I was very tempted to subtitle this post 'or: Don't Mention Black Magic!'
In the West some people get rather twitchy if you talk about 'working with Dark energies', but at the Equinoxes in particular, as Witches and Pagans, we are very aware of the balance shifting between light and dark.
The main problem is that there is still a 'knee jerk' prejudice which sees: white is light is good and alternatively black is dark is evil. Whereas they may be opposites, but light and dark are complimentary and you can't have one without the other. Think of the Yin Yang symbol it is a circle which contains two teardrop shapes, one black and one white, the white teardrop has a black 'eye', and the black teardrop a white eye. This symbol graphically illustrates that these energies are complimentary, one cannot exist without the other, and each contains the potential of change into its opposite.
I have personally been accused of being the Whitest of White Witches and also the Blackest of Dark Practitioners, both supposedly issued as insults. But as my teacher often remarked 'There are no such things as Black or White Witches, we are all shades of grey.'
As we are just past the Equinox, let us see what that means. The Equinox is literally that time when the length of day and the length of night are exactly the same, or Equal, which is why the Equinox is also called the time of balance. However the Wheel of the Year is in constant motion, it doesn't stop, so the actual time of balance is a mere instant, which is why I prefer the idea of the Equinox as being a time of dynamic change.
There are two times in the year when the Equinoxes occur: the Spring Equinox when the length of the nights is growing shorter and the days lengthening and the Autumn Equinox when the opposite it happening, the days are growing shorter and the nights lengthening.
Because the nights are growing longer, this means that for the next six months there will be more hours of darkness than hours of daylight, and that is why this is called the Dark Half of the year. Not for any sinister reason, but simply because each day has less light than darkness. The further north you go, the more dramatic is the contrast between the lengths of day and night.
However, please remember that I live in England when I speak of the Equinoxes in this way. I am referring to how they appear in the Northern half of the World. If I lived in South America or Australia we would just have experienced the Spring Equinox, and be heading into the Light Half of the year.
So each year the Equinoxes demonstrate the nature of these Yin Yang energies: the light growing in one hemisphere precisely as the darkness is growing in the other. Each balances the other moment by moment, day by day and year by year.
This is also why we refer to the procession of the seasons and the seasonal rituals as the Wheel of the Year, an ever turning succession of seasons and rituals, one blending into the next, until the Wheel has turned full circle and continues onwards.