Fall arrives today, 9/22/13 at 4:44pm.
So what does "autumnal equinox" mean in general?Equinox comes from the Latin words for "equi"="equal" + "nox"="night"
The equinoxes, therefore, mean "equal night". It refers to the two times in a year when, because of the tilt of the earth, the day and night hours are approximately equal.
[For more specifics, charts and graphs, see Wikipedia's page. ]
These balanced days occur in March and September, between the 20th and the 22nd, and they usher in the spring and fall seasons. After these periods of equal daylight and darkness, the amount of daylight either grows or lessens. In the spring, the daylight increases until we reach the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice. In the fall, daylight decreases until the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice.
These periods of light and dark are celebrated by many religions. Christianity anchors Easter and Christmas holidays to these dates. Wiccan and other pagan religions center their eight festivals around the solstices and equinoxes. See the Wheel of the Year for more information.
Autumnal equinox signals the beginning of the fall/autumn season. It's a time for harvest and preparation for the winter.
What does the Autumnal Equinox mean to you?Besides the physical preparation for winter, ie. caulking drafty windows, bringing out the sweaters and warm clothes, eating heartier foods, etc., fall is a great time for reviewing your harvest. During the glow of the new year, what resolutions did you make? Did you follow through? What seeds did you sow for the future throughout the year? Did you grow your projects or neglect? What worked? What didn't work?
With the warmer part of the year behind us in the northern hemisphere, celebrate your harvest and plan to reflect on changes you might usher in after the winter solstice.