Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn Equinox

The autumn equinox is usually when my fellow Fresno residents behind to anxiously look forward to the cooler weather that fall is supposed to bring.  In about a week, we will have a taste of the dipping temperatures before it shoots up again to early summer standards in October.  It's annoying, but it happens every year.  By the end of October, I'll hear many friends complain about how it's "too cold" while others scramble to cover mouths of naysayers for fear of cursing the area with summer temperatures prematurely.

I'm pretty anxious for the chillier temps, myself.  I absolutely love the fall, followed closely in favoritism by winter.  Autumn inspires me.  When everyone is making their New Year's resolutions, I'm usually three months into mine and halfway through the uphill battle.  Most of the opportunities I manifest through the year are due to the seeds I plant in the fall, sometimes consciously, sometimes not.

This is that time of year when I really need to create.  I love to start new projects (which I am much better about finishing...eventually), learn new skills, and get myself in over my head so that I have to spend the first part of the following year paring a few things down to just the things I really love.  When most people are getting ready to hibernate, I'm out in the world trying to connect with others.

I'm not crazy, by the way.  The Autumn Equinox--which means equal (equi) night (nox)--is also known as Harvest Home and is the second Celtic harvest festival of the year (modern Pagans began referring to it as Mabon in the 1970s to disassociate it from present day Christianized festivals).  It's akin to America's Thanksgiving celebration.  In fact, the Europeans are responsible for bringing their celebrations of Thanksgiving to America, despite the fantastical pilgrim tales American school children are still told.

Autumn Equinox also marks the time when the sun moves into the constellation of Libra, the zodiac sign known for socialability, the pursuit of happiness, and purveyor of all things beautiful and aesthetically pleasing (to her, at least).  I'm an astrology nut, so blending this fact with the act of the harvest makes the idea of the Autumn Equinox the more suitable time for Thanksgiving in my opinion.  I'm sure if you look up your local community events during the month of September, you will find many equivalents of harvest festivals.

For many years, I would get together with close friends around the time of the Autumn Equinox.  We would cook a traditional American Thanksgiving meal with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, pies, and so on.  Before consuming our meal, we would all take turns saying something (or several somethings) about which we were thankful.  

Sadly, we haven't been able to get together in a couple years due to many scheduling conflicts.  All the same, I always have a list ready of the things for which I have immense thanks.

Every year, I look outside of myself and express my thanks for people, places, and things in my universe.  My family, friends, and cats are always at the top of my list, but this year, I'm going to turn on selfish mode and give thanks to me.

I'm thankful for the inner strength that I have cultivated that allows me to excel rather than just survive.

I am thankful for the wisdom I am gradually developing that helps me speak and act in compassion...most days.

I am thankful for my ability to be discerning about what truly serves my purpose and my life and what simply does not.  To take that a step further, my ability to then take appropriate (and hopefully compassionate) action in the necessary direction.

If you want to know a bit more about us crazy Libra's, Molly's Astrology has an excellent write up on the subject.  Or you can peruse Austin Coppock's more sardonic descriptions (I adore his weekly columns).

More information on what the equinox is celestially, modern Pagan holidays including "Mabon", and various cultural Harvest festivals in the English-speaking world at Wikipedia.

What are you thankful this year?  What traditions (mundane, religious, or otherwise) does your family employ this time of year?

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