The Autumn Equinox is upon us and once more light and dark meet in harmony, birthing days and nights of equal length. At this time, potential hangs thick in the air. We reap what we sowed, and the scales of balance are beginning to tip, will your heart be light with truth?
Sunshine, gold and corn
Imagine the year is split into four parts. There’s a dark part, a light part, and the two bits in between that help to transition between these opposites, we call them winter, spring, summer and autumn. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, you’ll be welcoming in the light, if you’re in the northern hemisphere, like me, you’re beginning to embrace the dark.
Since classical western astrology is based on the seasonal shifts in the northern hemisphere (ancient Greece and all that), Virgo Season would have been the time of the Harvest. When crops were cut, counted and stored away ready for winter.
After a long hot summer spent outside, merrily working and playing in fields of gold, it would now be time to see the fruits of our labours and to show gratitude for everything nature has delivered since spring.
People would give thanks for a bountiful yield and eat, drink and be merry, drinking wine and dancing till the early hours. They knew they had a long cold period of darkness ahead of them so they would soak up the last warm rays of Sun before its light started to fade.
The gateway of opposites
Just as animals hibernate, we too wind down and become slower, quieter and more introverted at this time of year. The theme of going within and seeking inner wisdom in winter stems from this seasonal darkness. Back in the day, without electric lighting, what more would people have to do than sleep, dream and think?
The Tarot card of Virgo is the Hermit. The seeker of inner wisdom. He journeys into the depths of his psyche to find answers, not needing anyone or anything outside of himself for guidance.
However, as with everything in life, too much of something is not good for us, and despite the Hermit’s wish for solitude and focus, he carries a lantern with him, without which he would be plunged into complete darkness and perhaps lose his way.
The Hermit can be seen as the gatekeeper to Self; ushering us closer to our inner wisdom yet lighting the way back out – we’re not quite ready to go all the way in yet. That comes in Scorpio season.
With his lantern bright, the Hermit guides us to a door, the equinox, where we leave behind the bountiful harvest and celebrations of Virgo season and enter the perfect balance of Libra Season, limbo, a time for weighing up opposites; light and dark, good and bad, past and future, because no light can exist without shadow…
Darkness, monsters and the moon
In Ancient Egyptian mythology, the goddess Maat was this gatekeeper.
Maat would wait at the borders of life and death, ready to weigh the hearts of the deceased against a feather to see who got to go to the afterlife and who’s hearts were heavy with injustice.
If you’d done good things during your time on earth, you’d be on your way to meet Osiris and party on up to the afterlife, but if those scales leaned heavy with wrongdoings, Maat would throw your heart to be eaten by Ammit, a crocodile headed goddess with a half lion half/hippo body. No afterlife party for you!
The Egyptians believed that Maat was judgement personified. She oversaw the order of natural things – cause and effect – all actions would have a reaction and be rewarded or punished accordingly.
Because of this, Maat became known as more of an ideal than a goddess, becoming synonymous with conscience itself, because of course, if your conscience is strong and righteous, you avoid doing wrong simply because you know it’s wrong, and in turn, you’re rewarded with a golden ticket to the heavens above.
Just as the pagan people of ancient cultures would see the results of their hard work in how many crops they harvested, so would the Egyptians see the consequences of their actions at the time of Maat’s judgement.
Harmony of light and dark
The scales have long been a symbol of Libra, and this weighing up of good and bad is a core part of the meaning of this sign, but it goes deeper than the overly used buzzwords like “fair and indecisive”.
You might think that the Egyptians were being tough on themselves, how can anyone be all good? We’re only human after all, and it seems that Maat was a fair gatekeeper who took this into consideration, letting the souls confess their wrongdoings in writing, thus lessening the punishment.
This is an important factor to note – it’s not so much about how much “good” vs. “bad” you did, though of course that helps, but rather, is your conscience clear? Do you face up to your shadow side and admit that you’re not perfect? Do you accept your darkness with love? Or do you deny it in the hope that Maat won’t notice (because she totally will).
From a psychological perspective, this time of year is about turning to face ourselves and see the truth of our actions. Connecting with our conscience and shining a light on those darker parts that might be causing us to miss out on reaping the rewards we truly desire.
More important than our actions, is the ability to be true to ourselves, so that when we eventually make Scorpio’s journey to the centre of Self, we are ready for what we find there.
We must have a heart light with truth and love before we are ready to go into the underworld.
In Jungian terms, we are being nudged to integrate and balance our conscious and subconscious mind. The Sun’s consciousness must illuminate the Moon’s subconscious, so that we can face our shadow, acknowledge its existence, but then choose to follow the light rather than indulge the darkness we see.
Of course, we’re not actually dying right now, so you don’t have to worry too much about judgement day and you’ve got a whole month before the darkness of Scorpio season really kicks in, but perhaps you could use this time to weigh up some questions of your own.
What have we accomplished so far? Have we been pure and just or have we let the subconscious rule over us? How many bundles of corn would we harvest? What would the scales of Maat tell if our own hearts were to be weighed?
Take time out this equinox to consider this.
Are you ready to step through the gateway to the underworld, when the time comes? Or would you be afraid of what might lurk in the depths of your psyche? Are you embodying truth?
This is the preparation time, a time for reflecting on both sides of ourselves and making any adjustments that might be needed, because when we eventually reach the underworld of Self, we want to know that we’re not going to be lost in the darkness or devoured by crocodile headed monsters.
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