The Autumnal Equinox is one of two days a year during
which we have equal amounts of daylight and darkness.
It marks the coming of the dark half of the year…
In the time of our First Parents, around the First Fires of all the People around the world, the Elders tracked the movement of our star, the Sun. They observed its long journey across Grandfather Sky each day… and they also watched the sunrise and sunset places as the Seasons changed. Year after year, they watched, from Autumn to Winter to Spring to Summer and back again to Autumn.
This predictable journey became the “clock” of the Ancients. From these recorded positions, they learned when the daylight would grow dim, and how to survive the long dark nights. They learned when Grandmother Earth came back to life and the growing season began anew. They learned when Grandmother Earth was most fertile, and they planted.
As they watched the daylight growing less each day, and nights becoming longer, there came a day when light and dark were equal. When this happened after the warmth of summer, they knew the dark half of the year was upon them and it was time to harvest the last of the fields’ bounty for the winter stores.
This was the time of the final reaping. Fruits of the Harvest enjoyed fresh and dried for sustenance during the coldest, darkest months. The People gathered together for feasts, and for production of clothing and blankets for the coming cold.
The Elders told stories around the tribal fires, and the First People listened. They learned the History and Ways of their Ancestors. Traditions were held and passed down from one generation to the next. From mouth to ear, the People preserved themselves through the millennia.
Today, we carry on many of the age old traditions of this harvest season as we move towards the longest night of the Winter Solstice.
The Autumnal Equinox has just passed. We have once again reached the Dark Half of the year. Throughout the last months we have planted, nurtured, and grown seeds. Those seeds are ready for us to enjoy.
As [the Ancients] watched the daylight growing less each day, and nights becoming longer, there came a day when light and dark were equal. When this happened after the warmth of summer, they knew the dark half of the year was upon them and it was time to harvest the last of the fields’ bounty for the winter stores.
It is time now to consider the harvest, both physical and spiritual. As the light and warmth of spring and summer give way to cooler temperatures and longer nights, we contemplate our bounty.
Along with the last gathering of summer tomatoes and peppers, we gather the winter squash, corn, and beans. They will be sustenance for us during the long dark nights ahead.
Likewise, we look inward… to our deep spiritual selves. As the light wanes, life slows just enough for us to consider the intangibles in our lives. Changes we have made in our mental and physical health, new habits we have created, relationships both established and new that we hold dear.
As we move to that midpoint of late October, we come to terms with those who have left this physical realm. We prepare our final farewells to those about to cross through the veil that separates our world from that of the spirits.
Many cultures believe that veil between the living and the dead becomes thinnest around late October. Some call it Samhain, some Día de los Muertos, Christians call it All Hallows. Common practices were, and still are, to leave food offerings, keep candles burning, and display photos of the dearly departed.
Regardless of your ethnicity, spiritual path, or age… take time today to reflect on what the coming of the dark half means to you and your own tribe. What traditions can you perpetuate for the youth of your People? And what reflections of your own mind and soul will help you harvest your wisdom and growth?
Happy Harvest to you and yours. Enjoy the Bounty, contemplate your Blessings, and begin to plan what you will accomplish in the next cycle of the seasons.
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