I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Autumn! It could be Autumn all year ’round and I’d be perfectly content. I love the smell of drying leaves and yes, I love the smell of burning leaves (not illegal where I live and not “pc” of me I know). In my town you know it’s Fall when you can hear the local high school marching band practicing down the street from my house. You know it’s Fall when you can hear, through open windows, the cheer of football games from the field a couple blocks away. You know it’s Fall when pumpkin pie starts sounding good and the coffee isn’t hot enough for you in the morning. You know it’s Fall when your cat comes in from an overnight prowl with an inch of new fur in her coat. You know it’s Fall when you want to decorate your house with leaves, cornucopia, and orange things. Fall is a time of reflection and passing away. It’s cool weather and cozy reading in an overstuffed chair. Fall is keeping the windows open at night even though it’s about 40 degrees. The colors are richer, the smells are keener, and things feel CLEAN. Autumn is a decidedly pagan season (“pagan” from Latin, country-dweller, civilian). Don’t let religions try to demonize what is perfectly natural and part of life.
Sadly, early Christians tried to co-opt most of the solstices by putting Christian feast days on the same day. The Religious Tolerance pages on the web writes:
CHRISTIANITY: The Christian Church replaced earlier Pagan solstices and equinox celebrations during Medieval times, with Christianized observances. Replacing the fall equinox is Michaelmas, the feast of the Archangel Michael, on SEP-29. “His feast was celebrated with a traditional well-fattened goose which had fed well on the stubble of the fields after the harvest. In many places, a there was also a tradition of special large loaves of bread made only for that day. By Michaelmas the harvest had to be completed and the new cycle of farming would begin. It was a time for beginning new leases, rendering accounts and paying the annual dues.” 5Other substitutions by the Church were:
Replacing the spring equinox by the Feast of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is held on MAR-25, on the nominal date of the spring equinox according to the old Julian calendar. There was a “brief flirtation with calling the Vernal Equinox ‘Gabrielmas.’ ” This is the time when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was pregnant. (Luke 1:26-38) 4 Replacing the summer solstice, Midsummer Day, is the feast of St. John the Baptist, celebrated on JUN-24. Replacing the winter solstice is Christmas, on DEC-25 when Mary is traditionally believed to have given birth to Jesus, while still a virgin.
Wiccans and pagans celebrate the Autumn Equinox (tonight at 12:03 a.m.) by celebrating the gathering in and sharing of harvest with family and friends. There is nothing more visceral than celebrating the changing of seasons, however small the gesture. Open your windows while commuting to work and listen to nature’s sounds. Tune out intrusive television or radio news or music. Embrace silence and quiet and detox from all the manmade chaos. As we watch the leaves turn colors and the air turn crisp, let’s give thanks that we are here to see another beautiful season changing before our eyes.