An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
CUSTOMS & LORE
22 September - 21 December 2012
© JP Briggs
All rights reserved
I have the honor of being one of several scholar-advisers to a wonderful think-tank, the Black Earth Institute. When one of the Fellows, Dr. John ("JP") Briggs, posted a link to his Photo Exhibit, I fell in love with his work. Since I lost two beloved, old, "saintly" maple trees two summers ago, his photograph of "Autumn Englightenment" especially spoke to me.
15 September 2009
(Minor revisions made 19 September 2010):
Trees have always played a deep role in the stories and scriptures involving humanity's holy beings. The Buddha, for example, according to the Jataka Tales, was a tree-spirit in twenty-nine of his earlier incarnations and the king of the tree-spirits in a thirtieth life. As a human child, the one who would be the Buddha meditated under a rose-apple tree while the sun miraculously stood still overhead, filling the tree with light and casting no shadow. Later, the adult Buddha would experience enlightment under a pipal-fig (bodhi) tree -- I like to think the trees deliberately created that sacred space and were pleased that one of their own had succeeded so well as a human.
Dense papyrus reeds, towering twenty-feet high, protected a doomed Hebrew infant adrift in a rush-woven boat until his rescue by an Egyptian princess. As an adult, he, Moses, would discover the presence of the divine in a Burning Bush, bright with flames yet not consumed.
Jesus prayed among ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane on his last night of life. Three days later, he would be resurrected in another garden, where Mary Magdalene, a beloved friend, would mistake him for a gardener.
In Islam, a tree under which a saint is buried is believed to take on the powers of that saint's spirit and is thus regarded as sacred. It is often unclear whether the saint was buried under a particular tree because the tree was already revered as holy, or whether the saint's presence is what bestows sanctity and power upon the tree. Similarly, any tree under which the prophet Al-Khidr, "the Green One," sharing attributes with Elijah and St. George, rested is sacred: see [updated 9/18/12 -- FYI: scroll down the page to reach this article: On the typology and the worship status of sacred trees with a special reference to the Middle East].
Shortly after I saw Briggs' "Autumn Enlightenment," another Black Earth Fellow, Dr. Richard Cambridge, sent us a definition of a saint from Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers. It stunned me. I have been living with its implications ever since, tasting them, accepting them. Cohen's "saint" interfaces perfectly with Brigg's "Autumn Enlightenment."What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance....Whether tree or human, perhaps it is what we do at our best -- reach an "autumn enlightenment," a time in which we so love the world that we give ourselves, even if only for moments now and then, "to the laws of gravity and chance" and are illumined by that love.
Let me conclude, as I do each autumn, with my prayer written years ago for these pages and carried forward each year....Artist, Melanie Renn, has created a free online photoshow around this prayer, "As Autumn Returns," that I wrote a handful of years ago for this autumn equinox page. Her work has a Native American focus and is truly beautiful -- music, art, and words all blend together. It's at: http://photoshow.comcast.net/watch/uQ4iC2zy. [Note: unfortunately, this link is now dead -- I have tried without success to reach Melanie -- hopefully, her work will reappear elsewhere.]
As autumn returns to earth's northern hemisphere,
and day and night are briefly,
balanced at the equinox,
may we remember anew how fragile life is ----
human life, surely,
but also the lives of all other creatures,
trees and plants,
waters and winds.
May we make wise choices in how and what we harvest,
may earth's weather turn kinder,
may there be enough food for all creatures,
may the diminishing light in our daytime skies
be met by an increasing compassion and tolerance
in our hearts.
http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/SF/FallEq.txt: [Link updated 17 August 2006]2004 Note: When I began this seasonal page in 1999, its focus was solely on the autumnal equinox -- many of the page's links still reflect that focus. But over the past five years I have added so many other autumn harvest festivals (e.g., Greek, Slavic, Japanese, Native American, Thanksgiving, etc) that the page has really become about the season of autumn as a whole. I hope you'll enjoy the links related to this larger perspective as well as those focused on the equinox. FYI: separate pages still exist for October's Halloween and November's Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
Relevant Autumnal Dates and Times for the year 2012:
Autumn Equinox arrives in the Northern Hemisphere when the sun enters Libra on Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 10:49 am EDT (14:49 UT/GMT).
For annual Northern Hemisphere times for this and all other equinoxes and solstices, see InfoPlease:
http://www.infoplease.com/calendar/seasons-northern-hemisphere-2012.htmlSig Lonegren gives a great overview of times & science for autumn equinox. He includes significant September dates along with a great image of Michael the Archangel for Michelmas on 29 September. He writes: "It is appropriate to mention Archangel Michael here as he pinned down the Earth Energies-dragon with his spear, and marks the final turning point towards Samhain, and the death of the Celtic Year." [Note: his equinox times are not always accurate -- e.g., they are off by 12 hours for 2004, but other data seems fine.] Here is his link [updated 9/19/08]:
For moon astrology, charts, etc, see:
The five-day Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, begins Tuesday, 13 November 2012 (scroll down for links).
Maybe the Middle East could replace its death-magnet oil fields with huge solar panel "farms" and birth an entirely new and healthy epoch in the "Cradle of Civilization"? Do we really need that dwindling, costly oil when we have the sun above, and the winds and mighty seas all around us? Maybe the super-wealthy among all of us, East & West, could practice kindness instead of unrelenting greed? Maybe we could finally find a way to be worthy of the beauty and wonder of the planet we share with so many other remarkable species?
