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Autumn Equinox 2008: The Sword and the Balance

By Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry on Sep 22, 2008

This Month of Libra Exhales Magic into the Air

Welcome to the September Equinox edition of the SatyaCenter newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editors, Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry. The annual Autumnal Equinox occurs this Monday, September 22, 2008, at 11:45 AM. as the sun enters Libra.

The Sabian symbol for the first degree of Libra is a symbol of ego-death, transfiguration and transcendence: “In a collection of perfect specimens of many biological forms, a butterfly displays the beauty of its wings, its body pierced by a fine dart.”

The perfect butterfly is the symbol of the awakened Soul, the Initiate. The Initiate is the one who has been transformed. The transformation from egoistic personality to trans-personal Illuminated Intelligence is often symbolized by a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

The cocoon is the ultimate creation of the caterpillar, which destructively eats plants for its own benefit alone. The cocoon seals the caterpillar, the ego, into its perfectly sealed individuated existence, separated from all other living things, a living tomb.

Yet from this tomb emerges a new being, the butterfly, one of the most beneficial of insects, the winged beauty which flits from flower to flower, pollinating as it feeds, spreading the beauty and life of the plant world near and far, without whom no gardens could long exist.

The impaled butterfly is the symbol of the archetypal Soul, the Initiate who has become an Avatar. The sacrifice of the Avatar preserves the energy of the Illuminated Initiate for an entire cycle, for an Aeon of cycles, rendering the Avatar’s energy available for the regeneration of the entire garden, the entire world, the entire Universe, as a result of the sacrifice of that perfected being.

Wherever we are in the Great Cycle of Being, whether we are caterpillar, cocooned creature, butterfly or Avatar, we are reminded at the Autumn Equinox that there is more to life than our own personal pleasure, our own little minds, our own little desires. We are encouraged to look beyond ourselves and to join with the community of all humanity, to join ourselves with the entire web of life around us in a spirit of self-sacrifice, sharing our gifts with the community for the greatest good of all concerned. In this way, and only in this way, we will perfect ourselves.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Autumn Equinox is the time of the harvest, and always occurs during the month when we celebrate the Festival of the Harvest Moon, which occurred this year on Monday, September 15. In the Northern Hemisphere corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice — the chief Indian staples — are now ready for gathering. Here in the Hudson Valley it’s light enough for farm activities until 8 or 9 pm, or even later, because sunset occurs around 7 pm, twilight is long at these latitudes, and the light of this extraordinary Harvest Moon is so bright that it is difficult to sleep without the blinds closed, even around 11 or 12 pm.

The Autumn Equinox and Harvest Moon represent the time in the Northern Hemisphere when the community traditionally harvested seeds as well as foods. We celebrate the seeds of life, the promise of next year’s planting. The size of the harvest determines the amount of seed that can be gathered, and thus is a forecast of next year’s crop cycle.

This is also the time when traditional farming communities gather in groups to put aside food – to can and pickle beets, string beans, onions, cabbages, carrots and tomatoes, and to dry corn, apples, pears, blueberries, onions and carrots for winter consumption. Beets, winter squash, potatoes & other storage crops begin to fill the root cellars of homes in our neighborhood.

At this time, in traditional farming communities, cattle ranchers would begin to inspect their herds and forecast winter conditions, estimating the amount of food on hand and calculating the number of animals they could comfortably sustain. Any animals beyond that number would be sacrificed, the meat dried or frozen, stored in some way to feed the human community during the long winter months.

At this time of abundant harvest, traditional communities in both the East and the West would share their bounty with those in need. Echoes of these practices, which are thousands of years old, can be found in the Spiritual Festivals of the Mystery School Religions and of the Religions of the Book, in every part of the world.

The month of the Autumn Equinox provides us all with a marvelous opportunity to honor the varied ways that different cultures and religious traditions mark the autumnal turning point in the yearly seasonal cycle of birth, growth, harvest, death and decay and rebirth.

The Cosmic Balance

Next week, in the wake of the autumnal equinox and the Harvest Full Moon, the Sun presents itself against the starry backdrop of the constellation Libra, often represented by a woman wielding the sword of free will and discrimination, and holding the Divine Scales of Balance.

