The Setting Sun of Autumn
As the sun sinks on this Autumn Equinox, when we begin transitioning from sun-drenched days to longer nights, it is striking how many faiths celebrate holidays at the same times of year. The Jewish and Islamic calendars both mark the beginning of their new year in the autumn, and this year they begin on the same day. The Hindu festival of Navratri has begun, too, celebrating the divine feminine in the form of the goddess Durga, who battled demons of Ego to restore order in the universe.
In the Wiccan tradition and other neopagan paths, the Autumn Equinox may be referred to as Mabon, the harvest festival, when we complete projects and express gratitude for abundance in our lives. In the Native American tradition of the Medicine Wheel, the Autumn Equinox is when we step into the West Lodge. In the West, we give thanks as we reap the bounty of our work throughout the year, and we prepare to step out of the light and into the darkness of the cave, where we can rest and be restored. As I was taught it, the West is associated with the color black and the element of earth. One of the Power Animals associated with the West is Bear, who spends the autumn preparing for the long winter in the cave, and who gives us a warm, soft place to rest, and who also protects us fiercely when that is needed. We connect deeply with Mother Earth during this season, thanking her for giving us shelter and nourishment.
I offer this prayer in honor of all who recognize the power of the equinox on the earth, and in the traditions that our many human tribes follow.
Divine Mystery, we thank you for bringing our labors to fruition.
We thank you for this opportunity to complete one phase of our lives and begin anew.
We thank you for the protection of the cave, the rest we find in the dark of night.
We are the fruits of our ancestors’ labors, and we thank them, too.
May the universe embrace us as we draw close to the firelight, preparing to slumber and dream.
We offer this prayer on behalf of all those we love, and on behalf of those who have no one to pray for them by name.
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