Autumnal Equinox Activities

Balance Yourself

At this time of equal parts day and night, neither cold nor not, it is good to reevaluate our lives.  Are we working too much and sleeping too little?  Are we eating too much and exercising too little?  Watching TV too much and talking too little?  It is time to reevaluate and re-balance our lives.

The best way of balancing yourself for Christ’s coming is to pray, re-enforce your connection with God.  Spend some time each day praying to and listening to (meditating) God.  Start simply, talk to God about your day, your hopes, your dreams, what you feel good about, what you feel guilty about – anything, everything.  Then after you pray, meditate.  Mediation is not blanking your mind.  Focus on God, not on nothing.  It is listening to God.  Praying is talking; meditation is listening.

If you feel like you need some guidance on how to do this or would like to use this time more intentionally you might wish to try the series of posts for  “Praying by Moonlight” or “Falling in Love with God”.

 What are You Thankful for?

It is inevitable that at every Thanksgiving dinner there is someone who wants to go around the table and have everyone say what they are thankful for.  When this happens everyone awkwardly says something that they think everyone else wants to hear.  Why do we have this ritual of lying?  What you are thankful for is between you and God.  That is why at our house we have flash paper. It’s a magic trick prop that ignites fast and burns the entire paper instantly.  Each person writes on a piece of flash paper what they are thankful for and then instead of saying it out loud they burn it with the candle flame and simply say, “Thank you, God.”  Remember the flash paper burns fast so as soon as it is lite release it with a quick toss in the air.  It is fire.  It will burn.  If you are hesitant try it yourself before you institute it at Autumnal Equinox.

Make waffles

Waffles, aka pizzelle, and blackberries have all been a staple of Michaelmas for centuries.  Pizzelle is the Italian word for waffles and are a Christmas food.  The Polish think the same food is an Easter treat, but the French, and arguably the original (still under debate), started it as a Michaelmas treat known as Gaufres.  I will refer to them as pizzelle because that is what they are known as in America, and those type of waffle irons are everywhere.  The pizzelle come from the same idea as pancakes, a festive food that has been around for thousands of years.  Pizzelle, like pancakes, have the same symbolic meaning: round for the unending Love of God, eggs for remembrance of God’s creative power, flour as a symbol of the staff of life, oil long associated with blessings of God, and sugar for the sweetness of Life.  Although most don’t know why the pizzelle iron are shaped the way they are and say it’s just an Italian tradition.  It’s not.  Hence the reason that I go with the idea that they are French and deal with Michaelmas.  Most pizzelle irons have a flower shape in the pan, this is a Michaelmas daisy, a flower that blooms so late you think that it would die too soon, but it has faith to stand up the growing darkness and cold.  The other side of the pizzelle iron has a wheel, for on the Autumnal Equinox everything is in balance, half day, half night, neither cold nor hot, but the wheel of the year is turning. Hence the reason that I go with the idea that they are French and deal with Michaelmas, not Italian Christmas, or Polish Easter.

Blackberries are considered a loved by Saint Michael and are eaten in remembrance and honor of him.  Also it is said that Satan hates Michael so much and becomes so mad that we celebrate him being there for us that he spits (some legends says pees) all over the blackberries on September 30th and that is why you should never eat blackberries after Michaelmas.

Speaking of fruit for that matter you could have apples with your Equinox celebration, as they are a symbol of the season.  A time of balance, and a time between spiritual seasons.  If you cut an apple horizontally in half you will see that the seeds form a five pointed star.  The symbol of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem and the symbol the five wounds of Christ at His death.  A recipe is in the “Autumnal Equinox Recipes” post.

Have Sukkot

This is the oldest documented Thanksgiving Harvest Celebration. This is the way the ancient Jews celebrated Harvest.  Have a thanksgiving dinner!  Remember that God asked us to celebrate it.  Sometimes in Jewish temples there is a procession of the Arc of the Covenant (a replica), showing faith that they know God is with them.  Anyway, for a short version of Sukkot, first you gather the four species.

You shall take on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God seven days. Leviticus 23:40

The symbolism of this is:

Citron (or Lemon – the fruit of goodly trees) represents the human heart, because of its shape, the driving force behind all our actions. It represents a person with the blessings of knowledge of the Bible and good deeds (pleasant taste and pleasant aroma).

The date Palm (branches of palm trees) represents the spine, because of its shape, which holds the body together and allows us to move.  It represents a person with the blessings of the knowledge of the Bible but not of good deeds (pleasant taste but no aroma).

