Sunday, September 9, 2012

Celebration of the Seasons ~ Introduction

The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

I felt a cool, crisp breeze float by last week. I froze in my tracks, tilted my head to the side, and slowly a smile formed across my face.

It's time.

My favorite time of the year!

The latter part of any given year happens to be the most magical time for me, perhaps due to the fact that as a kid, my mom and dad would go out of their way to create an atmosphere that would embrace the holidays.

Each day,  my senses heighten. My heart skips a little beat if I catch a glimpse of a shimmering gold, a deep purple, or a vibrant red leaf peeping out from a tree. As I walk from my car to my home, I feel the cool, light touch of a fall breeze and smell the sweet smell of leaves dying. THIS is what I look forward to.

Each Sunday, I try to write about something spiritual. Today I want to recognize the spirituality of the changing of the seasons. The heavens were a source of both mystery and continuity to the people of ancient civilizations. In the centuries before the printed word, electric lights, and modern communications, prehistoric populations looked up to the stars as a calendar of the changing seasons, a calculator for astronomical phenomena not quite understood, and as a portent to explain their lives and reinforce their religious beliefs.

According to the US Flight Commission, the "observers", shepherds, farmers and priests, of these early cultures, through their meticulous observations of the heavens, began to notice that the Sun, Moon, and stars followed certain paths through the skies that corresponded to their seasons while others, namely the planets, followed a different rhythm. The ancient Egyptians recognized that the rising of the brilliant star Sirius corresponded to the annual flooding of the Nile River, while the Persians and others counted the phases of the Moon to serve as a calendar.

The seasons are marked by solstices and equinoxes — astronomical terms that relate to Earth’s tilt.
The solstices mark the points at which the poles are tilted at their maximum toward or away from the sun. This is when the difference between the daylight hours and the nighttime hours is most acute. The solstices occur each year on June 20 or 21 and Dec. 21 or 22, and represent the official start of the summer and winter seasons.

The Autumnal equinox heralds the beginning of fall, respectively. At this time of the year, the sun appears to be directly over Earth’s equator, and the lengths of the day and the night are equal over most of the planet.
 People have celebrated the Autumn Equinox for centuries and in a variety of ways. I found some fantastic examples of different cultures welcoming the season:

Here is an example of a recent ceremony at Stonehenge:

This next celebration took place in Texas with a much for middle eastern twist:

Here is a fantastic example in Scotland:

Here is another group in Australia:

Here are some highlights from Canada:

An example of a ceremony in the Bay Area:

I find it completely fascinating how cultures have celebrated over the centuries. Do you know where your seemingly silly little fall traditions come from?

Don't worry.. I'll reveal throughout the season.

As for today, I hope to embrace the change, find the balance and prepare to leave the past behind. (If only I had leaves to shed. ;-) )

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