Tonight is the astronomical moment when our planet crosses the celestial equator, when the Earth’s axis is perpendicular to the Sun’s rays, and night and day are both 12 hours long. Here in the British Isles, this equinox has little apparent folklore; the old church date of Michaelmas providing only a handful of customs (eating goose and nuts, settling of accounts, and the time of electing the reeve).
Exhaustive research (ie listening to friends and acquaintances, and using google), informs me that pagans these days often take this time to say farewell to the bright open days of summer, and prepare for the dark cosy days of winter ahead. Some refer to the practice of reckoning up one’s accounts, taking stock of what one has gleaned from the past year, and deciding what to keep as seeds for next year’s growing season. It is the end of the harvesting process which began at Lammas.
Which is a lovely arable agricultural metaphor. (Pastoral stock taking comes later in the year, at the end of October.)
But for those of us unlucky enough to be denied the pleasure of working on the land, how do we ‘do’ this festival? Which doesn’t even have a name we can use to refer to it. (I cannot bring myself to use the term Mabon, not least because it has such an unsatisfactory sound to it.)
Here’s the outline of a simple practice I
made up received a couple of days ago:
- Light and dark, at the equinox the yinyang balance has literal physical reality. During the night, look at a flame. Go over the last six months, and find a scene, a memory which you particularly treasure and want to hold. Revisit that placetime, recall details. If you have opportunity, record this memory somehow; from a few words written on a scrap of paper, to wondrous paintings, all our creations have some worth.
- Tomorrow, in the day, find a dark place (which could mean hiding under the duvet, or similar thick covering; if out and about, putting your palms over you eyes will do). Go over the next six months, and find a scene, an event which you particularly look forward to. It might be a fixed date, or a way of spending time in this season ahead. If you have the opportunity, record this vision somehow. If appropriate, do something to help set up the conditions for your vision to materialise.
This very small practice points to the larger scale mindset of evaluating what one has, and what one wishes to do with it.
For most of us, there will be parts of this year’s harvest which we decide to discard, as not worth holding onto. If you need to do this, consider if they can play any useful part in another guise, or for other people. From a permacultural esoteric perspective, there is no waste. If you can’t presently see any use for something that appeared, then at least throw it onto a (subconscious) compost heap, so it can rot down out of your way. Turn it over very occasionally, and eventually it may have altered enough to have some kind of value!
You could finish each part of the ritual by giving thanks for the seasons, and offering prayers for what we face during the next ellipse we trace around the sun. Seasonally available food and drink are good accompaniments to doing this. 🙂
September Equinox is on Tuesday, 23 September 2014, 03:29 BST (02:29 UTC).