Happy Autumnal Equinox

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September 22nd, 20:44 GMT/UTC, will mark 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).

Setting sun at Spencer Butte, Eugene, Oregon.

Setting sun at Spencer Butte, Eugene, Oregon.

“The 2013 September equinox comes on September 22, at 3:44 p.m. CDT (20:44 UTC). In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is rising later now, and nightfall comes sooner. This is our autumn equinox, when the days are getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere. At this equinox, day and night are approximately equal in length. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, people are enjoying the cooler days of autumn even as preparations for winter are underway. South of the equator, spring begins.”Deborah Byrd, EarthSky

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 Pagan 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.

“I thought about how my brother died on the Equinox, on that day when light and dark exist equally. How they only really exist because of each other. Without death, the little and big moments of our lives, our loves, wouldn’t mean as much. And slowly, like drips of honey, this became my after. This life where we ache and love and die. This life where if we dive deep, we might come out the other side, dripping with light.” – Lynn Shattuck, The Huffington Post

“As Ostara is balance tipping into growth, Mabon is balance tipping into decline.  Those of us in the temperate zones are fortunate that our climate is roughly in keeping with the symbolism of the Wheel.  Even here on the mild California coast hints of fall color are becoming visible even as the harvest is in full swing.  Some of the best peaches I have tasted in a long time are finally emerging at the end of our unusually cool summer.  But among the wild plants seed heads are formed or forming, preparing for the changes to come. But I do not really see much in the way of actual decline yet. The Sabbats of balance, Mabon and Ostara, do not usually get as much attention as the great cross quarter ones, or the equinoxes, but at the deepest level I think they teach one of the most profound Pagan insights: that the good life is lived in balance.”Gus diZerega, The Meaning of Mabon

“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

“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: A Path to Celtic Ritual

“With the feast of Mabon, the fall Equinox, we acknowledge the balance of light and dark, life and death, growth and rot. We honor all those things that enable our world to grow and restore itself. On this holy tide, we hail the hunter and the hunted, the predator and the prey, the plough and the scythe, the blessings of growth and of decay. We honor our resources, and the frugality and careful planning of every ancestor whose careful household management got their families safely through the cold constraints of winter. Mabon is a time of remembrance and of culling away, of honoring what we have, what we need, but also what we can provide to others. It is a time to look clearly at where we are weak in spirit, where we are strong, and where we stand somewhere in between, a time to take stock of our portion of gratitude and blessings for the coming season.”Galina Krasskova, Witches & Pagans

“Autumn Equinox (also known as Mabon or Harvest Home) is celebrated when day and night are of equal duration before the descent into increasing darkness and is the final festival of the season of harvest. In nature, the activity of the summer months slows down to the hibernation for the winter. For many Pagans, now is time to reflect on the past season. It is also a time to recognise that the balance of the year has changed, the wheel has turned and summer is now over.”Merlin, The Stonehenge News Blog

“When you give thanks for the bounty of the Earth, you are maintaining your connection to Spirit in a most elemental way. Without good water, good earth, good air, and healthy bees, there would be no crops to celebrate. Indeed, without these things there would be no people to create such a celebration. By honoring Mother Earth seasonally, we recognize not only our spirituality but also our place in the greater scheme of things.”Kate Braun, The Rag Blog

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