It’s the autumn equinox!

The solstices and equinoxes have held a special allure for me as far back as I can remember. I’m sure it can be attributed in no small part to my birthday being on the summer solstice. It probably ticks a lot of subconscious boxes for my Cancer side.

This year, the fall equinox is today, September 22nd, and I’d like to give you a few, small ways to mark the specialness of the day. A portion of what I’m including will relate to some Pagan tenets that I am not the right person to teach others. There’s a brief list at the end of this post that has books and authors that I recommend if you’re looking for more information. Also, the information given is applicable to where I live, the Northern Hemisphere, so things would be different in the Southern Hemisphere which means I feel even less qualified to talk about correspondences there.

An Autumn Equinox Overview

Spring and fall (or autumn) both commence with an equinox, vernal and autumnal respectively. The word “equinox” is from two Latin words—æqui meaning “equal” + nox which is a derivative of noct meaning “night”—describing how the hours of daylight and those of darkness are of equal length. Each solstice and equinox marks the movement of the sun into a Cardinal astrological sign from a Mutable sign.

Spring EquinoxPisces (mutable water) to Aries (cardinal fire)
Summer SolsticeGemini (mutable air) to Cancer (cardinal water)
Fall EquinoxVirgo (mutable earth) to Libra (cardinal air)
Winter SolsticeSagittarius (mutable fire) to Capricorn (cardinal earth)
Solstice and equinox transitions

The Origins

The autumn equinox is the second holy day related to the harvest (Lammas is the first, in early August) and is a time of mysteries. It’s a period of bidding a grateful farewell to the abundance of summer in order to start preparing to survive the less fertile winter. In some traditions it represents the slaying of the Harvest Lord and the descent of the Goddess into the Afterlife to find her lost love. In Greek mythology, this is the story of the goddess of the harvest, Demeter, and her daughter with Zeus, Persephone. I’ll give a quick summary that may leave out details for the sake of brevity.

Zeus promised to allow Hades to marry one of his daughters and Hades chose the daughter he had with Demeter, Persephone. The two gods knew Demeter would never permit Persephone to marry Hades and concocted a plan to abduct her. Without Persephone, Demeter was wrathful and neglectful of her harvest duties which led to famine for the mortals. Hermes was dispatched by Zeus to retrieve Persephone who had (shockingly) fallen in love with Hades after he made the goddess of fertility her own personal garden that flourished beautifully.

When Persephone was reluctant to leave the underworld, Hades gave her six pomegranate seeds which she ate—in Greek mythology, it was believed that they would always be able to return if they ate food from their captor—and Zeus, after going head to head with Demeter and Persephone over where their daughter would reside, decided that she would spend the same number of months in the underworld each year as the number of pomegranate seeds she had eaten. Thus, the goddess of fertility leaves for the underworld on the fall equinox and the plants we rely on for nourishment wither, only to return for the spring equinox and give new life to crops.

Sumerians celebrated the goddess Inanna for the autumn equinox. Some Wiccan traditions call the fall equinox Mabon which is taken from Celtic and Welsh mythology. Mabon was known as the Child of Life and he was the son of Modron, the Earth Mother Goddess.

How You Can Celebrate the Autumn Equinox

Now that you have all this new information about gods and goddesses, you need to remember that they’re very vainglorious and love to be praised. You can still offer thanks to the earth even if you don’t have a particular affinity to one pantheon. Plus, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, the autumn equinox marks the start of temperatures cooling down so it’s a great time to take advantage of the last little while before it could be too cold to go outside for more than a few minutes.

  • Visit a local orchard for agricultural offerings
  • Collect leaves in fall colours
    • Make a specific project out of them
    • Sprinkle them around your home (I suggest outside because uninvited guests can hitch a ride)
  • Decorate with pinecones, acorns, and chrysanthemums
  • Feast on apples, blackberries, grains
  • Infuse your life with autumn colours
    • Reds
    • Browns
    • Oranges
    • Yellows
    • Dark pinks
    • Mauves

It’s okay to do all of these suggestions, some of them, or even none of them. I think it would be good for all of us, though, to take a minute outside to just think, and breathe, and give thanks to the world that sustains life. If you’re not feeling grateful about your own life (which is a disheartening but valid way of feeling), think about someone you love and be grateful their life has been sustained.

Books and Authors

  • Scott Cunningham
  • Silver RavenWolf
  • Raymond Buckland
    • Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft
    • Wicca For One: The Path Of Solitary Witchcraft
  • Doreen Valiente
    • Witchcraft for Tomorrow
    • Charge of the Goddess

Enjoy your autumn equinox!