During the month of Libra, initiates around the world celebrate the feasts of Michaelmas, Rosh Hashanah, Ramadan, and Navratri, sacred to the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu religions.

The paths to the Divine are many, and the faces of the Divine form a multitude, but the Unity of the Divine manifests on every path and in all the masks of God and Goddess.

Cultures all over the world have for thousands of years celebrated religious festivals coinciding with seasonal cycles. These cyclic celebrations depended upon accurate observations of the movements of the sun, moon and planets during the year, and on the ability to track and predict the much longer cycles of the movements of constellations of stars overhead.

The human spirit has since time immemorial sought meaning, order, coherence, and strength in its ability to accurately observe and predict these earthly and celestial cycles, seeking to unite in these community festivals the heavenly and earthly realms, the spiritual and the material worlds.

During seasonal festivals, entire cultures around the world have engaged in communal spiritual practices designed to influence predicted weather patterns, irrigation needs, and agricultural productivity, and to plan communal activities such as crop storage and distribution.

During these festivals communities have enacted rituals that seek to harmonize their earthly social structure with the seasonal and celestial influences that are perceived to embody a Divine order characterized by eternal life, abundance, fertility, and power.

These efforts formed the basis for the earliest recorded civilizations on Earth. Mathematics, astrology, astronomy, agricultural science, hydro-engineering, medicine, meditation, prayer, ceremonial ritual, sacred pilgrimages and ritual sacrifice, sacred architecture, art, music and dance flowed from the individual skills and community interactions that structured these yearly observances.

Many seasonal festivals fall during the month when the Sun is in Libra, and these festivals work to create and restore an individual and collective sense of balance during a difficult transitional period of the year, when days shorten, and in the northern hemisphere temperature falls, crops wither, and the extroverted summer energy of plants in the fields begins to turn inward in anticipation of the seasonal death of winter.

Mother Earth comes to the end of the cycle of spring and summer exhalation that extends the breath of life across the surface of our blue-green planet, and she begins the long inhalation characteristic of fall and winter. The planet’s surface becomes barren, but the interior of the Earth, more receptive now to the light streaming from cosmic sources, is quickening with new life.

At this time of year, the spiritual component in human nature surfaces after a long summer slumber when activities in the physical world captured the energy and attention of the entire community.

The New Age of the Divine Lovers

The Autumnal Equinox is the time when your Editors, Jane and Curtis, celebrate their own Wedding Anniversary. We chose this day for our wedding twenty two years ago because of its deep spiritual meaning.

The Autumn Equinox is a Festival of the Divine Lovers, celebrating their sacred marriage, or hieros gamos, and the establishment of a New Age civilization based upon the balance of male and female principles in a Union designed to serve the needs of the family, the greater community, and Mother Earth herself.

This New Age will be founded upon the principle of male and female balance (both within the self & also among the sexes), upon the primacy of Love, grounded upon the Earth through balanced sexual affinity, and rising to the heavens through the harmonious intent and the spiritual practices of Twin Soul Adepts offering their hearts, their minds and their bodies in Service to the Divine.

The Divine Lovers represent the Avatars of the New Age of Aquarius, which is now trembling on the historical horizon, its first shimmering rays of light visible through today’s dark night of the planetary soul, to those Adepts with clairvoyant vision who can pierce the veil of Time’s illusion.

One of these Adepts is a remarkable scholar and clairvoyant named William Irwin Thompson. He combines in one person the mythological scholarship of Joseph Campbell and the clairvoyant abilities of an advanced yogi. Thompson's scholarship focuses on cultures of partnership, and his work totally transcends the patriarchal views of Campbell.

In Thompson's remarkable book The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light, he discusses the crucial archetypal images of the most recent ages of Earth development and the emerging Aquarian Age.

Thompson says, “Myth, as a history of the soul, is still a history, and each stage of the evolution of consciousness generates its appropriate story. As the spiral of history turns, one archetypal story becomes the recapitulation of the old, the performance of the new, and the overture to what is to come.

