Here Comes Fall - by John Copeland

12304 Santa Monica Blvd. 90025, Suite 301 /310.207.0222

Here Comes Fall – by John Copeland

photo image copyright Wayne Kimbell

Photo image copyright – Wayne Kimbell

Every season hath its pleasures;
Spring may boast her flowery prime,
Yet the vineyard’s ruby treasures
Brighten Autumn’s sob’rer time.”
― Thomas Moore

Do you notice the changes going on around you?  These days the sun is rising a bit later and setting a little earlier.  Here in Santa Ynez, lurking at the edge of the last of our lingering warm evenings is a growing chill.  The metal roof on our little ranch house resounds with the reports of acorns falling from our surrounding oak trees.  The past few mornings have been made cooler by the marine layer, making our dogs very frisky as they accompany me through our olive groves.  In other parts of the valley crews are working diligently gathering in the last of this year’s grape harvest.

Our drought in California contributed to a very early grape harvest this year.  It actually went into high gear back in early August.

Even if you aren’t spending much time outside, you’ve probably noticed the harbingers of seasonal change; Halloween displays are up in many stores, and in a few you may have already encountered arrays of Christmas ornaments.  Both Earth and businesses are providing us with sure signs that the seasons are changing.

Today, September 22nd, is the “last day of summer” for us in the northern hemisphere.  Fall arrives this evening, in California, at 7:29 pm PDT.  If you’re living in the Eastern Time Zone, Fall arrives at 10:29 pm EDT and 9:29 CDT if you’re in the center of the country.

There are two equinoxes (autumn and spring) two solstices (summer and winter) that occur approximately on the 21st day of the last month of every quarter in the calendar year.  I like think that the Equinox is also about balance.  The Autumn Equinox occurs as the sun enters the astrological sign of Libra, the scales

In the language of science, an Equinox is defined as the point where the Sun appears to cross the Earth’s celestial equator from north to south. The celestial equator is the circle in the celestial sphere halfway between the celestial poles. It can be thought of as the plane of Earth’s equator projected out onto the sphere.

For those of us who are not so scientifically inclined, on the Equinox, at the equator, the center of the Sun will spend a nearly equal amount of time above and below the horizon. Now, not many of us live at the equator, so for us in the Northern Hemisphere at the Autumn Equinox, the hours of daylight are longer than night by 7 to 10 minutes.

Now you may have guessed that the word Equinox is Latin, and you’re right.  It comes from two Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night).   You might logically think that Equinox would mean that day and night were equal.  But it is not until a couple days after the Equinox that day and night are equal.  Here in Santa Ynez, CA, day and night will be equal on September 25th – 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night.  You can check for the exact date where you live by looking up sunrise and sunset times. The reason this doesn’t occur at the Equinox has to do with the fact that we measure sunrise and sunset as the point that the edge of the sun crosses the horizon and not the geometric center of the sun.

However, if you want to get up early on Tuesday (since the Equinox occurs on Monday evening) and if there aren’t clouds or marine layer, you will see one of the two cool astronomical alignments of the year and of both Equinoxes; the sun will rise directly in the East. Now, you need to go outside again at the end of the day at sunset and you’ll see the sun set directly in the West.  This occurs only twice a year, at the Fall and Spring Equinoxes.  On these two days you can pinpoint the exact cardinal directions of East and West using the sun.

The Autumn Equinox in the northern hemisphere is the Vernal Equinox for the southern hemisphere.  Another way to say this is that when fall begins for the northern hemisphere, spring begins for the southern hemisphere.  The reason the Earth’s two hemispheres have opposite seasons is related to Earth’s tilt on its axis.

As the North pole begins to tilt away from the sun, cooler weather comes to the northern hemisphere because the sun is no longer giving its direct rays to this part of our planet.  In winter when the North Pole is tilted its farthest away from the sun, we have the least amount of daylight hours and the coldest weather.  You can even notice the angle of the sun in the winter and easily see that it never climbs as high in the sky as it does during the summer.

The Autumn Equinox is closely associated with harvest time.  September is the month of the Wine Moon, the lunar cycle when grapes are harvested, pressed and put away to become wine.  The full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox is also known as the Harvest Moon, since farmers would also harvest their crops during the night with the light of the full moon to aid them.  This year’s Harvest Moon was a couple of weeks ago.

