Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox

Tomorrow morning at 7:30 Mountain Daylight Time marks the Autumnal Equinox, the day when the celestial equator passes over the midpoint of the sun. The equinox, meaning “Equal Night” in Latin, is the day when night and day last 12 hours each. After today, each day loses precious light as the season and the sun swing toward the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year in late December.


The equinox represents the delicate balance of darkness and light in both the physical earth world as well as our personal psyche. Like the Earth, we humans are both a polarity and a unity of opposites—light and dark, internal and external, yin and yang. Life is a balance of these opposites that we reconcile every day.


My pagan and Druid ancestors in the Old Country celebrated the Autumnal Equinox, honoring this time of harvest and thanksgiving with the festival of Mabon. Their celebration reflected the changing of the season from the richness, warmth, and plentitude of summer to the bleak days and long nights of winter and knowing that the transition of our frail human lives follows the cyclical rhythm of the seasons.


This Autumnal Equinox is a time to celebrate the fruits of your harvest and to prepare for the rebirth of life in spring. Focus on balance and harmony, both aspects of the autumn astrological sign of Libra, and find new seeds to sow during the cold depths of winter that can bring renewed abundance in March when the sun journeys north across the equator and the days lengthen and warm again.


Now is also the time to begin the fall festivals of Samhain or Halloween, Dia de Los Muertos, and Thanksgiving with their rich symbolism and the lessons they teach about life’s impermanence and living with gratefulness, sharing, and love—important aspects of the great wheel of life to consider during this time of anger, pandemic, disharmony, and disaster.


As the Northern Hemisphere falls into the icy embrace of winter and the trees begin to lose their leaves and plants and animals cocoon from the impending chill, it is also a time for people to let go of attachments and anger and to sit on their hands and find balance and equilibrium. I plan to let this bewitching time of the year help me find my own energies and the delicate balance between my light and darkness.


Tomorrow, I will turn toward the sun and feel its radiance and warmth to sustain me in the cold and dark days to come, and then I will wait for The Green Man, my own pagan icon, to reappear in spring with the promise of rebirth and new harvests and more adventures on this sacred Earth, our Mother.


Photo: Yellowing cottonwoods against north-facing slopes in Unaweep Canyon in western Colorado. Photograph © Stewart M. Green


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