Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday Ramble - Mabon

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

The autumn equinox is often observed on September 21st, but the astronomical coordinate this year is next Monday (September 23rd). On whatever day we choose to observe it, the fall equinox is a pivotal cosmic hinge, and it wears many  names: Mabon, Harvest Home, Second Harvest, the Feast of Ingathering and Alban Elfed, to name just a few. Mabon is the most common name of the bunch on this side of the Atlantic, perhaps rooted in the god's status as the male fertilizing principle in Welsh mythology. Ceres, Demeter, John Barleycorn, Lugh or Persephone are other contenders for a tutelary deity presiding over autumn harvest rites, but I am fond of the "Great Son" of the Mabinogion, sometimes thought to be a companion of Arthur's 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 date marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.  In Christian tradition, the day is 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. South of the equator, seasonal cycles are reversed, and this is the eve of the vernal equinox (Ostara).

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 a pot of bronze chrysanthemums graces the threshold.  Sometimes the pot is adorned by leaves fallen from the old oak nearby. The tree is our guardian, the wreath and "mum" a nod to the season and a tribute of sorts. Oak, fallen leaves, wreath and blooms are cheerful things, conveying a benediction on anyone who knocks at the door, treads our cobblestones or just passes by in the street. Autumn images tug at the heart, and I always sort through reams of archived images looking for just the right one for today, 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, and whenever you choose to celebrate the occasion, a very happy Autumn Equinox, Harvest Home, or Mabon. May good things come to you.

3 comments:

bev said...

A very happy Mabon to you too, Cate!

Barbara R. said...

Happy Mabon to you and yours! I've got sounds of birds, and coolness outside my cozy home...still getting hummingbirds on the feeder. Got out the old coat yesterday finally!

Caroline Ouellette said...

Have a beautiful Mabon, from my clan to yours xoxoxo