Reaching For The Balance

balance

The Autumn Equinox is here again. As the sun’s path lowers in the sky and the season changes, the light changes also; it becomes a paradoxical mixture of clarity and softness; there is a kind of sweet melancholy in it, but also a joy. These seemingly contradictory states lead me to reflect on the themes of this festival, and as we honour the time of equal night and day, my thoughts turn to the subject of balance.

Balance is often equated with stillness and yet when I stand on one leg, I am aware that in order to stay still and not topple, my body is going through a series of subtle muscles adjustments. This suggests to me that balance is actually quite active – we put effort in to achieving that centred, rooted place. I think this is true for all areas where we seek equilibrium, right from our emotional selves to our health and working lives, we constantly have to adjust our balance to settle, and it’s not hard to realise when we are off kilter  – we feel it in the symptoms of unease, worry, illness and discord. But even these are not a problem because such emotions and conditions communicate that it is time to adjust our footing and regain balance. The trick is to stay aware and keep actively engaged with the process.

I have been drawn to work with the Egyptian Goddess Ma’at recently as part of a wider practice of honouring the lunar cycle. I have chosen a series of Goddesses who, to  me, express certain energies of the moon’s phases and I have been meditating with each Goddess and journaling on how each of their energies are currently playing out in my being and my wider life.  I am focusing on the Maiden, Lover, Mother/Queen, Wise Women/Priestess and Crone Energies at the waxing crescent, waxing gibbous, full, waning crescent and dark moon respectively, with the goddess Bast, Hathor, Isis, Nepthys and Sekhmet.

I had felt the need to reconnect with the moon cycle because I had been struggling to maintain balance in my own life, upended by difficult changes, struggling with depression and realising that I had become stuck and stagnant in my energy and focus. Recognising how much I was resisting change, I thought that working with the mutable cycles of the moon would be both helpful in breaking the dam and going with the flow.

Ma’at came into the equation because I was reminded by my own experience that the ever-moving cycle of birth, expansion, fullness, harvest, release and death is governed by a harmonising principle; this constant adjusting to maintain the balance is what keeps creation functioning; every part of the cycle is vital to the harmony of the whole.

To the ancient Egyptians, Ma’at was Divine Universal Balance that functioned both at the Macrocosm of the Cosmos and Nature and the Microcosm of Society and the human individual. To them, it was crucial to the well-being of the whole – be it nature, community or person – to seek balance and harmony between all the constituent parts. Without Ma’at, there is chaos, discord and imbalance, the interconnected flow of the cycle is broken and trouble ensues.

The Egyptians recognised that maintaining the balance of Ma’at was active and ongoing; building a relationship with Ma’at was a job for life. We see how destructive ignoring the function of Ma’at is when we look at the environmental problems we face, where the harmony and interconnectedness of life has been disregarded and is causing a terrible imbalance with dreadful consequences. At the Micro level, my lunar journey has helped me to see the painful results of ignoring Ma’at in my own life; getting stuck in the intense shedding and shadow work of the waning and dark moon, whilst forgetting the renewal, joy and expansion of the waxing phases, has led to complete burn out for me, both physically and emotionally. Working with and fully engaging with every phase has widened my focus and I feel much lighter and brighter for it.

What working with Ma’at has taught me is that we are each active participants in our own well-being; that we have choices in our responses to life and that we are constantly guided back to that place of equilibrium if we listen to our intuition and act for our own highest good and the highest good of others. It is heartening to think that being out of balance contains its own lessons for growth and in itself holds the key to regaining our footing.little-girl

Ma’at demands that we honour and engage with all the parts of ourselves and our lives; that we embrace and stay present in each phase of the cycle, always mindful of its relationship to the whole. In this season of the Equinox, take time to reflect on your own balancing act; honour all that you are, every experience; take heed of any discomfort you might feel and let it speak to you about how you can come back into alignment with yourself. In truth, balance is not total stillness, it’s a dance.

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8 Comments

  1. William Gordon said,

    September 22, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    Hello Maria,
    So glad to see that you are ‘back’ with your blog.
    I was surprised that you didn’t mention that in the Ancient Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ (more properly as ‘The Coming forth by Day’ Maat is the Goddess who makes the judgement of the deceased’s heart – which is set on a balance and weighed against – a feather! I’ve always found this very significant, as it demonstrates so clearly that our ‘earthly measures’ have very little to do with spiritual ones (which allies quite nicely with the Christian philosophy attributed by Jesus time and time again in the Gospels) – and I’m sure can also be found in other spiritual belief systems (The Yin/Yang symbol immediately comes to mind!).
    Maat has always felt by me to be a ‘Mother’/’Maternal’ figure in the Egyptian Pantheon. She can (like Sekhmet) be quite harsh – but also (again like the Lioness goddess) also have great healing attributes (I guess like any good mother of us earthlings!) Do hope you are sorting out your problems – you certainly appear to have ‘turned the corner’. All Blessings, and a Happy Mabon from a glorious sunset-glowing Orkney.