“As a story, the myth of Isis and Osiris is a recapitulation of the myth of the Neolithic Mother Goddess and the dying adolescent son-lover, but in the case of Isis and Osiris, where the lovers are brother and sister, the relationship between the masculine and feminine is becoming more equal. In the early stages of evolution, nature dominates the human being, the planet dwarfs the tiny human species, but as civilization emerges, the masculine grows to a new level, and so the feminine responds to meet it at that level. The Great Goddess becomes Isis. The story grows from Lascaux to Catal Huyuk to Abydos, but it does not end there.

“The story of Isis and Osiris is an overture to the story of Mary and Jesus. The dead son in the arms of his mother pictured in the famous Pieta of Michelangelo is a recapitulation of the ancient theme of the dying male god and the Paleolithic goddess. But the finishing of a story is also its consummation. In giving his mother away to John while he is dying on the cross, Jesus is preparing to effect his own resurrection. This time it is not the Goddess Isis who raises up the phallus of the dead Osiris to conceive the divine child; the resurrection is not merely the god becoming the Lord of the Dead on the astral plane.

“This time an integral being incarnates on the physical plane, takes on the entire mystery of death in the mortal physical body, and rises from the dead on the physical plane. Osiris expresses initiatic mastery of the astral plane, but Jesus expresses initiatic mastery of the physical plane through the mystery of a conscious death.

“Mary Magdalen is the first to see the resurrected body of Jesus, and in that coupled image of the avatar and the whore is the overture to what is to come in the next world epoch. As the whore, Mary Magdalen expresses the presence and consummation of the archaic feminine heritage and its transmutation into the archetypal androgyne of the future. Peter, the orthodox and conventional Jew, would exclude Mary Magdalen from the mysteries, but Jesus sees sexuality in a totally different light.

“Simon Peter said to them, ‘Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life.’ Jesus said, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Jesus did not mean that women should become like men, but that, in the process of initiation, each sex must take on the character of the opposite, before wholeness can be achieved.

“Jesus said to them,
‘When you make two into one
And what is within like what is without,
And what is without like what is within.
And what is above like what is below,
And when you unite male and female in one
So that the male is no longer male,
And the female no longer female,
… Then you shall enter the Kingdom.’

“Mary Magdalen, the surviving form of the temple prostitute, became the initiate of Jesus. . .It is Mary Magdalen who first sees the resurrected Jesus. . .John and Mary Magdalen stand at the foot of the cross, for in the next turn of the spiral their story is to become the historical performance of the eternal myth.”

“. . .Isis and Osiris are the avatars of one Platonic Month, Jesus and Mary of another. . .If in the practice of Tantric yoga, one looks into the collective unconscious now, one will see a triptych, something like Grunsward's Isenheim altarpiece, vibrating in the air of the astral plane. In one panel we see a painting of the feminine lamenting the fall of the masculine into time; it is a painting of Isis crying above the coffin of Osiris. In the second panel, we see the dead masculine in the arms of the feminine, Jesus in the arms of Mary. In the third panel we see neither the Fall nor the Crucifixion, but the sacred copulation (hieros gamos) of the reunited young lovers. Once it was physical death and crucifixion which nailed consciousness down into matter; then it was a sacrament of Thanatos [Death]; but in the world-epoch about to begin it is a sacrament of Eros, a physical sexuality in which the lovers of eternity give birth to the world on the physical plane.”

As Thompson makes clear, the energetic form for the New Age has been set in the astral plane, and the energy of the Divine Lovers is available to us all. This is an energy of unconditional love and balanced sexual affinity, an energy Unified with the Source of Creation.

This new marriage of male and female energies is based upon co-operation, balance and co-creation, rather than hierarchical relations between the sexes.

Bringing today's war between the sexes to an end and establishing right relations between male and female has never been more important than it is today. A species at war with itself cannot heal the wounds inflicted by mind-body duality, cannot end war, cannot live in harmony with Mother Earth and the sentient and non-sentient beings with whom we share our lovely blue-green home in this universe.

Those who choose to follow the path of the Divine Lovers back to the Garden choose the difficult but important task of creating a new, conscious form of human love, which has not existed before on this planet. We are talking about an energetic signature, not a prescribed set of sexual relations. Regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, you can balance the masculine & feminine energies within yourself and you can work with your partner to achieve a balanced loving relationship-this is the essence of the energy of the Divine Lovers.

