Within Dark there is Light, Within Light there is Dark: Autumn Equinox in the Provincelands
09.23.2018, 4:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

all images this post, unless otherwise noted, FOP 002018, Fowler Shack

Last night at 9:54pm EDT, autumn began in the Northern Hemisphere. We were fortunate enough to mark the arrival of this new season on the same day that we departed from a week-long residency at the Fowler Dune Shack. The shack was built in 1949 and is located in the Provincelands of the Cape Cod National Seashore, far from urban lights and sounds. It is a rare context for living in intimate proximity with the Atlantic Ocean.

Turning into the Night continues, and our time at Fowler was an incredible incubator that deepened our project of living with and attuning to the changing light of the season. We have, of course, noticed the dramatic shift that’s taken place since we started the project in late May. The sun rises more than an hour later now and sets more than two hours later than when we began. Though we aren’t sure how we will adapt and augment the project to the lengthening periods of darkness in the coming weeks, we’re committed to continuing. We feel are learn something vital from paying close attention to the transitions that sunlight is undergoing. We feel it will inform our ongoing work about living daily life in the Anthropocene. And certainly, our awareness of seasonal change is greatly increased because of the project.

On the day before we left the Fowler dune shack, we held a tea ceremony to mark the seasonal turn. This year, we used tea to pause with the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, and will make tea for the Winter Solstice in December.

Tea on the deck while half in sunlight and half in dark shadow, just as the Earth is on equinox. Tea again at 1pm (noon Sun time) while sitting on the sand upon a long, narrow paper place setting. The white paper line ran directly east-west on the side of the dune–each end pointing out the places on the horizon that the sun will rise and set only on equinox (Super 8 footage, forthcoming).

Five thousand years ago, due to their close observations and attention to planetary movement and change, the ancient Chinese discovered that the yearly changes of seasons and progressions of Earth’s shadow composed the what we now recognize as the ying yang graphic. They used an 8 foot tall pole to cast and record the sun’s shadow daily, and found that the shortest shadow falls on Summer Solstice, and the longest shadow on Winter Solstice (read more here).


image, Allen Tsai

Our project, Turning into the Night, has found a deep a home within the lines of Zen ancestor Shitou’s 1300 year old poem entitled the Sandokai (known in English as the Identity of the Relative and Absolute). We first encountered the poem several years ago. Now, both our project and the increased pressure of the Anthropocene have opened new pathways into two of its lines: “Within light there is darkness, but do not try to understand that darkness; Within darkness there is light, but do not look for that light”. John Daido Loori’s translation (available via Zen Mountain Monastery), in particular links us to the deep, enigmatic roots of Daoism, which conceptualized human existence within evolving planetary limits.

We look forward to sharing more about how we will translate this poem, our time in Fowler, and our continuing engagement with Turning into the Night into shareable works and experiences for audiences in the coming months. Enjoy the changing light.






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You wrote here “. . . the deep, enigmatic roots of Daoism, which conceptualized human existence within evolving planetary limits.” I would add the twinkle of an eye words of Alan Watts when asked what is the dao? — “What is the dao? The dao is inconceivable! I’m overjoyed that all of you are on this journey of light and darkness, and that you share it with your readers the way you do — with pictures and some fine writing. Thank you. – Donna

Comment by donnafleischer

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