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Friday, August 31, 2007

Autumn Equinox

From a great source: "The word "Equinox" is derived from the Latin term "æquinoctium" which, in turn, came from "æquus" (equal), and "nox" (night). It refers to the two times a year when the lengths of daylight and nighttime are an equal twelve hours. The sun shines directly at the Equator on Spring and Fall Equinoxes. At this time of the year, the sun rises exactly in the east, travels through the sky for 12 hours, and sets exactly in the west. Everywhere on Earth experiences close to 12 hours of daylight, and 12 hours of nighttime.

The exact date and time of the Fall Equinox, when the sun moves into the astrological sign of Aries, varies from year to year. Each year, the date/time moves progressively later in September until the year before leap-year is reached. On leap-year, it returns to an earlier date/time. This four-year cycle is then repeated."

Here's an example of how my family honors the Equinox. We began our day by celebrating the harvest by going apple picking after breakfast. The trees were loaded with fruit.

When we arrived back home, we had our drumming session and honored the water, the birds, the Earth, snakes, wind (willow trees) and rabbits -- all connected to our Equinox celebration of the "West" -- The "direction" of Autumn according to Native American Medicine Wheel teachings. We did a smudging ceremony and then used sweetgrass to bring in the "sweetness" of community and of the new season.

After break, we honored the seven directions with a traditional blowing of the conch shell followed by physical (we turned to face each direction) and verbal acknowledgement of the gifts from each of these directions.

We also had a chance to have our "newly made" drumsticks "pose for pictures!" Here is a recreation of our closing prayer, where we had an opportunity to say our last thank yous and send out healing and positive thoughts to friends and family.

We had a great BBQ for dinner, complete with more harvest foods, like apple cider and zucchini bread. I'm so thankful that so many of my friends were able to join me and the kids in celebrating today's Equinox.

More info: "On average, the Moon appears 50 minutes later each day, but near the Equinox, it rises just 10 minutes later than the previous day. This produces several consecutive nights of near-full Moons and perhaps 10 hours of light. These moons are particularly bright because they Fall near the monthly perigee (when the Moon is closest to the Earth) around September 28 and March 21." Time is circular and repetitive, with the continuity of nature's lunar (monthly) and solar (yearly) cycles being guaranteed by our honoring and acknowledgment of them.