Time of equilibrium. Day and night are matched, and the tide of the year flows steadily. But, while the Spring Equinox manifests the equilibrium of an athlete poised for action, the Autumn Equinox’s theme is that of rest after labor. The Sun is about to enter the sign of Libra, the balance. In the Stations of the Goddess, the Spring Equinox represents Initiation; the Autumn Equinox, Repose. The harvest has been gathered in, both grain and fruit, yet the Sun – though mellower and less fierce than he was – is still with us. With symbolic aptness, there is still a week to go before Michaelmas, the festival of Michael/Lucifer, Archangel of Fire and Light, at which we must begin to say au revoir to his splendor.
As we look at the Tree Calendar which Robert Graves has show to underlie so much of our Western magical and poetic symbolism, we find that Autumn Equinox comes just before the end of the Vine month and the beginning of the Ivy MONTH.
Vine and Ivy are the only two of month-trees which grow spirally – and the spiral (particularly the double spiral, winding and returning) is a universal symbol of reincarnation. And the bird of the Autumn Equinox is the Swan, another symbol of the immortality of the soul – as is the wild goose, whose domestic variety is the traditional Michaelmas dish.
Incidentally, blackberry is a frequent substitute for the Vine in the symbolism of northern countries.
Lunghnasadh marked the actual gathering of the grain harvest, but in its sacrificial aspect; the Autumn Equinox marks the completion of the harvest, and thanksgiving for abundance, with the emphasis on the future return of that abundance. This Equinox was the time of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the greatest mysteries of ancient Greece; and although all the details are not known (initiates kept the secrets well), the rituals of Eleusius certainly themselves on corn harvest symbolism. The climax is said to have been the showing to the initiate of a single ear of grain, with the admonition: “In silence is the seed of wisdom gained”.
For our own Autumn Sabbat, then, we take the following interrelated themes; the completion of the harvest; a salute to the waning power of the Sun; and an acknowledgement that Sun and harvest, and men and women also, share in the universal rhythm of rebirth and reincarnation.
From: A Witches’ Bible
the Complete Witches’ Handbook
by Janet and Stewart Farrar (Available in paperback at Salem’s Moon)
RECIPE FOR AUTUMN EQUINOX INCENSE
2 parts Frankincense
1 part Heather
1 part Apple Blossoms
1 pinch Blackberry leaves
a few drops of Ambergris Oil.