The autumnal equinox, which marks the transition from summer to autumn, occurs at the moment when day and night are roughly the same lengths. The word “equinox” is derived from Latin and means “equal night”. On September 23, 2019, autumnal equinox, day and night are of approximately equal length all over the world, as the Earth’s rotational axis is neither tilted away from nor towards the Sun. Astrologically, this is the time when the Sun enters Libra, the sign of balance.
Significance of Autumnal Equinox
There are many myths and traditions rooted out from different cultures of the Northern Hemisphere about the autumnal celebration rituals particularly the harvest time celebration when leaves turn yellow and fruits and vegetables ripen. In Ancient Mesopotamia, agriculture held primary importance and keeping the land fertile required many religious observances.
In Ancient Greek mythology, the onset of fall is closely linked to the story of the abduction of Persephone, also called Kore. She was a goddess who was abducted from her mother, harvest goddess Demeter and taken to the underworld to become the wife of Hades, the god-king of the underworld.
The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiations held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece and the “most famous of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece”. Their basis was an old agrarian cult, and there is some evidence that they were derived from the religious practices of the Mycenean period.
The rites of Eleusis were divided into the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries. The Lesser Mysteries were celebrated in the spring at the time of the vernal equinox in the town of Agræ, and the Greater, in the autumnal equinox at Eleusis or Athens.
The legend used in the Lesser rites is that of the abduction of the goddess Persephone, the daughter of Ceres, by Pluto, the lord of the underworld, or Hades. While Persephone is picking flowers in a beautiful meadow, the earth suddenly opens and the gloomy lord of death, riding in a magnificent chariot, emerges from its somber depths and, grasping her in his arms, carries the screaming and struggling goddess to his subterranean palace, where he forces her to become his queen.
The Greater Mysteries represents the wandering of Ceres through the world in quest of her abducted daughter Persephone. Ceres carried two torches, intuition and reason, to aid her in the search for her lost child (the soul). At last, she found Persephone not far from Eleusis, and out of gratitude taught the people there to cultivate corn, which is sacred to her. She also founded the Mysteries. Ceres appeared before Pluto, the god of the souls of the dead, and pleaded with him to allow Persephone to return to her home. This the god at first refused to do, because Persephone had eaten of the pomegranate, the fruit of mortality. At last, however, he compromised and agreed to permit Persephone to live in the upper world half of the year if she would stay with him in the darkness of Hades for the remaining half.
After a period of mourning and struggle, Demeter eventually got her daughter back from Hades, but only for six months of the year. Every fall, Persephone would return to the underworld to spend six months with Hades.
Mabon Celebrations, Rituals, and Ceremonies
Mabon is a modern Neopagan celebration, which takes place around the September equinox.
Mabon is the name for the autumnal equinox celebration, and he based the ceremony that he composed for the festival in the Greek myth of Persephone. Mabon celebrates the second harvest and the start of winter preparations, and it is the time to respect the impending dark while giving thanks to the sunlight.
Depending on your individual spiritual path, there are many different ways you can celebrate Mabon, but typically the focus is on either the second harvest aspect of the balance between light and dark. This, after all, is the time when there is an equal amount of day and night.
Although it’s not a Pagan holiday in the true sense, Michaelmas celebrations often included older aspects of Pagan harvest customs, such as the weaving of corn dolls from the last sheaves of grain.
The Christian celebration closest to the September equinox is Michaelmas, also known as the Feast of Michael and All Angels, on September 29.
These days, Michaelmas is a minor festival mainly observed in the Catholic church. Centuries ago in England, the time around Michaelmas also had a business side. Servants were paid their wages after the harvest, and workers looked for new jobs at employment fairs which also became a place for celebrations.
In Tantric Buddhism of Nepal, Bhutan, India and Tibet, yab-yum is a ritual of the male deity in union with a female deity as his consort. The symbolism is associated with Anuttarayoga tantra where the male figure is usually linked to compassion (karuṇā) and skillful means (upāya-kauśalya), and the female partner to ‘insight’ (prajñā). Yab-yum is generally understood to represent the primordial (or mystical) union of wisdom and compassion.
Maithuna at Khajuraho
Maithuna is a Sanskrit term used in Tantra most often translated as a sexual union in a ritual context. It is the most important of the five makara and constitutes the main part of the Grand Ritual of Tantra variously known as Panchamakara, Panchatattva, and Tattva Chakra
The symbolism of union and polarity is a central teaching in Tantric Buddhism, especially in Tibet. The union is realized by the practitioner as a mystical experience within one’s own body.
The Mayan Snake of Sunlight
At the precise moment of the equinox, when the Sun shines directly on the equator, an enormous “snake of sunlight” slithers down the stairs of the main pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico. The Mayans who constructed this ancient temple used advanced astronomical calculations to determine the exact angle of the staircase.
Six Days of Higan in Japan
Higan, or Higan-e, is a six-day Buddhist celebration in Japan during both the September and March equinoxes. Both equinoxes have been national holidays since the Meiji period (1868-1912). Higan means the “other shore” and refers to the spirits of the dead reaching Nirvana. It is a time to remember the dead by visiting, cleaning, and decorating their graves.
