The Autumn Equinox is exact this year on September 22 at 11 am Eastern, 8 am Pacific, 4 pm in the UK, and 5 pm mainland Europe. In the Southern Hemisphere the equinox is of course the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, and this year is exact in Sydney at 3 am on September 23.
Equinox Symbolism and Lore
On the day of the equinox, there is almost exactly equal day and night at the equator, because the tilt of the earth’s axis is neither away from or towards the Sun at this time. This moment of cosmic balance was understood by the ancients when they ascribed the sign of Libra to the part of the sky entered by the Sun at the Equinox. The Sun is always at 0 degrees of Libra at the moment of the September Equinox, and Libra is the sign associated with balance and symbolized by the scales of justice.
The Autumn Equinox has long been marked with Harvest Festivals: a time for giving gratitude for the harvest, celebrating together, stopping for a party in between the labors of gathering in the last of the crops. It is the moment when the air changes, there is a crispness in the wind, and we start preparing for the winter ahead. The Christian calendar tacitly acknowledged the importance of this time by installing the holy day of Michaelmas in this time period. Modern-day Pagans celebrate the Equinox as Mabon.
Historically there have been several calendars that start with the Autumn Equinox, most notably that of the Jewish tradition, which has its New Year, Rosh Hashanah, at the New Moon closest to the Equinox, which this year was celebrated from nightfall on Sept 16 to nightfall on Sept 18.
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of ten days of ritual and religious observation known as the High Holidays (Holy Days). Rosh Hashanah celebrates the birth of the world and of all humanity. It is a time of cleansing and of meditation on the year that is now completed, a time of “judgment” and reconciliation with what has passed. Akin to the Judgment card in the Tarot, Rosh Hashanah is also called “The Day of the Horn Sounding”, the horn as a wake-up call to let go of the past and enter the new year cleansed and awakened.
Rosh Hashanah teaches us that we are all interconnected and that as one door closes, another opens. It is a profound ritual of release and rebirth. The High Holiday period begins with Rosh Hashanah and ends with Yom Kippur, which this year falls on September 26. The whole period is called the Days of Repentance or the Days of Awe (again, Tarot lovers will see how the Judgment card connects with this period). Yom Kippur especially is a time of atonement, repentance and release.
Jewish or not, we can all use this time to release and to move forward. We all make mistakes, and we all have things we wish to atone for. If we have regrets, it is incredibly healing for all concerned to make these explicit, to apologize where apology is due, to ask for forgiveness from others, and crucially, to forgive ourselves.
The Ingress Chart
The beginning of each of the four quarters of the year are marked by the Sun being at 0 degrees of a cardinal sign. The chart of this moment is known as the ingress chart for the quarter and can give some clues about the nature of the upcoming three months.
Since Pluto (2008) and then Uranus (2011) arrived in the early degrees of the cardinal signs of Capricorn and Aries respectively the ingress charts have been fraught and tense, yet full of potential. As these two planets move further into the signs of Aries and Capricorn, and now that Saturn is moving out of Libra, the ingress charts get a little easier, which I think we experience as being psychologically more adapted to the atmosphere of deep change of these times, even though collectively and often individually we still have massive issues to deal with.
This year the Equinox chart (and this applies to both hemispheres) shows the Sun and Mercury in a T square configuration with Uranus and Pluto. This tense combination is the signature of our times: a periodically explosive mix with a new world trying to be born out of the ashes of the old, and with political parties still tending to unsuccessfully polarize in order to stabilize their interests.
The Moon is at 27 Sagittarius (conjunct the Galactic Center), signifying a period that favors adventure and philosophical thinking. The Moon is just void-of-course which for such an active chart means we will get time within this quarter to stop and contemplate our future actions, which will be helpful given how dynamic this period is for many of us.
Venus is active being sextile Jupiter and square Mars, so a mix here of luck and optimism with some tension between the genders. Usually this gives us some news of high-profile break-ups, and also brings gender equality issues to the forefront. Women may vocalize more than usual their anger and concerns about the ways they still experience gender prejudice, and men may on their side feel aggrieved and misunderstood, or at worst violent and punitive.
The day after the Equinox the Moon comes into Capricorn to trigger the Uranus Pluto square, and six days after the Equinox on September 29 the Sun will exactly oppose Uranus and square Pluto. So this week is likely to be full, and sometimes will take great diplomatic skill and personal soul-searching to navigate successfully.
In our personal lives we can best use this Equinox to contemplate balance in our lives, and because of the overarching Uranus/Pluto square and how it connects with the Sun, to let go of what no longer works for us in order to achieve better balance. This might include beliefs, habits, possessions, regrets, and relationships. Sometimes we just have to move on.
Wishing everyone, in both hemispheres, an experience of balance and serenity within the Equinox window.
It’s great to be back writing Planetary Energies again after taking a sabbatical of a year (after ten years of regular issues). To my old readers, thank you for coming back, and to new readers, welcome! Do feel free to make comments and ask questions.
Much love to all,