“By returning to the earth itself for the basis of our festivals, we include
all the manifestations of Being wherever we live.” Dolores LaChapelle
While the Lunar Eclipse gets our attention this week, we shouldn’t forget that it is also the holy day of the Harvest Full Moon. Astrologically, the Moon is in the compassionate and selfless sign of Pisces while the Sun is in the sign of the Great Grain Goddess, Virgo. In less than a week, the Sun will cross the equator, ushering in the Equinox when the days and nights are of equal length. But why does this matter? Why should bother to think about the Equinox?
Time is in balance and the forces of dark and light are momentarily balanced, creating a temporal threshold—a power gate. In the earliest days of the ancient Babylonian Kingdom, the Fall Equinox heralded the beginning of the New Year. During a twelve-day ceremony called the akitu, rites and rituals were held during which the rhythms of nature, cosmos, and human society were synchronized, symbolically re-enacting the creation of the world out of chaos.* According to the Wiccan tradition, this is the festival of Mabon, in honor of the Celtic Queen Mab of the Fairies. In the Greek Eleusinian mysteries, Great Mother Demeter mourns her daughter Persephone, who has been abducted by Hades into the underworld – symbolizing the decay of Earth’s vegetation. For those in the Jewish tradition this is the start of Sukkot, an ancient Harvest festival. Huts, similar to the temporary shelters the Hebrews lived in during their forty-year odyssey in the desert, are decorated with squash, corn, and palm branches. In many Native American traditions, it is a time to celebrate the generosity of bountiful Mother Earth by consecrating the first fruits of the harvest on a special Earth altar and offering chants.
As both ancient traditions and the alignment in the heavens show, the transition from the end of one cycle to the beginning of the next is a charged moment. One way to help ease this transition is through attending a communal Equinox ritual or creating one of your own. This way, we each act as spiritual stewards, channeling and directing the energy of the moment in a positive and transformative direction.
Keep the changing wheel of time in mind on this holy Harvest Full Moon. In the days building to the Equinox, attune to the lineage of ancestors who in the past honored the quarterly shift in seasons as a sacred moment in time. In the silence of your meditation, listen as the echo of their chants still reverberate in the cosmic soul. Join your voice and your prayers with the unbroken Chain of Being. Create an Earth Altar, and on it place symbols of the first fruits of your own life harvest – a token representing a child, a flower from your garden, a leaf from the forest, a page from a book, an emblem from work. Highlight the colors of burnt orange, gold, and crimson. Give homage to the life force underlying the natural processes of birth and death, growth and decay, the dark and the light. Offer your blessings to the Earth, who sustains our lives and from whom we draw faith for the future.
Then bow to the Moon, icon of the Great Mother of all beings.
* Celebrate the Solstice: Honoring the Earth’s Seasonal Rhythms Through Festival and Ceremony, by Richard Heinberg.