More on the Autumn Equinox

Cornucopia – horn of plenty

Yesterday (September 21st) may have been the traditional date for the Autumn Equinox – that I was born on the Equinox is an excuse I often cite for any eccentricities in my character! – but today is this year’s astronomical Equinox: that point in the Autumn of the year when the day and night are of equal length (“equinox” literally means “equal night”). So I offer this discussion of the day by a friend:

22nd September

The Celtic festival of Mabon – The autumnal equinox

The autumnal equinox is the time when the day and night are of equal length. This was a solar festival of great importance to the Celts who used the sky as both clock and calendar, as it was seen as a turning point in the year and as such, a time to get prepared for the colder months to follow.

Traditionally, this would have been the second harvest festival, celebrated with a feast and offerings to give thanks for the fruits of the earth and also acknowledge the harsh times ahead. The “Harvest Moon” is associated with the autumnal equinox, as being the closest full moon to it. It occurs when the moon rises approximately 30 minutes later from one night to the next. Thus, there is no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise for several days following the actual date of the full moon.

The Celts did not seem to have a specific name for this time of year, but it has become widely known recently as Mabon, named after the character from the mabinogian, Mabon ap Modron.

Mabon Ap Modron (son of Modron) is stolen from his mother Modron when he is only 3 days old. While Modron grieves for her loss, Mabon, the bright child of promise, is hidden or locked away (depending on the version ) in a castle for many years. His rescue becomes a quest for one of Arthur’s knights. Cei, Arthur’s adopted brother, and Gwrhyr, the translator of animal languages. In their journey they must seek out many ancient animals, each older and wiser than the one before.

They visit a Blackbird, a Stag, an Owl and an Eagle, until they are finally led to the salmon of Llyn Llyw, the oldest animal of them all. The enormous salmon carries them downstream to Mabon’s prison in Gloucester, where they hear him through the walls, singing a lamentation for his fate. The rest of Arthur’s men launch an assault on the front of the prison, while Cei and Bedwyr sneak in the back and rescue Mabon.

In the restored Druidic tradition of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, and other British Druidic Orders, this day is known as “Alban Elfed“:

The name for the festival of the Autumn Equinox in Druidry is Alban Elfed, which means ‘The Light of the Water’. The Wheel turns and the time of balance returns. Alban Elfed marks the balance of day and night before the darkness overtakes the light. It is also the time of the second harvest, usually of the fruit which has stayed on the trees and plants that have ripened under the summer sun. It is this final harvest which can take the central theme of the Alban Elfed ceremony – thanking the Earth, in her full abundance as Mother and Giver, for the great harvest, as Autumn begins.

Whether you call it Alban Elfed, Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, or the first day of Fall, I hope you have an enjoyable celebration of this day when light and dark are in balance!

Autumn Equinox Rituals September 2017 Mabon Celebration

Find the way to honor this ancient holiday that works best for you.

Source: Autumn Equinox Rituals September 2017 Mabon Celebration

Although yesterday, September 21st – which also happens to be my birthday! – was the traditional date of the Autumn Equinox, today, the 22nd, is the “official,” astronomical date for this year (it varies between the 20th and, occasionally, as late as the 23rd).

With the coming of the Fall Equinox, Summer is at an end; and for those with eyes to see it, the signs of the changing seasons are everywhere apparent in the natural world. Trees are changing colours, leaves spin or drift lazily down, autumn wildflowers – chickory, asters, goldenrod – replace those of summer, and birds gather in foraging flocks or roost along telephone wires, gathering energy for the migration… or, if year-’round residents, for the long season of cold and reduced food sources.

This is always a bittersweet time of year for me: having been born into this season, I love it, and wait for it with anticipation and even longing for most of the rest of the year. The sights, the sounds, the smells, even the tastes of Autumn speak to my soul. But I would be less than honest if I did not admit to a tinge of regret as the sun slips earthward earlier each evening, and rises later and more reluctantly each morning.

Besides, it is a transition, and transitions are always poignant, for me. So it is not without mixed feelings that I greet the Autumn Equinox! With that in mind, I share this essay: a lovely selection of suggestions for both celebrating this season, and dealing with the sometimes conflicting emotions it can evoke within us.

“Nowadays, the fall equinox reminds us that, not only is the weather going to change, but so will our personal lives and plans. Home and family usually take center stage during the colder months, which can mean moving our priorities around. Consider this day a brief respite before you find yourself dragging out the heavy coats and planning holiday meals.”

Indeed! Read and, hopefully, enjoy – perhaps, even find some comfort.