The Autumnal Equinox

The Autumnal Equinox marks the beginning of the astronomical season of Fall. Darkness slowly begins to overpower light. The nights get longer and the days get shorter.

From the context of the solar year, this is the time of harvest. Fall festivals often celebrate the harvest and people give thanks for the bounty obtained from the year’s growing seasons.

In ancient times, the Fall Equinox occurred in the sign of Libra ⚖️ (scales). But, due to the Procession of the Equinox, the event currently occurs in the sign of Virgo.

But with Libra in mind, the equinox marked a time of judgment (as represented by the scales). Everyone had to ask themselves the question - have you done enough during the months of growth (Spring and Summer) to prepare for the coming Winter?

Why? Because Winter is coming.

The next three-to-six months will be a time in which darkness rules. The sun will lose its power. Man will witness the temperature becoming colder. Crops will die. Trees will slowly shed their leaves. Nothing new will grow.

It is the time of year in which death becomes king.

Naturally, this astronomical and terrestrial reality lends itself as a perfect object lesson for reflecting on man’s spiritual condition. And as such, the equinox has traditionally ushered in a period of contemplation.

It’s a reminder that there is a process of death and rebirth that governs the natural cycles of the Earth. But It also speaks to the spiritual landscape of our lives. Before the sun can return and provide the power the Earth needs for new life to emerge, there is always a period of death.

You can’t always live in Spring and Summer.

In fact, Fall and Winter (decay and death) are necessary precursors to new life.

So, while the Autumnal Equinox is seen as an occasion to celebrate the harvest and all the hard work that was accomplished in the Spring and Summer seasons, it’s also the beginning of a process of reflection to determine what things in our lives need to die so that new, more productive things can grow in their place.

It’s one of the oldest spiritual lessons in the world.

For there to be new life, there must be death.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.Romans 6:3-4

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.'Mark 8:34-35

It’s a lesson embedded within the cycles of nature. And it’s the foundation of many of the spiritual practices and liturgies we engage with.