On September 22nd, on the day of the equinox, autumn begins. The light turns golden, Indian summer is like a last surge of warmth before winter. The air is cooler but still mild. A feeling of clarity arises. The smell is peculiar, varied but not delicate and mild like always summer, rather deep. All the flowers with the small petals glow colorfully. The feasts of Michaelmas and Harvest Thanks are the first ones we celebrate in autumn. In November follows St. Martin, the lantern festival and finally a large part of the Advent season is also in autumn. When the days get cooler and darker, there is almost nothing better than to come from outside to the warm, dry place and warm up with a cup of warm tea or cocoa.
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Equinox The equinox is a special phenomenon: it applies regardless of where you are on earth. While at the equator the days have the same duration all year round as the nights, the differences north and south of the equator increase towards the solstices. In the summer months the days are longer than the nights, in winter it is the other way around. On the day of the equinox, the northern and southern hemispheres exchange their differences. On this day, day and night are exactly the same length, no matter where you are on earth. As the light and warmth dwindle, the life forces of nature also withdraw. In October, the leaves of the trees change color and the mist hangs in swathes over meadows, forests and lakes. The last now somewhat sour blackberries can be picked, the apples are ripe and fall almost by themselves into the harvest baskets. The pumpkins glow orange and the last potatoes can be harvested and over the fire in a delicious Thanksgiving soup to become a feast. And then we take leave of the abundance of summer. A time of inner reflection and a search for the inner light begins. The beings of nature The dwarves cavort on the seasonal table. Just as we can turn more to our inner self after the joy of life in summer, the elemental beings also retreat into the earth. Rudolf Steiner writes about this: "This course of the year, which in earlier times man celebrated through festive times, because a kind of more instinctive consciousness was dominant, has another side... During winter, the earth is united with its elemental spirits, one could say, united. The elemental spirits draw themselves into the womb of the earth, dwelling there with the preparing plant roots and the other natural entities that are in the bosom of the earth during the winter. Then, when spring comes, the earth exhales, so to speak, its elemental essence; the elemental spirits rise as if from a tomb, ascending into the atmosphere. While in winter they have absorbed the inner law of the Earth, when spring is approaching, and especially when summer is approaching, they get more and more, in their being and weaving, that law which is forced upon them by the stars of the cosmos and their movements. And when the midsummer is here, when it weaves and lives outside in the perimeter of the earth among the elemental beings that have been quiet and still during the winter under the blanket of snow, it waves and whirls among these elemental beings in those movements, in those mutual relations that are determined by the laws of planetary movements, by the laws of the formation of the fixed stars, and so on. And when autumn comes, these elemental beings, in a way, come back again against the earth. Then they will again approach the earth, and more and more and more they will also again receive the laws of the earth, to return again, to be inhaled, as it were, by the earth during the winter time, when they will again be still and quiet in the bosom of the earth. (Rudolf Steiner, GA 229, p.11f)