Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Autumnal Equinox and the Harvest Moon... A Time of Balance

Our pagan ancestors, by necessity, immersed themselves in the rhythms of nature. We see the proof for that in ancient archeological sites all over the world. Within agricultural societies, seasonal or astronomical occurrences were critical to their survival. Over the centuries, some of these events have become Christian holidays, while others remain routed in our pagan past. For many, the Autumn Equinox is a period of feasting, thanksgiving, and contemplating the approach of winter.

An equinox, by definition indicates equal periods of light and darkness, suggesting balance. After the day passes, the northern latitudes slips day by day, into the long night of winter. The Autumn Equinox stands opposite the Vernal Equinox, also known as the spring equinox. In the spring, we celebrate rebirth as the earth awakens from the winter, sheds her drab winter coat, and adorns herself with vivid, beautiful colors. But I digress. We were talking about the equinox of autumn, were we not... And did I mention the pomegranates?

By Simone Pignoni
As one version goes, the Greeks labeled this delightful, delicious fruit as the “food of the dead,” and it’s all because of Persephone. Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the Greek goddess of the harvest. According to the myth, the beautiful Persephone captured the attention of Hades, ruler of the Underworld and he wanted her for his own.

With the help of mighty Zeus, Hades kidnapped Persephone and without a backward glance, carried her off to his gloomy realm. When Demeter discovered her daughter missing, she sunk into despair. While she mourned, all green things ceased to grow and earth fell into perpetual winter. Zeus had no choice but to order her release.


(And it’s a big but) the Fates had ruled that no one could return from the Underworld once they had partaken of either food or drink found therein. Knowing this, Mr. Sinister (Hades) tricked Persephone into eating six pomegranate seeds. This required her to return to his side six months of each year. During the time of the Autumn equinox, she returns to the Underworld and Demeter mourns. The Spring or Vernal Equinox marks the day of her return to the surface and a time of gladness for all.

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The celebration of the Autumn Equinox is a feasting holiday in many parts of the world, and coincides with the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox. As the full moon rises just before sunset, the additional light provides for the harvesting of late fall crops. The Harvest Moon, also known as the Elk Call Moon, Wine Moon, and the Singing Moon, celebrates the harvest.

Think balance and preparation as we herald a new winter. Autumn Equinox:   23 September 2014

So... What does all of this have to do with any of my books?  Absolutely nothing...  Unless we want to say that there's a bit of romance found in almost everything...even an equinox!