Happy Autumnal Equinox

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 23, 2006 — 2 Comments

Today is the Autumnal Equinox (04:03 UT) and signals the beginning of Fall in the northern hemisphere. On this day there will be an equal amount of light and darkness, and after this day the nights grow longer and we head towards Winter. In many modern Pagan traditions this is the second of three harvest festivals (the first being Lughnasadh, the third being Samhain).


“Mabon” photo by Nyx (CC)

The holiday is also known as “Harvest Home” or “Mabon” by Wiccans and Witches, and “Winter Finding” by modern-day Asatru. Most modern Pagans simply call it the Autumn Equinox. Here are some media quotes and excerpts from modern Pagans on the holiday.

“‘Equinox’ was derived from Latin ‘aequinoctium’ which comes from ‘aequus’ (equal), and ‘nox’ (night). It refers to the time that occurs twice a year when the nighttime is equal to the daytime, each being 12 hours in duration. Religions the world around observe many seasonal days of celebration during late September. Most are holy days linked in some way to the equinox. Recurring themes found are balance, harvesting, hunting, and remembrance of the dead.”Brad Smith, Siskiyou Daily News

“Harvest Home is the pleasantest of holidays. Admittedly, it does involve the concept of sacrifice, but one that is symbolic only. The sacrifice is that of the spirit of vegetation, John Barleycorn. Occurring one quarter of the year after Midsummer, Harvest Home represents midautumn, autumn’s height. It is also the autumnal equinox, one of the quarter days of the year, a Lesser Sabbat and a Low Holiday in modern Witchcraft. Recently, some Pagan groups have begun calling the holiday by the Welsh name ‘Mabon’, although there seems little historical justification for doing so.”Mike Nichols

“In addition to the changes outside, the autumn equinox also signals an internal change to the region?s pagans, to whom the day is a holiday. “A feast of abundance,” is how Barbara Giacalone of Naples describes the day, which her fellow Wiccans call Mabon. “So it’s the day I take the things I have too much of and give them to people who need them.” For Pagan Meg Sapp of Fort Myers, it’s all about equilibrium. “It’s a time when light and dark are in balance as we get ready for the transformation to a new cycle,” she says. “Amy Bennett Williams, The News-Press

“Those who practice the ancient earth-magic circle together for Mabon, the second – and main – pagan harvest fest of thanksgiving. However you choose to observe this flurry of astronomically significant events, be sure to look up and look within. Toss your blessings, wishes, thanks and desires to the stars, the moon and the hot, golden star whose gaze will dim with the coming winter months.”Kati Schardl, Tallahassee Democrat

“Several religions have celebrations around the autumnal equinox. This day of transition shows up on pagan, Mayan, American Indian, ancient Irish and Druid calendars. And it is the turning point, astrologically, from Virgo to Libra, symbolized by scales, for balance.”Joe Grimm, Detroit Free Press

“It is a time of great joy and great sorrow, it is the time of great change. Mabon is as much about life as it is about death, it is the reminder that within life there is death and within death there is life. It is about the dance that partners life with death. Mabon is a time when we are poised between the worlds of life and death, of light and dark, of day and night. We mourn that which is passing, celebrate that which is bountiful and are consciously reminded that the Mother will hold the seed of Light in Her womb until the time of rebirth. Once more the realization that the Wheel of Year has turned, as it always has and will always continue to do as our time is circular not linear, there is no end without new beginnings, it is the continuance of life eternal.”Christina Aubin, Witchvox

“European harvest rites often centered around the end of the grain harvest. In rural England, all who helped with the harvest celebrated the Harvest Home, observed on last day of bringing in the harvest. It was also called the Ingathering or Inning, and in Scotland Kern. In the Harvest Home celebration, the last load of rye, beans, wheat or another crop was decked with ribbons, flowers or green boughs and was brought home by men, women and children singing and shouting. The Harvest Home song generally ran something like:

Harvest home, harvest home!
We’ve plowed, we’ve sowed
We’ve reaped, we’ve mowed
And brought safe home
Every load.

As part of the Harvest Home celebration, the Harvest Queen, a doll made of the last sheaf of the harvest, dressed in woman’s clothing and decked in ribbons, was either carried home on the last wagon or high on a pole by a harvester. When the last harvest load was brought into the farmyard, onlookers often pelted it with apples and drenched the Harvest Queen and the reaper carrying her with buckets of water. The head reaper was garlanded, and a feast ended the day, complete with drinking, dance and song.”Asherah, “Lore and Magick of the Harvest”

May you all enjoy the fruits of your harvest this season.

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Bill LaLonde

    May you have a blessed Mabon!(Although I should note that, since I’m in the USA in Eastern Daylight Time, today is just barely the equinox for me, having fallen three minutes after midnight, and for all of the USA west of me, the equinox fell yesterday)

  • nimoloth

    In fact, the true equal day and night occurs a few days after the actual equinox because the Sun is not a point source in the sky! Being a scientist can sometimes cause havoc with true times and dates of solar celebrations *g*.