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
by Caitlín Matthews, A Celtic Devotional
Hail and welcome on this celebration day of the great turning!
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 10:29 tonight (Eastern time), the Sun moves into the sign of Libra and is directly above the Earth’s equator. For a brief day or so, light and dark are in balance.
But from this day on, until March, in the northern lands, the night will outlast the daylight hours.
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.
Today we celebrate the second harvest, the midpoint of the harvest season. With urgency now, we in the north gather in the remaining bounty of summer, and prepare for Winter. The final harvest at Samhain is only six weeks away.
Traditions of Mabon
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.
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 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. 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. Many Druid traditions know this festival as Alban Elfed (“Light of the Sea”).
At this time, the Mother Goddess 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 presides over 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 darkness descends, with killing frosts and bare landscapes ahead, until Persephone returns at Ostara.
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. In fact, it seems to me to be a simplistic concept that can bear bitter fruit, like “an eye for an eye.”
And I encounter so many well-meaning people struggling to manage their lives, their families, their work, their passions, their leisure — so they can be “in balance.” Yet — no surprise — this is a rare, temporary exception, and nearly impossible to even briefly achieve, much less maintain.
But a harmonious give and take is the natural way. This can be true in our lives as well, if we would only have the patience and perspective.
Giving Thanks — Paying It Forward
For instance, there are blessings our loved ones have given 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 them by making the most of all that is given to us; we pay our thankfulness forward by our deeds and how we live.
So today, as we are gathering in all the gifts and blessings of the Goddess, we will 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. And I would suggest that this year, which has been such a volatile drama of extremism, this is the perfect day to weave our strongest magic for harmony, justice, and equilibrium.
To you and all your beloveds, I wish a splendid harvest of those qualities and blessings that nurture what is best and most precious to you. May you reap sweet abundance and goodness of every kind.
May your rites be rich, magical, and divine. Blessed be!