TWH – This year, the autumnal equinox falls on Sept. 22 at 14:21 UTC in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the moment that officially signals the start of fall. At this time, there will be an equal amount of light and dark, after which the nights slowly grow longer as we head toward winter. Outside of religious life, this season is very well celebrated. It is punctuated by harvests, craft, and art festivals, outdoors sports, pumpkin picking, scarecrow contests, and the aromas of spice and apple cider.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert CamusIn many modern Pagan traditions, this is the second of three harvest festivals, with the first being Lughnasadh and the third being Samhain. Autumn equinox holidays have many names. For Wiccans and Witches, it is sometimes called “Harvest Home” or “Mabon.” In Druidic and Celtic-oriented Pagan groups, it can be called “Mid-Harvest,” “Foghar,” or “Alban Elfed.” In modern Asatru, it is sometimes called “Winter Finding.” The Greek term for it is “Phthinopohriní Isimæría.” In Old English it was called “efnniht.” In addition, there are those who just simply prefer to use “autumn equinox” or “fall.”
At the same time, our friends and family living in the Southern Hemisphere begin the journey to summer. Sept. 22 will mark their vernal equinox and the beginning of spring. The days will begin to lengthen and become warmer as light triumphs over dark and the Earth reawakens from its winter slumber.
Here are some thoughts on this seasonal holiday:
“In the Wheel of the Year mythos that I enjoy, at Mabon the god and goddess become the Sage and Crone, and with experience, comes the inner vision to see deeply into both the past and future. They know the sacred order of the “perfect” complete cycle that is symbolized by the wheel; they teach us that life is sustained through death, just as death contains the promise of rebirth (at Ostara). As symbolized in the yin/yang, the key to one side of any polarity is found in the heart of its opposite. The fruits that are cut down will rise again both as the seeds planted next year, [and] by sustaining the living. As we are fed another year, the gods live on through us.” –Heron Michelle, “Mabon Feasts Serve Up a Challenge”
“At its heart, the garlanded table, groaning with food, decked with flowers, pumpkins, squash. Around it, the standing torches, the looping strings of marigolds in their harvest colors. In the old days, the period of the harvest was the most intensive work of the entire year: the hard, back-breaking labor of reaping a year’s worth of food in a few grueling days. When finally it was over, it was time, and high time, for a party.” –Steven Posch, “Crowning the Harvest”
“At this time, our ancestors saw the sun, for the first time in half a year, be unable to outshine the dark. Although he still shines with strength, his strength grows weaker as the days grow shorter. Today he holds the darkness in equal measure to the light, but he is struck in his season with the wound of time and from day to day the darkness will grow as the lord of light sinks into his age, for the wound is grievous and will not heal. This is a time of farewell and gratitude for the summer that has been. –from the Road to Kamarg blog
“In this time, we pray, honor and make blot to the Vanir and fertility gods to bless and hold the land in the coming dark and cold. We blot to the Vaettir, the Alfur and Landvaettir, to keep and hold not only ourselves and the land, but themselves as well. Winter can be cruel to many forms of life. Blot to whomever you feel should be honored at this time. Traditionally the Vanir are honored above all at this time, for it is their gifts and sacrifices that make the land fertile, and survive the coming dark. Frey, and his twin Freya are especially honored.” –“Winter Finding, theasatrucommunity.org
Happy harvest to all of those celebrating, and a very merry spring to our friends in the south.
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