Happy Autumnal Equinox

Happy Autumnal Equinox September 22, 2012

Today 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).

Photo by Brian Griffin (from Depeche Mode’s “A Broken Frame” album.)

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.

“The living earth provides us endless opportunities to experience reverence and worship. We have the freedom to do so in the way that is most appropriate to us. We must simply exercise that freedom. So may you pray with a good fire on this Autumn Equinox. May you harvest the light and keep it burning brightly in your heart, so that when the deepest darkness of winter is upon us, you will remember the summer sun.”Teo Bishop, The Huffington Post

“As autumn approaches, think about what you’ve accomplished over the year. What seeds did you plant last spring that have grown and flourished? How will you prepare for the coming winter, a perfect chance for contemplation and planning? What will you harvest? My grandmother called this time of year the “wintering in”—the time to pile up a stack of books, fill one’s root cellar, put wool blankets on the beds, and be prepared for whatever was to come. How will you manage your own wintering-in, and how will you celebrate autumn’s arrival?” – Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker, PaganSquare at Witches & Pagans Magazine

“For scythe-bearing farmers of yesteryear, it was a dynamic time of harvest and wine-fueled revelry as people, standing still on the precipice of winter’s chill, took stock of once vibrant fields now laid bare. After reaping the harvest, entire communities would cast off the burden of work and get down by partying, making music and creating art. Keeping with the theme of balance, it was also a day to journey inward, and to prepare for upcoming changes by initiating them through meditation. While today’s hectic, technology-saturated lifestyles based on arbitrary notions of time may seem far removed from nature’s moods, the returning dark days of Mabon remain an ideal occasion to take pause as seasons enter the next phase.” – Shawna Burreson, MonroviaPatch

“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

“It is the time of the autumn equinox, and the harvest is winding down. The fields are nearly empty, because the crops have been plucked and stored for the coming winter. Mabon is the mid-harvest festival, and it is when we take a few moments to honor the changing seasons, and celebrate the second harvest. On or around September 21, for many Pagan and Wiccan traditions it is a time of giving thanks for the things we have, whether it is abundant crops or other blessings.”Patti Wigington, About.com

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

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17 responses to “Happy Autumnal Equinox”

  1. Sorry to tell the neo-pagans: solstices and equinoxes were no celebration dates for germanic and celtic groups. Their calendre was moon based, not sun based and so the celebrations of our heathen ancestors followed moon phases. The whole sun worshipping thing was introduced by western occultists namely the Golden Dawn in the 19th and 20th century who build a syncretism with the religion of Ancient Egypt.

  2. This is only relevant to recons. My Paganism is rooted in the reverence of Nature and in the here and now. What some long dead people got up to matters little in terms of my religion.

  3. As we discussed before, early evidence shows that while the months were lunar (thus their name) there was still some interest in solar events in what little remains of the evidence of Germanic calendar lore. Even events timed on full moons, like Eostre, seem to have been times on a full moon after a solar event, very much like the Christian version in fact, and Bede’s statement that the 8th Kalends of Januarius was Modranecht, and was the beginning of the year, clearly indicates that Modranecht (and thus the beginning of the year) was timed not according to anything lunar but according to a solar event, otherwise it could not have had an exact correspondence to a date in the solar Roman calendar.

  4. “Their calendre was moon based, not sun based and so the celebrations of our heathen ancestors followed moon phases.”

    So, by that logic the ancient Germanic calender, like the Islamic one, moved around the solar year? Yule could be celebrated in mid-July at some point? Because that’s what having a truly lunar calender completely separate from any ‘solar’ reckoning gets you.

  5. I’ve wielded a scythe or two in my day, and I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed it. Now that I’m reaching my Jubilee years (Queen phase), I am starting to enjoy cutting things from my life that no longer serve me. May you keep what works, and let go of that which does not. May your Harvest season be fine, no matter what you call it. And know that what we receive is only part of the ballgame. Thank you all for being here, and thank you to All-That-Is, God/dess.

