Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Equinox/Harvest Home

This is the second of three observances dedicated to the harvest, the other two being the earlier Lughnasadh on August 1 and Samhain (or Halloween) which follows it on October 31. In the old Teutonic calendar, September 21 marked the beginning of the Winter Finding, a ceremonial interval lasting until Winter Night on October 15, the date of the old Norse New Year. In Christian tradition, the festival of Harvest Home is associated with St. Michael the Archangel whose feast takes place a few days later on September 25 (Michaelmas).

This is a liminal or threshold time, and it is one of the two days in the whole turning year when day and night are balanced in length. It also goes by the names of Harvest Home, Mabon, the Feast of Ingathering, Meán Fómhair, and in Druidic tradition, Alban Elfed. South of the equator, this day is celebrated as Oestara or the Spring Equinox .

Mabon is the name by which Fall Equinox ritual observances are widely known these days, and the name derives from the mythological Welsh hunter god, who was the offspring of Modron (or Matrona), the divine mother. Shortly after his birth, the young Mabon was kidnapped by Arawn, ruler of the realms of the dead and lived in those chthonic halls until rescued by the hero, Culhwch some time later - his sojourn in the world of the dead gifted the young god with eternal youth. In the Celtic pantheon, Mabon equates with the British Maponos and the Irish Aengus Mac Óg, but his connection with the Fall Equinox is somewhat tenuous.

The term "equinox" describes an astronomical co-ordinate, and the expression "fall equinox" describes the day on which the sun seems to pass directly over the equator on a long journey south, moving away from our northern hemisphere. Of course, things are actually the other way around, and it is the earth which is in motion, with the northern hemisphere tilting away from the sun at this time of the year. The tilting is caused by a slight wobble or in astronomical lingo precess, and as a result, the earth is actually about 23 degrees and 27 minutes off true perpendicular as it spins merrily on its own axis. Earth's wobble determines how many hours of daylight and darkness we receive at various times of the year, and it gives rise to the four glorious seasons which constitute our calendar year.

On this day, we recognize our bonds with the earth, and we offer up thanks for the dear little blue planet on which we live, for her autumn bounty and the abundance which we are "putting by" to see us through the long nights of winter.

A very happy Mabon, Harvest Home, Feast of Ingathering, Meán Fómhair and Alban Elfed to you and your clan.


Anonymous said...

Happy equinox sweetheart, thanks so much for your visit and your sweet words...keep you in my thoughts, always a great happiness to visit you...i put little things on my new blog in English, to say I'm alive and to thank you all...that will be the easiest address for you

hele said...

I wish life was still filled with ritual and myth.

Because of your lovely reminder I will honor spring with a ritual on Wednesday.

Sorrow said...

A most peaceful and blessed Mabon to you...

Sky said...

and to you and yours! thanks for the lessons you teach. :)

Lil said...

bountiful harvest to you cate! although we live within a stones throw (ok, if we had superpowers), we don't have many changing leaves here yet. but the harvest of our cherry tomatoes and now local apples makes me smile...i don't enjoy the briskness of autumn, but i do enjoy the plentifulness...

lil xo

ps. did you get my email?

Anonymous said...

I love the phrase "Feast of Ingathering", and perhaps next year I'll Gather my friends In and host a small Feast!

Your blog has become a regular, welcome, and valued part of my day.

~Flaneuse in Washington, DC