The Significance of the Autumn Equinox

Our ceremonies not only mark special events in the human life cycle, but they also honour Mother Nature’s cycles, so today we look at the significance of the Autumn Equinox. This year we celebrated it on 20 March.

There are two equinoxes in the year, when day and night are of almost the same length.

This has long been interpreted to mean that the world is in balance. So we take this as a time for us to pause and to think about the balance in our lives.

A question of balance

significance of equinox
We strive for balance in all aspects of our lives.

Ask yourself how you balance your personal needs with your commitments to the outside world? How much time do you spend working and how much time at leisure? Do you take enough time to create things, for creativity feeds your spirit? Are you able to see enough of your friends? Do you spend time on yourself in exercise and eating healthily? How much time do you spend working on your inner growth? Do you spend enough time with your family?

How do you receive and how do you give?

In the Southern Hemisphere the Autumn Equinox is acknowledged in March.

Autumn is a time of dual purpose––it is time to gather the main harvests and it is time to determine what is needed for the upcoming winter.

During the time near the equinox we gratefully celebrate the harvest of the earth. We honour the seeds from last year’s harvest that have become the fruits, vegetables and grains of this year.

Recently I told a story of how night and day came about.

Folktale: Day and Night

Some people say that in the beginning, the world was dark all the time. The stars gave a bit of light, but not enough to see very clearly.

Lazy Lion liked having night all the time. Cool dark was good for sleeping. Other animals liked to use their keen senses of smell or hearing, or their very special night vision, to hunt in the dim starlight.

But other animals had trouble in the dark. They were afraid of the night-hunting predators. And the plants that they ate couldn’t grow in the dark.

Rabbit was tired of bumping her nose on trees and rocks in the dark. She went to the Maker of Everything and asked for more light. But Lion came too and said, “No, my friends and I like the dark.”

The Maker decided they should have a dancing contest to see whether Earth would be dark or light.

Their friends came to cheer for them.

First Rabbit danced. She leapt and turned and whirled.  Her friends chanted “Light, light, light, light!”

Then Lion danced. He is a strong dancer and he stamped and stomped and lashed his tail around. His friends chanted “Night, night, night, night!”

Rabbit danced again, faster, and her friends chanted louder “Light! Light! Light! Light!” Bear danced faster, his friends chanting “Night! Night! Night! Night!”

Finally the Maker of Everything said, “You both have danced and chanted very well. I love all my creatures, and I want them all to live contentedly. So you will both win: Part of each day will have light, and part will have night.”

And so it has been, ever since. Sometimes the day is longer, sometimes the night is longer.

And on two special days in the year, day and night are of equal length.

(The story was adapted from the folktale: Day and Night, which you can find at The Environmentor, vol. 5, no. 2.)

For another post about the significance of the equinox click here.

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