Every agrarian culture I’ve read about, past or present, had a way of celebrating the year’s harvest. Today’s celebrations are the descendants of the ancient ones. Most of them were observed between the Autumn Equinox and Halloween or Samhain, on October 31st. They often link the cycles of death and life, honoring the dead as well as the harvest. In many cultures, these things are intertwined.

The word harvest comes from the Anglo-Saxon word harvest, which was their word for Autumn.  Over time it has come to mean the season for reaping and gathering grain and other crops.

In Northern Europe, during ancient times, grain stalks were tied together symbolizing the Harvest Lord and burned.  The ashes were scattered upon the earth. The Harvest Kern Baby, was made from the last sheaf of the harvest and bundled by the reapers who would proclaim, ‘We have the Kern!’  The sheaf was dressed in a white frock decorated with colorful ribbons depicting spring, and then hung upon a pole.

During the Middle Ages, the Christian Church replaced earlier Pagan equinox celebrations with Michaelmas, the feast of the Archangel Michael,  held on Sept. 29th.  The Michaelmas feast was celebrated with a well-fattened goose that had fed well on the stubble of the fields after the harvest.  In many places, a there was also a tradition of special large loaves of bread made only for Michaelmas.  The harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas so the new cycle of farming would begin.  It was also a time for beginning new leases, rendering accounts and paying the annual dues.

The Autumn equinox was “New Year’s Day” on the French Republican Calendar, which was used from 1793 to 1805.  The French monarchy was abolished and the First Republic was proclaimed on September 21, 1792, making the following day the equinox day that year, the first day of the “Republican Era” in France.

The September equinox marks the first day of Mehr or Libra in the Iranian calendar.  It is also an Iranian festival called Jashne Mihragan, which dates back to the distant days of Zoroastrianism.

Here in the United States, autumn is a time to celebrate with a variety of fall and Harvest Festivals, like Danish Days this past weekend in Solvang.  People enjoy fall festivals as they sense the closure to the summer season and the coming of winter.  So, get out and enjoy them.

___________________
John Copeland
Rancho Olivos
for

Dr. Eric P. Dahlstrom, D.C., L.Ac.
Santa Monica Healing Arts
Providing Chiropractic Care and Acupuncture in Santa Monica since 1999 (http://santamonicahealingarts.com). Check out our 5-star Review on Yelp (http://www.yelp.com/biz/santa-monica-healing-arts-santa-monica) or find us on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Santa-Monica-Healing-Arts)
~ follow us on
twitter: @SMHealingArts
facebook: “Santa Monica Healing Arts”
instagram: @mrsdrdahl
yelp: Santa Monica Healing Arts

 

Samhain/Halloween – by John Copeland

Well, here we are, well into the last quarter of the year and the end of October.  This week, in the Santa Ynez Valley, we’ve had ample notice that the seasons are changing, the hours of daylight are diminishing and the hours of darkness are increasing. This weekend we say goodbye to Daylight Savings when we turn our clocks back (the 1st weekend of November) and it’ll be even more apparent – the darkness, that is.
But before we “fall back,” on Thursday, we celebrate Halloween with its witches, ghost, goblins and things that go bump in the night.  On Halloween, we also cross into what our ancient ancestors considered the dark half of the year.  It’s all part of why I love October.
Outside of New Years, Halloween, is the one of the oldest holidays still celebrated today.  A day, or if you prefer, a night full of magic and mystery, that originally celebrated the inextricable link between the cycles of the seasons and life. Halloween has not only survived, it is one holiday that has continued to thrive throughout its long history.  Here  in the United States, Halloween’s popularity is second to Christmas.
Halloween, just like many of our other holidays has been reshaped over the centuries, the ancient beliefs and customs have been altered and new traditions added over time.  These changes happened so gradually and span so many years, that it is often a challenge to unravel all the alterations.  But it you’re like me, knowing a little bit about the rich history surrounding Halloween makes it all that more fascinating a holiday.  Particularly, when you realize how old some of our traditions actually are.
Beyond costume parties and trick-or-treating, the origins of Halloween can be traced directly to the ancient Celtic festival Samhain (sow-in, pronounced like cow). The Romans, the Christian Church and ultimately, modern society have all had a hand in altering this holiday, but even our most contemporary traditions persevere elements of Halloween’s ancient past.
The Celtic peoples, were early domesticators of the horse and in the distant past they spread out from the steppes and across much of Europe.  They lived in what is now eastern Europe, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, northern Spain, England, parts of Scotland and Ireland.
 The Celts divided their year into eight major holidays and two seasons of light and dark. The season of light began at Beltane on May 1st and the season of darkness began with Samhain on November 1st.  The word Samhain literally translates, from ancient Gaelic as “summers end” and in contemporary Irish Samhain is the name for the month of November.
According to their calendar, their year began on the day corresponding to November 1st on our present calendar. Since they were a pastoral people, it was the time when cattle and sheep had to be moved to closer pastures and crops were harvested and stored. It marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death.
Now, the Celts are believed to have measured time by nights rather than by days, as we do today.  Traditionally the festival of Samhain began at sundown. The Celts believed that on the night before their new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.  More so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. People gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables. They also lit bonfires in honor of the dead, to aid them on their journey, and to keep them away from the living. On that day all manner of beings were abroad: ghosts, fairies, and demons–all part of the dark and dread.
Samhain was a time that a family’s ancestors were honored and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off.  It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks to protect one from being recognized by unfriendly spirits.  And, since malevolent spirits roamed abroad on Samhain night, gifts and treats were left out to pacify them and ensure next years crops would be plentiful. These are customs that are the foundation of

