples, pyramids, and earthen mounds with an exact east to west orientation

 

-The Sumerian harvest festival celebrated the Goddess Inanna, goddess of the storehouse, marriage to Dumuzi, a vegetation deity who symbolized the power of growth.

 

-The Caaanites marked the end of their agricultural year at the Fall Equinox with the grape harvest, animal sacrifices, feasting, and ritual purification.

 

-The ancient Hebrew celebrated Sukkot or Feast of the Ingathering of the harvest of nuts and grains.

 

-The Chinese celebrated the Great Cha presenting offerings of the harvest to the spirits, animals and cultural heroes associated with agriculture.

 

-For the ancient Greeks, it was the festival of Demeter, goddess of the earth’s fruits.

 

-For the Romans, it was Ceres, the grain goddess who was celebrated at this time.

 

-In the British Isles, the last sheaf of grain to be harvested was given special treatment. Sometimes it was displayed until the next year’s harvest whereupon it was ground and baked into bread. Some times two sheaves were honored: the Old Woman of the harvest past and the Maiden representing the harvest of the coming year. In some places the sheaf was decorated with ribbons and flowers.

 

-In the Mediterranean, the Festiva del Uva, the Festival of Grapes was celebrated in late September.

 

-People in China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and Korea call their mid-autumn festival Moon Festival. Initially it was a celebration of the rice harvest. Now, families gather outdoors on hilltops to watch the harvest moon and eat moon shaped sweets.

 

-Alaskans celebrate the harvest of berries and salmon with songs and dances.

 

-The Cherokee honor the Selu, the spirit of corn, giving thanks to all creatures who provide for them.

 

-Across the globe

-In all places

-It is a time of

 

ALL: Thanks/giving.

 

-Across the globe

-In all places

-It is a time of

-Purification

-Fasting

-Prayer

-Reflection

 

-Dwellings are purged of “clutter demons” and cleaned from top to bottom.

 

-Personal inventory is taken, a personal accounting for all the ways in which one has “missed the mark” in their life.

 

-There is the making of wreathes from grape vines and wheat. --Corn stalks are ceremonially placed in one’s home.

-There are processionals

-Chanting and singing of sacred songs

-Myths and stories told and re-enacted

-And always, always,

 

ALL: Thanks/giving

 

 

-Having harvested and canned and smoked and frozen and dried,

we have put our gardens to bed

For two turns of the wheel

 

-The school year begins

-And with it comes a frenetic pace that defies what this turn of the wheel calls us to do:

 

-Rest

-Mend

-Heal

-Putter

-Sit

-Reflect

-Create

-Tell the stories

-Sip hot drinks with feet stretched upon a hearth

-Turn inward

 

-To practice hospitality

Sharing the harvest with friend and stranger alike

To practice gratitude and thanks giving

In simple and grand ways

Generosity of spirit and action

 

-What is the story of this autumnal turn of the wheel?

 

-It is the invitation

prescient

to another turn of the wheel

 

 

-Yet in and of itself, it calls us to lay our lives down like the exhausted earth

pull a blanket gently around ourselves

to begin the journey down and deep to

Mystery

 

-To settle in and down and let ourselves be attended by the darkness. For as Wendell Berry wrote:

 

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

 

Group One: The turning of the wheel

Group Two: Autumn, autumn, autumn

Group Three: Seasons changing