ADF Dedicant Path: Second High Day Essay (Autumn Equinox)
The autumnal equinox is known variably as Mabon or Harvest Home among Neopagans. It is the second of three harvest festivals on the neopagan calendar. Depending on the region, it may or may not have represented the final harvest of the season for Indo-European pagans. Of the three harvest festivals recognized today, it is the one exclusively associated with harvest-related festivities. Lammas, for example, is often intermingled with or replaced entirely by Freyfaxi, which is less about harvest and more about Ing Fréa and his corresponding lore. Samhain is generally recognized as a harvest festival, but the significance of the harvest is muted by ancestral rites.
Harvest Home (or just “Harvest”) stands out as exclusively related to harvest time. It makes sense that the festival in the middle of the harvest season should receive the bulk of the harvest-related celebrations. Not surprisingly, it shares customs, with both Hlaefmaest (Lammas) and Winter Nights. One such custom was to leave the last sheaf of the harvest for Woden’s horse.
Most Neopagans celebrate the autumnal equinox as a time of thanksgiving and, in fact, the date is sometimes referred to as the “Witch’s Thanksgiving.” Thanks are given not only to the Earth and relevant fertility deities for the fruits of a bountiful harvest, but also for the fruits of less literal (non-agricultural) harvests.