Autumnal Equinox, Friday September 23, 2011 2:04 am, PDT
Here on the West Coast the Autumnal Equinox occurs during the wee hours of Friday morning at 2:04 am. This moment marks both the brief astronomical moment when light and dark are in balance and the tipping point when the waning energies of summer's expansive yang yield to the yin forces of contraction. Nights begin to grow longer than days until the next tipping point at Winter Solstice in December.
The autumnal equinox signals the fall harvest, which, if you think about it, is the harvest of sunlight that was collected and stored by the plants all summer long to be used during the fall and winter when the sunlight is weak. It is a symbolic time to assess what you have collected, what is worth keeping, and what needs to be released. Just as the sap of a tree begins to contract towards it roots, and releases its leaves that become compost for the next year, we too must slow down, turn our focus inward, and let go of what no longer serves us returning to our core, our roots, our essence. In autumn we have the opportunity to learn more about ourselves than in any other season.
One way of understanding what themes might be the focus of this season of contemplation is to look at the event chart for the moment of the Equinox. At the moment of equanimity we are imprinted with the starlight that is rising above the Eastern horizon. Although each location on the Earth will see a different constellation rise at that time, and will experience its own unique energetic imprint from those stars and related planetary rulers, the Moon be in the same sign and nakshatra effecting our collective consciousness with the same stellar message. Since my home is on the West coast, I will focus on a chart based in Seattle. The sign of Cancer will rise in the early morning hours, and the stars of one of the most auspicious nakshatras, Pushya will be imprinting the ascendant along with the rising planets, Mars and the Moon.
Pushya contains three faint stars in the constellation of Cancer, known in modern astronomy as Theta Cracri, Gamma Cancri and Eta Cancri, as well as the the globuler star cluster M44. In his book The 27 Celestial Portals Prash Trivedi points out the subtle and mysterious stars of this nakshatra: It is very clear that the ancient Vedic seers were privy to some knowledge about our neighboring stars which we don't ascribe the same importance to. These stars are hardly visible to the naked eye. The ancient seers saw these stars as resembling an 'udder of a cow'. The interesting thing to notice is they didn't choose the relatively bright stars normally associated with the sign of Cancer.
Thus the energies associated with Pushya may be more subtle than those with the brighter stars that surround it like those of Acubens and the Beehive Cluster. According to Brady's Book of Stars, the Egyptians linked the constellation of Cancer and the bright star Acubens with the Scarab Beetle, a symbol of immortality. And ancient Babylonian astrologers believed the stars of Cancer contained a gateway from which souls would descend from heaven and go into people's bodies. In Greek mythology Cancer's stars Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis represented the two asses that had helped Dionysus find refuge, and later were adopted by Christians who called this constellation the Manger with the two Asses associated with the nativity. According to Brady, the Manger is a faint nebula which was seen in ancient times as the cradle of life, the Crib.
Thus Pushya is located in a sign with many other stars associated with the origin of life. In Sanskrit Pushya meaning the "nourisher" and is sometimes translated as "flower". It represents the flowering and nurturing process of the sign Cancer. As Trivedi writes: Pushya is that place on our journey where we can rest safely and peacefully without anything to fear. It is the most nourishing of all the nakshatras and brings us back to that state in our infancy where are safely nestled in our mother's arms. For those of us under Pushya's grace during the equinox (West Coast), our journey is assured to be a safe and restorative one. Although the Moon is rising with a debilitated Mars, it is strong in its own sign and gives illumination and receptivity to Mars. Cancer softens the aggressive energy of Mars, and Mars' association with the Moon directs its unthinking impulse towards the unconditional love of the Moon. When combined with the starlight of Pushya, whose shakti power is the ability to create spiritual energy, brahmavarchasa shakti, the power of the tipping point is one that raises our spiritual practice to new heights. Thus the already meditative impulse of the fall season is boosted by this stellar alignment.
In the Hindu tradition the equinox periods are two very important junctions of agricultural and solar influence and are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother. The Navaratri, or Festival of Nine Nights is one of the most prominent festivals of Hinduism dedicated to Mother Durga an incarnation of Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. For nine nights and ten days various forms of Divine Mother in the form of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati are worshiped with fervor and devotion.
The first three nights are dedicated to the goddess of action and energy in her different manifestations as Kumari, Parvati and Kali. Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped for the next three days in her various aspects as the goddesses of peace, plenty and bliss. Saraswati is worshiped during the final three days. On the tenth day known as Dussehra, enormous effigies of Ravana stuffed with firecrackers are torched with flaming arrows to the delight of throngs of revelers. It is also valued by devotees as an auspicious occasion to start an enterprise and for the business communities. Yagyas, or fire ceremonies, are celebrated to promote peace, love, prosperity and personal empowerment, and to remove obstacles and create overall positive vibrations. For more on yagyas click here.
And finally, the last night cycle of the 9th wave begins on the day of the Equinox, September 23 - October 10, 2011.
As we complete the 11th heaven of the 6th day fulfilling the first half of the flowering process, we head into the 6th night and 12th heaven to go inward and process the light we received to make ready for the harvest of the final 7th day. The synchronicity of events is stunning. Take time to tune in, thank mother earth for all her blessings, and ready your flower for harvest during the fruition of the fall and the long-awaited fruition of the Mayan calendar!