It was barely light enough to see my way along the muddy track as I walked the few hundred metres to the giant stones standing in the clear, crisp morning. The air was so fresh and clean and the promise of a glorious sunrise was written above with the morning star shining brightly over the ancient and sacred landscape.
I had come to attend the ceremonies at Stonehenge for the Autumnal Equinox.
Mabon is the third of the four ‘sky points’ in the Druidic Wheel of the Year and it is when the sun does a perfect balancing act in the heavens. This is the point of the year when once again day and night are equal – 12 hours, as at Ostara, the Spring Equinox. The Latin word for Equinox means ‘time of equal days and nights’.
After this celebration the descent into winter brings hours of increasing darkness and chillier temperatures. It is the time of the year when night conquers day.
After the Autumn Equinox the days shorten and nights lengthen. To astrologers this is the date on which the sun enters the sign of Libra, the scales, reflecting appropriately the balanced day and night of the equinox. This was also the time when the farmers brought in their harvested goods to be weighed and sold.
Here in Wiltshire (as with the rest of rural Britain), it was traditional to drink dandelion and burdock cordials at this time as these herbs help to cleanse the blood and are a good tonic for the body before its winter hardships.
The full moon nearest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon and farmers would harvest their crops by then, as part of the second harvest celebration.
Mabon was when livestock would be slaughtered and preserved (salted and smoked) to provide enough food for the winter.
This is the time of the turning of the Light into Darkness. A time to go within in the colder months – to rebalance, realign and redress.
At the South Pole they will be celebrating the first appearance of the sun in six months. However, at the North Pole they will be preparing for six months of darkness. In the southern hemisphere, of course, the wheel has arrived at the Spring Equinox – the return of the Sun ( known as “The Son” in Christianity)
During Medieval times, the Christian Church replaced Pagan solstices and equinox celebrations with Christianized occasions. The Autumn equinox celebration was Michaelmas, the feast of the Archangel Michael.
The Autumnal Equinox is one of my personal favourite celebrations that one may attend at Stonehenge. While thousands attend the Summer solstice, this equinox draws far fewer souls and is therefore so much more personal, spiritual and intimate.
Today the gathering was led, by Druid, Rollo Maughfling, who lovingly spoke a remembrance of his dearly departed wife Donna, who, in the past has usually officiated with him. Movingly he scattered some of her ashes in the centre of the stone circle – her Stonehenge- that she loved all her life and where they, of course, had met.
After more tributes of poetry and songs by Druid Arthur Pendragon and others assembled, Rollo invoked peace to all the directions – east, south, west and north at the sunrise.
A Druid hand-fasting (marriage) was also held amid joy and songs of love and hope.
Many of those attending had come from afar and they too added to the atmosphere. Drumming, flute playing, didgeridoos, singing, chanting and others laying floral or crystal tributes on the stones all contributed their lovely energy to the proceedings.
After the formalities I spent a very happy hour and a half within the stone circle meditating and embracing the stones that are usually out of reach except at these special times of celebration.
Happy Equinox one and all.