The Fall Equinox

The “coming events” page has been updated.

It’s often hard to tell what tradition a particular Satanic group uses to design its rituals. For that reason, I try and describe traditions from as many cultures as possible in the hopes that something may ring a bell for you.

The fall equinox occurs all over the world on the same day, and every culture marks it in some way. It can vary from September 22 to September 24, depending on the day that the sun crosses the equator. (I have mistakenly listed it on September 21 on all the calendars I have compiled, because my group started their rituals on the evening before holidays.) This year it is on September 22. Note that it is the fall equinox only in the Northern hemisphere: in the Southern Hemisphere it is the spring equinox.

Apparently the fall  equinox was not celebrated in Celtic or Anglo-Saxon countries. Modern Celtic-based Pagans call it by many names: Harvest Home, Festival of Dionysus, Wine Harvest, Harvest of First Fruits, Cornucopia, the Feast of Avalon, and the Second Harvest Festival. Modern Druids call it Mea’n Fo’mhair or Alben Elfed and honor the Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering wine and cider to trees. In Gardnerian Wicca it is called Autumnal Equinox, and in the 1970’s it started to be called Mabon, after the child of the Divine Mother who was kidnapped as a baby and rescued by King Arthur.  (It’s not clear to me what this has to do with the equinox.) The name of the Teutonic celebration, Winter Finding, lasts from the fall equinox to October 15th, Winter’s Night, which is the Norse New Year. This may be the source of Octoberfest.

In England, the last stalk of corn harvested represented the “spirit of the field” and was made into a man-shaped doll. (Note that “corn” was a general name, and refereed to any grain, including barley and oats. What we call corn, or maize, is a New World grain.)  Corn dolls were drenched with water representing rain or burned to represent the death of the grain spirit. Large wickerwork figures were also constructed to represent the corn spirit and burnt in mock sacrifice. Farmers and merchants gathered at fairs. Often a large glove was hung above the fair, symbolizing the handshake of promises and openhandedness and generosity.

Christian Britain replaced equinox traditions with the feast of Saint Michael, also known as Michaelmas or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, on September 29. It is celebrated with a goose fed on the last grain of the season (as in Rome), is when debts are collected, and is the time for fairs. Christian churches honoring St. Michael were built on many pagan sites.

Some groups draw on Greek, Roman, Egyptian, or Mayan beliefs.

In Rome the celebration was dedicated to Pomona, goddess of fruits and growing things. A feast was celebrated with a goose which had been fed on the remains of the grain in the fields after the harvest.

In Greece, Persephone had to return for six months to her husband Hades in the netherworld because she had eaten six pomegranate seeds when she first was kidnapped by Hades. Her mother, Demeter, Goddess of grain and harvests, was so heart-broken that everything stopped growing until Persephone returned the next spring.

The Egyptian Sphinx points directly toward the rising Sun on the equinox.
The Mayans of Central American built their great pyramid so that when the sun sets on the equinox light and dark create the pattern of a diamond-backed snake descending the pyramid. The equinox is called “The Return of the Sun Serpent.” Similarly, stone cairns were built throughout Britain: the first light of the day on the equinox travels through a corridor and shines on a sacred stone. And there is also a site in Salem, New Hampshire containing six stones, one now fallen, which point to both sunrise and sunset on the equinoxes. Carbon dating shows that charcoal from the hearth is between 3,000 and 4,000 years old.

Some Satanic calendars on the Internet ( list specific activities which are reported to occur on the fall equinox. They include: Midnight Host, blood rituals, dismemberment of corpses, cannibalism, sexual orgies, and the removal of hands to perform “Hand of Glory” rituals. Sexual orgies and blood rituals occur at pretty much every Satanic ritual, in my opinion. Midnight Host appears to refer to a group of people that appear at midnight, led by Satan. The Hand of Glory is a human or wax hand that is supposed to make the owner invisible, and is the rite is not performed by many groups.

Background for other Satanic holidays is posted on this blog. You can find an essay on Halloween on 10/2011, Candlemas on 2/2012, the spring equinox on 2/2012, and August ritual dates on 6/2012. I hope some of this information proves helpful to you.