Hey, there’s a cool little traditional hornpipe melody called “Harvest Home.” You can listen to it while you read.
I don’t know how it rolls where you are, but in my experience, the Fall Equinox usually feels like a big ol’ nothing-burger of a holiday. And that’s too bad. Imma gonna try to fix that this year.
It feels like a nothing-burger for a lot of reasons:
- Where I live, it’s still fucking summer, and hot, and it will continue to be fucking summer until November. Then the leaves will change and we’ll have autumn for about two days. After that, it will either be summer again, or winter, or both: who knows anymore? Global climate heating means we haven’t had a normal fall-winter-spring progression in years.
- Because it’s still fucking summer, we have to worry about hurricanes. September is peak storm season. Hard to enjoy sipping on pumpkin spice lattes in your new sweater when you’re standing in the checkout line stocking up on batteries, water, and toilet paper and hoping your town doesn’t get destroyed this time.
- The onset of Halloween season obscures the Fall Equinox for witches just like Christmas obscures Thanksgiving for Christian-y folks. Who gives a shit about cornucopias — have you seen the cool merch at Target / Michael’s / Halloween Express this year??
- Namewise, “fall equinox” is a mouthful of awkward blandness. We can’t use the common term “Mabon” for it any more because ZOMG-AIDAN-KELLY-MADE-IT-UP and it’s all wrong, wrong, WRONG!! And if you call it “Mabon,” you’ll be laughed at with derision by all the cool witches, and Gwyn Ap Nudd himself will come and drag you down to the depths of Annwn for all time, and you’ll deserve it, you ignorant Wiccan wannabe, don’t-know-your-Welsh-myths-from-a-hole-in-the-ground poser, you. (Actually, I like the term, “Harvest Home,” which our cuveen and others have begun to use. But I still use the “M” word, too. And, yeah, I pronounce it MAY-bon. Suck ma-bone, bitches.)
Anyway. I said I was going to try to change this.
I love the eight-fold Wheel of the Year — something else that’s not cool these days, but we’ll talk about that later. But you have to work it for it to have meaning.
Because it’s commonly considered to be the “Pagan Thanksgiving,” Harvest Home is always a good time to take stock of what’s gone on since last Samhain/Hallows and list some things for which you’re grateful. That’s how I’m working it this year.
No, gratitude exercises are not fluffy-bunny New Age bullshit. No, gratitude exercises are not just privileged people’s covert efforts to gaslight you and distract you from how oppressed you are. For one, you can be grateful for life itself. As someone entering my “senior years” with my heart in my throat, and having had a lot of good friends of various ages die already, I’m keenly aware that tomorrow is not promised to me or anyone else. Do I get depressed? Yes. Have I sometimes wished I wasn’t alive? Hell, yes. Am I grateful that I am alive, after all? You better believe it. I’m pretty sure most people I knew who are now dead would rather still be alive, no matter how bad things were for them, including the ones who had serious mental illnesses.
These days, we literally need the heart-lifting effects that gratitude bestows. Everything seems awful all the time, and we need to seek out good things and be grateful for them just to maintain any sort of balance. – another equinox theme.
And then (speaking of balance) turn that around: what have you done that others can be grateful for? In other words, what have you contributed? How have you helped someone else? Everyone contributes something. If you’re reading this, I’m 100% sure you help someone else on a regular basis. No one on my friends list is a selfish oaf. This is a good way to (1) honor and be proud of how you make the world a better place — yes, you do, own that shit — and (2) understand the Power and agency you really do wield on an every day basis.
Other great ways to work this holiday are to do “winnowing” and Underworld work, as my friend and witch-colleague Spanish Moss suggests in his awesome blog.
Finally, one thing that saves Harvest Home in a lot of places is Pagan Pride Day. When PPD first started, it had to be in September. Nowadays that’s not the case, but they do still tend to cluster in the few weeks on either side of the equinox. Definitely seek out your local PPD (no matter when it’s held) and support them; they all work very hard to raise money and food for charity and to bring disparate pagan/witch/heathen groups together.
May your Harvest be bountiful and blessed.