Happy Alban Elued, Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, a festival of abundance and of balancing gain and loss.
Happy Alban Elued, Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, a festival of abundance and of balancing gain and loss.
Autumn Equinox falls around the 22nd September each year, in the Northern hemisphere, or around 20th March in the Southern hemisphere.
Focus of the period: The completion of tasks, the fruition of long-term goals, for mending quarrels and forgiving yourself for past mistakes, for recovering money owed and tackling and overcoming debt problems, for assessing gain and loss, for family relationships adult children, brothers and sisters and friendships; for material security for the months ahead, for abundance in all aspects of your life, for issues of job security or the need to consolidate finances; all matters concerning the retirement and older people; the resolution or management of chronic heath problems.
Globally rituals concentrate on positive steps to ensure enough food, shelter and resources for vulnerable communities and individuals, relief of flood and famine, protection of endangered water creatures, dolphin, whales and fish whose death involves great suffering; also for peace especially where initiatives are already in motion.
Keywords: Reconciliation, assessment, storing assets
Symbols: Copper coloured yellow or orange leaves, willow boughs, harvest fruits such as apples, berries and nuts. Use also as a focus knots of corn, wheat or barley from the earlier harvest and copper or bronze coins to ensure enough money and happy family relationships.
Tree: Apple, white poplar or hazel
Incenses, flower and herbs: Ferns, geranium, myrrh, pine, sandalwood and Solomon’s seal. Michelmas daisies and all small petal purple and blue flowers
Candle Colours: Blue and green
Crystals: Blue lace agate, chalcedony, Aqua aura, also rose quartz and all calcites
Festival Foods: The finest of the harvest, fruits, vegetables, jam, nuts, apple pies, geese sacred to St Michael whose festival falls on September 29, game, cider, barley wine and ale.
Angel: Rismuch, angel of agriculture and cultivated land, wearing every imaginable shade of brown, carrying a scythe and a hoe as symbol that he is conserver of the land and the crops. His symbols are sheaves of wheat and ears of corn, also dishes of seeds and nuts
Ways of Marking the Festival in the Modern world
Make a list of what needs to be done urgently, a second list of less pressing but necessary tasks and those matters that are best left, some of which may be things you did not want to do anyway. Throw away the third list and draw up a realistic time scale for the completion of the other tasks.
Contact an old friend or a family member with whom you have lost touch and decide if there is anyone with whom you would like to reduce or cease communication who is undermining your confidence or making you feel unnecessarily guilty
Give up a bad habit or work to overcome a fear or phobia that is holding you back from doing things.
Buy or make seasonal fruit jam and hold an old-fashioned tea or coffee party to bring different generations together
Visit a seasonal farmers’ market or art and craft fair and maybe take along something you have created to sell.
Have a sale on E Bay or local car boot sale or set up a garage sale to offload items you do not want to dust or store though the winter (a pre winter clear out).
Alternatively hold an auction of hoarded personal treasures and send the money to a charity that relieves famine
Stand by the sea or flowing water at sunset and cast pebbles or shells into the dying light on the water to cast off all regrets, resentments, sorrows, failures and unfinished business from the previous months that you do not wish to carry forward into the winter.
Look for something on the shore or river bank to take home as a token of the gifts you carry forward with you from the previous months
Sweep up autumn leaves into a pile; jump up and down in it as you did when a child, expressing joy at the promise of the coming days, naming opportunities and all you can and will achieve in winter. Finally scatter the leaves and let the good and the bad, the gains and the losses be carried equally on the wind.
Prepare a feast of fruit and vegetables, of bread, cider and barley wine or fruit cup and warming soups and hold an Equinox party. Make offerings to the land of barley wine, ale, or mead and bread by scattering a little on the ground. Pass round a communal cup to everyone present or fill everyone’s glasses and ask them to drink and make a blessing on the occasion or to people and places where there is hunger or povert.
Contact anyone from whom you are estranged, sending autumn flowers or a plant you have nurtured or a small basket of produce as a peace offering; if your reconciliatory gestures are rejected, at least you can move forward, knowing you tried. Alternatively help an organisation concerned with peace.
Climb to the top of a hill at sunset on Equinox night and as the ancients did say goodbye to the animals who will be soon hibernating and to any birds or wildfowl who are or will be migrating and wish them well.
