Monday, 18 March 2013

Autumn Equinox

On 21st March it will be the Autumnal Equinox here in Australia, when the night and day are of equal length. With winter on it's way it is a time for gathering and preserving your produce if you are are a gardener. The last of the summer fruits such as plums can be preserved for use over the winter. Jams and pickles are made with the plentiful supplies from the garden.

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With the end of day light saving in a couple of weeks we really get the feel of the year turning and winter approaching as it becomes dark early in the evenings. It is a time for balance, introspection, conservation, mediation and repose. Reaping the rewards of the work completed through the summer months and taking pleasure in the results of this work takes place as we acknowledge the waning of the sun.

The colours of the season begin to appear around us in the trees as the leaves turn to the reds, oranges and browns of autumn, the morning start with the mists of fog and the dew resting quietly on the leaves and grass. It is part of the continual cycle of life and flow of all that is in the world - birth,  life and death. As the crops die away the seeds are left as the promise of the rebirth of the crop during the spring and the harvest once more. Just like a circle that has no start and no end life continues as the wheel of year turns and we take time now to reflect on the next stage we are entering.

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These seasonal changes find corresponding echoes within our own internal bodies. This is the time that is essential in our spiritual work and is often overlooked. To start nurturing ideas for long term goals adding action plans to those ideas over winter so that the creativity can start and the ideas will come to fruition over the next spring and summer. Giving hope for the coming future with the grounded intention over the coming months of what it is you truly wish to manifest into your life. We are completely responsible for how our life is created, and everything starts from the first thoughts then added to with our careful planning of how to proceed and what actions that will need to be taken in order for the idea to come to full fruition. 

It is also appropriate to acknowledge those times when things need to rest whether that is ourselves or ideas that perhaps need to have time to grow in strength before the next action step is taken. Maybe funds could need to be gathered (perhaps a time to ensure all invoices are sent, tax returns completed etc.) to continue on with the plans you have in the growing seasons ahead. 
Photo Source One of the earliest known
representations of the Autumn Equinox, a symbol of balance, found in an
ancient megalithic site in Ireland.
The Autumn Equinox has been known by many other names over the centuries. Cultures from around the world call it: Alban Elfed, Fall Equinox, Autumnal Equinox, Cornucopia, Higan or koreisai, Feast of Avilon, Festival of Dionysus, Harvest Home, Harvest Tide, Mabon, Night of the Hunter, Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Witch’s Thanksgiving, and of course the first day of autumn.

The Role of the Mother Goddess during the Autumn Equinox is explained below from

Traditionally, the autumn equinox is a celebration of the harvest, as it is when summer has finished giving its fruits, which are collected in preparation for winter. But there are other indicators given by the most ancient sacred sites that mark the autumn equinox. Descending passages into subterranean pits, lit by the star of “Satan”. Seven-scaled feathered serpents of light descending giant pyramids. A giant pyramid aligned to the equinoxes built on a cave symbolizing the underworld. Seven giant statues facing the sunset that leads to growing darkness.

What was known to the ancients, and is known here today, is the part darkness plays in the work of spiritual transformation. Those in the orthodox superstitiously fear it, and many in the new age completely ignore it. But at the autumn equinox it can be found in the cycles of nature, and the alignment of our planet – and traces of it can be found here and there in ancient legends and myths that have become distorted over time.

Photo Source The 7 Maoi of Easter Island
facing the equinox sunset at Ahu Akivi 

In ancient Summeria, the goddess Inanna descends into the underworld at the time of the autumn equinox. And in Greek mythology the goddess Persephone descends at the same time, before returning to the earth again at spring. In Egypt, the mother goddess Hathor was associated with the Milk Way during the third millennium B.C. when, during the fall and spring equinoxes, it aligned over and touched the earth where the sun rose and fell. Soon after the autumn equinox is the Hindu celebration of Durga Puja, which is the celebration of the Mother of the Universe, the warrior goddess Durga of which it is said Kali is an aspect (both are the consort of Shiva and have strong associations with Shakti, the tantric practice with the sacred fire of kundalini).

In ancient spiritual teachings there are often multiple deities. This can be because there are multiple aspects of spiritual forces, principles, and figures, and each deity represents a certain aspect to illustrate their role. Marriage and birth between gods in mythology can represent their connection and relation with one another, alluding to them being part of the one. While the mother goddess has loving qualities, she also has fierce, powerful, punishing, and destructive ones.

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The goddess Kali destroying the egos in the divine fire,
with her foot upon Shiva.
The divine Mother goddess, symbolized as a female of great power, is a feminine aspect of each person’s own spiritual being. She has different roles, but in the autumn equinox her role as the one who fights alongside the person doing the spiritual work and destroys their egos, with her connections to death and the underworld, is most prominent. This is most clearly portrayed in an aspect of the divine Mother found in the depictions of the Hindu goddess Kali meaning “she who destroys,” who brandishes a weapon in her hands which beheads numerous demons. Her hands are bloodied and the heads of her enemies hang around her neck. Her enemies are the egos of the person, and she fights them within the person working to change. Kali is said to inhabit a cremation ground, which is the place where the egos are killed and destroyed in alchemical fire.

This is also why some ancient texts often state that one should offer animal sacrifices to the Gods, and specifically to Kali. Unfortunately many have interpreted this literally, when really the animals are symbols of the egos (or seven deadly sins) which are animalistic in nature, such as anger, pride, greed, envy, lust, etc. Offering our egos as sacrifices before the gods means that we are removing darkness from within ourselves, which is a form of sacrifice because we are giving up something inferior to gain something superior, which is the light, and thus also “pleasing the gods.” The egos are also depicted in images with Kali as evil people, because they are as separate evil personas within our psyche.

