Equinox

May 24, 2012 by  


tufailThe term “equinox” (from the Latin for equal night) refers to those times during the year in which the length of the day and the night are equal. The equinox occurs twice yearly, at the beginning of spring (around March 21) and the beginning of fall (around September 23). From an astrological perspective, the equinox occurs when the sun appears to be at the point where the celestial equator (the Earth’s equator imaginably projected outward into space) meets the eliptical, the path that the sun appears to take as viewed from earth. As people observed the heavens in ancient times, among the first phenomena that became noticeable to them were the apparent movements of the sun, especially the different points on the horizon at which it rose day after day, and the variant length of days. The longest and shortest days (the solstices) and the equinoxes were important markers in the annual calendar, as were the points halfway between each of these days, signaling as they did important activities in the agricultural season. Very early these points became ritualized, the occasions for feasts and celebrations.

In astrology, the spring equinox is the beginning of the new astrological year. At that time the sun enters 0°Aries. At the fall equinox it enters 0° Libra. The planetary configurations at the time of the equinoxes have a particular importance in the interpretations of mundane astrology (the astrology of nations).

The astrological year was largely replaced by the Christian calendar in the West, but came back into use for marking the year with the rebirth of ritual magic in the nineteenth century. It was notable that magician Aleister Crowley named his biannual journal Equinox. However, as with most ritual magicians and astrologers, the equinox, while being an important marker in the calendar, was not a particularly significant point for ritual activity or horoscope interpretation.

Ritual significance was poured back into the equinox within the Neo-Pagan Witchcraft Movement launched by Gerald Gardner in the mid-twentieth century. Gardner revived the eight annual sabbats, two of which occurred on the equinoxes.

Either of two moments in the year when the Sun is exactly above the Equator and day and night are of equal length all over Earth; also, either of two points in the sky where the ecliptic and the celestial equator ( celestial sphere) intersect. The vernal equinox, when spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere, occurs about March 21, when the Sun moves north across the celestial equator. The autumnal equinox falls about September 23, as the Sun crosses the celestial equator going south.

One of the two places in the sky where the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator; or one of the two times of the year when the Sun crosses these points. The ecliptic is the great circle across the sky that marks the mean path of the Sun; the celestial equator is the great circle that is an extension into the sky of the Earth’s mean Equator. These two great circles meet at two points, one of which is the vernal equinox and the other the autumnal equinox. The Sun passes the vernal equinox each year about March 20, and the autumnal equinox about September 22. The dates and times drift with the difference between the actual solar years and 365 days, and are corrected by leap years.

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