Sunday 25 September 2011

Autumn Equinox: A Time to Remember...

The most significant dates in the solar year are the Winter Solstice and the Summer Solstice, the longest night and the longest day.  These are significant because they are the points where the sun is nearest to one of the poles and furthest from the other.  The Winter Solstice marks the end of shortening days and begins the lengthening of days, and the Summer Solstice the opposite.  But half way between these days are two other significant days.  The Spring and Autumn Equinoxes mark the point where the sun passes the equator as it moves from one pole to the other.  The Solstices are liminal because they are transitions between the growing days that the shrinking days, the shrinking nights and the growing nights.  The Equinoxes are liminal because they are the transitions between the sun in the north and the sun in the south.  All liminal times and places are of importance and can't be ignored.

Yesterday marked the Autumn Equinox, half way between the Summer and Winter Solstices, the sun crossing from the northern hemisphere to the southern.  It is considered the transition from Summer to Autumn.  In astrological terms, the Equinox marks the sun moving from Virgo into Libra, the Virgin to the Scales.  The Coptic word for the constellation of Libra was Lambadia meaning "station of propitiation".  In Arabic, it's Al Zubena, meaning "redemption" or "purchase".  Around this time of year (from sunset of the 29th to sunset of the 30th) is Rosh Hashana in the Jewish religious calendar.  Rosh Hashana means "head of the year" and is the Jewish New Year.  In the Tanakh, it is often called Yom Ha-Zikkaron, the Day of Rememberance, because it's a day of looking back at the past year.  One tradition is Tashlikh meaning "casting off", in which you walk to the nearest moving water and empty your pockets into it, symbolizing casting off your sins from the year before.  Which fits well with the Coptic and Arabic words for the constellation of Libra.

An obvious image that comes to mind is Ma'at in Egyptian mythology weighing the heart of the dead against the weight of a feather.  Ma'at is the goddess of law and morality, whose justice is extreme and unbending, but she also regulates the movements of the stars, the changing of the seasons, the actions of all mortals and gods, and is the Order that brought the cycles and constants of creation out of the chaos that came before.  In Genesis, the is the bohu that is order in the tohu, the Chaos.  Ma'at can be seen as Ananke, the three-headed serpentine goddess of Necessity, Fate, and Destiny, the twisting of her and her mate Chronos, Time, their coils twisting around each other, causing the turning of the stars and seasons, and the actions of mortals and gods.  Just as the Egyptian gods are bound by Ma'at, the Greek gods are bound by Ananke and her daughters, the Fates, and the Norse gods are bound by the Norns.

Here begins Autumn, and the march toward Winter, the time of the Ana and the Arddhu in Feri, of Wisdom and the elder years of life as he head toward the death of Winter.  This time of year is a time of balance, redemption, forgiveness, and Fate.  It is a time to remember Her, "Old Fate, the major deity of all true witches."

~Muninn's Kiss

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful choice of pictures. Autumn is a restless time. You offer explanation for that being so. An ending to summer's productive time, but with hope as well...redemption, harvest.


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