Today is the Equinox, taken from the Latin for “equal night.” It is the Autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere, and the Spring equinox below the equator. In both cases, today consists of exactly twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness. At 11:45 this morning (Eastern time), the Sun will be directly above the Earth’s equator.
In some cultures, this date is known as the Witches’ Thanksgiving and many Earth-based traditions call it Mabon. Some lore says this is for Queen Mab of the Faeries, and the Celtic heroine Queen Maeve.
But the name Mabon actually has links to the Mabinogion, the ancient stories of Gods and Humans in Welsh mythology. The tales of the Mabon are the “tales of the hero.” They derive this meaning from “mabon” or “meibon” — meaning a young man or youth. It is also the name of the God, Mabon ap Modron (Mabon in Welsh means “son”). So this is a reference to the son of the Welsh Goddess Madron. She is the Divine Mother and He is, simply, the Divine Son.
Most scholars agree that the Celts did not call the Autumn Equinox by the name Mabon. But this newer adaptation is certainly in keeping with the ancient Celtic practice of adopting festivals, myths, and Deities from other cultures.
At Mabon, the Mother of the Harvest becomes the Old One, the wise grandmother who teaches us to rest after our labors. We also honor the Goddess Demeter, who is Goddess of all growing things, and Her daughter Persephone, who becomes Queen of the Underworld at Mabon. As Persephone descends into the Underworld, Demeter covers her face, and all living and growing things die until Persephone returns at Ostara.
Now is the time of equal night and day and light and dark. In the northern lands, after today, the nights are longer than the daylight and with the diminishing sunlight hours, we move from warmth into cold. By the way, if you have heard the tale that only on this day (and at Spring Equinox) you can balance an egg on its end, visit here for some clarification.
Today is the second harvest, the midpoint of the harvest season. With some urgency now, we gather in the remaining bounty of summer, and prepare for winter.
Everything in Nature is constantly giving to and receiving from everything else. Consider, however, that balance is almost never a 50-50 equality. Only at Spring and Autumn Equinox, only two days of the year, is light and dark exactly equal. A fifty-fifty equality is not necessarily the ideal, nor is it the natural way of things. In fact, it seems to me to be a simplistic concept that can bear bitter fruit, like “an eye for an eye.”
But balance is always possible, and is the natural way. This is true in our lives as well. There are gifts that our loved ones give us that we can never repay equally, starting with the gift of our very lives from our mothers and fathers. Yet we can give thanks, and be grateful for our blessings. And we repay by making the most of all that is given to us; we pay our thankfulness forward by our deeds and how we live.
So as we are gathering in all the gifts and blessings of the Goddess, we must remember to give something back, to make an offering, and to express our gratitude by doing good for others at every opportunity.
This is a time to look back at all the things and people we have to be thankful for. It is also a time to take stock of ourselves, and see how much we have grown and changed throughout the year.
May this harvest season be one of blessings and gratitude for you and your loved ones.
And speaking of balance ….