Autumn Equinox or Alban Elued – Significance: Alban Elued means in Gaelic ‘light on the water’ and so the sun is moving away over the water to shine on the Isles of the Blest, leaving the world with encroaching darkness. It is a festival of discarding what is rotten like overripe fruit and storing what will last for use through the winter – not just material but spiritual resources.
Duration: A quarter day. This lasts for three days from sunset around 22 September.
Mythological energies: The god is in the underworld, the womb of the mother awaiting rebirth and while goddess mourns for her love she must prepare for the harvest over which she presides. But she is tired herself and getting heavier with the light child. Some myths blame Llew the Welsh god of light’s faithless wife Blodeuwedd or Arthur’s Queen Guinevere for transferring their attention to the dark twin who destroys the light brother and impregnates the goddess. But even these treachery myths reflect the need for the dark twin to be born at the summer solstice so that the wheel continues to turn.
In this strange legend, Blodeuwedd is instrumental in bringing about the death of Llew at the hands of Gornwy and the magickian. Llew becomes an eagle whose physical deterioration progresses as pigs, icons of Cerridwen, mother of regeneration, eat the rotting flesh as it falls to the ground. Llew will not be released from the form of the eagle until his rebirth at the midwinter solstice.
In the light cycle, the dark brother challenges and kills the light brother who returns to the earth/the womb and the two legends temporarily merge again.
Focus: Abundance, the fruition of long-term goals, for mending quarrels and forgiving yourself for past mistakes, for reaping the benefits of earlier efforts, for assessing gain and loss, for family relationships and friendships and material security for the months ahead.
Symbols: Copper-colored, yellow or orange leaves, willow boughs, harvest fruits such as apples, berries, nuts; copper or bronze coins and pottery geese
Incenses, Flower and Herbs: Ferns, geranium, myrrh, pine, sandalwood, Solomon’s seal; Michaelmas daisies, and all small petalled purple and blue flowers
Candle colors: Blue for the autumn rain, and green for the earth mother
Crystals: Soft, blue crystals such as blue lace agate, blue beryl, chalcedony or azurite, also rose quartz and all calcites
Deity forms: All river and freshwater deities, also the mistresses of the animals and lords of the hunt
Agricultural Significance: The gathering of the second or green harvest of fruit, nuts and vegetables, as well as the final grain harvest; the storing of resources for the winter and barter for goods not available or scarce. Feasts of abundance and the offering of the harvest to the deities was a practical as well as magickal gesture, part of the bargain between humans and deities. Rotten fruit and vegetables were, where possible, fed to the animals or discarded. Barley wine was brewed from the earlier crop.
Mythological and magickal significance: The thanksgiving for the abundance of the harvest and in Christian times the harvest festival and supper.
In traditional pagan celebrations a priestess and later a woman representing the goddess would carry a wheat sheaf, fruit and vegetables and distribute them to the people. A priest or man, representing the slain god, given the name of John Barleycorn, would offer ale, made from the fermented barley cut down in Lughnasadh.
In Ancient Greece, the rites of the Greater Eleusinian mysteries took place at this time to honor Kore/Persephone and her mother Demeter.
Michaelmas, the day of St. Michael, the archangel of the sun, was celebrated on 29 of September with a feast centered on geese. Since St. Michael was patron saint of high places and replaced the pagan sun deities. he was an apt symbol for the last days of the summer sun. Goose fairs were held and workers in the fields were often pain with slaughtered geese.
Some Druidesses and Druids climb to the top of a hill at sunset on the autumn equinox day to say farewell to the horned god, lord of the animals as he departs for the lands of winter.
The autumn equinox in many lands in the northern hemisphere still signals the beginning of the hunting seasons, and in Scandinavia huntsmen still leave the entrails of slain animals on rocks in the forest as a relic of ancient offerings of the first animals.
Alban Elued spells and rituals:
* Prepare a feast of fruit and vegetables, game meat, duck, goose or meat substitute, bread, cider and barley wine or fruit cup and warming soups and hold an outdoor equinox party.
* Bless a dish of cakes and a large goblet of fruit/juice/wine/beer in the name of the mother and father of abundance and ask for protection throughout the winter for all present.
* Make offerings to the land and the earth mother and the spirit of the corn on wine/juice and bread by dropping a little of each on the ground.
* Then pass round a dish of small fruit cakes, each person making a wish for abundance for a person or place that needs it.
* Next pass the communal cup, asking each person to turn before they drink to send individual blessings to people and places, naming with thanks someone who has been kind to them during the past year.
* Ask everyone to bring along small personal treasures or household items (not junk) they no longer use or maybe never used, in the style of the Native North American giveaway. Let everyone take what they want and donate the rest to a car boot sale or charity shop to pass on abundance.
* Stand where autumn leaves are falling and catch one for each precious thing you want to carry forward to the winter. Collect them together in your crane bag. Pick up other leaves for each thing you must let go. Put those also in your crane bag.
* Before dusk, climb to the top of a hill to say goodby to the sun and release all your leaves, all are carried, gains and losses, to be transferred by the cosmos.
[These Autumn Equinox information and rituals come from Cassandra Eason’s Complete Book of Natural Magick… While many of her ideas and information is different that a lot of us considered Autumn Equinox celebrations and stories I have found them to be quite interesting and can be woven quite nicely into some of my own every year rites.