As the warmth of summer begins to wane, and the daylight hours get shorter,we are reminded that the Equinox is not far away. A day of equal day and equal night. Being curious, I looked at how several traditions viewed this time of year. Let me share some of these with you.
In the Greek tradition, this Equinox is the sign of Autumn. It is when the Goddess Persephone leaves our world and her mother Demeter, to return to the Underworld and her husband, Hades. Persephone is both the Maiden and the Queen, depending who she is with: her mother or husband. Her lessons relate to personal power, birth, death and rebirth. This is a good time to enact rituals for protection and security. It is also a good time to reflect upon successes and failures from the previous months.
The Buddhist celebration of Higan (or Higan-e) celebrates the spiritual move from the world of suffering to the world of enlightenment. The word “Higan” means “other shore” and refers to spirits of the dead reaching Nirvana after crossing the River of Existence. It is a time of year to remember and honor the dead.
Pagans celebrate Mabon, one of eight Sabbats. It celebrates the second harvest and beginning of winter preparations. It is considered a time to respect the impending dark while giving thanks to the sunlight.
Over time, Christians replaced the Pagan Equinox with more Christianized observances. Michaelmas, which is the Festival of Michael and All Angels, falls on September 29th. This was thought close enough to the Equinox to be the chosen celebration. Another name for this celebration is “Festival of Strong Wills”. It makes you wonder who or what they really meant by this name!
Although not held on the Equinox, but rather on the Full Moon, the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates the abundance of summer’s harvest. The main food is called Moon Cake, which is filled with lotus, sesame seeds, duck egg or dried fruit. This food originated from the tradition of making offerings to the Sun in the Spring and the Moon in the Autumn.
These are but a few of the ways the end of summer has been celebrated. Create your own tradition to honor the changing of the seasons.