They are assured of help and blessings from all quarters of the spiritual world. And in following this arduous but rewarding path, they obtain their release from the bondage of this ancient struggle between the sexes and within ourselves which creates suffering in so many hearts and homes today.

At this critical time in history, the ability of lovers to establish a co-operative spiritual practice, a balanced state of sexual affinity, and an unconditional love sends a healing radiance throughout the collective consciousness of humanity.

Lovers who work together to co-create a shared reality of compassionate service based upon loving wisdom are helping to lay the foundations for a new human culture of co-operation and unity with Mother Earth where individuals, communities and nations live in peace and harmony.

Let us all take heart in this time of great turmoil on the planet. Lovers always live with a joyful heart, confident of the future, for lovers are in touch with the stream of loving energy that comes to us from the future, when the Divine Lovers will reign supreme in human consciousness, cultivating a restored Garden of Eden.

Michaelmas

The mystical Christian community celebrates the Fall Feast of Michaelmas on September 29, one week after the Sun enters Libra.

The great Bulgarian Spiritual Teacher Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, who combined the disciplines of yoga, Kabbalah, and Christian mysticism, saw Michaelmas as a Festival of Alchemical Sublimation. “The Archangel Michael, who dominates this equinoctial point, is always depicted holding a balance, a pair of scales, which he uses to weigh the souls,” Omraam explains. “Just as the fruit separates from the tree, as the seed separates from the fruit, so the soul separates from the body. Autumn is the time of separation to which Hermes Trismegistus refers: ‘You will separate the subtle from the dense, with a great ingenuity.’ You will separate the subtle from the dense, in other words that is also: to separate the spiritual from the material. In autumn, the process of separation, this process of sorting, takes place thoughout nature to prepare for new life. And just as the Archangel Michael comes to separate the soul from the body by letting die the body, Initiates also let some matter die within themselves, so as to release true life.”

Here Omraam refers to the sublimation of the sexual energy that dominates the season of summer, and to the practices of community service, fasting, meditation, prayer and contemplation that serve to redirect the life force energy within the body from the lower chakras, concerned with survival, individual ego and personal power, to the upper chakras, concerned with compassion, clairvoyance, transcendence and mystical Union.

The Autumn is the time when the entire Earthly seasonal cycle supports Lightworker, Disciple, and Initiate alike in their spiritual practices. Selfless service, the healing arts, prayer and meditation alike will all be quickened at this time, and all practices energized by the Cosmic Forces at work at this time of year.

This is the time of the re-awakening of the Forces of Light, the moment when the Angelic Hosts under the command of Archangel Michael sally forth to overcome the deluded ones who serve to further the spread of darkness and separation.

Nor is this a purely metaphysical Festival. The philosopher, spiritual scientist and Christian mystic Rudolf Steiner granted the Archangel Michael a very special role in today’s world.

Michael’s role is revealed in the Bible’s Apocalypse of St. John (12:7) “And there was a war in Heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. . .and the dragon was cast out into the Earth. . .having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”

For Steiner, who lived at the turn of the Twentieth Century, the Apocalypse is a metaphor for modern times. Steiner believed the Apocalypse was not a physical war but rather a spiritual struggle between the forces of materialism, represented by the Lord of Darkness, called Ahriman, and the forces of Spirit. The Forces of Light represent humanity’s free will and the Forces of Darkness represent oppression and suppression of that free will.

In this Titanic struggle for the souls of all humanity, Archangel Michael leads the forces of Light, wielding a fiery sword, the sword of free will.

Michael is said to help women and men to find their own spiritual purpose and path in life, and to help, guide, protect and energize them that they may exercise their will forces in the service of the light, choosing to freely walk upon their own personal path of Spirit, and thus advancing their spiritual evolution, and the evolution of all humanity.

For Steiner, the physically compelling forces of the summer season, when heat rises in plants, animals and human beings alike, and the air is saturated with desire, correspond to the element of sulfur, and this element stimulates a wide range of material and emotional excitements, all of which tend to increase the average person’s attachment to the material world.

