22 September 2013 ~ Hyacinth Noir’s ‘Rural’ Autumn Equinox Issue
~ literary issues also available under drop-down menu at the top ~
~ with nights cooling, the air electrifies with energy . . . in the fields, crops of golden wheat are gathered and the last stalks given back to the earth in thanksgiving . . . the harvest moon hangs low — lantern-like — and the stars of the weighing scales flicker high in the equinox sky . . . ~
the autumnal equinox marks the point when the sun enters the astrological sign of Libra — the balances or weigh scales. It’s a celebration of the balance found within nature, in the light and darkness, as well as a thanksgiving to the dark goddess and horned god for the bounty and blessings they’ve given us in the past cycle
the myriad celebrations of the equinox include libations of fertiliser or mead to the trees, offering seeds and nuts to the birds and other woodland creatures, making corn husk maidens and baking wheat bread — and re-inacting myths, telling stories . . . myths of Herne the Hunter, Persephone and Demeter, and Pomona . . . stories with themes of harvest — both personal and earth-given — thanksgiving, community and balance
Gifts, by K. Ann MacNeil
.In the metaphorical housecleaning that comes before my back-to-school-ing (a.k.a. the Autumnal Equinox), I’ve been thinking about those things on my to do list in perpetuity, including what I call in my head, with no small amount of cheek: weddings-I-meant-to-have. While I don’t believe in marriage, and stamp my feet (and a few other things) against more than a few would-be hetero-normalizing sets of narratives, I do believe in public ceremonies and symbols that allow me to bind myself to folks, to family, chosen- and of origin-.
My maternal great-grandmother could tell the sex of a baby and was never wrong, not once. Not even in the face of tearful mothers (a parade of inevitably dark-haired aunts-who-were-really-cousins, and neighbors, all of whom called my nonna, Zia, as if it were her name, and to them, I guess it was) who drank warm water with what smelled like red wine vinegar and lemon, who wanted just one girl. They always wanted girls. Especially by the fourth or fifth. Sometimes by the second or third. I had learned, early, that I wasn’t supposed to let on that this was so, or that I knew. But my great-grandmother couldn’t change the sex. Only foretell.
So I should have known better than to have doubted her when she pulled me in close enough to smell the mint from our pocket garden and breathed, “Not that one. Tell him no,” when I kissed her hundred and two year old cheek on my way out the door to meet my first, last and only bio boyfriend, by then already almost-an-ex-. “I will,” I nodded, without knowing what I was promising. The hundred and three year old door swung, balanced, then slammed behind me.
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Three Poems ~ Ardor, Europa and Persephone ~ by Teal Van Dyck
.From this home, I meet the magic which changes everything. I hone my will, wit, and wisdom to flow more fully through the complex systems I co-create. My life makes small cycles in my brick house in the railroad woods. My queer polyamorous femme fam fills my kitchen, at the autumn freaquinox we’re clever as ever and bring in the harvest from all over town. Basil from the Town Hall planters; heirloom tomatoes just ripe before the late blight; kale, collards, and bull’s blood beet greens from the queer cooperative farm. Radishes outside the door, glory of corn, purple dragon beans going strong, elongating from June to September. The abundance and ease of our agrarian autumn with red maples and red apples is tempered by onset of desperation. Winter threatens to brings me to my knees, knock the breath right out of me. We’ll meet again! Soon the root cellar and the long haul. Soon the peeling olympics, squashes and the stocks simmering down. We’ll dream of these days in the kitchen surrounded by every vegetable. For now, we taste both the sunlit psychedelic grandeur of trees’ transforming colors, and the whip crack of night getting serious about getting colder.
‘Ardor’ is a letter to a long distance lover who has left the region and the season. In celebration and raw longing, I appeal to Artemis for perspicacity. ‘Europa’ tells a story about leather, passion, transmasculinity and transformation. Both poems carry the liminal spirit of autumn and the bared throat of the hunt. The third poem, ‘Persephone’, is a reflection on Mabon and the underworld, and the way the unconscious and visceral permeates the domestic mundane. In my domesticity, as in the rural consciousness, there is wildness and uncertainty flooding up through pastoral harmony. I live in the both/and, day and night, rough and tender. The fire in my hearth is the fire in my heart. From my kitchen, I hear the fisher cat out back eating rabbit after rabbit. Each one screams. I keep making dinner.
