Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday Ramble - Happy Fall Equinox/Mabon

It seems as though summer has just arrived, but here we are again at the autumn equinox. Cooler mornings, light rains before sunrise and falling leaves after months of blistering heat and humidity, can it be?

This day of the year is a pivotal cosmic hinge wearing many names: Harvest Home, Mabon, Second Harvest, the Feast of Ingathering, Equinozio di Autunno, and Alban Elfed, to name just a few. Mabon is the most common name of the bunch on this side of the Atlantic, likely originating in the god's status as the male fertilizing principle in Welsh mythology. Ceres, Demeter, John Barleycorn, Lugh or Persephone are other excellent choices for a tutelary deity presiding over autumn harvest rites, but I am fond of the "Great Son" of the Mabinogion, also a companion of the Round Table.

In the old Teutonic calendar, the autumn equinox marked the beginning of the Winter Finding, a ceremonial interval lasting until Winter Night on October 15, also the date of the old Norse New Year. For moderns, the autumn equinox marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.  In Christian tradition, tomorrow's festival is closely associated with St. Michael the Archangel—his feast takes place a few days from now on September 25 and is known for obvious reasons as Michaelmas. The autumn blooming Michaelmas daisy or New England aster with its purple petals and golden heart is one of my favorite wildflowers. Seasonal cycles are reversed south of the equator, and this is the day of the vernal equinox (Ostara) down below.

The autumn equinox is about abundance and harvest, but most of all, it is about balance and equilibrium—it is one of two astronomical coordinates in the whole year when day and night are (or rather seem to be) perfectly balanced in length. Like all the old festivals dedicated to Mother Earth, it is a liminal or threshold time, for we are poised between two seasons, summer and autumn.

One holds out hopeful thoughts for the autumn equinox, that skies overhead will be brilliantly blue and full of singing geese by day, that trees and vines and creepers will be arrayed in crimson and gold, that a splendid golden moon will be visible against a blanket of stars by night. 

An autumn wreath graces our door, and there is a pot of bronze chrysanthemums on the threshold.  Sometimes the flowers are graced by leaves fallen from the old oak nearby. The oak is our guardian tree, and wreath and "mum" are our nod to the season, a homage of sorts. The oak tree, fallen leaves, wreath and blooms are cheerful things, and they convey a silent benediction on anyone who knocks at the door, treads our cobblestones or just passes by in the street.

Barn swallows have departed from rural power lines, and loons and herons have already left for warmer moorings. Further north, land and waterways have begun to freeze, and northern geese are migrating too.  The great birds are making their way south by the light of the waxing moon, and the air is filled with their haunting choral music all night long. Sometimes, the flocks are so high that their voices are only a faint echoing on the wind

Autumn images tug at one's heart, and I always seem to find myself sorting through hundreds of archived images looking for just the right one for this day, am never sure I have found it. Leaves, puddles, clouds, light, geese, herons??? It's always about the light, and autumn light is fabulous.

However you choose to celebrate this day, a very happy Autumn Equinox, Harvest Home, or Mabon. May good things come to you.


bev said...

A Happy Autumn Equinox to you as well, Cate. It doesn't feel quite like autumn here in Nova Scotia -- not just yet. But it is coming. I do miss autumn hikes and canoe paddling in Lanark and Frontenac counties - the wonderful leaves and chill waters. Take care. Bev

Mystic Meandering said...

Beautiful post Cate. You paint such a wonderful image with your words... as always...
Had no idea that the Autumnal Equinox was the Old Norse New Year! In homage to my Norwegian heritage I wish you a Happy New Year as well! :) And may you too be blessed with a "silent benediction."

Also had no idea that the New England Aster was associated with the Equinox, and I grew up there! LOL But was never taught these delightful things growing up. Always something new to learn here!