Ancient tales tell of the death of the old Horned
God at the hands of his successor or by offering himself to the
Alban Elued means in Gaelic, light on the Water and so the sun is moving away over the water to shine on the Isles of the Blest, the Celtic Otherworld leaving the world with encroaching darkness.
The Goddess is now alone. In traditional celebrations a priestess would carry a wheat sheaf, fruit and vegetables and distribute them to the people.
A priest representing the slain God given the name of John Barleycorn would offer ale, made from the fermented barley cut down at Lughnassadh (early August).
The gathering of the second or green harvest of fruit, nuts and vegetables and the final grain harvest marked the storing of resources for the winter and barter for goods not available or scarce.
Feasts of abundance and the offering of the finest of the harvest to the deities was a practical as well as magical gesture, part of the bargain between humans and deities. Rotten fruit and vegetables were where possible fed to animals or discarded.
The Thanksgiving for the abundance of the harvest and in Christian times the harvest festival and Supper.
In traditional pagan celebrations a priestess and later a woman representing the Goddess would carry a wheat sheaf, fruit and vegetables and distribute them to the people. A priest or man representing the slain God given the name of John Barleycorn would offer ale, made from the fermented barley cut down at Lughnassadh.
Mabon is another name for the Divine child who in some myths was abducted at three days old from his mother Arianrhod and hidden in the Underworld or brought up by a magician till he returned to his mother in disguise to claim his name, sometimes at this festival, sometimes at the Spring Equinox. In other myths he was rescued by Arthur and the Spring equinox and so was the resurrected God.
Norse and Anglo Saxon Associations
The second harvest marked recognition that winter were not far away. The finest of the crop and, fruits and the first meat of the hunting season that began at this time, were offered in sacred feasts to be shared with the deities in a request for a gentle winter and enough food to last through the cold times.
The Anglo Saxons called this holy month.
The Autumn Equinox in many lands in the Northern
hemisphere still signals the beginning of the hunting seasons in many
lands and in Scandinavia huntsmen still leave the entrails of slain
animals on rocks in the forest as a relic of the ancient offering of the
The harvest supper pre-dates Christianity but in Christian times God was thanked for the harvest, the finest of the fruits and vegetables and bread basked form the grain, would be set on the altar as an offering and distributed to the needy. As in pre Christian times prayers were made and a feast eaten to symbolized the belief that there would be enough food during the winter.
Michaelmas, the day of St Michael, the Archangel of the Sun was celebrated on September 29 with a feast centred on geese. Since St Michael was Patron Saint of high places and replaced the pagan Sun deities, he was an apt symbol for the last days of the summer sun. Goose fairs were held and workers in the fields often paid with slaughtered geese.
In Ancient Greece, the rites of the Greater Eleusinian mysteries took place at this time in honour of Kore/Persephone and her mother Demeter.
The harvested grain representing the divine child, union of Persephone and Hades or in earlier Mother Goddess worship Persephone herself reborn as the harvest, was placed in a basket and bread baked from this corn was eaten in honour of Demeter.
Candidates were initiated during the September rites. Initiates were led through dark subterranean regions, symbolic of Persephone lost in the Underworld, from which they were saved by the intervention of Demeter and so were reborn as the Divine Infant.
A sacred marriage between Zeus and Demeter was also re-enacted in some account of the Mysteries.
A Ritual for Autumn
Whether working alone or in a group have a deep dish filled with autumn leaves and another of mixed nuts and berries
First pass round the circle the dish of leaves. Each person takes one, whispers what is being left behind that did not work out and gently blows away the leaf saying:’ Go in peace.’
Next pass the dish of nuts and berries round the circle. Each person takes and eats one, then says what they wish to take forward with them from the harvest of personal achievement in the months that have passed.
Then one person can carry the remaining leaves to the west outside the sacred space and scatters them to the winds.
A second person follows and leaves the on the ground, in the west, the direction of autumn.
If working alone blow away as many leaves as you wish, each followed by eating a berry/nut naming as many losses/gains as you choose, both personal and global.
Scatter in turn the remaining leaves and drop the berries/nuts on the ground saying ’What is lost and what is gained are now set free in equal measure blessings be on all’