This presents a danger during these challenging times, when the Lord of Darkness seeks to entrap all humanity in a purely materialistic existence, devoid of all spirituality. Manifestations of Ahrimanic influence include political systems that seek to dominate through military force, economic systems that seek to enrich the few at the expense of the many, philosophical systems that seek to depict all human activity as neo-Darwinian, psychological theories that reduce humanity’s free will to a set of biologically determined chemical reactions, and all reductionist, purely mechanistic scientific models of the universe.

During the Libran month, on October 7 and 8, in the northern hemisphere, the Draconid meteor showers will be visible in the northern portion of the night sky, not long after nightfall.

In these hard-to-predict meteor showers, largely composed of iron, which streak across the night sky in ones and twos, and sometimes in a fiery torrent, Steiner’s clairvoyant vision saw the traditional flashing iron sword of Michael.

The meteoric sword of Michael was thought to cleanse the Earth’s atmosphere of sulfurous influences, allowing the Higher Self to emerge and guide the initiate along the path of Spirit toward the birth of the Inner Christ Light, an event which takes place in December, during the festival of Christmas.

Rosh Hashanah

Jewish people celebrate the Festival of Rosh Hashanah this week. Rosh Hashanah commemorates the Head of the Year, the holiest time of the calendar, marking the first ten days of the Jewish Year. This year, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated from sunset September 29 through nightfall October 1, with solemn ceremonies, temple observances, purification rituals, and acts of atonement.

In Leviticus 23:24-25, the Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron, the day of remembrance, or Yom Teruah the day of the sounding of the shofar.

The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. During this festival, the shofar is sounded one hundred times during services in the synagogue. The sacred sound of the ram’s horn serves to remind the community of G-d’s blessing to the Jewish people when he allowed Abraham to sacrifice a ram in place of his son Isaac.

Members of the Jewish community perform ceremonies designed to balance out old debts during this festival, for a ten day period of interior searching that culminates in the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. During this first ten days of the New Year, G-d judges our actions during the year just past, and decides on our fate during the coming year.

Jewish celebrants search their hearts in a spirit of contrition, and then apologize to friends and family members they may have wronged during the year, and ask for forgiveness. Those who can give generously to charities of their choice, in an effort to give back some of what they have gained through the grace of G-d.

Some observe a ritual cleansing called Tashlich. Celebrants visit a river or other flowing stream of water containing fish, and throw bread crumbs into the water, symbolically cleansing their sins in the process. Ritual bathing and other purification rituals are very important to restore the cosmic and individual balance necessary to achieve G-d’s blessing for the New Year.

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, people eat only sweet food thought to symbolize new beginnings, especially fruit that is only just beginning to come into season, and that has not been served until the festival. Pomegranates, pumpkin, dates, and beetroot are popular dishes. Round Challah loaves are served at ritual meals, symbolizing the turning of the year, the completion of the yearly seasonal cycle, and the promise of abundant New Life to come.

Ramadan

Ramadan, the most sacred Moslem month of the year, which begins at sunset upon the sighting of the lunar crescent in the twilight sky, began September 1 and concludes September 30 in 2008.

This is a month of purification and spiritual quickening for Moslems worldwide, celebrated by fasting from food, water and tobacco, from just before dawn to sunset, and by reading one of the 30 chapters of the Holy Koran each day of the month.

Fasting is intended to instill the virtue of self-discipline in the community of believers, and is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Fasting involves mental and emotional as well as physical discipline designed to enhance the power of the spiritual aspects of human nature. Bad thoughts, lying, swearing, and arguing are believed to violate the spirit of the Fast. Fights and arguments are forbidden.

When mosques light colored lamps at sunset, the faithful break their fast, often beginning with dried fruit, such as dates, and water.

Community solidarity is emphasized during the festival of Ramadan. Because of the importance of Fasting, friends, neighbors and family often exchange gifts of food each evening in a festive atmosphere.

The seasonal theme of individual purification and community balance is stressed in Ramadan, when many seek reconciliation between rich and poor through charitable acts. Traditionally the faithful greet one another during Ramadan with a request for forgiveness for any wrongs they may have done during the previous year. The traditional Ramadan greeting is “Ramadan Kareem” which means Blessings and Bounty of Ramadan.

