Symbol: the acorn
The Autumn Equinox is one of the four Fire Festivals. Like the Spring Equinox, it’s a time when days and nights are of equal length, so it’s a time of balance and equilibrium. In some pagan calendars it’s called Mabon. The Autumn Equinox is also the time of Harvest Thanksgiving, or Harvest Home, when Mother Earth is thanked for her abundance and bounty. This is the time of the second harvest – fruits, nuts, berries and the last of the crops. Lammas is the first harvest, when the cereal crops are harvested, and Mabon is the harvest of fruits, trees and the hedgerows.
In Cornwall an ancient ceremony called ‘Crying the Neck’ is still performed, when the last handful of cereal crops is harvested. This is called the Neck, and local people get together each year to perform the ritual.
Many people of all religions and traditions hold a Harvest Thanksgiving, and churches can be particularly beautiful at this time with their piles of fruit and vegetables. Pagans of course celebrate the fecundity of the Earth Goddess, and all the gifts she bestows upon us. This is the time of rejoicing in the abundance of nature. The light is different at this time of year, a rich golden colour compared to the brightness of summer. There’s a smell of woodsmoke in the air, with the nights growing colder.
At Stonewylde, it’s the time of the great apple harvest, and in the second book this is described at length, along with the traditional cider making process. The symbol of this festival is the acorn, representing the fruits of the land, with the potential for new life stored within. The symbols decorating the Great Barn and painted on the stones at the Stone Circle are the acorn, conker, corn cob, dormouse, squirrel and of course the cornucopia, an ancient emblem of harvest and plenty.
Enjoy the Equinox however you celebrate, and glory in the amazing miracle that is the harvest. Keats’ beautiful poem ’Ode to Autumn’ is one of the best accolades to this glorious time of year.