today’s costume parties and what evolved into today’s trick-or-treating.
Hill top bonfires also played a large part in Celtic festivities. On Samhain, all household fires were extinguished and at the end of the ceremonies, brands were lit from the great bonfires of to re-kindle all the home fires of the tribe. As they received the flame that marked this time of beginnings, the ancient Celts surely had a sense of they were kindling new dreams, projects and hopes for the year to come.
By 43 BCE, the Romans had conquered nearly all of the Celtic lands. The Romans, although conquerors, were surprisingly accepting of the beliefs of other cultures.  In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled, two Roman festivals became combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
The first was Feralia, also celebrated in late October, when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple.  Apples were also a special fruit to the Celts.  At the heart of the Celtic Otherworld grew an apple tree whose fruit had magical properties. These festivals were blended with Samhain and the apple became part of the “Halloween” celebration that would become Halloween in the form of “bobbing” for apples.
Samhain began evolving into the Halloween we are familiar with when Christian missionaries attempted to change the religious practices of the Celtic people. As a result of their efforts to wipe out “pagan” holidays, such as Samhain, the Christians succeeded in effecting major transformations in it. In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory the First issued a now famous edict to his missionaries concerning the native beliefs and customs of the peoples he hoped to convert. Rather than try to obliterate native peoples’ customs and beliefs, the pope instructed his missionaries to use them: if a group of people worshipped a tree, rather than cut it down, he advised them to consecrate it to Christ and allow its continued worship.
In terms of spreading Christianity, this was a brilliant concept and it became a basic approach used in Catholic missionary work. Church holy days were purposely set to coincide with native holy days. Christmas, for instance, was assigned the arbitrary date of December 25th because it corresponded with the mid-winter celebration of many peoples. Likewise, St. John’s Day was set on the summer solstice. While missionaries identified their holy days with those observed by the Celts, they branded the earlier religion’s supernatural deities as evil, and associated them with the devil. The Celtic underworld inevitably became identified with the Christian Hell.
The old beliefs associated with Samhain never died out entirely. All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallows (hallowed means sanctified or holy), continued the ancient Celtic traditions. The powerful symbolism of the traveling dead was too strong, and perhaps too basic to the human psyche, to be satisfied with the abstract Catholic feast honoring saints. People continued to celebrate All Hallows Eve as a time of the wandering dead, but the supernatural beings were now thought to be evil. The folk continued to propitiate those spirits (and their masked impersonators) by setting out gifts of food and drink. Subsequently, All Hallows Eve became Hallow Evening, which became Hallowe’en–an ancient Celtic, pre-Christian New Year’s Day in contemporary dress. The practice of retaining traditional customs while attempting to redefine them had a sustaining effect: the traditional beliefs and customs lived on, in new guises.
However, it was in Colonial America that these old historical traditions merged and a distinctly American version of Halloween emerged. Colonial Halloween festivities featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the early 19th century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween wasn’t celebrated everywhere in the country.
In the second half of the 19th century, America was flooded with new immigrants, millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine.  These irish helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Today, children and many adults dress up in various different costumes, some inspired by the latest films, characters from fantasy stories, and other areas of popular culture. The whole notion of trick-or-treat came from Ireland.