Navratri

September 30 is the first day of the Hindu festival of Navratri which means “Nine Nights” in Gujarati, the language spoken by inhabitants of the Indian state of Gujarat, which lies in western India, near the GreatDesert. Navratri is the popular Hindu name for the festival properly known as Durga Puja.

Durga, in Sanskrit, means “She who is incomprehensible or difficult to reach.” Goddess Durga is one manifestation of Shakti, the Divine Mother of the Universe. She is known by many other names such as Parvati, spouse of Lord Shiva, and Kali, Goddess of death and liberation.

Goddess Durga, slayer of demons, is pictured as having ten arms holding sword, conch, discus, rosary, bell, wine cup, shield, bow, arrow and spear. Dressed in royal red cloth she rides mounted on the lion, king of beasts. Terrifying in her aspect as a slayer of demons, she appears as a beneficent, sweet, nurturing guide for her ecstatic devotees.

She is the Universal Life Force Energy manifest in the human body, known as the Kundalini, and she lights the seven lamps of initiatic awareness, corresponding to the seven chakras of the subtle body of the human being.

When demonic forces create great imbalance on a cosmic scale, it is Goddess Durga who restores the Divine order by combining all Divine forces within her person and slaying negative thoughts, feelings, and physical manifestations throughout the Universe.

In ancient times, a powerful demon known as Mahishasura performed many austerities and remained so long in meditation that he attracted the favor of Lord Shiva, one of the three members of the Hindu Trinity of Gods -- Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

Shiva blessed Mahishasura with a boon, that he could not be killed by any male being. Mahishasura took this as a surety that he could never be conquered at all, and proceeded to lay waste the Universe, killing mercilessly and establishing a reign of terror that threatened to undo the balance of cosmic forces and overthrow the reign of the Gods themselves.

After many humiliations, Brahma the Creator of the Universe, Vishnu the Sustainer of Life, and Shiva the Destroyer of Illusion gathered together and combined their Shaktis, their energies, to create a powerful woman Goddess warrior who would be able to defeat Mahishasura.

After a Titanic struggle, Durga beheaded the Lord of Darkness and restored balance to the Cosmic Creation.

Since that time, she has stood ever ready to help her devotees destroy the negative emotions, misleading thought forms and physical desires that enslave them to the physical world and their own lower, animal natures, to free disciples from all encumbrances and obstacles standing in their path of spiritual evolution, to quicken the lamps of Spirit within their hearts, and to crown their meditations with visions of the Truth, called Satya, the Unity that underlies the apparent duality of material Creation.

During the nine nights of Durga Puja, or worship of Goddess Durga, Hindus honor the Mother Goddess in her three aspects: Durga, consort of Lord Shiva, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Lakshmi, Goddess of Abundance, is the consort of Lord Vishnu, and Saraswati, Goddess of Wisdom, is the consort of Lord Brahma.

Feasting, fasting and dancing constitute the trinity of observances dedicated to the Mother Goddess during this festival.

In Northern India, devotees of Goddess Durga observe a fast during the festival, to empower them to overcome the desires of the physical body and establish a harmonious balance between body and soul. On the physical level, fasting purifies the body of toxins and gives digestive organs a much-needed rest.

Fasting can mean living on milk, it can mean eating only one meal a day, and many other variants, depending upon where one lives in India and which spiritual path one is following. The Hindu religion has many paths and many disciplines within it.

At the end of the fasting period, devotees distribute food to the poor, another aspect of balancing the energy within the community.

In Western India, especially in Gujarat, devotees spend the nine nights of Navratri in song, dance and merriment. Garba is a graceful form of dance, wherein women dressed in exquisitely embroidered costumes gracefully circle around a pot containing a lamp. The word “Garba” means “womb”, and the lamp in the pot represents new life being birthed within the womb.

Men and women both participate in the “Dandia” dance. Pairs of dancers begin slowly, waving small, decorated bamboo sticks called dandias in their hands. At the end of these dandias are tied tiny bells called ghungroos that make a jingling sound when the sticks hit one another. As the dance progresses, the pairs of dancers break into frenzied movements, striking one another’s dandias in time to the complex, driving rhythms of the festival music.