Moon Festival in China
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is celebrated in Chinese and Vietnamese communities all over the world on the day of the Harvest Moon, which is the Full Moon closest to the September equinox.
The Moon Festival celebrates the abundance of the summer’s harvest, and people serve mooncake filled with lotus, sesame seeds, a duck egg, or dried fruits.
Hieros Gamos, the Sacred Marriage
Hieros gamos or Hierogamy (“holy marriage”) is a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities. Once a year, the divine persons (e.g., humans representing the deities) engage in sexual intercourse, which guarantees the fertility of the land, the prosperity of the community, and the continuation of the cosmos.
Sacred sexual intercourse was once thought to be common in the Ancient Near East as a form of “Sacred Marriage” or hieros gamos between the kings of Sumerian city-states and the High Priestesses of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare.
Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos
Here, the High Priestess of Inanna would unite with or marry the King of the land who represented the young, virile vegetation God, in a public sexual ceremony that not only celebrated the fertile renewal of the land but was also a ritual act of creation. This important festival would last for many days celebrated during the annual Duku ceremony, just before Invisible Moon, with the autumn Equinox.
The celebrations would include the ritual sacrifice of grains and fruits, including the first offspring of livestock. So important was this celebration of renewal that only the most precious objects would be sacrificed. Even libations of blood would be offered to increase the fertility of the union which was the culmination of these ritual celebrations.
Within the ritual sacred marriage, the High Priestess of the temple became the earthly embodiment of the Goddess herself, joining with the masculine in the form of the King. This represented the joining of the elements of earth and spirit to create a holy sacred union. Here, sexuality was experienced as a pathway to the divine.
Herodotus, a Greek historian, wrote that every Babylonian woman had to attend the temple of Ishtar/Inanna and agree to sex with any male that asked her. Once she performed this ritual, the male visitor gave her money to donate to the temple. Scholars have called this sacred prostitution, although the rite was essentially performed as a devotion or prayer to the goddess to ensure fertility
Inanna, who later transformed into the Akkadian goddess Ishtar, the Phoenician Astarte and later still as the Greek goddess Aphrodite, is the goddess of love, sex, beauty, and fertility. Priestesses of this goddess, at least one order of them, performed as sacred prostitutes, lying with males who desired their services in ritual sexuality. This order of priestess was called Nin-Gig in Sumeria.
As ritually expressed, there are three main forms of the hieros gamos: between god and goddess (most usually symbolized by statues); between goddess and priest-king (who assumes the role of the god); and between god and priestess (who assumes the role of the goddess). In all three forms, there is a relatively fixed form to the ritual: a procession that conveys the divine actors to the marriage celebration; an exchange of gifts; purification of the pair; a wedding feast; preparation of the wedding chamber and bed; and the secret, nocturnal act of intercourse. In some traditions this appears to have been an actual physical act between sacred functionaries who impersonate the deities; in other traditions it appears to have been a symbolic union. On the following day the marriage and its consequences for the community are celebrated.
Fertility Magic and Ritual
Fertility rituals are religious rites that re-enact or recapitulate in reality, actuality or symbolically, sexual acts and/or reproductive processes. The achievement of sexual intoxication by the participants is the aim and intention of fertility rituals. Such rituals are for various functional goddesses or gods. Some fertility rituals may alternatively involve the sacrifice of an animal, which must be sacrificed in the cause of fertility or creation.
¨The interlaced Square and Compass have been recognized and accepted as the Masonic Emblem from the beginning of the 18th Century. The United States Patent Office took note of this in 1873. At that time, there was no letter “G” yet at the center of the interlaced Square and Compass. ¨It was about 1800 that some unknown author added the Letter “G”. To many American masons, the masonic emblem is not complete without this letter at the center. However, in other countries, besides in other languages “God” does not start with the letter “G” neither does Geometry. ¨Nonetheless, insofar as Philippine Masonry is concerned, the letter “G” in the middle is an essential part of the Masonic Emblem.
The notion of hieros gamos does not always presuppose literal sexual intercourse in ritual but is also used in a purely symbolic or mythological context, notably in alchemy and masonic philosophy. Hieros gamos is described as the prototype of fertility rituals. Some masonic authors boldly state that the symbolism of the traditional square and compass of Freemasonry represents sex act.
Albert Pike explaining “The Compass, is the Hermetic Symbol of the Creative Deity, and the Square of the productive Earth or Universe.” [Morals and Dogma, p. 850-1].” Therefore, the Masons look at the compass as the male phallus and the square as the female vulva. The SQUARE, therefore, is a natural and appropriate Symbol of this Earth and the things that belong to it, are of it or concern it. The Compass is an equally natural and appropriate Symbol of the Heavens, and of all celestial things and celestial natures.
The COMPASS, therefore, as the Symbol of the Heavens, represents the spiritual, intellectual, and moral portion of this double nature of Humanity; and the SQUARE, as the Symbol of the Earth, its material, sensual, and baser portion.”
