By Alison Cross
Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love the falling leaves with their glorious colours, the scent of bonfires on the wind and snuggling down with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book!
On Tuesday of this week, we have the Autumn Equinox. It goes by lots of different names including Mabon and Albin Elfed. The word 'Equinox' comes from the Latin aequinoctium and means 'equal night', but did you know that this is not strictly speaking true? The Equinox doesn't really have equal day and night; the actual points where day and night are the same length vary depending on your lattitude in the world!
Here's a fun thing to try out – find your own location's lattitude (just ask Google!). For me, this is finding the lattitude of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. Google tells me that the lattitude is 55.83°N. Incidentally, that's the same as Copenhagen and Moscow!
This table of information, filched from www.timeanddate.com that shows the spread of dates when the days and nights are of equal length. For me, 25th September is when I'll experience days and nights of equal length – what about you?
The Equinox could more accurately be defined (but is waaaaay less catchy!) as when earth's axis is parallel to the sun (same for Spring Equinox, of course) and the geometric centre of the sun is above the horizon for 12 hours. By taking into account the tiny additional amounts of time for the calculation of sunrise and sunset, the day of the Autumn equinox still be tiny bit longer than the night.
I know, isn't science baffling and RUINS the romance of it all?!
Let's turn now to the more earth-bound aspects of the Equinox.
It is one of the eight festivals celebrated on the pagan/druidic Wheel Of The Year – the others being the Spring Equinox, two Solstices, Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain. Don't worry, you might know them by other names, but they will be the same celebration.
The Autumnal Equinox is the second of three harvest festivals (the first one was Lammas/ Lughnasadh at 1 August and the third will be Samhain on 1 November). Unlike the first and third harvest festivals though, the Equinox is not held rigidly on the same date and is – literally - a moveable feast that depends on the Earth's wobbly axis!
How do you celebrate the Equinox, we'd love to hear from you about your personal traditions if you'd like to share them.
If you don't celebrate the Equinox, perhaps you might like to consider how you could include it into your practise, whatever that might be.
Here is a little Tarot spread for you to work with, harnessing the balancing energies of the Equinox, the idea of the harvest festival and the approaching long shadows of winter.
Card 1: This energy begins to descend into dormancy.
We cannot be all things all the time, much as we might try! As we turn our faces towards Autumn and Winter, some parts of our energy will benefit from a descent into dormancy. This is not something that you are saying goodbye to forever, but just for a while.
Card 2: Ascending 'shadow' influence
It sounds quite drastic, but just as we can't be all things all the time, there are parts of us that we do not want to acknowledge. The shadow self consists of those parts. The first step is becoming conscious of your shadow's existence, the second step is to begin to work with an aspect of yourself that lurks in there. THIS card can set you on your way to deeper exploration of your Self.
Card 3: This is ready to harvest
When we harvest something, we cut it down with the intention of using it. When you draw this card, think about – do I want to harvest this? What does harvesting this look like for me, in my life? Where can I use this?
Card 4: This brings balance
Think about aspects of your life that are not in balance. You might be able to identify two areas where the see-saw of your life is clearly out of kilter. For example your work and home life. Or you might just know that you are spending way too much time doing one thing - Card 4 will indicate a way to restore equilibrium.
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