This year, the autumn equinox falls on 23 September. This marks the start of autumn for all in the northern hemisphere, but for Pagans it is also a final celebration of the harvest, and a recognition of the approach of winter.
On the equinox, day and night are said to stand hand in hand as equals. The term equinox is derived from the Latin meaning “equal night”. Popular thought is that night and day are exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. However, even if this is widely accepted, it isn’t entirely true. In reality, due largely to the tilt of the earth, equinoxes don’t have exactly 12 hours of daylight.
Across the world, the equinoxes of the year are celebrated by people from all walks of life. In the UK, the autumn equinox is tied in with the annual harvest. Traditionally, the Christian Church used to celebrate Harvest festival on the Sunday of the full moon closest to the September equinox.
At the autumn equinox, the harvest is beginning to wind down for everyone. The fields are getting emptier as the crops have been harvested and stored for the coming winter. So for Pagans, Mabon is the mid-harvest festival, when they honour the changing seasons and celebrate the second harvest. It is a time of giving thanks for the things we have, whether it is abundant crops or other blessings. It’s also a time of plenty, of gratitude, and of sharing our abundance with those less fortunate. There’s a special recognition of the need to share during the coming winter months when fields and food supply can be bleak.
Following the theme of equal day and night, Pagans also take the equinox as a time of balance and reflection on balance in their lives.