The equinox occurs when the sun is lined up directly with the Earth’s equator and the Earth’s axis is tilted neither toward or away from the sun. At this time the day and night are just about the same length, about 12 hours each.
During the Autumnal Equinox, the sun passes over the Earth’s equator going from North to South. There are two equinoxes each year, the Vernal Equinox in the spring and the Autumnal Equinox in the autumn.
The word equinox is derived from the Latin aequus meaning “equal” and nox meaning “night”.
The Autumnal Equinox is also known as the Fall Equinox, the September Equinox(Northern Hemisphere), the March Equinox (Southern Hemisphere), the Northern Equinox, the First Point of Aries (Southern Hemisphere), the First Point of Libra (Northern Hemisphere).
Autumn Equinox Celebrations
Traditionally, the Autumnal Equinox marks the beginning of the fall season and many cultures have harvest festivals at this time.
In the Pagan and magical communities, the Autumnal Equinox represents the height of the harvest season which began with Lughnassadh and ends with Samhain.
As a Sabbat, the Autumnal Equinox is sometimes referred to as “Pagan Thanksgiving”. Although the equinox is often celebrated for its own sake, many different Pagan and Heathen traditions have specific festivals tied to the date.
Some of these are:
- Second Harvest,
- Alban Elfed,
- Winter Nights,
- Harvest Home,
- Feast of the Ingathering,
- Meán Fómhair,
In addition, many Pagan Pride Day festivals are held near the Autumn Equinox.
Autumn Equinox feasts are generally food-focused, featuring seasonal fruits and vegetables and fresh baked bread shared with friends, family and the less fortunate. For many Circles, this is their last chance to celebrate outdoors before the cold weather sets in, so a bonfire and BBQ are in order. The theme of the day is usually gratitude and the sharing of blessings. The Gods & Goddesses celebrated at this time tend to be Gods of the Harvest.
Gods Associated With the Autumn Equinox
Some Pagans commemorate Persephone’s descent into the Underworld at this time, or this observation may be saved for Samhain. Either way, Her mother Demeter or Ceres is often a major focus of worship at this time.
The descent of Inanna into the underworld may be remembered at this time.
Some Pagans use this time to honor the Dark God/dess or Crone.
Some Pagans believe that the Sun God is defeated and dies at this time (Many observe this at the Summer Solstice instead) and he will be reborn at the Winter Solstice. Others honor The Green Man or The Horned God at this time.
Magic at the Autumn Equinox
Magick at the autumn equinox may be related to gathering in a symbolic harvest, balance, transformation or a change in attitude or paradigm shift. This is a great time to craft magickal charms from the garden, such as grapevine wreaths, corncob dolls, apple dolls, magickal ink from nuts and berries, etc.