The Autumn Equinox is upon us. Also known as Mabon, this is my favorite time of year. It occurs just as we move from Virgo to Libra when light and dark are equal in length. Witch history is an interesting bailiwick because although we make every attempt to figure out who did what along with how and when they did it, we can’t be completely sure what happened. Even so, traditions are observed and many witches and pagans celebrate eight Sabbats during the year. The solstices and equinoxes are considered as lesser sabbats while Samhain (Halloween), Imbolc, Beltane, and Lammas (Lughnasadh) are referred to as greater sabbats. The distinction between them, in my opinion, centers around the energy of the moment. The greater sabbats stand on their own, while solstices and equinoxes deal with the change of seasons.
Although I love Spring, my birthday falls on October 13th and I’ve always believed that my birthday month begins on the Autumn Equinox and lasts until the end of October. True, it’s more than a month, but then for a witch born in October, it is what it is.
I spent my childhood living in three different states, California, Alaska, and Oregon. Until my family moved to Alaska when I was four, I really hadn’t experienced the change of seasons because southern California really didn’t have them. But in Alaska, I could feel the air as it grew warm in the Spring and as it turned cold in the Fall. Up there, Yule, the Midwinter Solstice and the longest night of the year, took on new meaning as the snow fell and the temperatures grew frigid.
Imbolc had more relevance date-wise when my family moved to Oregon where Spring emerges at the appropriate time. It happens a little later in Alaska with more of a muddy break-up than flowers but eventually the tundra blooms. A time of rebirth and renewal, Imbolc celebrates the birth of new life. Ostara follows at the Spring Equinox where again day equals night and I typically bury an egg somewhere to celebrate fertility.
Also known as May Day, Beltane is one of two times where the veil is thin, the other being Samhain. It’s also a time for joining together where handfastings and other expressions of passion occur. The Mid-Summer Solstice, or Litha, follows beginning the first day of Summer where we experience the longest day of the year.
Lammas is next celebrating the beginning of harvest with Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox following with more harvest activities. Samhain, my favorite holiday of the year, finishes out the turn of the wheel, the veil thin and open to connecting with loved ones who have passed through.
Having never belonged to a coven, I’ve always been a solitary witch and other than a couple of shared holidays, I’ve observed the passing of the seasons since my childhood in Alaska. I suppose I’m less concerned with the trappings of celebrations than I am with observing and experiencing what happens in the environment surrounding me. I flew under the radar while my children were small only explaining my truth to them when they were adults. But even with that complication, I still found a way to observe the turning of the wheel with my husband and our boys. They just didn’t realize what I was doing.
Still, the witch jewelry alone should have been a dead giveaway…along with my penchant for black clothing.
Various mythos exists that involves the Goddess giving birth to the God, with the God retreating to the underworld at harvest to be birthed once again at Yule, but I prefer a simpler tradition with less of a definition given that so much of our history has been lost. Still, it’s clear that ritual was important to witches and pagans of old as were celebrations. Giving thanks for the Goddess’s abundance was and is as important as connecting with ancestors who had passed on before us.
My own observance of the Sabbats involves connecting to the energy of the moment. Sometimes I work magick and sometimes I merely observe and experience the changing world around me. The exception is Samhain or Halloween. We began a family tradition of watching the movie Labyrinth when it came out in 1986 when our oldest son was six, and we’ve watched it every year since, even after the boys left home. And now we have a new grand-witchling to share all of this with!
So if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, take a moment tomorrow to observe the Autumn Equinox. It occurs at 1:02 pm PST here on the west coast. Pay attention to the change in the air and observe the changing plant life. It’s time for the digging of roots, so if you can, dig up some dandelion root for use in winter tea. It keeps the body working properly and if you add some nettle leaf, you’re well on the way to protecting yourself from all those Spring allergies that seem to crop up. Slice up the root after cleaning for easier drying and then add a handful to a quart of water in a pan on the stove. Simmer it for twenty minutes or so and then remove it from heat, adding additional herbs to the hot menstruum to steep a while longer. Nettle is great to add along with plantain leaf. You’re welcome, by the way.
As the wheel turns we’re always in preparation for the next moment, the next season. The God may transition into the underworld during this time, but Goddesses everywhere know that there is still much to do to prepare for Spring’s rebirth. So, enjoy the Autumn Equinox. Align in the moment of beginnings and endings. Work some magick. Or simply be.
Blessings to all!