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The autumnal equinox is a harvest festival celebrated by pagans and Wiccans. The sun’s crossing the celestial equator from north to south at about 9:45 a.m. Monday marks the pivotal point at which the day and night are of equal measure.
Briefly, the balance of light and dark as the daylight begins to wane and the nights to wax is observed. There’s no doubt about it: Fall has arrived.
Cooler nights bring out a burst of fall colors. A haunting pagan tune, “Autumn Time,” expresses the melancholy beauty of the season: “Autumn time! / Red leaves fall / while the weeping sky looks over all. / Demeter sadly walks the land, / the dying grasses in her hands.”
The Wiccan Wheel of the Year includes three harvest-themed festivals: Lughnassad (also called Lammas), Mabon (Autumn Equinox), and Samhain. The first harvest is celebrated Aug. 1 and is devoted to the grain harvest. Samhain (Summer’s End), Oct. 31, focuses on the last harvest, the animal harvest.
Mabon, celebrated around Sept. 21, is the harvest of fruits, traditionally apples and grapes. But it is really the harvest of all that’s still growing in fields and backyards. By the end of September there is one last chance to harvest before an early frost steals the bounty.