In eastern India, especially in Bengal, the Durga Puja is the principal festival during Navratri. In this region, community worship is stressed through observances known as “Sarbojanin Puja”. Huge, highly decorated temporary buildings called “pandals” are constructed to house grand communal prayer services, which are followed by mass feasting and cultural functions.

The earthen icons of Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati, are taken out on the tenth day in a triumphal procession to the nearby river, where they are ceremonially immersed in a ritual that enacts the transitory nature of all earthly and heavenly phenomena, and symbolizes the purification of creation in preparation for a new turn of the Cosmic Wheel, a new year and a new beginning for the community.

Thus we can see that for millennia, in India, in the Middle East, in Europe, in America, throughout the Northern Hemisphere, all religious and spiritual traditions unite in celebrating the Autumnal Equinox and the Month of Libra.

To celebrate & honor the many seasonal festivals which surround the Autumnal Equinox we recommend cleansing, grounding by working with crystals, earth energy practices such as yoga and Tai Chi, eating local grains & especially root vegetables & winter squash, doing deep breathing exercises & practicing loving kindness with all those with whom you have relations, whether it is the clerk who checks you out at the grocery store, your banker, your children or parents and neighbors. In this way, you can practice balancing, and work to equilibrate yourself, overcoming fear, difficulties & challenges with love & gratitude.

Michael Meditation

All practices associated with Archangel Michael are recommended at this time. Michael is known as the Cosmic Administrator, He Who Dwells in the Sun, and thus one of his colors is gold. He is also associated with the color red because his sword is made of iron and iron, or hematite, often appears reddish in color when found in nature.

Crystals with an orange cast or a golden color usually contain iron or hematite and are sacred to Michael. Such crystals include: Michael quartz, lithium quartz, citrine, amethyst with hematite inclusions, and orange garnets.

Here is a brief meditation designed to bring you under the wing of Archangel Michael.

Light a candle, and make an offering of incense, fire and light to the Divine. Sit in meditation, facing North if possible, because North is Michael’s home direction, and call upon your Spiritual Guides and Teachers to be with you.

If you have a crystal with a reddish or golden color place it on your altar or hold it in your hand.

Now visualize yourself surrounded by a sphere of golden light. Breathe in deeply. Let the breath move deep into your belly, and count to five, slowly. Exhale slowly, to the count of ten. Do this five times.

Call upon Michael. Ask Michael politely to come to you now. Visualize the Archangel approaching you in your sphere of golden light. When you sense that he is near, tell Michael that you are offering him the flame on your altar, the incense rising to heaven, and the love in your heart, for his enjoyment and nourishment in the Angelic Realms. Feel the energy passing back and forth between your heart and Michael.

Ask Archangel Michael to protect you now and until your next meditation with his flaming Sword, and to impart to you the Discerning Intelligence which his Sword represents, so that you may pierce the veils of illusion and know the Truth. For the Truth shall set you free from outmoded belief systems, faulty maps of the world and erroneous ideas about the Universe around you. Take some time to feel the energy of Angelic discernment entering your sphere of golden light.

Ask Archangel Michael to impart to you the strength of will and courage he exhibits when he confronts the powers of delusion and darkness. Feel his strength and courage entering your sphere of golden light.

Ask Archangel Michael to impart to you the inner equilibrium represented by the balance scales he holds in his hands when measuring the Souls of human beings in the service of the Divine. Feel yourself becoming grounded and centered as Michael’s energy of Divine Balance enters your sphere of golden light.

Finally, ask Archangel Michael to elevate your energy during this Autumnal Season, over which Michael has dominion. Ask that you may rise to new heights of understanding, love and wisdom, and that you may be blessed with the grace and guidance to achieve your loftiest spiritual goals.

Now sit quietly and allow these energies brought to you by Archangel Michael to fill your sphere of golden light.

When you are done give thanks to Archangel Michael, and to your Spiritual Guides and Teachers, bow and rise from meditation.

Meditation and prayer with your love partner will help to align you both with the energies of the Divine Lovers. Group spiritual practices are extremely beneficial at this time of year. If you belong to a spiritual group, participate!

No matter what your spiritual practice, your religion, or your belief system we wish you every blessing, abundance, joy, and success in your spiritual practice this fall season.