  2. William Gordon said,

    September 24, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Do you know that Maat is the Goddess who balances the soul of the deceased (against a feather!) in the Ancient Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ (more properly known as ‘The Coming Forth by Day’? In all these illustrations the balance beam of the scales is always depicted as being equal – which indicates that spiritual values are not the same as physical ones ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’ etc!
    Hope you are having a joyful Autumn Equinox Maria. All Blessings from a typical Autumn day here in the far Northern Isles – Gusty wind scattering the leaves, the sun trying to break through the heavy clouds. and my poor hen scratching around the base of the bird table hoping for some scattered seeds! (must go out and feed her!)

    • luckyloom1 said,

      September 25, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Thank you William! Hope you had a fabulous Equinox! Yes, I think that the idea of the heart being measured against Ma’at’s feather is a beautiful one. I think the question ‘How light is my heart?’ is a good one to ask ourselves regularly. I see Ma’at as being about fairness, kindness and compassion married with personal integrity, honesty and authenticity. I have had some tough lessons over the last couple of years that have led me to see the importance of Ma’at’s qualities in my life. Feeling her balancing energy can sometimes feel very challenging – it can require some honest soul searching which is not always a very comfortable thing to do, but ultimately very healing.

      I feel the same way about Sekhmet; that tough love that burns away
      all that doesn’t serve your highest good. Despite Sekhmet’s fierce aspect, like Kali, in my experience with her, I have felt the deepest love and care at the heart her purging and transformative energies.

      My challenge is to keep the balance between those fierce energies and the gentler, more joyful expressions of the Divine – I am by nature quite a ‘Samhain’ kind of gal! :0) But I feel I am being guided to balance those scales in myself and so this lunar journey is proving really helpful. I am really drawn to Bast at the moment! :0)

      Thanks so much for your comments William – really appreciated!

      • Willim Gordon said,

        September 27, 2016 at 3:48 pm

        Well, as a ‘cat’ person I can truly emphasize with that! (‘claws & paws’ etc.-particularly with the big ones!) I came to Sekhmet via Hathor – but found her a bit too ‘motherly’ (and Ive always preferred powerful women!) Bast is a great ‘comforter’ – particularly when one is grieving, sad – or just a bit ‘under the weather’ as when our cats always seem to know this and want to sit on your knee (or even sometimes manage to sneak up on to the bed!) I know I can always call up Bast at these rough times, and can really feel Her presence.
        I still use Maat when counselling people. She’s so non-judgemental and helps me to see ‘both sides’ of every story – particularly those ‘tricky’ ones or/and when one feels that there is ‘something else’ behind what is actually being said. (I’m sure you’ll know what I mean, having had counselling yourself – altho’ CBT can have a touch of Sekhmet’s personality!)
        Sadly, the Equinox as a bit of a non-starter for me as the Authorities here have decided to close one of our sacred sites, so got involved in lots of protest letter-writing/emailing etc which rather upset the balance of the occasion! I hope yours went off well Maria, and my sincere thanks for responding. It was so good to find you had restarted your blog, and will look forward to reading your future postings

      • luckyloom1 said,

        October 4, 2016 at 2:31 pm

        Thanks William! Yes, I can relate to all you say about your experiences with the Egyptian Goddesses. Have you ever had the chance to see the fabulous statues of Sekhmet in the British Museum? There is one in particular (a seated one) that makes the hair on my neck rise – just beautiful!

      • William Gordon said,

        October 3, 2016 at 1:35 am

        So glad our thoughts about Sekhmet appear to be in alignment. She’s a much maligned Goddess because of the Ancient Egyptian mythology surrounding her and neglecting the tremendous following she had for her healing prowess and the healing temples that were constructed for this purpose. She is however a Goddess not to be ‘messed about with (a bit like a feisty domestic cat that will let you know very quickly (and sometimes quite painfully!) that ‘she is not amused’! Bastet is a lot more tolerant of the foibles of human nature – and has a more ‘comforting’ aspect and makes the pain more ‘bearable’ rather than actually directly healing it – so between the two is a good balance!

  3. William Gordon said,

    October 4, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Sadly I haven’t been to the B.M. for about 20 yrs since I moved to the far Northern isles, but when I lived in London I virtually haunted the place! I think I recall the statue of Sekhmet in the Egyptian collection. (There’s also one of Bast, and in the shop they used to sell a repro. model of this, which is really lovely.) The best book on Sekhmet I know is Robert Master’s ‘The Goddess Sekhmet’ published byLlewellyn Publications in 1990 as a reprint ISBN 0-875424-95-3(p.b).Lots of wonderfiul photographs, and a fascinating read, particularly if you’re interested in the psycho/meditative aspects of this Goddess.

    • luckyloom1 said,

      October 10, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Thanks William -I will have to check that book out!


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