2023 Fall Equinox
Celebrate the Cycle of Life,
The Fall Equinox is the second of the three major harvest festivals. The Celtic name for it is Mabon: the season of storing food and preserving nature’s bounty for the coming winter months. This year it will be on September 22nd just as the sun enters Libra, the sign of the balancing scales. The term Equinox refers to this balance of day and night. Fall is the time of plants shedding their seeds, going underground until new plants rise up in the Spring.
The most important aspect of this time of year in Ancient Greece, was the honoring of Demeter, the holy goddess of the grain. For several millennia her story inspired the famous Eleusinian Mysteries. Thousands of participants from all over, from high born to low, walked the road to Eleusis in order to experience the rites, their lives significantly changed forever.
The story that inspired so many was specifically about Demeter’s loss of her maiden daughter, Persephone who was taken against her will, screaming for help to her mother (who did not hear her). She also cried for her father, Zeus who did not respond because he had set up this rape to please his brother, Hades, the god of the underworld. Demeter, deeply grieving the loss of her daughter, roamed the world and no one helped her, even if these gods knew where Persephone was.
Finally, Hecate told Demeter she had heard the daughter’s cries and together they went to Helius, the sun god who told her who had taken her child. Many other events happened in this long Homerian Hymn, but the story relevant to the rites of Eleusinian Mysteries is that Hades refused to give up the daughter. Demeter, feeling hopeless and enraged, wandered the world and created a “deadly year:” the soil withered and the seeds would not germinate. Zeus, along with all the other immortals begged Demeter to bring back the abundance to the earth. She relented when they returned Persephone to her. However, since Persephone swallowed some pomegranate seeds in the underworld, the gods decreed that she would have to stay with Hades during the barren winter, and then return to her mother in the spring to stay with her for two thirds of the year. She accepted her fate to return to Hades for the third part of the year and Demeter in turn created seasons which included the barren winter.
Not much is known about what the participants experienced in the Temple at Eleusis but we do know that they descended into the dark and drank the potion called Kykeon and returned to their lives no longer afraid of death. From Brian Muraresku’s meticulous research over 12 years, we know the brew they drank had psychedelic properties. (The Immortality Key).
A deeper meaning of this story is that our lives have experiences that take us into dark places, and just as there are moments when we may despair, we can find redemption and light. We know the mysteries had a final ascent with a celebration of rebirth, as the light of day returned.
Today, there is Ayahuasca, one of the most powerful plants that also teaches us, through experience: there is darkness and there is returning to light and most folks who return from such ceremonies have a renewed perspective, especially when they make sure to choose their Shaman and the setting wisely. We celebrate the cycles of life during the Fall Equinox and I encourage you to create your own rituals that honor natures’ power, beauty and intelligence.
Much Love, Linda