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The Fall equinox

Celebrations by Neopagans and by the
Japanese. Traditions. Egg balancing.

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Celebrations by Neopagans & in Japan (Continued)

bullet

NEOPAGANISM: This is a group of religions which are attempted re-creations of ancient Pagan religions. Of these, Wicca is the most popular; it is loosely based on ancient Celtic beliefs, symbols and practices, with the addition of some more recent Masonic and ceremonial magic rituals.

Monotheistic religions, like Judaism, Christianity and Islam, tend to view time as linear. Time started with creation; the world as we know it will end at some time in the future. Aboriginal and Neopagan religions see time as circular and repetitive, with lunar (monthly) and solar (yearly) cycles. Their "...rituals guarantee the continuity of nature's cycles, which traditional human societies depend on for their sustenance." 1

These two concepts have come into conflict over the date 2012-DEC-21:

  • The ancient Maya computed that this date -- or perhaps 2012-DEC-23 -- marked the time when their calendar ended and a smooth transition would occur to a new calendar. This was something like the transistion recently observed around the world at midnight on the evening of 2000-DEC-30 when we entered into a new millennium.

  • However, dozens of authors have grafted this date onto the Christian concept of the end of the world, a time of massive destruction, and perhaps even the end of all life on Earth.

The end results have been, in our opinion, the misuse of ancient Mayan prophecy, needless widespread terror among Christians & others, and lots of profit for the authors and their publishers. We recommend against buying any of the dozens of books with "2012" in their title, because they should be available at much lower cost starting in 2012-DEC-24.

Wiccans recognize eight seasonal days of celebration. Four are minor sabbats and occur at the two solstices and the two equinoxes. The other are major sabbats which happen approximately halfway between an equinox and solstice. Wiccans may celebrate Mabon on the evening before, or at sunrise on the morning of the equinox, or at the exact time of fall equinox.

Mabon is the second and main Wiccan harvest festival.

bulletSelena Fox of Circle Sanctuary comments: "The Goddess manifests in Her Bountiful Mother aspects. The God emerges as the Corn King and Harvest Lord. Colors are Orange, Dark Red, Yellow, Indigo, and Brown. It is the festival of thanksgiving." 2
 
bulletLee Wavedancer of Witch on the Go.com comments that the Wiccan God "has sacrificed the last of Himself to provide us with a final harvest of food before the winter begins. Celebrants gather to mark the turning of the wheel and to give thanks for the ultimate sacrifice of The God, recognizing that He will be reborn at Yule. This holiday has been called 'The Witches' Thanksgiving' and is a time for feasting together with family and friends." 3
 
bulletThe author of the Pagan Family Circle writes: "While in the past, most all were farmers, this harvest festival traditionally applies to the harvest of foods, yet in this day and age, the 'harvest' may also apply to the 'seeds of dreams and wishes' that were planted many months earlier. Now is the time to see if they have come true. Whether they have come true or not ... a ritual to thank the growing energies of the God and the fertility of the Goddess should be preformed at this time. Lay upon your altar a sampling of your 'harvest'.... use it freely in your ritual. (Note: even if your 'harvest' came up empty, IE: your dreams were not fulfilled, the God and Goddess should still be thanked for the effort put forth in your name)" 4
 
bulletJAPAN: The Spring and Autumn Equinoxes are observed as the six-day celebration: the Higan-e. It is celebrated for three days before and after each Equinox. Six days was chosen because it is based on the six perfections, giving, observance of the precepts, perseverance, effort, meditation and wisdom - needed before one goes from this shore of samsara to the further shore or nirvana. The literal meaning of Higan is 'other shore.' The ritual includes repentance of past sins and prayers for enlightenment in the next life. It also includes remembrance of the dead and visits to the family graves. It is thought that the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, being the most temperate times of the year, are ideal moments to reflect on the meaning of life." 5

Fall equinox traditions:

"The month of September also marks the 'Wine Moon,' the lunar cycle when grapes are harvested from the arbors, pressed and put away to become wine...The full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox is known as the 'Harvest Moon,' since farmers would also harvest their crops during the night with the light of the full moon to aid them." 6

Teutonic tribes called the period from the fall equinox until Winter Night (OCT-15) by the name "Winter Finding." Winter Night was the Norse new year. 7

"Symbols celebrating the season include various types of gourd and melons. Stalk can be tied together symbolizing the Harvest Lord and then set in a circle of gourds. A besom can be constructed to symbolize the polarity of male and female. The Harvest Lord is often symbolized by a straw man, whose sacrificial body is burned and its ashes scattered upon the earth. The Harvest Queen, or Kern Baby, is made from the last sheaf of the harvest and bundled by the reapers who proclaim, 'We have the Kern!' The sheaf is dressed in a white frock decorated with colorful ribbons depicting spring, and then hung upon a pole (a phallic fertility symbol). In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called the Maiden, and must be cut by the youngest female in attendance." 8

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Egg-balancing belief:

There is a rumor that surfaces twice a year at the time of the spring and fall equinoxes.  Many people believe that since the equinox is a time of balance where the daylight hours and nighttime hours are equal, that -- by some mystical force -- one can balance eggs on their end on these days. Some believe that one can only balance an egg within a few hours before or after the exact time of the equinox. 9

Philip Plait (a.k.a. the Bad Astronomer) writes:

"Usually you cannot stand a raw egg because the inside of an egg is a very viscous (thick) liquid, and the yolk sits in this liquid. The yolk is usually a bit off-center and rides high in the egg, making it very difficult to balance. The egg falls over. However, with patience, you can usually make an egg stand up. It may take a lot of patience!"

He has a photo on his web site that shows himself and three eggs standing on their end. 10

Being able to stand an egg on its end is clearly determined by the internal structure of the egg, gravity, condition of the surface of the egg at its end, the condition of the surface that the egg is being balanced on, how level the surface is, etc. None of these factors have anything to do with the passage of the seasons. So, a person probably has as much luck standing an egg on its end on the equinox as on any other day of the year.

Plait reports that only a small percentage of eggs can be balanced. He believes that the successfully balanced eggs have small irregularities that act as miniature legs and prop up the egg.

Needless to say, balancing an egg on it stubby end is a lot easier than on its pointed end. One can always cheat a bit by carefully smashing in a bit of the shell at the stubby end.... and there is always a dab of glue.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Yisrayl Hawkins,"Ancient Pagan Religious Expression," at:  http://yahweh.com/
  2. Selena Fox, "Celebrating the Seasons: Lore and Rituals by Selena Fox: Fall Equinox," at: http://www.circlesanctuary.org/
  3. Lee Wavedancer, "Fall Equinox," at: http://witchonthego.com/
  4. "Fall Equinox," at: http://pagans.foolmoon.com/
  5. William Duby, "The Fall Equinox," at: http://www.celestia.com/
  6. Lance, "Hail to the Sabbat: Mabon!," at: http://www.paganet.org/
  7. StormWing, "Mabon Lore," at: http://www.geocities.com/
  8. "Mabon Lore," at: http://www.pathwalkers.net/
  9. Von Del Chamberlain, "Equinox Means Balanced Light, Not Balanced Eggs," at: http://www.clarkfoundation.org/
  10. Philip Plait, "Standing an egg on end on the Spring Equinox," at: http://www.badastronomy.com/

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Copyright © 2002 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-AUG-7
Latest update: 2011-JUN-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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