The custom of going door-to-door threatening to play pranks if treats are not received came from Ireland of the 18th and 19th centuries when the children of tenant farmers would go to the Lords or Landlords manor demanding treats or they would play pranks.  The children would carry with them jack-o’lanterns which were made by hollowing out a turnip or sugar beet and carving bits out to represent facial features and would then be lit from a candle placed in the inside. The idea behind this may have been to frighten off any supernatural forces that might be about on this night.

The carving of pumpkins is associated with Halloween in North America where pumpkins are both readily available and much larger- making them easier to carve than turnips. Using pumpkins is an American contribution to celebrating Halloween.
By the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $7 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.
But, Halloween is no stranger to controversy even in the twenty-first century, it has always been targeted by those who wish to control it, from the early Catholic church to the various political and religious groups of today. Yet, Halloween has managed to achieve national status without the holiday status of the July 4th or Christmas, because it’s a celebration of the potential of what humans want to be and, if only for one night, what they would not otherwise be.
Halloween endures because it allows its participants to both embrace and defuse their fears. From the ancient Celts who looked to the spirits that wandered Samhain night for insight to the future to the little vampires and fairies trick-or-treating at your door, Halloween’s adaptability is the reason it remains—after nearly 2000 years—the most bewitching night of the year.
Of course, whether we’re trick or treating, bobbing for apples, or dressing in costumes, each one of these Halloween traditions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly. Ours is not such a different holiday after all!

Dahlstrom Day of the Dead

Dahlstrom Day of the Dead

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
~Scottish Saying
Have a Happy Halloween.
__________________
John Copeland
Rancho Olivos
2390 N. Refugio Rd.
Santa Ynez, CA 93460
www.ranchoolivos.com

for

Dr. Eric P. Dahlstrom, D.C., L.Ac.
Santa Monica Healing Arts
Providing Chiropractic Care and Acupuncture in Santa Monica since 1999 (http://santamonicahealingarts.com). Check out our 5-star Review on Yelp (http://www.yelp.com/biz/santa-monica-healing-arts-santa-monica) or find us on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Santa-Monica-Healing-Arts)
~follow us on
twitter: @SMHealingArts
facebook: Santa Monica Healing Arts
instagram: mrsdrdahl

Changing Seasons by John Copeland

Autumn days come quickly, like the running of a hound on the moor
– Irish proverb
 
 
You feel the change in the air?  The sun’s rising a bit later, it’s setting earlier, the evening’s are growing cooler and our metal roof is already echoing with the reports of falling acorns.  Here in the Santa Ynez Valley the past few mornings have been cool and a little foggy, making our dogs very frisky as they accompany me through our olive groves.  In other parts of the valley crews are working diligently gathering in this year’s grape harvest.  
 
Even if you don’t spend much time outside, you’ve probably noticed the harbingers of seasonal change; Halloween displays are already up in many stores, and in a few you may have already seen a few arrays of Christmas ornaments.  Both Earth and commerce are providing us with the sure signs that the seasons are changing.
 
Today, Saturday, September 21st, is the “last day of summer” for us in the northern hemisphere and my niece Katie’s birthday.  Sunday, September 22nd is the Autumn Equinox.  Here in California, Fall will be ushered in at 1:44 pm PDT.  If you’re living in the Eastern Time Zone, Fall arrives at 4:44 pm EDT and 2:44 CDT if you’re in the center of the country.  
 
And if you happen to live in the southern hemisphere, you’ll be experiencing the Vernal Equinox and the first day of Spring.  There is either an equinox (autumn and spring) or a solstice (summer and winter) on approximately the 21st day of the last month of every quarter in the calendar year. 
 
In the language of science, the Equinox is defined as the point where the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from north to south. The celestial equator is the circle in the celestial sphere halfway between the celestial poles. It can be thought of as the plane of Earth’s equator projected out onto the sphere.  
 
For those of us who are not so scientifically inclined, on the Equinox, at the equator, the center of the Sun will spend a nearly equal amount of time above and below the horizon. Now, not many of us live at the equator, so for us in the Northern Hemisphere at the Autumn Equinox, the hours of daylight are longer than night by 7 to 10 minutes.  
 
Now you may have guessed that the word Equinox is Latin, and you’re right.  It comes from two Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night).   You might logically think that Equinox would mean that day and night were equal.  It’s not until a couple days after the Equinox that day and night are finally equal.  Here in Santa Ynez, CA, day and night are equal on September 26th.  You can check for the exact date where you live by looking up sunrise and sunset times. The reason this doesn’t occur at the Equinox has to do with the sunrise and sunset being measured by the edges of the sun and not the geometric center of the sun and the diffraction of the sunlight as it passes through Earth’s atmosphere. 
 
