by Ruth Parham
As the Wheel turns towards the Autumn Equinox, we become more and more aware of the Earth moving into the darker half of the year, with changes in the light, the temperature and the trees, animals and plants all around us.
Many will celebrate this festival as Mabon, while in the Avalonian tradition, we honour the Earth Goddess: Banba, Gaia, Mother of harvest – the second harvest of fruits and berries.
Druids celebrate this season as Alban Elfed, marking the time of balance between light and dark, a sacred pause to look back with gratitude for the blessings of Spring and Summer, while acknowledging the power and potential of the approaching darkness.
Without the descent of the vital energy of the plants into their roots, the moist richness of the falling leaves blanketing and nourishing the earth, and the cold that brings rest and hibernation, there will be no glorious green Spring and abundant Summer!
We don’t have evidence from prehistory of specific celebrations of the equinox, but there is no doubt that the changes in the earth and the sky would have been observed by our ancestors, whose lives and survival depended on living in step with the natural world.
Autumn would have been a time of harvesting and storing nuts, berries and roots, finding ingenious ways to preserve them for the winter months. Often when we celebrate harvest we focus on the blessings of abundance and manifestation, but there is another aspect to the harvest: a lot of work and husbandry is still needed before that abundance can be transmuted into nourishment that will keep us warm and fed until we start to see the green shoots of Spring again.
Today we are lucky enough to have lots of options at our disposal for making the most of Autumn’s bounty: we can make jams, vinegars, honeys, alcoholic tinctures; we can cook, bake and freeze, as well as drying or pickling our harvest, whether of hedgerow or garden.
However, it’s easy to get carried away, so if you are foraging, remember to leave plenty on the bushes for the birds and small mammals.
How do you mark the Autumn Equinox? If you’re someone who greets it with sadness for the end of summer and dread of the nights drawing in and the cold months, you might want to find a way of bringing in the light and warmth in small rituals, whether with candles, incense or a meditative few minutes with an uplifting warm drink.
Get as much daylight as you can, especially in the morning – even 20 minutes will be beneficial. Maybe keep a journal for the dark half of the year and explore your feelings around it.
If you love and look forward to this time, may you find the time you need to rest in the autumnal hush and sense the Earth drawing in, ready for her own long rest.
Either way, the Bristol Goddess Temple is the perfect place to connect with the energies of the season and all are welcome, whatever your path.
Blessings of the Autumn Equinox to you!
Bristol Goddess Temple
The Clocktower Association (First Floor)
Tower Road North
Bristol BS30 8XU
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