OLD WORLD TRADITIONS
Demeter and Persephone© Mary B. Kelly: "The painting shows the moment when mother and daughter are reconciled, and their first kiss. Persephone still holds the pomegranate, symbol both of fertility and of her fate as Dark Queen." [Used with the artist's kind permission -- see annotated link to her home page below]
[Added 8/26/02]:This is a plain-text page on ancient Greek festivals from c. 13 September through 13 October.
http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/SF/MidAut.txt...Many of the Greek and Roman festivals of this season celebrate the end of the military campaigning season. At the end of September and beginning of October, however, the emphasis shifts to the Corn Mothers and other agricultural deities. In many Greek states the month beginning mid-September was called Demetrion after Demeter....The page beings with the "Great (Eleusinian) Mysteries" of Demeter and Persephone (c. Sept. 29-Oct. 5), since these are, of course, the highlight of the season. Then it backtracks to 13 September (for the Roman feast of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva) and continues forward to 13 October, the Roman Fontinalia, a festival for Fons, the god of springs.
[Added 8/26-27/02]: This is a continuation of the above plain-text data: ancient Greek festivals from 22 October to 15 December.http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/grecoromanmyth1/a/aa102400a.htm: [Updated 9/15/05.]...In the Greek and Roman worlds, there are comparatively few festivals in October and November, which is the seed-time (Gr. sporetos), a season of ploughing and sowing. Women figure prominently in these festivals since in neolithic times they were responsible for crops raising (by the Bronze Age it became a male occupation)....The details are wonderful and more information is given on the above-mentioned feasts of Apollo, Dionysus, and Theseus. There is also fine data for the Thesmophoria (see below).
[Added 8/26-27/02]: .From N.S. Gill, the ancient history guide at about.com, comes a fine page on the Greek harvest (or "Thanksgiving") festival, Thesmophoria, which falls during October-November (also see above link):http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/GSF.html: [Link updated 17 August 2006]"It is called Thesmophoria, because Demeter is called Thesmophoros in respect of her establishing laws or thesmoiin accordance with which men must provide nourishment and work the land...."
Since the fall harvest must usually take an agricultural society through winter, it is vitally important for survival. Whatever power provides that bounty deserves praise.... [This festival was]...in honor of the goddess who taught mankind to tend the soil, during a month known as Pyanopsion (Puanepsion), according to the lunisolar calendar of the Athenians. Since our calendar is solar, the month doesn't exactly match, but Pyanopsion would be, more or less, October into November....
For more on this festival, as well as on Dionysiac celebrations, see an excellent essay at: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/classes/LAp.html[18 September 2012: unfortunately, that Perseus link is now dead. I just emailed it to Perseus' webmaster. If I am given its current location, I'll update it here.]
Meanwhile, here are comments from Michaela, my Links-Elf: NOTE: They’ve changed their website. The homepage link is: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/?redirect=true . I don’t know what article to look for. There are many hits to a general search on Dionysus; only two for Dionysiac celebrations at: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/searchresults?q=Dionysiac+celebrations – but neither would seem to fit your description.]
Detail of Greek ruins from opening art
on my 2004 Autumn Equinox page, "Music of Autumn"
[Added 8/26/02]: This is a very interesting page by John Opsopaus on three autumn festivals of ancient Greece -- these fall after the equinox but contain themes relevant to the entire season:http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/HL/index.html: [Link updated 17 August 2006]...Because Ancient Greek festivals were held according to a lunar calendar, which was often out of step with the solar year, it is difficult to say what festivals would correspond to Samhain.Two of these festivals honor Apollo and Dionysus and are held on the same day.
In Homer's time the cosmical setting (first visible setting on western horizon at sunrise) of Orion, the Pleiades and the Hyades, which marked the beginning of the winter, herding season, occurred at the beginning of November (Nov. 5-10, by various computations). (Orion was the son of Poseidon and Euruale, daughter of Minos and sister of Ariadne, about whom more later.). Significantly, these constellations, which mark the seasons, are at the center of the Shield of Achilles (Iliad XVIII), that famous mandala of the Homeric Universe.
In classical Greek times there were several important festivals that nominally occur at the end of October and beginning of November. Two of these, which occur on the same day (7 Puanepsion), are especially interesting; they are followed on the next day by the Theseia (for Theseus), which is intimately connected with the first two.......The Oskhophoria, in honor of Dionysos, occurs on the same day as the Puanepsia. It may seem odd to honor Apollo and Dionysos, so often taken as polar opposites, on the same day, but we must remember that They share Delphi, and this is the time of year when the changing of the guard occurs. An ancient pot shows Them shaking hands over the Omphalos (World Naval) at Delphi....The third, Theseia, commemorates Theseus. The author retells the story: "Ariadne and Theseus' Descent into the Labyrinth and Return." The details are fascinating although it should be mentioned that the author has excluded other important ancient variants of the myth. Nevertheless, the story includes the mysterious desertion of Ariadne by Theseus, followed by her marriage to Dionysus himself -- whose festival was celebrated only the day before.
[Added 8/26/02]: This is an engrossing, contemporary re-visioning of what might have been the ancient "Greek Ritual of the Labyrinth" (Ta Hiera Laburinthou) by John Opsopaus:http://www.diwali.nl/diwalicalendar.html...This ritual is an initiation and celebration of new beginnings structured around the myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur and associated Greek midautumn celebrations, which take place when Apollo yields Delphi to Dionysos for the winter months....I have not had time to read the entire ritual (it's lengthy) but what impresses me is its mythopoetic quality and the deep psychological nuances. Also, I appreciate the careful footnoting that links the Cretan labyrinth to displaced, but related themes, in Mesopotamian myths.
India's autumnal Diwali Festival
(BBC article: see below)
[Added 15 September 2006]: Moving from Greece to South Asia, Diwali is a major autumnal five-day festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains around the world. The above link offers a calendar of future dates -- this "Festival of Lights" always falls in October or November but dates vary from year to year. (In 2007: it will begin Friday, November 9th. In 2008: Tuesday, October 28th. In 2009: Saturday, 17 October.)http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/diwali.shtml
[Added 15 September 2006]: This is an entry level article from the BBC with small but lovely photos (see above). There are many subsections but information is brief in each of them. Here is how it opens:http://web.mit.edu/hsc/www/Events/Events%20-%20Diwali.html: [Updated 21 September 2007]Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia, and is also the occasion for celebrations by Jains and Sikhs as well as Hindus.
