Sunday 22nd September marks the Autumn Equinox, a time when day and night are equal lengths, and the official beginning of Autumn. At 20:44 this evening, the tilt of the Earth’s axis and its orbit around the sun will combine, and the Northern and Southern hemispheres will have equal amounts of light. The word ‘Equinox’ comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). From this point on, in the Northern Hemisphere, the days will be shorter and the nights longer, as the sun continues its journey south until the Winter solstice on December 21st.
The Autumn Equinox is about more than science however; it is a time of celebration and ritual in many cultures, particularly in Wiccan and Pagan circles. It is a time of balance, emphasised by the sun entering the sign of Libra; the scales of balance.The equinox often goes under different names, such as Mabon or Harvest Home. The day is celebrated in many different ways, and below are some ways that you can celebrate and get the most out of the day yourself.
- It is common in Pagan and Wiccan circles to perform rituals on Mabon. A simple ritual involves raising energy; invite a group of friends and create a music circle. Ask people to bring drums and other instruments, or simply use your voices. Start slow, with a steady beat, and then increase the tempo and the volume, finishing at an arranged time, and feel the waves of energy crashing around you.
- As it’s the season of harvest, now is the time to do an ‘inner harvest’ for yourself. The turning of the wheel of the year and the changing of the seasons is the perfect time to reflect on what has been. Take time to reflect on the past months and count all of the things you have achieved, trying times you have overcome, and blessings you have received. It is important to look back and congratulate ourselves on our achievements, and consider why things may have gone wrong. Then, you can move on to the next stage of life, and look forward to what is to come.
- Go outside and celebrate nature. Important parts of the equinox traditions are the acorn and the oak tree; the oak is sacred in many cultures, and the acorn is a symbol of strength and power. Many acorns will fall during Autumn and though most will be food for wildlife, come spring some of them will be the beginnings of the mighty oak. In Norse legend, Thor was sheltered from a nasty storm by an oak tree. To this day in some Nordic countries it is thought to bring protection to a house by having an acorn on the windowsill. Getting out into nature and taking in the crisp, clean air and the beautiful changing colours is the perfect way to celebrate the changing season.
- As the dark nights get longer, bring more light into your home by lighting candles and consider decorating rooms with bright colours.
- Prepare a special Mabon dinner for family or friends, using seasonal foods, celebrating the tradition of harvest. Pick apples, blackberries, and grapes, and make a beautiful dessert. Decorate the table with a centerpiece based on the season, such as colourful autumn leaves. Use the dinner to reflect with your loved ones on the past seasons, and share your experiences with one another.
Whatever you do to celebrate the equinox, remember that above all, it is a time of reflection and thanks, and a time to embrace the changes to come, and prepare for the winter months. So wrap up warm, count your blessings, and enjoy your day!