19 Sep The Autumnal Equinox
The Autumnal Equinox is the point at which the days and nights are an equal length – just as they were at the Spring Equinox, only now it is the nights that grow longer as the year turns towards winter. This year, the Autumn Equinox falls upon the 23rd September.
Many cultures have observed celebrations at this time, just as they celebrate the Spring Equinox, Midsummer and Midwinter. For pagans, the celebration is called Mabon; the nearest Christian festival is Michaelmas; in China the mid-autumn festival is called the Moon Festival, and Japanese Buddhists celebrate Higan or Higan-e.
One of the best known myths which relates to the Autumn Equinox is that of Persephone. In Greek myth, she was the daughter of Demeter and a goddess of nature. Her mother refused all Persephone’s suitors, so when Hades, the god of the Underworld, fell in love with her he decided to abduct Persephone, and held her against her will. In her absence, nothing grew – the myths vary on whether this was because Demeter, in grief, forbade it or whether it was directly due to Persephone’s absence – and the people went hungry. Eventually, Zeus, the King of the Gods, commanded Hades to return Persephone. However, she had been tricked; whilst in the underworld she had eaten six pomegranate seeds, and because she had tasted the food of the underworld she would forevermore be forced to spend six months of every year there. The Autumn Equinox each year represents Persephone’s descent into the Underworld, as vegetation ceases to grow and flourish once she has departed, and the Spring Equinox marks her return.
The Autumn Equinox is a time of balance; a time to give thanks for the summer and for the harvest, and to prepare for the winter ahead. In ancient times, it would have been important to bring to the community together and bring the harvest in, collecting all the produce of the summer to ensure that there were enough supplies to last throughout the winter.
Because of this, one of the best-known symbols of the Autumn Equinox is the cornucopia or horn of plenty, and in many celebrations you will find these taking pride of place.
The Autumn Equinox is also important in the calculation of horoscopes – like the Spring Equinox and the two solstices, it marks the entry into one of the four cardinal signs, in this case Libra, the cardinal sign of Air.
As a moment of balance, the Autumn Equinox is an excellent time to assess your life’s path, and to begin new projects with which to fill the lengthening evenings. It is a time to conserve resources and gather in – both physically and spiritually – to prepare for the winter. Many turn at this time to psychic readings to help them assess their own balance, to help find a centre and choose the right path forward through the winter.
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