Tuesday, September 20, 2016


We’re within a day or two of the Autumnal Equinox (September 21) which starts the “trough” as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) calls it. I wondered what was going on. I’ve noted that several Facebook friends just reported feeling a bit discouraged, “I’m a coupla ticks off” one said. Another said he was going to take a “time out” from his regular intense schedule of Facebook commentaries “I just need a break. I’m gonna read a book.” And, as if to raise my consciousness even higher, I saw my first TV ad for “Puffs” facial tissue. That’s always a sign that we are entering the “trough”.  Then I looked at the calendar and there it was – the “trough”.
Really, I didn’t need the ad, I feel it too. I’m glum.
     The “trough” is between November and April. It is when the days grow shorter right up to the Winter Solstice. Our bodies are synced with daylight, “entrained” as they say. According to the CDC, research has shown that we are more likely to become ill in the “trough”. It’s “a seasonal fluctuation” between health, disease prevalence, and the function of the human biological systems, such as the endocrine system, which relates to immunology.
     Our entrainment to daylight is called “photoperiodism”.

     Photoperiodism relates to the length of day/night cycles. At the Autumnal Equinox, day and night are equal length. But, every day after September 21, the daylight decreases until the Winter Solstice.  
The tilt of the Earth’s axis combined with the rotation around the Sun results in more or less daylight called “seasons”. Thus the year is divided roughly into two halves – one of decreasing daylight in the Northern Hemisphere (increasing is Southern Hemisphere), and then they switch about.
     The old cultures call path to the shortest day of the year, “the dying of the light.” The CDC calls it “the cold and flu season”. The CDC notes a spike in pneumococcal diseases occurs in U.S. adults between December 24 and January 7. Their study reports: “The reproducible seasonal patterns in varied geographic locations are consistent with the hypothesis that nationwide seasonal changes such as photoperiodism-dependent variations in host susceptibility may underlie pneumococcal seasonality…”

This means that as our physical systems weaken, the viruses get stronger. All of living organisms on Earth are “entrained” or synchronized with seasonality. Our bodies respond to reduced levels of light by reducing our immune systems’ performance.
     We are no longer consciously living in sync with the seasons of nature. But, because our bodies can’t help but be in sync, they respond. We feel stressed, “a tick or two off” as my friend said. We try to adjust ourselves and de-stress and perhaps get some rest, read a book.
Maybe in the case of my Facebook friends and I, we are entering the metaphorical trough of our lives, not just the year. I really sense an autumnal feeling. These are people I met in the Spring or Summer. But now... we are sliding into the trough.
Thankfully, the ancient cultures responded to the “dying of the light” and created festivals which bring us inner light of Joy! Inspiration. Reverence. Warmth of soul. From the Autumnal Equinox to the Winter solstice we go through bright, inner times of meaning and celebration: All Hallow Eve / All Souls day, then Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Eid ul-Adha and then Christmas before turning back to the Light.
     And so will we all.
     Welcome to the trough – and our inner revels! Welcome Yule

© Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager

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