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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Autumn Equinox 

The start of autumn in the northern hemisphere, is marked by night and day being of nearly the same length; this occurs when the sun crosses the celestial equator. This year, 2007, the Autumn Equinox occurs on September 23; of course, the Southern hemisphere welcomes spring and lengthening hours of daylight.

It is not surprising that such a significant astronomical event should be celebrated by pagan religions such as Wicca. The year's crops are harvested, tribute is paid to the sun and mother earth, and preparation is made for the impending days of darkness. The Wicca name for the Autumn Equinox is Mabon, it is called Mea'n Fo'mhair by the Druids who pay homage to the Green Man.

Harvest festivals and celebrations are commonplace throughout the northern hemisphere and ancient harvest customs are still widely practiced throughout Europe. Central to many of these is the Corn Dolly or John Barleycorn, which is said to contain the spirit of the grain; notoriously portrayed in the Wicca Man. There is a modern day Wicca Man festival in Scotland but this has little to do with religion or the Autumn Equinox and will form the subject of a future post.

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