  6. Sure, they did. There’s ample evidence from literature, art, folkways, songs, and existing celebrations that people throughout Europe celebrated planting and harvest holidays with feasts, plowman / harvest games, contests, processions and dances. Perhaps not exactly ON the Equinox, but whenever the harvest was in.

  7. Sorry, there is not ONE relevant evidence for any important blot or celtic festival at solstices or equinoxes in heathen times. All sources you may refer to are much much younger – after the missionaries have changed the blot times. The sagas and Snorri are pretty clear about the blot times and they were around mid octobre, mid january, mid april and mid july.
    The christian missionaries moved the original heathen festivals like Yule from mid-january to their”Thomas-Day” at the 21st of decembre.

    The sun simply had not much importance for celts and germanic groups. The Voluspa is also pretty clear who has the power: the male moon, not the female sun.:

    Voluspa 5.
    Sun warped south,

    moons companion,

    the right hand

    around the heavens rim;

    sun knew not

    what temples she had,

    moon knew not

    what power he possessed,

    stars knew not

    what places they had.

  8. Which makes it a lunisolar calendar, which is the type of calendar most ancient peoples had. The point is, though, that the sun’s progression and the seasons do play a part in such a calendar.


    Also, whether or not ancient Germanic and Celtic peoples celebrated festivals on the solstices and equinox and whether the sun played any part in their calendar are two separate issues. For the holidays to remain in line with the seasons there HAS to be a solar component to a calendar. Aside from historical curiosity, I’m not very concerned about whether or not anything was celebrated on the solstices or a month later. In my tradition we celebrate holidays both on the solstices and other ones a month later in mid-January and mid-July.

  9. Right, off course solstices and equinoxes have some occult/ pagan relevance, especially for masons and wiccas -and there is no right or wrong about that. People should at least know that it is not celtic or germanic. I have no problems with pagans celebrating whenever they want but pagans should also have no problems with the historical truth.

  10. Right the suns progression was used to calculate the correct blot times. So the female sun had a relevance, but not as much as the male moon.
    Example: Varblót or springfestival was celebrated at the 6thof april 2012 at full moon. That is the first full moon after the new moon after equinox.

    Suns progression, solstices etc. were used to calculate but as far as we know there were no major festivals at any sun related dates. Same in Hinduism AFAIK.

  11. I’ve just come from the Farmer’s market this morning and this quote:
    “It is the time of the autumn equinox, and the harvest is winding down. The fields are nearly empty, because the crops have been plucked and stored for the coming winter.”
    baffled me a bit.

    The fields are not whatchacall “empty” right now, at least here, or even nearly so! We’re in the middle of apple season, there’s still zucchini, the last of the tomatoes, the beginning of the winter squashes, pumpkins, corn, green beans, herbs like crazy, sweet potatoes… The harvest is winding up in the last hurrah before Hyperboria/Samhain.
    It is absolutely time to store things away for the winter in a literal sense, at least, but the harvest isn’t really going to wind down until the end of October.

  12. The interest in “solar events” was not more than getting a point from where to calculate the lunar blot times. Solar events had not much meaning for celtic and germanic groups – they are part of mediterrenean / egyptian paganism. Nothing wrong about that but at least the neo-pagans should know that they are colonizing our ancestors again by celebrating at festival times that were forced upon them and not original.

    And “eostre” well….I strongly doubt ther was anything like “Ostara”. Our ancestors celebrated Varblot around mid april………

  13. My Germanic ancestors lived in Germany, the Netherlands, and England, not Scandinavia, so the likelihood that they celebrated Varblot is pretty much nil. On the other hand, Eostre and its cognates is well enough attested among the early West Germanic peoples that I feel pretty confident that it is ancient and West Germanic.

    Since you seem to do little more than restate your point without offering any real evidence nor contradicting any evidence offered here, you have grown rather tiresome. You may want to look up the term “idee fixe” and read some literature on why it is a bad thing.