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Image: Jan ShepherdAutumnal Equinox/Mabon

Whereas some festivals appear to be mainly God or Goddess based, the Autumnal is more balanced. The Queen of the Corn is symbolised in a corn dolly, but the spirit can also be seen as a male figure at the same time, in British folklore called John Barleycorn. The traditional folk-songs describe how John Barleycorn must be cut down, and often list the ways he is mistreated – beaten, ground, cooked and eaten. This actually illustrates the process of cutting the corn, then winnowing, grinding, and baking it into bread. Whereas some festivals appear to be mainly God or Goddess based, the Autumnal is more balanced, featuring both in equal measure.

Like the Vernal, the Autumnal a contradictory day. It is both a still point, where day and night hang in balance, and a dynamic day of forward motion. At this time of year the sunset or sunrise is moving at its fastest across the horizon while day and night are of equal length. This is also the middle of the waning year – after this point, the nights become longer than the days.  So there is a real sense that the dark half of the year is accelerating.

As well as the end of the corn harvest, this time of year is heavily associated with the harvest of fruits and berries. The very practical activities of making pickles, jams, chutneys and other preserves have a direct parallel in terms of the energies of this day. This is a time for gathering in the energy, making it real, manifesting results. And, when that has been done, it is a day for storing up that bounty and preserving it so that it can last into the months ahead.     [More...]

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