It’s that time of year when the Earth tilts away from the sun here in the Northern Hemisphere. As mid-September comes along Mother Earth stands perpendicular to the Sun allowing us to have an equally long day to night. The Equinox.
It has been a long held belief that on the equinox, night and day are exactly the same length in duration. 12 hours for day and 12 hours for night, all over the world. The name “equinox”, comes from Latin to mean “equal night”.
Of course it’s not really true that they’re exactly equal, but the people of the past didn’t know that. To them it was the day that marked the change in seasons, either in the Spring or like this weekend in the fall.
For pagans like me this is a time of festivals and feasting on our garden harvests. It’s that time of the year when apples and grapes are plentiful. As such, they become a major focus in our celebrations. But pagans aren’t the only ones who choose this time of year to celebrate the Harvest.
Even in colonial times, citizens held large festivals to celebrate the harvest. This month’s full moon is even named the Harvest Moon in honor of the season. Communities gather together to make apple cider, apple butter, apple pies, apple fritters, apple sauce, grape jams, wine, and grape juice for the wee ones.
For pagans this is a time to honor the dead. Avalon is home to the dead and literally means the “land of apples”. Mabon is a holiday that celebrates the bounty of the harvest and a desire to be reunited with deceased loved ones in the land of the harvest.
The holiday is also named for the Welsh God Mabon. From mythology, Mabon was the son of Modred who was kidnapped at the age of 3 and later rescued by King Arthur. His life represents the innocence of youth, the strength of survival and the growing wisdom of the elderly. It represents the cycle of life and especially the time of waning years.
Perhaps it is this view of the cycle of life that brings Mabon to his most popular role, the King of the Otherworld and the God of Darkness. His myths overlap with other Gods such as the Welsh God Gwyn Ap Nuad, which means “white son of darkness”. He is seen as the God of war and death and the patron God of fallen warriors. Once again this is a representation or connection to the Land of Avalon where warriors reside in the after life.
Pagan feasts begin at sunset the night before the actual equinox. This year, that begins tomorrow, Saturday September 21st. Whatever your observance, I hope you have a wonderful, happy and festive harvest celebration.