The Autumn Equinox

You can watch the video about this subject in here: [The Autumn Equinox]

The equinoxes are somewhat times of equilibrium, day and night are matched. After an entire year of hard labour, not just when we speak of agriculture, but also in a kind of spiritual development, the autumn equinox is the time of repose, even in nature when the days become shorter and nights are longer. The autumn equinox marks the completion of the harvest, the waning powers of the sun, a farewell to summer and making preparations for the coming darkness. But let’s start with the Mabon celebration and then the Haustablót or FallFest.

Mabon is often the term referring to the celebration of the autumn equinox, and to know why this name was adopted for this particular date of the year, we must understand its meaning and where it came from. The name “Mabon” was introduced by the neo-pagan religious movements and in the seasonal list of celebrations of the year. This name comes from the god of hunting “Mabon ap Modron”, or in other words, Mabon son of Modron, a deity from the Welsh mythology. Mabon means “Divine Son” and he is the personification of youth. This god was kidnapped, three days after he was born, and was taken to Annwn, which is the other world, the world of the spirits and of eternal youth. We see a union here with youth and death, the beginning of life meeting the end of all things, decay, death itself, and this union is somewhat the personification of this season, letting go summer, youth, rejuvenation, light, and accept the very opposite of that which nature shows us almost in a poetic way, winter, cold, decaying of the soils and put a stop in life.

So Mabon is the celebration of the year when the days start to grow shorter and the nights and darkness will prevail till the winter time comes. A preparation for the harsh winter, when the crops come to an end, and when people start to gather food to survive the long dark and cold days of winter. It is also a time to burn the soil and the fields where the crops were, in order to fertilize the land that will be covered by frost and snow, and at the spring time nature will do its work, and the land is ready to be planted again. The main celebration during this time consists in the need to share what the earth has given to us throughout the year, during the harvesting cycle, the fruits of the earth are shared with the community in a sort of ceremony to secure the blessings of the gods during the coming winter months. There is a similar Northern pagan Tradition at this time, called the Haust blót or Haustablót, and let’s talk about that so you can better understand the true purpose of this celebrations and enter in the pagan spirit of the season.

I often talk about blóts, but what exactly is a Blót? I’m afraid I’ve never share that knowledge with you, so I will take this opportunity to do so. Blót was Norse pagan sacrifice to the Norse gods and the spirits of the land. The sacrifice often took the form of a sacramental meal or feast. Related religious practices were performed by other Germanic peoples. This celebration wasn’t made just by the norse/germanic peoples, but also throughout Europe, the celts, and latins did it, in their own traditions. Animals and even people (mostly prisoners of war) were sacrificed. The word Blót means “to worship with sacrifice”, and in this type of celebration/ritual/ceremony, the people gave their offerings, such as mead, food, animals,
personal objects, all to the Gods and in turn people expected the Gods to give them gifts back, they asked for fertility, good health, a good life and peace and harmony between people and Nature.

Now that you know what a Blót is, I will tell you what the Haustablot is, this specific blót in this time of the year, between the 21st and 24th of September. This is the autumn equinox, such as the Celtic Mabon, it is a time to celebrate the harvest of the crops and it’s ending, it is also a time to thank and to meditate, the celebration is made with the food and drink that is made with the Corn and wheat, and also to celebrate with cakes, cookies, mead, bread, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and so on.
It isn’t just a time to thank to yourself, your family and the Gods, for all the hard work, blessings and mutual help among the community, but also a time to thank and praise the Landvættir, who are the spirits of the land, and they protect and promote the flourishing of specific places where they live, which can be as small as a rock or a corner of a field, or as large as a section of a country. It’s important to take note that when people worship or pray to the Landvættir, or to the gods in general for that matter, people are perfectly conscious that the Landvættir or the gods will not solve anything for them, they will solve things WITH them. The Landvættir and the gods manifest themselves through us and infuse us with the power we need to do the things we must, to perform our tasks, so people didn’t ask for, let’s say, give me money, make my fields productive, clean the house for me, no, people asked for the power, the will, motivation to do things for themselves, just a little push to be successful in their hard work.

In the Northern pagan Traditions, there was a celebration held in this time of the year, at the beginning of the autumn equinox, it’s called Haust blót, or the Autumn Sacrifice, and it is still held today by the neo-pagans who worship the gods from the Norse pantheon. As the season indicates, this is the time when the days grow shorter and darkness prevails until the winter time comes to an end. The last crops are coming to an end also, people start to gather their food and store it to survive the long and harsh winters of Northern Europe. Now, we can try to understand the pagan mind of our ancestors by looking at the natural world itself and how that influenced them. This was also a time to make festivities around the fire and praise, in a way, the Fire Element, because the world itself would take its colours, the fields are veiled by a cloth in tones of fire, dark yellow, red and oranges, the skies at dusk emit a red light that resembles blood, a warning that the days ahead will be hard, the forests and the mountains become silent, most animals also store food and hide in holes or inside old trees, others will hibernate, ravens will go to and fro, from place to place, in search of those who did not survived the hazards of the season and the harsh weather, so this is a time where everything becomes more magical and mysterious, but also the beginning of the trials that are in store for us, the ability to survive and prevail, in a way, a sort of battle between Man and nature, it’s exiting, because we humans love to be challenged, and during winter we are being challenged by the gods themselves, who manifest their powers through nature, and it’s a great honour to accept such a challenge and better still to be victorious at the end, it gives a certain feeling of being worthy.

This is the time to pray and to thank the Landvaettir, the spirits of nature, of the soils and the land, to pray to the ancestors who still look over their decedents and protect them, and in some
way still work the soils to provide better crops, so the family can survive in prosperity, happiness and wealth. People also prayed to the elves, who work along with the land spirits, to maintain the land fertile and the soils rich. People also pray to the God Freyr and to Freyja, the Gods of fertility, because the land itself also needs fertility, it needs to be prepared to be planted again, with new seeds, when the winter comes to an end.

With hard work, perseverance, patience and love the land gives us so much, enough to survive and live with health, and a gift always calls for a gift, so we in turn must give something to the land, a personal object, or food, the mead that is passed amongst the folk in the drinking horn, will be poured into the land, so our ancestors and the gods, may also drink with us, giving to them what we can create with the things the earth gives us. People dance and sing, tales of old are told, to remember the deeds of our ancestors, and so we might find inspiration and strength.

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