The myrtle (boughs of thick trees) represents the eye, because of the shape of the leaves, which we behold God’s world.  It represents a person with the good deeds but no knowledge of the Bible (no taste but pleasant aroma).

The willow (willows of the brook) represents the lips, because of the shape the leaves, which we give expression to our thoughts and feelings.  It represents a person with no knowledge of the Bible and no good deeds (no taste, no pleasant aroma).

They are all bound together through the unity of all people.

Take these in your hands and walk around your table, brimming with your feast, which is usually outdoors in a tent to represent the wandering in the desert, the first tabernacle of the Lord, and the harvesting tents of the workers in the field.  While you walk pray  – Psalm 118.  They usually only say verse 25.

Save us now, we beg you, Yahweh! Yahweh, we beg you, send prosperity now. – Psalm 118 1

This doesn’t sound very Thanksgivingy to me so at our house we use verse one and then add for the four elements, or life forces of God in the world.

Wave to the East and say –

Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good, for his loving kindness endures forever. – Psalm 118 1

We thank you God for the East and the Air.  The air that we breathe and the rushing wind of the Holy Spirit.

Wave to the South and say –

Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good, for his loving kindness endures forever. – Psalm 118 1

We thank you God for the South and the Fire.  The fire that warms us and the fire of the Holy Spirit within us.

 Wave to the West and say –

Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good, for his loving kindness endures forever. – Psalm 118 1

We thank you God for the West and the Water.  The water that sustains us and the waters of baptism.

 Wave to the North and say –

Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good, for his loving kindness endures forever. – Psalm 118 1

We thank you God for the North and the Earth.  The earth that You made for us to live and grow and the earth that You formed us from.

Your choice or make up your own!  Then let the feast begin!

 Make a Cornucopia

Long has the horn represented God’s blessings being poured out for us.

You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it; and you shall overlay it with brass. Exodus 27:2

But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox.  I am anointed with fresh oil. Psalm 92:10

 I will cut off all the horns of the wicked, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up. Psalm 75:10

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers: and the Spirit of Yahweh came mightily on David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. 1 Samuel 16:13

It is time to make the cornucopia!  Now you can by a basket from the craft store, make a horn out of clay or papier-mâché, buy an animal horn (real or imitation) or you can make your own with wheat stalks.  Be aware the wheat stalk one is pretty complicated, directions to follow.  Once you have your horn you can fill it with fall flowers, leaves, fruit, vegetables, figures of the Arc or Saint Michael, suns and moons, representations of God’s bounty, anything that brings the holiday home for you.

Cornucopia

You will need:

String
Scissors
Warm water
Wheat

Take the dry wheat stalks and soak them in warm water about half an hour or so to make them more pliable. Throughout this entire process it is easier if the stalks stay wet.  Re-wet them if you have to.  With thread, tie seven straws together a­bout 3/4 inch from the head ends. With the head ends down, spread the straws like the spokes of a wheel, holding the center with your left hand. With your right hand position the straws at the positions on a clock.  Position the sev­en straws at 12, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10 o’clock; the one at 3 o’clock will be your first working straw. With your right hand, lay the working straw over both the 12- and the 2-o’clock straws, then rotate the “wheel” clockwise until the 12-o’clock straw is at 3 o’clock; this will be the new working straw. Repeat this process, placing the working straw (3 o’clock) over two adjacent straws (12 and 2) and then rotating the work, until every straw has been the working straw twice and all are locked into the weave.

Spread the short, tied head ends and insert the paper cone into the center. Pin the wheat to the tip of the core. Give a slight tug on each straw to be sure the weaving is secure, then continue the spiral to the large end of the core. Pin the wheat to the core every few rows to prevent slipping.

You’ll have to splice repeatedly as the spiral progresses; the joins will be neater and less likely to split if you weave only about two-thirds of each straw before splicing. Cut the narrow (head) end of a new straw at a sharp angle and insert it as far as possible into the thick end of the old straw. This join will be covered as the spiral grows.  Also, only splice the working straw or it may get away from you.  This join will be covered as the spiral grows.

When the spiral reaches the end of the cone, tie a clove hitch of thread at each of the six corners of the cornucopia, then cut off all the straw ends. Now unpin and gently remove the cone. Tie the head end closed.  Let it dry and it is ready to fill!

Peace be with you.

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