Our favourite season officially starts this weekend with the Autumn Equinox, when the sun crosses the Earth's equator from north to south.
The term "equinox" stems from the Latin word "equi," meaning equal and "nox," meaning night. It is when day and night are most equal and the earth is balanced; after the Autumn equinox, the night becomes longer than the day. For those in the Southern Hemisphere, it actually marks the beginning of spring. The Autumn Equinox always falls at end of September, and in 2018 it takes place in the early hours of 23rd September, just before 3am in the UK.
The Slithering Snake of Sunlight
The Mayans famously celebrated the equinox with a sacrificial ritual by the El Castillo pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico. The pyramid is notorious for the bloody human sacrifices that used to take place here, and has 4 staircases running from the top to the bottom of the pyramid's faces. The staircases are built at a carefully calculated angle which makes it look like an enormous snake of sunlight slithers down the stairs on the day of the equinox.
For pagans, the Autumn Equinox is called Mabon who is named after the the God of Welsh mythology. Mabon is the Child of Light and the son of the Earth Mother Goddess, Modron. It is a time of balance, when the cycle of nature is nearing completion, the sun's power wanes and we return to the dark. We talked about the Grain Harvest; the first harvest back in July, well this is the second harvest; The Fruit Harvest. This is the harvest where we give thanks to the sun and we enjoy the abundance of fruit and vegetables. Mabon is a time to celebrate, to reap what you have sown and let go of things you don't need; physically and emotionally. It is also a time to mourn the passing of the Sun God, who returns to the Goddess. This is the time to look back not just on the past year, but also your life, and to plan for the future. No Pagan celebration is really complete without food, and as we're honouring the earth during Mabon, foods such as breads, grains, squash, onions, fruits and wine are perfect.
We will leave you with this beautiful ritual taken from The White Goddess
Set-up altar and cast the Sacred Circle. Decorate the altar with acorns, oak sprigs, pine and cypress cones, ears of corn, wheat stalks and other fruits and nuts. Also place there a small rustic basket filled with dried leaves of various colours and kinds. Stand before the altar, holding aloft the basket of leaves, and slowly scatter them so that they cascade to the ground within the circle. Say such words as these:
The days grow cold.
The Goddess pulls her mantle of Earth around Her
As You, O Great Sun God, sail toward the West
To the land of eternal enchantment,
Wrapped in the coolness of night.
The hours of day and night are balanced.
Chill winds blow in from the North wailing laments.
In this seeming extinction of nature's power, O Blessed
Goddess, I know that life continues.
For spring is impossible without the second harvest,
As surely as life is impossible without death.
Blessings upon you, O Fallen God, as you journey into
The lands f winter and into the Goddess' loving arms.
Place the basket down and say:
O Gracious Goddess of all fertility, I have sown and
Reaped the fruits of my actions, good and bane.
Grant me the courage to plant seeds of joy and love in
The coming year, banishing misery and hate. Teach me the secrets
Of wise existence upon the planet.
O luminous one of the night!
Close the circle the way you usually do.