Once more the liberal year laughs out
O’er richer stores than gems or gold:
Once more with harvest song and shout
Is nature’s boldest triumph told.
~ John Greenleaf Whittier
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 4:44pm (Eastern time), the Sun will be directly above the Earth’s equator.
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. It is one of the Quarter Sabbats, which are the holidays in the Wheel of the Year that correspond to astronomical events: the Solstices and Equinoxes.
In some cultures, this date is known as the Witches’ Thanksgiving and many Earth-based traditions call it Mabon (pronounced “MAY-bon”). 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 Madron (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.
Goddesses of Autumn
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 (Spring Equinox).
Similarly, the Goddess Amaterasu, whose brother Susanowa went on a rampage destroying the lands and lives of those She loved, departed the world at this time, in Her grief. When She turned Her face from the living worlds, everything died, and Winter came. Like Persephone, every Spring She returns, thanks to the wit and love of the Goddess Uzume and all the other kami.
Blessed Is the Balance
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, are light and dark exactly equal. A fifty-fifty equality is not necessarily the ideal, nor is it the natural way of things.
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.