However, if you want to get up early on Sunday, and there aren’t clouds or marine layer, you can see one of astronomical alignments of the Equinox; the sun will rise directly in the East.  Now you need to go outside again at the end of the day and you’ll see the sun set directly in the West.  This occurs only twice a year, on both the Fall and Spring Equinoxes.  On these two days you can find the exact cardinal directions of East and West using the sun. 
 
I like to also think that the Equinox is also about balance and the Autumn Equinox occurs as the sun enters the astrological sign of Libra, the scales.  The Autumn Equinox in the northern hemisphere is the Vernal Equinox for the southern hemisphere.  Another way to say this is that when fall begins for the northern hemisphere, spring begins for the southern hemisphere.  If part of the globe has opposite seasons than the other half, then the reason for the seasons is NOT because of how close or far away we are from the sun.  It is related to the tilt of the Earth on its axis.
 
As the North pole begins to tilt away from the sun, cooler weather comes to the northern hemisphere because the sun is no longer giving its direct rays to this part of Earth.  In winter when the North Pole is tilted its farthest away from the sun, we have the least amount of daylight hours and the coldest weather.  You can even notice the angle of the sun and how it never gets as high above the horizon.
 
The Autumn Equinox is closely associated with harvest time.  September is the month of the Wine Moon, the lunar cycle when grapes are harvested, pressed and put away to become wine.  The full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox is also known as the Harvest Moon, since farmers would also harvest their crops during the night with the light of the full moon to aid them.  If you happened to be outside the past couple of evenings, the full moon hanging in the sky is both the Wine Moon and Harvest Moon.
 
Every agrarian culture I’ve read about, past or present, had a way of celebrating the year’s harvest. Today’s celebrations are the descendants of the ancient ones. Most of them were observed between the Autumn Equinox and Halloween or Samhain, on October 31st. They often link the cycles of death and life, honoring the dead as well as the harvest. In many cultures, these things are intertwined.
 
The word harvest comes from the Anglo-Saxon word harvest, which was their word for Autumn.  Over time it has come to mean the season for reaping and gathering grain and other crops.
 
In Northern Europe, during ancient times, grain stalks were tied together symbolizing the Harvest Lord and burned.  The ashes were scattered upon the earth. The Harvest Queen, or Kern Baby, was made from the last sheaf of the harvest and bundled by the reapers who would proclaim, ‘We have the Kern!’  The sheaf was dressed in a white frock decorated with colorful ribbons depicting spring, and then hung upon a pole.
 
By the time of the Middle Ages, the Christian Church replaced earlier Pagan equinox celebrations with Michaelmas, the feast of the Archangel Michael, on Sept. 29th.  His feast was celebrated with a traditional well-fattened goose which had fed well on the stubble of the fields after the harvest.  In many places, a there was also a tradition of special large loaves of bread made only for that day.  The harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas so the new cycle of farming would begin.  It was also a time for beginning new leases, rendering accounts and paying the annual dues.
 
The Autumn equinox was “New Year’s Day” on the French Republican Calendar, which was used from 1793 to 1805.  The French monarchy was abolished and the First Republic was proclaimed on September 21, 1792, making the following day the equinox day that year, the first day of the “Republican Era” in France.  
 
The September equinox marks the first day of Mehr or Libra in the Iranian calendar.  It is also an Iranian festival called Jashne Mihragan, which dates back to the distant days of Zoroastrianism.
 
Here in the United States, autumn is a time to celebrate with a variety of fall and Harvest Festivals, like Danish Days this weekend in Solvang.  People enjoy fall festivals as they sense the closure of a great summer season and the coming of a long winter.  The fall festivals are often the last of the outdoor events until spring.  Just getting there is half the fun.  So, get out and enjoy them.
John Copeland
Rancho Olivos
2390 N. Refugio Rd.
Santa Ynez, CA 93460 

 

for

 

Dr. Eric P. Dahlstrom, D.C., L.Ac.
Santa Monica Healing Arts
Providing Chiropractic Care and Acupuncture in Santa Monica since 1999 (http://santamonicahealingarts.com). Check out our 5-star Review on Yelp (http://www.yelp.com/biz/santa-monica-healing-arts-santa-monica) or find us on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Santa-Monica-Healing-Arts)
~follow us on
twitter: @SMHealingArts
facebook: Santa Monica Healing Arts