The festival of Diwali extends over five days. Because of the lights, fireworks, and sweets involved, it's a great favourite with children.
The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance, although the actual legends that go with the festival are different in different parts of India....
[Added 15 September 2006]: This site looks at the festival's origins, regional traditions, the five days, and other aspects of the celebration. For example, here is an excerpt about what happens in Krishna temples:http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/Culture/Festivals/Diwali.htmlIn many Krishna temples, Diwali is celebrated as a day of feeding and venerating cows. In Nathdwar, for instance, there is a day-long feast for cattle called Annakoot. The reason for this special place given to the cow lies deep in the religious consciousness of Indians. The sacredness of the cow goes back to the myth of the churning of the cosmic ocean by the gods. Of the 14 `jewels' which the ocean gave to the gods, Kamadhenu ,the celestial cow, was one. She was venerated as the mother of the universe. The celestial cow is also called Surabhi or Nandini, the giver of joy and plenty. A cow is the constant companion of Krishna.I really like the site's conclusion:...However, in all this frenzy of shopping and eating, the steady, burning lamp is a constant symbol of an illuminated mind .
[Added 15 September 2006]: This is a very, very brief page but I like the way it describes the little lamps:... It is colloquially known as the "festival of lights," for the common practice is to light small oil lamps (called diyas) and place them around the home, in courtyards, verandahs, and gardens, as well as on roof-tops and outer walls....It must look exquisite!
[Added 15 September 2006]: This page on the history and origin of Diwali looks at a series of relevant myths. My favorite involves a variant of the famous "Churning of the Ocean" myth (see my Myth*ing Links page on the Hindu goddess Vak):...The history and origin of worshipping Lakshmi on the day of Diwali [the third of the five days]and on Dhanteras[the first of the five days] tells a different story. According to Hindu mythology, on this auspicious new moon day in the Hindu calendar, Lakshmi or the Goddess of wealth and prosperity was incarnated. Lakshmi emerged from the ‘ocean of milk’ when Gods and demons were churning the ocean in search of ‘Amrit’ or nectar. Hence, worshipping Lakshmi on the day of Diwali became a tradition....Disclaimer: this webpage and the two following ones come from a freebee greeting card company -- I normally do not include these firms among my links but I find their informative pages enjoyable and some of the cards on one of their Diwali greeting card pages come with a musical background which, on a recent dismal day, cheered me up <smile> -- so I'm adding several of their background info pages to my own page.
[Added 17 September 2006]: This page looks at Dhanteras, the first day of the festival, a time when Lakshmi, goddess of riches, is honored. Here's an excerpt:To indicate the long awaited arrival of Goddess Lakshmi, entrances are decorated beautifully with traditional motifs and bright colors. Small footprints, signifying the steps of Goddess Lakshmi, are drawn on the floor by using rice flour and vermilion powder.But then another legend is explored, again concerned with riches, but this time a clever wife uses them to dazzle the God of Death. Although the myths are quite different, in ancient Greece there is also a connection between wealth and Pluto/Hades, Lord of Death. The use of music is also intriguing.Another fascinating legend behind Dhanteras tells the story of young son of King Hima. He was destined to die by a snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage. His wife determined to save her husband, laid all the ornaments, gold and silver coins at the entrance of their room and lighted innumerable lamps all over the place. She also kept on singing songs all through the night to keep her husband awake. When Yam, the God of Death, arrived there in the form of a serpent, he was dazzled by those innumerable lights and glittering ornaments. So he listened to the melodious songs, sitting on the hip [heap] of ornaments and coins and left quietly in the morning. Since that day lights are kept burning all through the night on Dhanteras and on Diwali as an expression to convey reverence to Yam, the God of Death.
[Added 17 September 2006]: Finally, this page from 123Greetings offers an overview of each of the five days of the diwali festival. Here is the entry for the third and most important day:http://web.archive.org/web/20070711182118/http://www.bawarchi.com/festivals/diwali1.html:Diwali: The third day of Diwali or Deepavali is the big day and central to the festival of lights. It is known as Badi Diwali (big Diwali), or more commonly just Diwali. This falls on the last day of the lunar calendar year and is the most important day of the five-day long Diwali celebrations. Falling on a no-moon day, this day is the darkest day of the year.
This day of Diwali witnesses the prime of Deepavali celebrations when the festive fervor reaches its peak with firecrackers bursting everywhere, people rejoicing with friends and family, every Hindu family performing the Lakshmi-puja (worship of Goddess Lakshmi) with the traditional ‘aarti’ (a Hindu ritual of waving lamps in front of the deities) and diyas glowing in and around every house....
