The September Fall/Autumnal equinox occurs the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from north to south. This happens on September 22 – 24 and will mark the Autumnal Equinox which signals the beginning of Fall in the northern hemisphere (our friends in the southern hemisphere are celebrating the Spring Equinox). There will be an equal amount of light and darkness during this time, and afterwards the nights grow longer and we head towards winter.
Twice a year, during the earth’s orbit around the sun, we experience equal amounts of daylight and nighttime as the sun crosses over the equator. In the Spring, we call it Vernal Equinox, and every Fall in September it goes by the name of Autumnal Equinox.
But Autumnal Equinox is much more than marking the season before the nights get longer and the leaves change color, soon to parachute from branches to the ground below.
For us in the Northern Hemisphere, people are enjoying the cooler days of autumn even as preparations for winter are underway.
In the rhythm of the year, Harvest Home marks a time of rest after hard work. The crops are gathered in, and winter is still a month and a half away! Although the nights are getting cooler, the days are still warm, and there is something magical in the sunlight, for it seems silvery and indirect.
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Equinox, meaning “equal night”, has its share of folklore and tradition as well. Some are rooted in Mythology; others are more grounded and carry their tradition to this day.
Those surrounding Autumnal Equinox included the following:
In Greek mythology, Persephone (formerly named Kore) returns to the Underworld on Autumnal Equinox to live with her husband, Hades, for half a year after living on Earth with her mother, Demeter, starting at Vernal Equinox.
Higan (meaning “the other shore”—nirvana), a Buddhist memorial service, occurs around the time of Autumnal Equinox (as well as Vernal Equinox), for seven days and serves to comfort ancestral spirits with loved ones visiting family graves.
Michaelmas, the Christian holiday honoring the Archangel Michael, has pagan roots in Autumnal Equinox—end of harvest time, the marking of shorter days and longer nights, as well as the expulsion of Lucifer from Heaven by Archangel Michael.
One of eight Wiccan festivals that honor nature, Called Sabbats, falls near this date in September.
Mabon, the Witch’s Thanksgiving, was a Welsh god and the male “counterpart” to the Persephone myth. Taken from his mother while only days old, Mabon gestates in the womb of Modron (the Great Mother) waiting to be reborn.
Clearly, this time of year has a variety of cultural observances spread around the world, diverse in custom, yet united in season. This September, when experiencing one of the biannual “Balancing of Nature”, remember the multitude of celebrations that share the advent of Autumn.
The sun is rising later now and nightfall comes sooner. This is our autumn equinox, when the days are getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere. At this equinox, day and night are approximately equal in length. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, people are enjoying the cooler days of autumn even as preparations for winter are underway
To welcome in this beautiful and magical season use some of the following to embrace all that is good:
Incense or scents to use: Pine, sage, sweetgrass or myrrh.
Seasonal Herbs: Rue, yarrow, rosemary, marigold, sage, walnut leaves and husks, mistletoe, saffron, oat leaves, apple.
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