Alban Elfed Celebration
Autumn Equinox Meaning
The Autumnal Equinox is called Alban Elfed or Light of the Water in the Druid tradition. It represents the second of the harvest festivals – this time marking the end of harvest-time. Again day and night are equally balanced as they were at the time of the Spring Equinox, but soon the nights will grow longer than the days and winter will be with us.
It was a serious business as this was the culmination of the year’s activities and every last grain of wheat, barley, oats or rye were needed to ensure their survival over winter. The fields have been all but stripped of their crops and the last sheaths of wheat, corn, and barley stand-alone, shivering in anticipation – for John Barleycorn is about to be cut down. This morning the families have dressed in their best attire to give thanks to the Harvest goddess for providing them with life and an abundant crop.
Their bonnets are lying on the ground at their feet as the father of the family sweeps his silver scythe through the last stalks and the youngest member of the family collects the stalks to make into a dollie, which will hang in a place of honour in the grain shed until it is planted the first seeds in spring. The ritual is an affirmation of the Earth’s cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
Following the ritual there is a feast is held in the Great Hall where the table is laden with loaves of nut bread, cheeses, and roast beef, chicken, and stew made from all the harvest healthy vegetables. There are copious quantities of ale and cider passed around the hall as everybody counts their blessings and give thanks for their time of plenty. They recognized the need to share their bounty to secure the blessings of the goddess and the god during the coming winter months. As in the story of Demetre, the goddess leaves as the year wanes and the fields die and wither as she withdraws to the underworld to be with her consort and God once more.
Now is the time for us to be thankful for the bounty we have had and to also look within as the shadowy presence of the gods begin to emerge. We remember what it took to achieve our goals and what is needed to maintain them from this point on. The Christian equivalent in the bible is the Harvest Festival and Arch-angel Michael – the Protector saint.
Autumn Equinox Ritual
* Go into your garden or the country and notice the cycle of the trees from seed to bud to flower to fruit.
* Make a fruitcake
* Acknowledge the fruits of your labour
* Start a journal
* Let go of striving and go within
* Have your own thanks, giving.