[Added 17 September 2006]: Written by Malini Bisen, this is a handsomely presented and eloquent pair of pages giving an excellent overview of the five days. Many other sites have obviously "borrowed" portions of their own pages from here -- but this is the mother-lode. Read the foregoing abbreviated versions from other sites and then enjoy the pleasure of reading what this site offers. Here is what the author writes about the third day, for example -- it gives one a strong sense of the mystical dimension omitted on other sites [art is from her page]:http://www.rumela.com/events/festival_diwali.htm...The strains of joyous sounds of bells and drums float from the temples as man is invoking Goddess Lakshmi in a wondrous holy "pouring-in" of his heart. All of a sudden that impenetrable darkness is pierced by innumerable rays of light for just a moment and the next moment a blaze of light descends down to earth from heaven as golden-footed Deep-Lakshmi alights on earth in all her celestial glory amidst chantings of Vedic hymns. A living luminance of Universal Motherhood envelopes the entire world in that blessed moment of fulfillment of a long-awaited dream of the mortal. A sublime light of knowledge dawns upon humanity and devotion of man finally conquers ignorance. This self enlightenment is expressed through the twinkling lamps that illuminate the palaces of the wealthy as well as the lowly abodes of the poor. It is believed that on this day Lakshmi walks through the green fields and loiters through the bye-lanes and showers her blessings on man for plenty and prosperity....On the fifth and final day, we again meet the theme of death and riches mentioned elsewhere but in a very warm, familial context involving the God of Death and his sister:...As the legend goes Yamraj, the God of Death visited his sister Yami on this particular day. She put the auspicious tilak on his forehead, garlanded him and led him with special dishes and both of them together ate the sweets, talked and enjoyed themselves to their heart's content, while parting Yamraj gave her a special gift as a token of his love and in return Yami also gave him a lovely gift which she had made with her own hands. That day Yamraj announced that anyone who receives tilak from his sister will never be thrown.[see next link for a better explanation of not being "thrown"]. That is why this day of Bhayyaduj is also known by the name of "YAMA-DWITIYA" Since then this day is being observed as a symbol of love between sisters and brothers. It became also imperative for the brother to go to his sister's house to celebrate Bhayyaduj.About the name of Diwali itself, she writes [art is from her page]:...The word "Diwali" is the corruption of the Sanskrit word "Deepavali" - Deepa meaning light and Avali, meaning a row. It means a row of lights and indeed illumination forms its main attraction....
[Added 17 September 2006]: This is "Rumela's Web." It offers its own "take" on the five days of Diwali and is clearer than the above site on the enormous spiritual gift brothers receive when visiting their sisters on Day Five:http://www.diwalimela.com/...It is a day dedicated to sisters. We have heard about Raksha Bandhan (brothers day). Well this is sisters day. Many moons ago, in the Vedic era, Yama (Yamraj, the Lord of death) visited His sister Yamuna on this day. He gave his sister a Vardhan (a boon) that whosoever visits her on this day shall be liberated from all sins. They will achieve Moksha or final emancipation. From then on, brothers visit their sisters on this day to enquire of their welfare....
[Added 18 September 2009, thanks to my Links Elf, Michaela]: Finally, this Diwali site offers a wide range of data, both mythic (including songs and poems) and "practical" (i.e., wonderful-sounding crafts made with things like tiny mirrors embedded in clay, puja requirements, Diwali sweet dish recipes, chocolate gifts, greeting cards, decorations, fireworks, and much more). From their Story of Diwali page, we learn of another core myth we haven't met before in the above pages on this festival:http://www.jun-gifts.com/others/culturalcalendar2/culturalcalendar2.htm...The most famous legend associated with the story of Diwali is the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya. Lord Ram was sent to exile by his stepmother for 14 years in the jungle. His wife Sita and younger brother Lakshman also accompanied him there. In the jungle Ravan kidnapped sita and Lord Ram had to take the help of God Hanuman and monkey king Sugvir to kill Ravan. After killing Ravan and completing his period of exile, Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya and to celebrate his comeback the citizens of Ayodhya decorated their houses, exchanged sweets and ignited firecrackers. Since that day Diwali came to be celebrated in order to commemorate the coming back of Lord Ram.From their Diwali Diyas page comes this passage of multicultural, universal relevance:
According to another legend associated with the Story of Diwali, on this particular Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity incarnated. She incarnated due to the churning of the ocean.......Diya [an earthen oil lamp] not only help in enlightening the physical path but the spiritual path too. It shows the right way so that our soul never indulge in any kind of evil. It teaches the lesson of brotherhood and encourages everyone to choose the road that leads to serenity of mind and soul....
Japan: field of autumn higan bana
(See directly below)
[Added 15 September 2000; above photo added 18 September 2009]: This charming and beautifully illustrated site looks at autumn and the autumnal equinox (higan) in Japan. There are many, usually clickable photos connected with the months of September, October, and November. Text is fairly minimal but very useful to those unacquainted with Japan's seasonal customs. About the above photo of higan bana, the author/photographer writes:This flower, manjushage, is nicknamed higan bana (flower of higan) because it blossoms around higan (autumnal equinox). It is typically found along roadsides, on the ridges between rice paddies from Honshu to Kyushu....
Eastern & Western
http://www.marykellystudio.homestead.com/painting.html: [URL updated 8/18/01]
Dordona, the Hungarian Harvest Goddess
© Mary B. Kelly: see directly below
[Annotation revised 18 August 2001]: This is the portfolio page of artist/professor Mary B. Kelly, whose vibrant painting (see above) of Hungary's "Black Goddess," the Harvest Goddess, Dordona, is not to be missed:http://web.archive.org/web/20070123175333/http://members.aol.com/HPSofSNERT/holid.html#autumn...Like her counterpart in Russia, her arms are raised. She is crowned by both the sun and the moon.(Note: the larger version of Dordona, with text, is no longer available on this site, but you might e-mail Dr. Kelly if you wish to see it. If you click on the menu buttons on her Portfolio page, you'll also find information on her groundbreaking books on goddess embroideries, etc. On her Home Page, there's a large version of Dordona, by the way, but no text.)
The page offers links to paintings of many other goddesses, some of whom (e.g., Persephone & Demeter -- don't miss that one!) are also connected to autumnal harvest festivals.
