Back to Nature (Published on - Oct. 7, 2005)
Fall Equinox – a time of change
Photo by Rick Tremmel
The colorful leaves of autumn surrounds us in nature’s natural beauty.
Can you feel it? There it is hiding in between the branches of the oak at the break of dawn. There it is ever so slightly guilding the edges for the leaves. There’s a crunch of acorns beneath your feet and the bright purple berries of American Beauty along the forest path.

Momma duck has taught her fat babies to forage for food and seek shelter, while they are busily learning the art of wagging their tails. The tomatoes are ripened and falling from the vine, the orange tree is ornamented in little hard, green promises for papa’s winter breakfast, and the oats are ready for harvesting.

A change has come.

On Sept. 22 at 22:22, the night hours were equal to the day, the Autumnal Equinox. The Autumnal Equinox brings about cooling winds, longer nights, relief from hurricane fears and the warmth of a good winter fire. Our attention turns to the earth.

We realize and celebrate our connection with the Great Mother. It is the time of the Ducks Fly Moon, the first moon of Mudjekeewis, Spirit-Keeper of the West, Father of the Winds. Elder Sun Bear teaches, “People born under this moon, or experiencing its influence, seek to deeply understand the concept of balance in all aspects of life.”

The word “equinox” refers to the time that occurs twice a year when the nighttime is equal to the daytime, each being 12 hours in duration a time of complete balance. In the language of science, an equinox is either of two points on the celestial sphere where the ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect.

Ancient cultures around the world have naturally celebrated this time of year with ceremonies and practices honoring the bounty of harvest, Thanksgiving, as well, offering prayers for balance and strength to endure the inevitable winter drawing near. These rituals are of obvious nature and

origin. Somewhat confusing, though, are the nature based celebrations toward the end of October and the fall season.

For most Americans the fall equinox passes without notice while commercial stores, outdoor billboards, television advertisements (even the Rice Krispies’s box) flaunts images of skulls, bones, blood, rats, spiders, ghouls and generally things that go bump in the night. We refer to this celebration as Halloween.

Halloween is a time when citizens dress up in varied costumes, celebrate by dancing, singing and generally acting peculiarly, while begging for treats then later partaking in a gluttonous feast. This begging for treats has changed over the years in purpose, but is now scholarly interpreted as begging for one’s self in exchange for prevention of bad luck or prosperity. (Prayers for the long winter ahead).

The Celts named Halloween Samhain (sow`an) meaning: end of summer which culminated in a feast of the sun. The Scots and Irish held similar celebrations at this time of year. Another common theme worldwide is interpreting this time of year as the time when two worlds (the spirit and mortal) bump up against each other or in theory, a magic portal opens between the two and the dead are able to roam freely in the land of the living. (Equal day and night hours. balance = an equal playing field.)

Some cultures honor and welcome this time as an opportunity to visit with beloved saints and lost loved ones. Other cultures greatly fear this crossover and have created extraordinary ceremonies and traditions to restrain the spirit world within a safe distance from their mortal souls.

No matter how high our feet have risen upon the concrete steps of civilization or how short sighted we’ve become in our windowless boxes facing endless rows of computer monitors, eyes and minds connected to virtual worlds, we are still flesh and bone. We are of the earth, air, water and fire. We cannot ignore our Great Mother.

The Autumnal Equinox is that time of change to give thanks, reflect and renew our commitment to the four directions and to consider the fate of all our relations with whom we share this precious planet.

As we ruminate upon our own balance and environmental impact, take a moment to gaze upon the stars, walk there on dew glistened grass barefoot, listen to the wind stir the leaves of the oak, and sing a song of thanks while offering up a prayer for winter, back to nature.

Karen can be reached at

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