In the Northern Hemisphere, the fall equinox marks the first day of fall (autumn) in what is called
Autumnal Equinox (the Celtic/Wiccan "Mabon") is traditionally an important turning time of the cycle of the year (celebrated with harvest festivals in many cultures), which lasts from three days before to three days after the equinox. Traditionally, the Autumnal Equinox celebration is observed with a harvest feast to celebrate and share the abundance of the past season. It is a time when the plants are setting their seeds; making themselves ready for their new cycle. According to neo-pagan traditions, such as Wicca, the equinoxes are times to balance yourself and your life, setting yourself and your life to be ready for your new cycle of being. Thus, rituals are enacted to assist in creating and maintaining that balance. The Autumnal Equinox is a time to plant the seeds making yourself ready for your new cycle.
To access the special page for MABON, the Wiccan "Autumnal Equinox" and "Second Harvest" festival, click here
The amateur scholar at work on the autumnal equinox
Astronomy of the Equinoxes
Equinox, which means "equal night" refers to a time when the length of day and night (nearly) are equal. As the Sun crosses the celestial equator, the axis of the Earth points neither toward nor away from the Sun resulting in roughly 12 hours of darkness and light over the planet. The Sun enters Libra at the Fall Equinox in the northern hemisphere, Spring Equinox in the southern hemisphere. On the Autumnal (September), Equinox the Sun crosses the celestial equator and moves southward in the northern hemisphere. The location on the earth where the sun is directly overhead at solar noon is known as the subsolar point. The subsolar point occurs on the equator during the September equinox and March equinox. At that time, the earth’s axis of rotation is perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the earth and the sun.
For a detailed explanation of the astronomical causes of the Seasons,click here
"Dance of the Seasons"
"The Masque of the Four Seasons"
Allegory of the Four Seasons
Celebrating the Autumnal Season's Harvest Moon The full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox (9/20/21)
Harvest Moon Etching (Palmer)
The Harvest Moon
The Harvest Moon is the first Full Moon around the time of the Autumnal Equinox. The term “Harvest Moon” (sometimes called the “Corn Moon,” or the “Hunter’s Moon”) is used to describe the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal Equinox. (Before modern calendars, naming full moons was a way for ancient people to keep track of time.) The Harvest Moon is given this name because of the intense radiant light that spreads over the land allowing for the reaping of the remaining harvest after dusk into the night for several days. The Farmers’ Almanac notes that the annual celestial sight was dubbed the “Harvest Moon” because, before the invention of electricity, its bright moonlight allowed farmers in the Northern Hemisphere to harvest their late summer crops after Sunset for several hours more into the night.
Harvest Moon (Palmer 1833)
Harvest Moon (Palmer 1833)
Harvest Moon (Linnell 1858)
Harvest Moon (Inness 1891)
Luminary of the Autumn Night Sky (Blencowe)
Autumn Harvest Paintings
The Cadence of Autumn (Morgan 1905)
"The Autumnal Season:Golden Autumn Days"
Spirit of Autumn wrapped in autumnal gossamer
And I'm taking in the Indian Summer
And I'm soaking it up in my mind And I'm pretending that it's paradise On a golden autumn day, on a golden autumn day On a golden autumn day, an a golden autumn day --Van Morrison
Thematic Images for Golden Autumn Days
Golden Autumn (Grimshaw)
Autumn's Golden Glory (Grimshaw)
Fall Scene (Grose)
The Clouds (Marcius-Simons)
"The Allegory of Autumn"
The Four Seasons -Autumn
Artistic Personifications of Autumn
(We think Autumn is a woman, because the seasons have been typically personified as a beautiful woman in European art.)
Autumn (Equinox) Trees
Autumn Melancholy Moods
Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods, And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt, And night by night the monitory blast Wails in the key-hold, telling how it pass'd O'er empty fields, or upland solitudes, Or grim wide wave; and now the power is felt Of melancholy, tenderer in its moods Than any joy indulgent summer dealt….
~William Allingham (1828-1889)
At the First Touch of Winter Summer Fades Away (Prinsep)
The Gypsy Scholar calls his celebration of the Autumnal Season "The Romance of Autumn"
The Romance of Autumn
Once In A Million Years (lyrics)
The Erotic Imagination of Autumn
The Autumnal Season & "The Spirit of Place"
The Spirit of Place -Autumn
"Autumn Faery Path"
"Autumn Mystic Path"
"Falling Autumn Leaves" -van Gogh 1888
"Les Alyscamps" -van Gogh 1888
Thematic Images for Autumn Landscapes -- Romantic Paintings, Modern Paintings, & Photography
To view Romantic Landscape paintings from the 19th century, click image
To view modern Autumn Landscape paintings, click here
To view Autumn Landscape photographs, click here
Thematic Images for Autumn Seascapes
Autumnal Season Poetry: Keats, 'To Autumn'
"A Day with Keats, Autumn"
A painting done in honor of John Keats' ode, "To Autumn"
TO AUTUMN John Keats
I Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease, For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
II Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep, Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers: And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep Steady thy laden head across a brook; Or by a cyder-press, with patient look, Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
III Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-- While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river shallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Autumnal Season Poetry: Rilke, 'Autumn' & 'Autumn Day'
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up, as if orchards were dying high in space. Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."
And tonight the heavy earth is falling away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We're all falling. This hand here is falling. And look at the other one. It's in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands infinitely calm, holding up all this falling."
--Rainer Maria Rilke
Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by. Now overlap the sundials with your shadows, and on the meadows let the wind go free.
Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine; grant them a few more warm transparent days, urge them on to fulfillment then, and press the final sweetness into the heavy wine.
Whoever has no house now, will never have one. Whoever is alone will stay alone, will sit, read, write long letters through the evening, and wander on the boulevards, up and down, restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.
The evening was approaching sorrowfully. Autumn. Autumn with its enlaced branches unfurling against the sky. Autumn, covering the ground with leaves, and the scent of apples in the rain. Scarlet leaves all over the walls of Cheyne Walk which were overflowing with wild vine. Branches of leaves creeping over the windows, soaring over the roof. On the earth, still warm, fallen leaves, intermingled with the golden brown and wide open fingers of the sycamore leaves, the delicately striped copper of the maple, the chestnuts, the intense and softly seamed yellow of the tiniest oak leaves. All was leaves, all was autumn: it felt so good to tread softly the death of the park, and to watch the death of extinguished beauty slowly approaching. He was walking, as if drunk, his feet lost in melancholy swooshing, his tired gaze drowning in warm, reassuring and desperate light. How good it was, just for one night, to dive into the foliage that grew in darkness with every moment, to drink the autumnal wine of the golden dance of despair. --Philippe Delerm
This music video contains Van Morrison's "Orangefield." It's a wonderful cover of that song by Duke Special.