From "Slavic Pagan Holidays" comes fine data on harvest festivals from early August to early November. Autumn in Russia's cold Ukraine begins early -- it's celebrated on August 2nd, the feast known as St. Ilia's Day. The entire autumn season is a time of music, apples, honey, and grain sheaves:http://www.sacred-texts.com/bos/bos051.htm: [Updated 9/19/10]...Sometimes the last sheaf ceremony was merged with the ritual surrounding a small patch of field that was left uncut. The spirit of the harvest was said to precede the reapers and hide in the uncut grain. This small patch was referred to as the "beard" of Volos, the God of animals and wealth. The uncut sheaves of wheat in "Volos' beard" were decorated with ribbons and the heads were bent toward the ground in a ritual called "The curling of the beard". This was believed to send the spirit of the harvest back to the Earth. Salt and bread, traditional symbols of hospitality were left as offerings to Volos' beard....
[Added 20 August 2000]:...Mike Nichols' series of detailed, well written essays on earth-based pagan celebrations are always worth reading. This is his page on the history and lore of autumn equinox, or "harvest home" (he prefers not to use the Welsh term, Mabon):http://www.sacred-texts.com/bos/bos052.htm: [Updated 9/19/10]...Mythically, this is the day of the year when the god of light is defeated by his twin and alter-ego, the god of darkness. It is the time of the year when night conquers day....the only day of the whole year when Llew (light) is vulnerable and it is possible to defeat him. Llew now stands on the balance (Libra/autumnal equinox), with one foot on the cauldron (Cancer/summer solstice) and his other foot on the goat (Capricorn/winter solstice). Thus he is betrayed by Blodeuwedd, the Virgin (Virgo) and transformed into an Eagle (Scorpio)....Nichols touches on many themes. For example, Celtic Druids have long been accused of practicing human sacrifice at this time of the year. Nichols looks at the lack of solid evidence and argues convincingly that what these ancient celebrations had instead was the "mock sacrifice" of seasonal sacred theatre. It was a metaphoric sacrifice, in other words -- not a literal one. He writes:...Jesse Weston, in her brilliant study of the Four Hallows of British myth, 'From Ritual to Romance', points out that British folk tradition is...full of mock sacrifices. In the case of the wicker-man, such figures were referred to in very personified terms, dressed in clothes, addressed by name, etc. In such a religious ritual drama, everybody played along....
[Added 20 August 2000]: Again from Mike Nichols comes this carefully researched essay examining the Celtic deities of light and dark and their role in both equinoxes. If you're looking for fine mythology, don't miss this one. For example:http://www.wicca.com/celtic/akasha/mabon.htm[After Llew is slain]...The Welsh myth concludes with Gwydion pursuing the faithless Blodeuwedd through the night sky, and a path of white flowers springs up in the wake of her passing, which we today know as the Milky Way. When Gwydion catches her, he transforms her into an owl, a fitting symbol of autumn, just as her earlier association with flowers (she was made from them) equates her with spring. Thus, while Llew and Goronwy represent summer and winter, Blodeuwedd herself represents both spring and fall, as patron goddess of flowers and owls, respectively....
For the Celtic Connection comes Akasha's lively page on Mabon, the Celtic celebration of September's autumnal equinox:http://www.wicca.com/celtic/akasha/mabonrit.htm...The Druids call this celebration, Mea'n Fo'mhair, and honor the Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time....Mabon is considered a time of the Mysteries. It is a time to honor Aging Deities and the Spirit World....Akasha looks at Mabon's themes, symbols, herbs, foods, incense, colors, gems, spells, and deities. If you click on the Holiday Index at the bottom of the page, you'll be given access to recipes, activities (for children and teens), and ritual (see below for a direct link to the autumn ritual...).
[This link from my original 1999 page has been expanded 8/21/04 for my 2004 page]:...This is a powerful, eloquent, lyrical harvest ritual from Akasha (see above). I love her sense of sacred theatre. Here, for example, is one of the wonderful items included in the ritual:ftp://ftp.lysator.liu.se/pub/religion/neopagan/Rituals/Holidays/Lammas/harvest_riteFind a fallen tree branch. It need not be a large one, for it will adorn your altar, then go on display in your home. The more smaller offshoots from the main branch, the better. Mine has four, which I think is awesome! Next, take a couple of pine cones, small shells, dried flowers, or any other item that reminds you of the late spring-summer months. With some string, tie each to the offshoots. Also take yarn or ribbon of yellows, oranges, reds, and gold and tie one end to the offshoots. Then, on very thin strips of (colored) paper, write down some projects to work on during the upcoming ' dark ' months. Wrap these around the offshoots (like little cocoons) and tie closed with silver thread. These you will open over the next couple of months when you start feeling lethargic or without a sense of direction. I tie on a couple of small bells, to add some ambiance to my ritual....
[Added 7/23/02 & annotated 8/21/04]:...This is a 1987 "Harvest Home Ritual" by Michael Fix. I enjoy the poetic imagery in many of the invocations. In casting the circle, for example, here is the invocation to the west:http://merganser.math.gvsu.edu/myth/a-equinox.html...Facing West: Guardians of the watchtower of the west, we do summon, stir, and call thee up to protect us in our rite. Come forth from the rainbow hued morning dew that covers the fields, and is soon to be frost. Asperge us with your diadems and water our deepest roots that we may find peace of mind. So mote it be!...And this is the element of Air speaking:...I am everywhere. I fill the fleshy pouches of your lungs, I stir all things from the smallest blade of grass to the tallest tree. I cool you with my breezes and destroy you with my storms. Without me you would die. Am I not holy and worthy of praise?...
[9/2/03 -- the Celtic Connection link is now dead but I'm keeping the original annotation;http://www.greatbritishkitchen.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=81&Itemid=54: [Updated 9/19/10: note the old link is gone -- this new one is similar in places but not the same -- it's still good, however.]
