Tuesday 15 September 2009

What to do for the Autumn Equinox

The Autumn Equinox falls on 22 September. Also called Mabon or the late harvest festival, it is celebrated when day and night are of equal length. It is a time of balance before the descent into the darkness of winter and a time to stake stock of the fruits of the harvest - whether they are real fruit and vegetables you have grown yourself, or things you have achieved in your life since the start of the year.

If you want attend a public Autum Equinox celebration, here are some of the events taking place in London and southern England:

On Saturday 19 September the The Cauldron of Cerridwen is holding an open public ritual for Mabon at Avebury stone circle, in Wiltshire. It begins at 12 noon and runs for an hour.

Following that, there is a free Gorsedd of Caer Abiri Autumnal Equinox rite, also at Avebury stone circle. This will be facilitated by members of the Glastonbury and other Orders of Druids and the Loyal Arthurian Warband. Open rituals are held on the nearest Saturday to each date of the festive wheel. Meet at noon for a 1pm start, gathering at and in the garden of the Red Lion pub before moving to the stone circle. For more details, visit http://druidnetwork.org/en/welcome

Also on Saturday 19 September, Quest New Age and Holistic Centre is holding an Autumn Equinox celebration at High Street, Ewell Village, Surrey. This offers an opportunity to learn more about the Wheel of the Year and the earth’s cycles and includes a guided meditation and group healing. The event runs from 3pm to 5pm and the cost is £15 per person. To book a place call Quest on 0208 393 4707. For more details, visit http://sarahsonrayagrace.net/autumn_equinox.html or email info@spiritualquest.co.uk

Anderida Gorsedd Druid group holds large open rituals at the Long Man of Wilmington, in Sussex, on the Sunday closest to each of the eight pagan festival of the year. The group's Autumn Equinox ritual is taking place this Sunday, 20 September. To take part, meet from 1.30pm to 2pm near the Long Man of Wilmington car park, for a walk up the hill at 2pm. Afterwards, those who want to to will retire to the Giants Rest pub for a social drink. For more details, email anderida@BardicArts.com or visit the website http://www.anderidagorsedd.org/Anderida_Gorsedd/Open_Rituals.html

You can celebrate Alban Elued on Primrose Hill, London, on Sunday, September 20 at 12:45pm. This is hosted by The Druid of Wormwood Scrubbs. Meet at Primrose Hill, London NW1, by the entrance opposite Rothwell St. For more details, email jtmorganhaberdasher@yahoo.co.uk.

On the day of the equinox itself, Tuesday 22 September, members of the Druid Order are holding a free Autumn Equinox ceremony at Primrose Hill, London, NW1. The ritual starts at 1pm. This is one of a series of public, seasonal events run by the order. It celebrates the Spring Equinox at Tower Hill , London, and the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, Wiltshire. For more details, call 020 8659 4879 or visit http://www.timeout.com/london/around-town/event/159186/autumn-equinox-ceremony#details

On Thursday 24 September, the Pagan Federation London and the Tribe of Avalon are holding an indoor Autumn Equinox ritual at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL. Arrive at 7.30pm for an 8pm start. Entrance costs £5 (£4 for members). Bring food and drink to share. No photographs allowed. Visit http://www.pflondon.org/

If you prefer to celebrate the season with a ritual on your own, there is a lovely Autumn Equinox ritual ideal for individual to perform alone, on the pagan resource website Pagan Magic. It is called A Solitaire's Mabon and it can be performed outdoors or indoors. Decorate your altar with a brown cloth, red candles, autumn leaves, berries, acorns, and other fruits of the season. You should also have a small basket filled with a variety of autumn leaves. Cast the sacred circle, then call on the God and the Goddess. Pick up the basket of leaves and hold it in both hands. Spill the leaves slowly so that they cascade down to the ground within the circle as you say these words:

The days grow colder, and the leaves fall.
Our Lord of the sun rides the winds westward,
And the cool, misty night descends. Fruits ripen, and the seeds drop.
This is a time of balance, when night equals day,
And though all seems dead or dying, I know that life continues.
Life is not possible without death,
And the coming of winter is just another spoke in the great wheel.

Put the basket down, and say:
Oh great Goddess of the waning moon,
Keeper of the cauldron, of secret magics and forgotten lore,
Teach me to be wise and peaceful in thought and deed.
Grant me your wisdom, and do not fear that it may be used unwisely,
Or for purposes other than those which encourage peace and prosperity.

Then, banish the sacred circle and enjoy a simple feast.

Samhain and Yule are often thought to be times for playing games, but I feel that the Autumn Equinox is a good time for games and contest too. It could be seen as a time to test the balance in a competition between equals or simply a fun thing to do as the evenings get colder.

You could get together with friends and play a seasonal game such as conkers, or do a divination game. You could also try the computer adventure game Barrow Hill, which is a horror story set at the Autumn Equinox and has a very pagan feel.


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