Traditionally known as ‘Mabon’ in Wiccan/Pagan traditions, the Autumn Equinox falls on the 23rd September for the northern hemisphere this year. This is the second day of the year when light and dark exist for equal amounts of time, the other being the Spring Equinox – Ostara. From this point forward, at which the Equator is in perfect alignment with the centre of the Sun, the light will loose its battle and slowly fade until the Winter Solstice – usually around the 21st December.
The Equinox traditionally represents a time to reflect on ‘lessons learned’. It is a time to ‘reap what you have sown’ and to reflect upon the things that worked out well and those things that may still need balance, and maybe to make the most of that ‘back to school’ feeling that I know I still get. It is also a time for giving thanks for the ‘harvest’ in whatever form that may have taken, and to accept that the soil is dying. A reference point in Mythology is the Greek tale of Persephone and Demeter, this is a favourite of mine, and the Equinox would represent the point at which Persephone would descend into the underworld again to sit by Hades side. Demeter then casts her wings of Winter once more over the Earth as she mourns the departure of her Daughter for the coming season.
I always find this time of year a little sad, we are lucky to be enjoying a beautiful Autumn in the UK, but still you see the mornings becoming a little darker and smell the freshness in the air as the leaves turn their fiery shades before falling. Something that always cheers me up around this time of the year is the astronomical fact that we are actually physically nearer the Sun during Autumn and Winter in the northern hemisphere due to Earth’s elliptical orbit. Also, looking ahead to Halloween (Samhain) and Bonfire Night, can be a nice distraction too if planning parties and celebrations. All the lovely squashes and pumpkins are coming into season, and as the nights draw in, and the evenings become darker, there is something so cosy and settling about a bowl of warming soup, twinkling tea lights and lovely knitted throws and jumpers you may not have seen since the start of the year. I do try to preserve a little of the spirit of the previous season in the next and for me in Autumn and Winter it makes it so much more bearable if I make sure I am still getting outside, no matter how cold and dark it may become, all that energy is still out there, it is just underground.
Tomorrow evening when celebrating the Equinox, I will be sad for the dying Summer and the fading light, but at the same time I will give thanks for all that was beautiful and good about the season (my family, my friends, my garden,my animals). I feel truly blessed to live in such a beautiful, wild, green country and as with everything those wonderful plants and trees can’t flower forever, they must retreat and rest so they can come back better and bigger than before. So, tomorrow evening if you get chance, light a candle, and raise a glass of wine to bid summer farewell and to welcome the autumn, and if you feel sad, remember the old cliché ‘without the dark you’d never see the stars’.