Equinox balance and blessings

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TWH –  Happy Equinox! This year, the equinox falls on Sept. 23 at  07:50 UTC. It brings Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the moment that officially signals the start of the next transitional season. At this time, there will be an equal amount of light and dark.

In the north, 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.

In the southern hemisphere, we hear the promise of spring. The light is growing and winter’s hold is slowly broken. It is punctuated by a return to outdoor living, garden planning, and the aromas of flowers.

In the tropics, however, the sun seems nearly overhead. the equinoxes are the two times each year when we witness the great balance of the world around us.

Many of our readers are now entering Autumn, and we begin to look forward to a cooler season and thoughts to turn to the coming crisp air.

[public domain]

Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of the most prominent and influential English Romantic poets, wrote in Hymn to Intellectual Beauty (p. 1817),

The day becomes more solemn and serene
When noon is past; there is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!
Thus let thy power, which like the truth
Of nature on my passive youth
Descended, to my onward life supply
Its calm, to one who worships thee,
And every form containing thee,
Whom, SPIRIT fair, thy spells did bind
To fear himself, and love all human kind.

In some modern Pagan traditions, the autumnal equinox is the second of three harvest festivals, the first being Lughnasadh and the third being Samhain.

The Pagan holiday, or Sabbat in some traditions, is known by a variety of names. For Wiccans and Witches, it is often called “Harvest Home” or “Mabon.” In Druidic and Celtic-oriented Pagan groups, it can be called “Mid-Harvest,” “Foghar,” or “Alban Elfed.”

The Greek term for it is “Phthinopohriní Isimæría.” In Old English, it was called “efn-niht” or “even night”.

In modern Asatru, it is sometimes called “Winter Finding,” the Autumn sacrifice, or  Haustblót. The poet Egill Skallagrímsson mentions it. The Ynglinga Saga of Snorri Sturluson tells of laws established by Odin, including the general timing for annual sacrifices:

Þá skyldi blóta í móti vetri til árs, en at miðjum vetri blóta til gróðrar, hit þriðja at sumri, þat var sigrblót.

There should be sacrifice toward winter for a good year, and in the middle of winter sacrifice for a good crop, a third in summer, that was victory sacrifice.

Then, there are those who just simply prefer to use “autumn equinox” or “fall.” We share some thoughts on this turning of the season.

A Mabon Altar   Photo Credit: M. Tejeda-Moreno

 

“No matter what you choose to call it, the autumn equinox has long been one of my favorite sabbats. It’s a time when I can almost hear the wheel of the year turning, and signs of change are everywhere. There’s so much to harvest in the garden, and the sunflowers that stood so tall and proud back in August are now heavy and tired, ready to share their seeds with the waiting earth.” – Jason Mankey, “8 Ways to Celebrate the Autumn Equinox/Mabon

Say a prayer to Freyr. ‘God of Sunshine and Rain’ is my favorite epithet for Him. While the Vanir are not all about agriculture, fertility, and harvest-times, you can hardly go wrong honoring Freyr when the fields are ripe and bounty is coming in. Try this one for a simple start: ‘Hail Freyr, God of the World, Lord of the sunshine and the rain. As your golden fields ripple and glow, bring your bounty to my life.’ ” – Molly Khan, “Five Simple Ways to Celebrate the Autumn Equinox.”

“Mythically, this is the day of the year when the God of Light is defeated by his twin and alter ego, the God of Darkness. It is the time of the year when night conquers day. And as I have recently shown in my seasonal reconstruction of the Welsh myth of Blodeuwedd, the autumnal equinox is the only day of the whole year when Llew (light) is vulnerable and it is possible to defeat him. Llew now stands on the Balance (Libra/ autumnal equinox), with one foot on the Cauldron (Cancer/summer solstice) and his other foot on the Goat (Capricorn/winter solstice). Thus he is betrayed by Blodeuwedd, the Virgin (Virgo) and transformed into an Eagle (Scorpio).”Mike Nichols, The Witches’ Sabbats

Mabon remains one of my favorite holidays not just because it brings in our season of gratitude, but because it is also an appeal to recognize what’s special. We’re called to find, make peace with, and then be thankful for our ‘special’ — and make peace with our light. And then we’re called to celebrate it: all the time, every moment and in the people around us… Whatever form ‘special’ might take in our lives, however we might find our own light, we should embrace it with gratitude. When we see others find it, we should be equally grateful, and equally, rejoice.” – Manny Tejeda-Moreno, All Cruelty Springs from Weakness.

To those in the southern part of our planet, we welcome Ostara with you, from The Huffington Post:

“Spring equinox is a time of new life, new growth, and renewal,” [Rev Selena] Fox told The Huffington Post. “It is a wonderful time to get outdoors and commune with nature, watching migrating birds, the greening of the landscape and budding of trees.”

…Those who are city-bound and surrounded by concrete sidewalks and skyscrapers may be crying a bit on the inside after reading that. We feel your pain. But Fox says there are actually many ways for urban-dwellers to connect with nature on Ostara. The priestess shared seven tips for celebrating the new season — even without access to streams and meadows.

But back home, The Wild Hunt is in the Northern Hemisphere, where soon we will say that “all at once, summer collapsed into fall.”