As summer nestles down into a slumber and we get that first rush from a cool breeze, something happens and we begin to shift our energy. Whether we realize it or not, we follow Mother Nature’s lead and sync with her circadian rhythms. At the Autumn Equinox we hit a complete balance of light vs. dark, and have now just fallen past that tipping point. Now that we’ve burned off that fiery energy of the sun we can begin to shift to a more reflective, cooling energy of the moon. A season of letting go, we begin to settle under a blanket of reflection to see what hasn’t worked in our lives. Reaping the harvest of our past few months of hard work and investments, it’s time to till the soil and release what didn’t pan out. Our lives mirror the seasons, and if we align our energies properly with can work with the cycles instead of against them.
RITUALS, TRADITIONS AND HISTORY
Tradition stems from many cultures, having been celebrated for centuries
Greek Mythology: To the ancient Greeks, the September equinox marks the return of the goddess Persephone to the darkness of the underworld, where she is reunited with her husband Hades.
Chinese Harvest Moon Festival: The full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox is sometimes called the Harvest Moon. The Chinese began celebrating the fall harvest at the Harvest Moon centuries ago, during the Shang dynasty. Ancient Chinese celebrated the successful harvest of rice and wheat and made offerings to the moon.
Ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese people still celebrate the Harvest Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, lanterns adorn streets and family and friends gather to give thanks, share food, and watch the moon. Round pastries, called mooncakes, are often enjoyed at this time.
Japanese Higan: Higan is a holiday celebrated by some Japanese Buddhists. It takes place twice a year, during the fall and spring equinoxes.
During Higan, Japanese Buddhists will return to their hometowns to pay respects to their ancestors. Higan means “from the other shore of the Sanzu River.” In Buddhist tradition, crossing the mythical Sanzu River meant passing into the afterlife.
Harvest Festivals In Great Britain: The people of the British Isles have given thanks at fall harvest festivals since pagan times. Harvest festivals traditionally were held on the Sunday nearest the Harvest Moon.
Early English settlers took the harvest festival tradition with them to America. These tradition festivals, once celebrated around the equinox, formed the basis of American Thanksgiving, which we now celebrate in November.
French Republican Calendar: During the French Revolution, the French government designed and implemented a new yearly calendar.
Each new year would start midnight on the day of the autumnal equinox. In the revolutionary attempt to rid the calendar of religious or royalist influence, each month was named after a natural element.
The French followed this calendar from 1793 until Napoleon Bonaparte abolished it in 1806.
Modern Paganism: Modern pagans celebrate a feast called Mabon on the autumnal equinox. This harvest festival is a time to celebrate the gifts of the Earth.
Rituals and More
Harvest moon-The full moon closest to the Autumn equinox. This year’s is October 5th. Offer a full moon ritual to let go of anything that didn’t come into fruition. Reaping the harvest of all you’ve planted and put forth this summer. Welcome in the darkness and move into a time of reflection, repair and planning.
Colors of the season: brown (family, hearth, home, stability and family) Orange (balance, action, warmth) Red (action, change, passion, protection) Yellow (creativity, happiness)
Flowers & Trees of the Season:
Crysanthemums (protection) Marigold (healing and protection)
Ash Tree (protection, prosperity) Maple (abundance, balance) Oak (health, fertility and protection)
Crystals and Stones of the Season:
Stones for the Root Chakra to bring in Earth’s energy: red jasper, red garnet, red cornelian, obsidian Stones for abundance and prosperity: amber (also protection), bloodstone, carnelian, citrine, flourite, yellow and orange calcite, jade, topaz, smokey quarty
Ideas for rituals and crafts
Gratitude Ritual (with gratitude journal, altar) Honoring the Change Seasons (gather items for altar, ceremony outside)
Harvest Moon Ritual for Cleansing, Releasing & Planning-use stones, sage or palo santo. Cleanse your space and hold your stone of choice. Reflect on past months, letting go of anything not working. Write onto a piece of paper what seeds you wish to plant for the months to come. Plant those intentions into the earth. Allow them to settle into the darkness of winter and take the time they need to grow and blossom in the spring!
Ritual bath-simmer rosemary, sage and chamomile for 3-5 minutes, cool and strain liquid. Add to bath with sea salt. Cleanse your energy and set intentions Special feast for family and friends! String your own dried fruit and herb garland-use apple, oranges, cinnamon sticks, acorns and bay leaves
Recipes Autumn is all about celebrating the harvest, abundance and family. I found some great recipes and ideas for feasts so that you may invite family and friends over a lovely feast to celebrate the season!
Apples are known as a symbol of the Divine, wisdom and guidance
Recipes and dish ideas:
Baked apples with cinnamon
Roasted beets with feta and walnuts
Beet Cake (see recipe)
Pomegranate mint relish
Stuffed acorn squash
Turkey meatballs with cranberry sauce
Roasted spiced nuts
Autumn Equinox Stew (see recipe)
Roasted meats with apples, potatoes and root vegetables
Green bean or broccoli casserole
Honey-corn muffins or honey bread
Check out these two super simple and super delicious recipes!
Beet Cake (taken from the Llewellyn’s Sabbat (taken from Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials, page 103)
1 cup roasted and peeled beets 2 cups wheat or almond flour ½ cup cocoa powder 1 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted 1 cup molasses 1 tsp. allspice 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. ginger Preheat oven to 375. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until they form a cake batter consistency. Pour into a greased 13x9 baking pan. Bake until toothpick or fork inserted comes out clean, approximately 45-55 minutes. How simply and delicious! Serve with spiced nuts, pistachios, walnuts, and maybe even a little cream cheese frosting!
Autumn Equinox Stew(taken from ravenandcrone.com/mabon_autumnequinoxrecipes)
1 tbsp. olive oil 1 onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 large eggplant, cubed 1 small acorn squash, peeled, cubed 1 large zucchini, peeled and cubed 1 tsp. salt black pepper to taste 1 sprig fresh thyme 3 large tomatoes, diced 1 1/2 cups of water 1 cup dried lentils
Give thanks for the earth's bounty with this luscious stew made from fresh seasonal vegetables. This stew cooks quickly and can be easily prepared over a festive fire or on the stove.
Put olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until highly aromatic. Add eggplant and squash and zucchini. Sauté until edges show signs of cooking. Add remaining ingredients and simmer on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with fresh-baked bread.
Goddesses of the Season
Demeter-Greek Goddess of harvest and agriculture, rules over the fertility of the Earth-mother of Persephone. (Greek) Upon the kidnapping of Persephone by Hades, lord of the Underworld, they were able to get her back, but not before she ate pomegranate seeds that bound her to Hades for 4 months out of the year. In these four months Demeter dries up the earth and all the crops (winter) in her grief, until the first signs of spring when she returns.
Symbol: grain Goddess of plants that feeds us Offerings: honeycombs, unspun wool, unpressed grapes uncooked grain, anything in its natural state.
Persephone-Greek Goddess of the Underworld and goddess of the spring. Mother Demeter mourned her kidnapping by Hades, creating Winter. (Greek) Symbol-pomegranate This is the time she returns to the underworld until spring
Hestia or Vesta- Goddess of the hearth-she represents unity of family, spiritual center of the home and community. The hearth is the center of the home for taking care of a family, older sister Demeter and Hera. (Greek/Roman)