When tourists stop with their children
to point at two “hawks” circling the parking lot,
the birds are of course turkey vultures,
Cathartes Aura, ’golden purifier’,
gargantuan cruisers, riding
a publicity craze as visitors all over
the mountain top stop to take pictures.
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He growls I hate good mornings in my ear.
No looking forward without looking back,
No autumn Sundays, apples & denim
Sleeping on the porch, bruises still stinging
Curls of smoke & fur our lonely avenue.
As if every time you zest a lemon, steep the tea
You shouldn’t sing ’Pour Some Sugar On Me’.
As if we’re facing a last frontier, not just some prairie.
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for dinner, proof
that the Goddess exists
and is making
Goddess in the egg
made of eggs.
In the prison
made of liquid
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The Hero and the Chalice, by Lore Lippincott
. . . touches on the warmth and gratefulness observed during the equinox, and exposes an important moment when a very modern and untraditional family discovers more about one another, including their own Mabon, “the good son”. Lucy is a stay-at-home mother of one daughter, wife of the fabulous and wry-humoured Marisol, and maternal presence to her live-in friend Darien. She’s preparing for the equinox harvest table, knowing it will be a fantastic event, but welcomingly different than previous years.
Following last week’s interlude of high heat and sultriness, the differences of that Saturday evening were clearly marked. In the back garden, Lucy let the crispness and spicy undertones rejuvenate.
After a nomadic existence, seasons that changed and didn’t, Lucy’s garden had witnessed the passage of eight summers, the arrival of seven autumn equinoxes, each delightfully varied, each with its own memorable story. This one, she knew, would be far more exciting than the last.
Temmi had grown old enough to understand the turns of the earth, the great Wheel, and the assemblage of gods and goddesses with their own stories and histories. At twelve, Temmi studied it calmly, they discussed it calmly, and she wanted to participate in the feast—calmly. Since Temmi had stopped wearing pigtails and had ceased, almost entirely, to scrape her knees, naming her Tempest had become one of the greatest follies of her parents. “We should’ve named her Serena,” Marisol had said.
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Saskatchewan is not Flat, by Michelle Kopp
.Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, the autumn was always a time of family and community. As a child, I remember harvesting wheat with Dad in the Combine, canning peaches and pears with Mom and Grandma, and playing hide-and-seek with my sister and cousins — back then, we’d hide in the corn fields, where the corn stalks seemed to grow six-feet-tall. It seems that the traditional ‘Autumn Equinox activities’ are those our parents and grandparents passed down through the generations. As a financially-challenged student, I still plant seeds in the spring, gather vegetables from the garden in the summer, and learnt how to can peaches and pears by the case in the autumn. This creative non-fiction piece embraces common-place Saskatchewan idioms and aspects of rural-living that are as specific to the ‘flat’ province as gopher hunting; it embraces a Saskatchewanian’s sense of community, both rural and provincial.
When you are told, “Saskatchewan is not flat!” by a Saskatchewanian, you’ll pause in confusion. You’ll stare at the thin line in the distance, where the bright-blue sky meets acres of golden-yellow canola fields, and open your mouth to disagree. But the glaring eyes from the Saskatchewanian will stop you. You’ll remember the fields, where there are large rocks sitting by the water-filled sloughs that you can see from kilometres away, and still–“Saskatchewan is not flat!” and glaring, mouth-silencing stares.
But even as you walk through the trail cutting alongside the river, the land sloping downward to the water, you will still claim that Saskatchewan is flat. When you drive down Highway 11 to Regina, you will wonder if the winter season finds Saskatchewanians spending ten seconds snowboarding or skiing down Mount Blackstrap. You will claim that Blackstrap is little more than a man-made anthill with world-dominating ambitions. Saskatchewanian will claim that you can never understand its beauty when comparing it to the majestic Rockies.
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~ . . . a simple taste of pomegranate seeds and an offering laid to the folk of the trees and flower . . . the earth is hushed, the fields of wheat soon bare, remaining dormant while the winter snows blanket the land ~