The Warrior Aspect of the Goddess Found Around the World - The Mother goddess is a feminine spiritual part of us, which has been represented by different cultures around the world, but with amazing similarities – showing the universal nature of her existence.

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The Aztec Goddess Coatlicue with an astonishingly
similar necklace, skirt and appearance as Kali.
Like Kali, the Aztec goddess Coatlicue is a Mother goddess with her deadly and destructive side emphasized. It is said that in her both the grave and womb exist. She bears an astonishing resemblance to Kali, with her teeth, breasts, and tongue bared, wearing a necklace made of human hearts, hands, and skulls.

In Egypt, Sekhmet is the mother goddess Hathor in her destructive aspect, and as an icon appears to be thousands of years old. Sekhmet has the head of a lion and dresses in red, the colour of blood, and is said to be the fiercest of all goddesses. Her name means “powerful one,” but she also had titles such as “Mistress of Dread,” “Lady of Slaughter,” “Lady of Flame,” and the “one before whom evil trembles.” She is the female warrior goddess, and it was said that death and destruction were balm for her warrior’s heart. Like Persephone who married the god of the underworld Hades, she was also said to be married to Ptah, an Egyptian god associated with the underworld, creation, and darkness. Both Kali and Sekhmet were said to wreak such fierce destruction that they had to be placated to stop them from destroying humankind.

Incredibly, in Buddhism, the warrior aspect of the goddess also bears a resemblance to the Egyptian Sekhmet, Aztec Coatlicue, and Hindu Kali. She is Senge Dongma (Simhamukha in Sanskrit), who was created to destroy demons, and like Sekhmet, she has the head of a lion and can be the color red. But also, like Kali, has been described as the colour of dark clouds like those that bring rain or storm, and can appear as dark blue or black. Again, like Kali, she too is associated with cremation grounds, she holds a ritual knife in one hand, and a scull cap of blood in another, and has a headdress of five skulls and three eyes as Kali is sometimes depicted with. Like Kali and Coatlicue, her eyes are wide open, her tongue, teeth and breasts are bared, she wears a skirt made of tiger skin, and a long necklace made of human bones and severed heads.

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The Sumerian Goddess Inanna and her lions.
In Hinduism, the goddess Durga who is closely connected to Kali and is also a fierce warrior wielding numerous weapons to slay demons, is depicted as mounted on a lion or tiger, paralleling the lion part of Sekhmet and Senge Dongma. The Sumerian goddess Inanna was known as the Queen of Heaven, and as a goddess of sexual love and warfare. She was a powerful warrior whose chariot was drawn by lions and was often symbolized as a lioness in battle. The lion and tiger are both ferocious and powerful, and all are their prey. They are symbolic of the spirit which has the power to defeat evil.

Senge Dongma is known as the “Guardian of the Secret Tantric Teachings,” and is depicted as circled by flame, with mythological links to a cremation ground. Kali is primarily a tantric goddess who inhabits the cremation ground. Durga is “Keeper of the Flame.” Sekhmet is known as “Lady of Flame.” The fire is the sacred fire of kundalini, which is tantric. The warrior aspect of the goddess is so intimately related to tantrism and fire, because it is in the fire of sexual alchemy that she destroys the demons, the egos, and also why she is linked to cremation grounds – the place where the egos are incinerated in divine fire.

The same deathly aspect of the mother goddess can be found in Greece as Hecate and Persephone. In the Pistis Sophia (an ancient esoteric Christian text), Jesus explains how the soul of a murderer is taken down into the chaos before Persephone and the receivers punish it with her chastisements for a time. Hecate has been depicted as a giant woman holding a torch and sword. It is interesting to note that at least Hecate (a pagan goddess) was demonised and degraded by the Church who associated her with witches and sorcery.

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The Greek Goddess Hecate with a sword and snake
in her hands, her arms like those of a strong warrior.
At the autumn equinox she descends into the underworld with the initiate to destroy the egos. In the spiritual work, it is this feminine power that has this role. Thus, Kali is also known as the mother and redeemer of the universe.

The autumn equinox is when the initiate, the person working towards enlightenment, must descend with the aid of their divine Mother (the female warrior goddess) into the underworld/chaos/abyss/hell, to fight the egos and evil within, to emerge with the light and knowledge gained in darkness and later ascend. It is a time of sacrifice and death where the seed within a person must die (symbolized by the wheat, rice, barley, or corn), forming the basis for the divine alchemical sexual fire that the Mother uses to destroy egos so that the Son can be born within a person. The autumn equinox is a time of preparing the way for the Son to be born at the winter solstice.

The symbols of this preparation can be found throughout the ancient world, in the cosmos, and indicate what to go through to awaken spiritually.

The spiritual meaning of the autumn equinox has been obscured with time, much more than the other three events in the wheel of the year. This is because as the spiritual work was lost, the esoteric meaning became vague and must have seemed to represent sinister, evil forces. Thus the symbols were given other meanings and turned into other things in the way that Santa Claus symbolizes Christmas day. Parts moved to cross quarter days and meanings changed into celebrations of the dead, of evil spirits, harvest festivals, bonfires, sacrifices, drunkenness, and debauchery. Fortunately the builders of ancient sites such as the Great Pyramids left the message of the real meaning in their architecture, which mirrored the meanings found in the cosmos and survived in sketchy details through myths, legends, and religions throughout history.

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1 comment:

Fotis said...

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