Update 8/31/04: a kind and observant reader tracked down a new link -- see above -- and my thanks to Michaela]:
Also from the Celtic Connection comes this lovely and evocative little essay by C. Austin on the "in between" nature of the Celts' autumn:. . . . We have bid farewell to summer, but the sun's light has not yet faded. Such is the style of in between. . . . Night is falling on the year. The equinox grants us a moment of reverie, before we rush on to year's end at Samhain.[FYI: the above excerpt was written in the late 1990's and has since been replaced by new material for 2000; I assume the page will now be updated annually -- if not, just ignore the date and times of the autumnal equinox here.]
Rainbow, Crone-Corn, and Harvest Moon
(detail from Sandra Stanton's "Sacred Corn"
on my 2001 Autumn Equinox page)
[Added 16 August 2001; expanded 20 August 2002]: From the Worldwide Wheat Weavers comes an attractively illustrated and informative little site on wheat-weaving and corn dollies:autumnequinox_LanceEssay.html: [21 September 2007: lost essay has now been rescued and put on a Myth*ing Links page]...Objects made from dried straw are known to have been made in the earliest civilizations, practiced throughout Europe, Asia and South America. Harvest rituals occurred in every country where grain is grown in order to please the spirits of the crop. Abstract shapes or religious symbols made from straw were believed to insure prosperity and good luck in the next growing season. Objects made with the heads of grain still on the stem were hung on inside walls where they safely made it through the winter. These sacred grains were then planted the next season to assure the fertility of the entire crop....
[Added 15 September 2000]: This is a fine little essay on Mabon by "Lance" -- he looks at the season's Wine Moon, Harvest Moon, Corn Man, Wicker Man, and also offers some wonderful suggestions for celebrating the season - for example:http://www.widdershins.org/vol1iss4/m04.htm...go through your garden, tending it, thanking the plants and flowers for their abundance, harvesting whatever is ready, collecting seeds; make a mandala of seeds and grains on the ground, an offering of the Mother's gifts to the animals and birds; infuse it with specific magick that will be released as the seeds are consumed or scattered; honor the elders in your circle or your life in some special way....
[Added 8/25/02]:This is an engaging essay, "Lore and Magick of the Harvest," by Asherah, who belongs to Widdershins, a wiccan group in the Pacific Northwest. She begins with her childhood Thanksgiving celebrations:http://www.witchvox.com/holidays/xmabon.htmlAs a child, I found the only harvest celebration I knew about, Thanksgiving, pretty pallid. It didn't involve the provocative personae of Halloween; you could dress up, but you had to be an Indian or a Pilgrim, and you only dressed up at school, and that only if there were a pageant. There, it was more socially acceptable to be a Pilgrim than an Indian; the Indians provided the food, but the Pilgrims ran things. But the Pilgrims wore boring outfits. I had no use for the affair....Then she broadens her framework to include a wide cross-cultural range of more interesting, vibrant harvest festivities found from the Old World to the New World. Here are some samples:...Often pagan harvest celebrations involved a whole series of festivities, of which I still generally approve, starting with a rite offering up the first fruits and culminating with a ritual centering around the final harvest. The Iroquois of the northeastern United States have a typical succession, beginning in June and lasting through early November, including feasts for the spirits of the strawberry, raspberry, bean, green corn and ripe corn and a final thanksgiving for all types of food.The author doesn't provide a bibliography, but I was nonetheless struck by her passage on Slavic grain-dolls as Babas, or "Grandmothers":
The pinnacle of the harvest celebration depends on the nature of the local produce. The South American Mataco and Choroti Indians' rituals center around the algarroba harvest; Native Americans from the Andes to the northeastern United States build rituals around corn; Mediterranean peoples celebrate the vintage; Lithuanians celebrate the rye harvest. The timing of harvest celebrations also depends on geographical location. Corn ripens for the Native Americans of Mexico in June, for the Iroquois around September, and the corn harvest celebration follows accordingly.......People in early European societies saw the Harvest Queen or harvest doll as the embodiment of the spirit of the crop. Keeping her safe over the winter ensured fertility for the following harvest, provided that some part of her was given to cattle or horses to eat, strewn on the fields or mixed with the next crop's seeds. However, over time, the belief in the doll as the spirit of the growing grain incarnate gave way to its being merely a symbol of abundance.This gives an intriguingly different nuance to interpretations of the famous Russian story of Vasilisa and the usually frightening crone known as the Baba Yaga. In that fairy tale, Vasilisa's mother leaves her daughter with a doll before she dies -- the doll provides the young girl with crucial advice that saves her life when she meets the Baba Yaga. But from the perspective of Asherah's essay, the doll may be a representation of the Baba Yaga herself, which means that the child's dead mother is herself a Harvest Queen, which is to say, a variant of Baba Yaga, and the child is her divine daughter, a Persephone figure, perhaps from a very early pre-Hades stratum. In Baba's grain-world, no man alive has any power over the Maiden.
In their heyday, harvest dolls popped up all over Europe.... In Poland, the harvest doll was Baba, or Grandmother; in some localities, the woman who bound the last sheaf was herself called Baba. She was dressed in the last sheaf, carried home on the last wagon, drenched with water and generally treated as a representation of the grain spirit.
[Added 8/20/02, annotated 8/21/04]:...From The Witches' Voice comes a page on Mabon, or autumn equinox. Two Mabon essays are offered here -- both are well written but fairly general so I am not quoting any passages. Connected to the first essay, there are also many links to relevant topics (including great-sounding recipes) -- you might wish to browse among these.http://whisperingworlds.com/wiccan/mabon.php
[Updated 9/16/05]:This page has now changed -- there's a brief Mabon intro of little interest but if you scroll down through the tiny-print index on the left, you'll find an assortment of links on the pagan Wheel of the Year, including three more substantial essays on Mabon. I scanned Peg Aloi's "You Call it the Autumnal Equinox, We Call it Mabon" and found it excellent. Since this site is one of the more stable ones around, I'm not quoting any passages since it's most unlikely it'll ever disappear from the web. I'll leave it to you to explore and enjoy <smile>.
