William Cullen Bryant
Equinox comes from the Latin phrase for “equal night” and symbolizes the time twice per year, where day and night are precisely the same length. This year, September 22nd marks the date of the Autumn equinox, the official start to the Fall season in the Northern Hemisphere.
From a scientific perspective, the Equinox takes place when the plane of the Earth’s equator passes the center of the sun. The two annual equinoxes are the only times when the subsolar point is exactly overhead on the equator. It is literally the specific time and place where day and night last 12 hours each.
This event holds significant importance in several religious practices as well. In Pagan and Wiccan traditions, Mabon is the mid-harvest festival celebrated during the Fall equinox. It is honored as a time of Thanksgiving, but also as a time to reflect on the changing of the seasons and the transitions in life that also follow a natural, cyclical rhythm. During this time, the Mother Goddess prepares to sleep as the harvests begin to fade and winter moves closer. It is a time of rest, reflection and preparing for rebirth again in the Spring.
Spiritually, the equinox also represents the balance of light and dark in a metaphorical sense. The Earth requires the unity of opposites in order for life to flourish. Without the perfect balance of light and dark, and the natural flow of the seasons, life itself could not exist.
This is an ideal time to focus on balance in your own life, bringing harmony to situations that may be off center. In what ways can you begin to foster new growth, while removing that which has become obsolete? The fall is the transition between the full growth of summer and the deep sleep of winter. In what ways can you embrace both?
The equinox marks the official start of the Fall season. The time for harvest draws close and soon a time of celebration will follow. Some of the loveliest Autumn holidays have deep symbolic roots and rich histories. Halloween, Samhain, Dia de los Muertes (day of the dead) and Thanksgiving are all celebrated in the Fall.
Holidays that honor the dead serve as reminders of the impermanence of life as it flows naturally through its cycles. Thanksgiving brings important lessons of celebrating abundance and showing appreciation for all we have been given. The Autumn season is so profound in its symbolism and beauty, that many poets and philosophers have written beautiful odes to its splendor.
As the equinox approaches, focus on the meaning of the Autumn season and how those lessons can be used to enrich your journey.