¨Mackey also wrote about this in his “Symbolism of Freemasonry”. Both Mackey and Pike note that the Hindus represent the solar male principle in nature by the phallus, while the earth female principle is represented by the yoni. The union between these opposing natural forces are exemplified in the symbol of Shiva copulating with Shakti, found in statues in many Hindu Temples.
¨It was the belief of both Pike and Mackey that the square and compass alluded to the same meaning. The sexual act has always been treated as a sacred mystery for this reason. Not only does it reflect the balance of Nature, but it produces a new life, which is the Greater Mystery. We all know the mechanical process by which a new life is conceived, but the Mysteries deal with the spiritual process.
¨Albert Pike was certainly not alone in tracing the theology of Freemasonry back to the phallic worship of the pagan cults of the past. In his book Symbolism of Freemasonry, Albert Mackey also observed: ¨Phallus representation of the male sex organ… was venerated as a religious symbol very universally by the ancients. It was one of the modifications of sun-worship and was a symbol of the impregnating power of that luminary.
¨The Phallus, the male generative organ was represented usually by a column which was surmounted by a circle at its base, intended for the eteis or female generative organ. This union of the phallus and the eteis or vagina … was intended by the ancients as a type of the prolific powers of nature which they worshipped under the united form of the active or male principle and the passive or female principle.
¨Martin Wagner observed:
This creative or generative principle is that mysterious force or energy which renews the earth in springtime, and quickens all animated nature; that energy, force, or power which perpetually dying, renews itself in new, similar yet different forms…. This dynamic, procreative, productive power or energy in nature and especially in man maintaining a perpetual self-identity, Freemasonry conceives of as the divine nature, as the deity immanent in nature, and it is this life force or energy that it deifies, venerates and worships under the name of Great Architect of the Universe.
Sexual Meaning of Masonic Symbols
The Square represents the female (passive) generative principle, the earth, and the baser, sensual nature; and the Compass represents the male (active) generative principle, the sun/heavens, and the higher, spiritual nature.
¨The Compass, arranged above the Square, symbolizes the (male) Sun, impregnating the passive (female) Earth with its life-producing rays. The true meanings, then are two-fold: the earthly (human) representations are of the man and his phallus, and the woman with her receptive eteis (vagina). The cosmic meaning is that of the active Sun (deity, the Sun-god) from above, imparting life into the passive Earth (deity, the earth/fertility goddess) below and producing new life.
¨The concept of the sacred marriage originated with the ancients, who typically enacted annual ceremonies to bring fertility and prosperity. The Greeks called it Hieros Gamos. It is a sexual ritual that acts out or simulates a marriage between a goddess and a god, especially when enacted in a symbolic rite where human participants assume the identity of the deities. The ritual symbolizes the concordance of the female and male in the ceremony. Many mythologies describe it as a marriage between heaven and earth. In ancient Egypt, the marriage between Isis and Osiris was considered the sacred union of heaven and earth, of yin and yang, of the feminine and the masculine principles.
¨The so-called ‘sacred prostitute’ or temple priestess was associated with the religions of the Great Mother goddess in ancient times. These temple priestesses became the representatives in the physical form of the Goddess and entered into sacred sexual rituals with male worshippers, and this provides evidence of the ‘sacred feminine’ then and now. Sacred or temple ‘prostitution’ was supposedly performed in ancient temples as a fertility ritual that involved the practice of sacred sexual intercourse as part of the religious worship of the Goddess.
Connection with the Divine during Sexual Activity
From the very beginning of humanity, sex has been the most natural way to discover our spiritual connection with the Divine. The endorphins released after orgasm instantly send the body into a euphoric state of bliss where the egoic mind is no longer achieving, scheming or efforting to fulfill the demands, dreams, and goals of the ego. Through this orgasmic release and spiritual communion with the Divine, the deepest state of trust, love and relaxation are experienced. It is from this space where we can find a true feeling of absolute unshakable inner peace.
When you to resonate in Love, you will vibrate at a higher frequency within your DNA, attracting the cosmic energy allowing you the high level of consciousness of your soul.
¨People who have experienced the hieros gamos agree that this is a unique experience. One person stated that during the hieros gamos, both partners experienced total orgasm – through a physical connection, the other partner experienced perfectly the sexual stimulation the other person was sending in the mind – in short, the partners were both not only reading the other person’s mind but interacted within that mind – as one unity of cosmic consciousness or Oneness with God.”
The feeling of “heaven on earth” may indeed be what sex orgasm was all about: the twin souls in heaven, experiencing their divine union on earth. An instant wherein you can experience oneness with God to fulfill the trinitarian consciousness of the creation.
Remember, every time you see the sacred ritual of the Masonic interlaced square and compasses during opening and closing of the Lodge, there, an ancient fertility ritual at the Temple of Inanna reenact the magical powers of the sacred marriage.
Rosicrucians Alchemical Marriage
The alchemical marriage of the feminine aspect of our being to the spiritual self, the masculine aspect.
“When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, then you will enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Gospel of Thomas.
Gabriel Comia, Jr, is a Master Mason and a Rosicrucian from Manila, Philippines