[Added 8/12/11]: From "Whispering Worlds" comes an unusually attractive page with this interesting passage:This Holiday takes its name from the God Mabon. He was called "Mabon, son of Modron," which means "Son, Son of the Mother." He is such an ancient God that most of the stories about him have been lost. All we know is that he was stolen away from his mother when he was only three nights old and imprisoned until he was rescued by King Arthur's companions.
Because Mabon knows what it is like to be imprisoned, he is also the God of freedom. He frees animals from their cages and loosens the bonds of all those unjustly imprisoned. He protects all things wild and free. His totem animals are the owl, blackbird, stag, eagle and salmon.
We honor Mabon when we protect the wild things, animals and when we work for freedom for all people.
NEW WORLD TRADITIONS
(Landscape detail from Sandra Stanton's "Sacred Corn"
on my 2001 Autumn Equinox page)
[Added 15 September 2000; expanded 20 August 2002; link updated 12 August 2011]:This is a lengthy, informative, rich page on Autumn Equinox/Mabon from "Storm Wing." In addition to lore on Mabon and his mother Modron (and Persephone and her mother Demeter), the author gives suggestions for what to gather for your autumn rituals and also offers recipes for Covenstead bread, Salem Witch pudding, Texas-style pecan pie, and blackberry wine (also for incense and potpourri). At the end are several ritual incantations -- my favorite is to the Southwest's Blue Corn Girl (written by Noel-Anne Brennan):http://shelbysstories.com/Stories/bluecorn.html: [9/18/12 -- link is dead but I'm keeping the annotation in casethe link ever resurfaces].Listen,
She is coming,
Blue Corn Girl is coming,
She is coming in the winds,
(Listen, she is coming)
She is coming in the sunlight,
(Blue Corn Girl is coming)
She is coming in the fallen leaves,
She is coming in the dying meadows.
She is coming,
Blue Corn Girl is coming,
(Blue Corn Girl is coming)
She is coming
To see the harvest
(Listen, she is coming)
Of the fruits of the soil
And the fruits of the soul
She is coming,
Blue Corn Girl is coming,
She is coming.
Blue Corn Girl is here.
[Added 12 August 2011]: This is a touching story, "Blue Corn Girl: the Girl Who Ground Herself," from the Huichol people. Here is how it opens:http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/Blue_Corn_Maiden_And_The_Coming_Of_Winter-Hopi.htmlCorn eludes understanding. No one really knows from where it originally came. Geneticists today study it and just recently have learned more about its origin. Because corn is so mysterious, most Native People throughout the Americas have corn stories. Many can be found on the Internet just by creating an internet search using the keywords "corn stories." The following story comes from the People in South Texas in the Trans-Pecos region. They are known as the Huichols....[Hurrah! -- new update 18 September 2012: I just found this lengthy PDF on the Huichols -- near its beginning is the story I read last year.]
An excerpt:...the widow complained to the girl and reprimanded her for her laziness. This deeply hurt the corn-girl, who began to grind corn on the metate. But she was very delicate, because she was corn. And thus her hands melted away and the cornmeal was stained with blood.....
[Added 18 September 2012]: The Hopi have another version of Blue Corn Girl. The focus is on her Persephone/Hades/Demeter-like relationship with the Spirits of Winter and Summer. An excerpt:http://ncnatural.com/wildflwr/fall/folklore.html...One cold winter day, Blue Corn Maiden went out to gather firewood. This was something she would not normally do. While she was out of her adobe house, she saw Winter Katsina. Winter Katsina is the spirit who brings the winter to the earth. He wore his blue and-white mask and blew cold wind with his breath. But when Winter Katsina saw Blue Corn Maiden, he loved her at once....
[Added 15 September 2000]: This is "North Carolina Traditional Weather Lore," a brief page offering an engaging Native American (Cherokee) tale that explains why some animals like the panther and owl can see in the dark, and why some plants and trees stay green through the winter. There's also a good collection of North Carolina folk sayings about autumn and early winter.http://www.turtletrack.org/Issues00/Co12302000/CO_12302000_Dance_Buffalo.htm
Pueblo Harvest Dance
From Canku Ota (artist unknown: see directly below --used with permission)
[Added 18 August 2001]:This is a page from the award-winning Canku Ota ("Many Paths"), a thoughtful, beautifully presented e-zine on North American Native traditions, past and current. This particular page, "Dances with Buffaloes" by Suzanne Ruta, looks at buffalo, corn and rain dances among the Pueblo peoples of the southwestern United States. It begins with the Christmas season but then compares the dramatic winter dances with the quieter rain and corn dances of summer and autumn. The lively essay is well written and beautifully illustrated (see above for one illustration).http://www.santaana.org/calendar.htm#August
Note: Canku Ota's site is huge and designed for all age groups, with special sections for children. To explore further, here is the Home Page: http://www.turtletrack.org/index.html
[Added 18 August 2001]:For those fortunate enough to be able to attend the harvest dances in the southwestern United States, I'm adding a handful of links with further information. For those, like me, living too far away to attend, we can dream <smile>. The above is a no frills page from the Pueblo of Santa Ana on dances in Central New Mexico:http://www.guestlife.com/media/GuestLife/New-Mexico/Annual-2011/NM11-Where-the-Pueblos-Are/index.phpThere are eighteen Pueblos in addition to Santa Ana within the state of New Mexico. Visitors are usually welcome during annual events and feast days. Easy to reach -- especially in the Albuquerque area, between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and between Albuquerque and Grants, New Mexico....The link will take you to August through the rest of the year; scroll to the top for earlier months.
