We are dangerously close to the true start of fall, y’all! September's equinox officially marks the beginning of the autumnal season (unless you follow the Starbucks calendar, which says fall begins with the return of the pumpkin spice latte). You may be wondering if there will be a full moon on the Autumnal Equinox this year, and I agree, that would be pretty darn awesome. Alas, the last time September's full moon, known as the Harvest Moon, aligned with the autumnal equinox was way way back in 2010. It's pretty exciting when the two perfectly coincide, but that is not set to happen again until the year 2029 (and by then I will be old. le sigh.).
The 2016 Autumnal Equinox is set to occur on Thursday, Sept. 22 — just six days after the harvest moon (so close!). The word "equinox" stems from the Latin prefix for "equal" and word for "night." Twice a year, on the vernal equinox in March and autumnal equinox in September, the days and nights are (nearly) equal in length. The center of sun directly aligns with the equator and we get about 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness — which should be really exciting for all the fans of natural symmetry out there. Once the Equinox occurs, night falls earlier on the Northern Hemisphere, and the sun rises later. Across the globe, residents of the Southern Hemisphere welcome warmer weather and longer days.
Since the ancient peoples began using the sky to mark the passage of time, consistent events such as equinoxes and full moons have been imbued with a certain mystical power. Many diverse cultures from the Pagans to the ancient Greeks celebrated the equinox. It's not a bad idea to give this special time of balance in the year the attention it deserves.
The ancient Greeks saw the autumnal equinox as a time of reflection and protection. In Greek mythology, autumn is personified by Persephone the goddess of vegetation returning to the Underworld, the plants withdrawing back into the earth for winter. As the weather gets colder, take a moment to review the ups and downs of recent months. As you slide a piece of pumpkin pie onto your plate, commit to making the changes necessary to finish out the year strong.
Like the Greeks, the Pagans also heralded the autumnal equinox. For the Pagans, the celebration of Mabon marked the end of summer and the start of winter preparations. Amidst the feasts and harvests, the pagans gave thanks for the sunlight of summer, preparing to hunker down for winter and its growing darkness. This year, in a nod to the equinox, grab a cozy sweater and put away your shades. Give thanks for the tan, as it soon will fade.
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