Tonight (or tomorrow depending on where you live) is the Autumnal Equinox which signals the beginning of Fall in the northern hemisphere (our friends in the southern hemisphere are celebrating the Spring Equinox). 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).
Anderida Gorsedd, The Long Man of Wilmington, Autumn Equinox
Some rights reserved by chrisjohnbeckett
The holiday is also known as “Harvest Home” or “Mabon” by Wiccans and Witches, “Mid-Harvest”, “Foghar”, and “Alban Elfed” by some Druidic and Celtic-oriented groups, 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.
“For the Equinox balance between the eternally dancing dualities of life reigns and is honored. Neither predominates. And so, for our ritual tonight we will focus on what needs greater balance in our lives, as well as gratitude for the fruits of this summer. For me at least one balance, returning after too long an absence, is to work with the energies and spirits of the land along with all this head tripping.” – Gus diZerega, Beliefnet
Next Wednesday heralds the official end of summer—the autumnal equinox —when the length of day and night are equal (circa 11:09 p.m. ET). In the 21st century, this astronomical event is little more than a passing curiosity. But rewind by about three millennia to the time of the ancient Babylonians, and the autumnal equinox marked the start of the “minor new year.” Not only did celestial events define sacred festivals. Conversely, religion powered the development of astronomy, the first science. – Zeeya Merali, The Wall Street Journal
“In the rhythm of the year, Harvest Home marks a time of rest after hard work. The crops are gathered in, and winter is still a month and a half away! Although the nights are getting cooler, the days are still warm, and there is something magical in the sunlight, for it seems silvery and indirect. As we pursue our gentle hobbies of making corn dollies (those tiny vegetation spirits) and wheat weaving, our attention is suddenly arrested by the sound of baying from the skies (the “Hounds of Annwn” passing?), as lines of geese cut silhouettes across a harvest moon. And we move closer to the hearth, the longer evening hours giving us time to catch up on our reading, munching on popcorn balls and caramel apples and sipping home-brewed mead or ale. What a wonderful time Harvest Home is! And how lucky we are to live in a part of the country where the season’s changes are so dramatic and majestic!” – Mike Nichols, The Witches’ Sabbats
“In the north, winter starts early. Just as sunset marked the beginning of a day, winter’s period of gestation began the year. First full moon after the fall equinox: Winter Finding (Winter Fylleth) or Winter Nights (Vetmaettr) … Many kindreds use this holiday to honor the ancestors and celebrate the harvest. Some honor only the disir, while others follow a Norwegian tradition and honor the alfar in the fall and the disir in February.” - Diana L. Paxson, Essential Asatur: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism
“Although the specific date of the Autumn Equinox was not marked by any ritual in Celtic tradition, there is evidence that, at some point roughly halfway between Lughnasadh and Samhain, communities would involved themselves with a ceremony that reflected the processes then at work in the Year. This was usually a conclusion to ritual themes invoked at Lughnasadh, and focused on the end of the main harvest activities (i.e., the grain harvest), although it did not imply the end of the entire Harvest season, which continued until Samhain.” – Alexei Kondratiev, The Apple Branch
“If your sky is clear, you can glimpse an almost full Harvest moon in the east after sunset on this equinox evening. The crest of the moon’s full phase will come only 6 hours after the exact moment of the 2010 September equinox – in early morning tomorrow for the U.S. and Europe (4:17 a.m. Thursday morning Central Daylight Time, or 9:17 Universal Time). This is the northern hemisphere’s legendary Harvest Moon and the southern hemisphere’s first full moon of spring. What’s more, there is a blazing star like light near tonight’s moon. It is the solar system’s largest planet Jupiter, which just yesterday reached its opposition – when Earth flew between Jupiter and the sun.” – Bruce McClure, EarthSky Tonight
May you all enjoy the fruits of your harvest this season.