Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox (by Pete Leki)

Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox
The Autumnal Equinox is coming. Around the 23rd of September. The exact moment doesn’t much matter to me. The amazing thing is that it is a world-recognized, unifying moment for every culture back through very ancient times. Something shifting, moving from one moment to the next. What does it matter to us? What will we notice? How will we be affected? It matters because, in a world ridden with religious, political, class, and racial divisions, the Equinox (and the Solstices) are moments of shared awe and recognition that we share One world, One reality, and that it is beautiful. When we started restoration of the riverbank and Waters school grounds, we sought events that we could be part of to bring our community together. The celestial Solstice and Equinox were laden with ancient ritual, with scientific revelation, with Universal appeal. So join us to celebrate this worldwide event. The official date and time aren’t that important. But the Equinox reminds people all around the world that a shift is beginning. What will you notice?? On September 23, the length of the day and the night will equalize. 12 hours dark, 12 hours light. Worldwide. On that day, the Sun will rise due east and set due west. This means, amongst other things, that there will be some awesome and unusual spectacles on Chicago‚Äôs east-west grid streets. The Sun will pour into the streets, painting them with color and blinding drivers. Another thing is that this day, this moment, marks the time of maximum reduction of the rate of daylight shortening. This has been going on since the Summer Solstice. Slowly, slowly at first, the days began to shorten after June 20, accelerating to maximum at the Autumn Equinox. (Did you notice? It’s 7:30 and dark?) After this day, from our perspective, the shortening of the days will slow down until the Winter Solstice. We will also witness this if we take note of the azimuth of the noontime Sun. The Sun dips, lower and lower onto the southern horizon until, at Winter Solstice, it stops, and reverses, heralding Spring. What a thing! Going on everyday, all around us and around the world. Celebrate! Light a fire. Sing a song. Share food. Tell a tale. This is one way to connect with the whole world, back through ancient times, and with the celestial. – Pete