Hail! Journeyer of the Heavens,
Queen of Brightness, King of Beauty!
Gifts of gladness richly bringing,
Autumn sheaves and red leaves’ fall.
Generous be the heart within us,
Open be our hands to all,
Justice to be in equal measure,
Harvest thankfulness our call.
~ Greeting to the Autumn Equinox
Caitlín Matthews, A Celtic Devotional
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. At 5:05 this morning (Eastern time), the Sun moved directly above the Earth’s equator. From this day on, until March, in the northern lands, the night will outlast the daylight hours.
Among some traditions, this date is known as the Witches’ Thanksgiving and many Earth-based practitioners call it Mabon. Some lore says this is for Queen Mab of the Faeries, or maybe the Celtic heroine Queen Maeve.
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 named 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. You can find an eloquent article debunking the use of the term for this Autumnal Equinox sabbat by visiting here.
However, it seems to me that the invention of this newer adaptation is in keeping with the fine ancient Celtic practice of adopting festivals, myths, and Deities from other cultures. The Druid traditions know this festival as Alban Elued (“Light of the Sea”).
At this time, 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 now. 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. And below the equator, our brothers and sisters are looking for signs of Spring, as their days will now stretch beyond the nighttime hours.
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.
So to you and all your beloveds I wish a splendid harvest of those qualities and blessings that most nurture what is best and most precious to you. May you reap sweet abundance and goodness of every kind.