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
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
Mabon is the second and main Wiccan harvest festival.
Selena 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
Lee 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
The 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
JAPAN: 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
"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
"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."
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.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.