Fall Equinox

Fall                                                     Waning Harvest Moon

Meteorological fall begins on September 1st, but the ritual calendar of many earth focused traditions places the beginning of fall at the moment when the sun’s equator and the earth’s align, the earth, just for a moment, losing its tilt relative to the sun.  This means we are half way through a cycle that began in June on the Summer Solstice and will end in December on the Winter Solstice.

Here’s an explanation from Wikipedia:  “In the half year centered on the June solstice, the Sun rises and sets towards the north, which means longer days with shorter nights for the Northern Hemisphere and shorter days with longer nights for the Southern Hemisphere. In the half year centered on the December solstice, the Sun rises and sets towards the south and the durations of day and night are reversed. Also on the day of an equinox, the Sun rises everywhere on Earth (except the Poles) at 06:00 in the morning and sets at 18:00 in the evening (local time).”

What are the marks of autumn for you?  Is it the return to school, the burst of energy, enthusiasm that comes from strapping on the cultural expectations of our youth?  Or, are the leaves changing, the senescence in the plant world a key moment for you?  Perhaps the chill winds and cool nights, the clear night skies.  For some it could be the nearing of deer hunting, or the start up of the NFL and the college football seasons.  Some find the gradual slide into darkness a time of increasing depression, the beginnings of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Whatever marks this change for you it comes along with the seasonal ones; changes marked by decreasing solar energy per square foot and the attendant cooling.

This is the second of the three harvest festivals in the Celtic calendar, the first happening on August 1st, Lughnasa, and the final harvest festival marking Summer’s End, Samhain, on October 30th.  This was an other occasion for a market fair, settling of debts and entering into contracts.