This festival is the culmination of the harvest, a celebration of Nature's bounty. The year's work is nearly finished, and we are grateful for what we have received. The date is on or around 21 September, when the Sun moves from Virgo to Libra and the night is as long as the day, but getting steadily longer. The Autumn Equinox is a minor festival and is celebrated at sunset.
We actually spent the Autumn Equinox of 2002 in Barcelona. Some of the pictures were taken there. I celebrated the Festival at the next Waning Half Moon.
The change in the world is becoming obvious now. A scattering of fallen leaves gathers at the roadside. The grain harvest has been brought in, and only stubble is left on the fields. Here and there, leaves are beginning to turn to golden or russet, and the virginia creeper in next door's garden is beginning to blush scarlet. The last fruits are being picked, and the Goddess is letting go of this world. She is turning inward, to look at the mysteries within.
And so must we. It is time to look back over the past year and examine what we have gained and lost. We are asked to see how we have changed, so that we can take what we have learned on to another revolution of the Wheel.
Every year at the Autumn Equinox, I ask myself what I have received from each Element. This year's examination made me feel deeply grateful. Earth had given me new friends, people I didn't know a year ago, but who now mean a lot to me. Air gave me the inspiration for this web site, and the thinking behind it. Fire gave me creativity to make talismans and the beautiful images to share with the world. Water gave me a new sense of my work and my purpose. Spirit gave me a new relationship with Brighid and my power animal. All these things are really important to me. They all feel like new relationships with myself, with the world and with Spirit. And in my ritual I discovered that, bringing that harvest inside myself, it amounted to a whole new and much stronger sense of who I am and of my place in the Web of Life.
The Autumn Equinox corresponds to the Western point of the Circle, and that is where I place my altar. On it are symbols for each of the Elements. I also collect representations of my harvest for each of the five Elements. In the centre of the Circle, incense waits for the fire to be lit in the cauldron. I cast the circle and invoke Brigit, the cauldron of plenty.
I go around the Circle and greet each element in turn. I thank it for its gifts and give a representation as an offering: a card from a friend, a page of this site, a talisman I made, a tarot card, and a photo of my power animal.
When the fire in the cauldron is lit, I burn an incense appropriate to the season. I sit with the smoke that rises, and meditate on my harvest. I ask what it means for my inner self, and realise how much I have changed in the last year, how much stronger I have become.
I have also decided that I need to work less for myself and more for the Earth and the land. I raise power with a chant and a dance, and make my new sense of self stronger. I make it soar to its highest point and release it into the world. It is my intention that people - individually and collectively - will get a stronger sense of themselves, so that they needn't fear difference in others and can open themselves to mutual understanding.
I feast with bread and seasonal jam and wine. When I close the Circle, I take my new sense of self out with me and use it for the good of all.