[Added 18 August 2001]:.. From Guest Life: New Mexico comes another Pueblo events calendar, similar to the above but with telephone contacts to specific pueblos -- since dates for these dances can change at a moment's notice, these contacts are especially valuable.http://www.guestlife.com/media/GuestLife/New-Mexico/Annual-2011/NM11-Celebrating-the-Pueblos/index.php"Where the Pueblos Are": The following list of the 19 Pueblos includes their main tribal administration telephone numbers. Always call before visiting to make sure the pueblo is open to the public that day and to clarify rules about photography and other sensitive issues. Feast Days are listed depending on the tribes’ wishes. For more information, visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center website at www.indianpueblo.org.
[Added 18 September 2011]: Again from Guest Life comes "Celebrating the Pueblos," a look at New Mexico's 19 Pueblos as well as the mixed role of the invading, often brutal Spaniards:http://www.newmexico.org/native-american/: [updated 9/18/12 & last year on the same date, 9/18/11 -- the new page now offers site-by-siteOften grouped as “Pueblo Indians,” each tribe observes a different language, spiritual path, and customs. Today’s 19 pueblos share an ancestry that reaches into prehistoric cliff dwellings and mud-and-stone cities amid the deserts of the Four Corners region. As time passed, the people migrated southeast and settled mostly along the fertile Río Grande. Spanish conquistadors encountered these villages during forays into what were in 1540 considered the unknown northern territories of New Spain. The word “pueblo” is Spanish for village.
Today, the Pueblo Indian tribes take pride in being able to live in their ancestral homeland; they have remained in virtually the same places the Spanish rode their horses into decades before Plymouth Rock. However, this relationship had conflicts. The Pueblo people were forced into slavery. The Spanish took their stockpiles for their own use, leaving the Pueblos to suffer through winters with little food. The Spanish colonists also brought with them Catholic priests who saw the Native population as ripe for conversion to Christianity. One of the methods used was to characterize Native religion as pagan and their religious objects as evidence of idolatry. Using Spanish military, some enforced these ideas by burning kivas (chambers for Native rituals) and punishing Native religious leaders. Indian religion was under siege and forced underground....
[Added 24 August 2006]:This site looks at the 19 pueblos of New Mexico as well as the Navajo and Apache peoples. There is a full listing of events, autumn and otherwise, at the pueblos and tribal reservations. Here is a passage from 2006's opening page:...Pueblo Feast Days celebrate the Pueblos' traditional religious calendar and consist of religious dances that personify animals, nature and agricultural cycles to ensure the continuation of life. They sometimes include footraces, processions and arts and crafts sales. Due to centuries of European contact, many Feast Days coincide with days honoring the patron saints of Pueblo Catholic Churches. Most Feast Days are open to the public. Each of the 19 Pueblos is a sovereign nation, and some are more open to tourists than others....
[21 September 2007: dead link, hopefully being repaired; I'm keeping my annotation below.
18 September 2011: Hurrah! a more sophisticated series of pages now has taken the place of the old one.]
[Added 24 August 2006/updated 18 September 2011]: Here you'll find good individual historical data and photos for each of the 19 Pueblos as well as a page on appropriate etiquette for visitors to these unique and sensitive areas. There's also a link to the Feast Days of the Catholic patron saints of each Pueblo, listed month by month, the majority falling during the autumn-winter harvest season. The Museum page has some lovely features, including videos. Under Murals you'll find stunning contemporary art based on ancient themes (see above). Here is what the site says about the above mural:http://web.archive.org/web/20050405070749/http://www.nmhotels.com/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=4This mural is a simple and dramatic expression of the Pueblo peoples' gratitude to the deer, traditionally an important element of their diet. However, we have an interesting reversal of the usual roles, for here we have the maiden feeding the deer, instead of the usual situation in which the deer would serve as food for the maiden. The maiden's basket contains the other all-important staple of Pueblo life, the revered corn....
[Added 22 September 2001 and updated 21 August 2004]: This excellent page gives brief but intriguing histories of 17 of the region's pueblos plus 2 Apache reservations. It's sponsored by the New Mexico Lodging Association and includes useful phone numbers for each group. Here's an excerpt from the opening:http://www.collectorsguide.com/nm/nmfa03.htmlOf New Mexico's two American Indian groups, the Pueblo Indians can trace their evolution from a prehistory among pit houses and cliff dwellings to stable village life. Many of the pit houses and cliff dwellings can be seen today. The other group, the Athapascans, which include Apaches and Navajo, arrived later - just a couple of hundred years before Europeans....
[Added 18 August 2001]: Another no frills New Mexico events calendar, with brief etiquette data about visiting a pueblo, telephone contacts, and brief travel instructions for reaching each village.http://www.roughguides.com/travel/north-america/usa/the-southwest/new-mexico/taos/taos-pueblo.aspx
[Added 18 August 2001]:This is a brief page from Rough Guides on Taos Pueblo in New Mexico.http://www.taospueblo.com/events: [Updated 9/18/12]
It looks at:...the Feast of San Gerónimo at the end of September, when hundreds and even thousands of outsiders flock to join the general revelry....Nearby is a thriving casino -- about this, I love the dry wit of this elder:As one unapologetic elder remarked, “poverty was never a part of pueblo life until the Europeans came.”[Revised 24 August 2006]: I have to say that this Rough Guides' site's navigation is impossibly clumsy and there's no way to save a specific frame-trapped page. "Rough" Guides indeed!! Why must they make it so difficult?! Anyway, here is the page's rewritten data -- since it's a real pain to find, I'm quoting the relevant portion in full, especially for non-American visitors to this page (and for certain Americans who are blind to the fact that maybe they are the "illegal immigrants" here):Settled in turn by Native Americans, Spaniards, Mexicans and Yankees, NEW MEXICO is among the most ethnically and culturally diverse of all the states in the US. Each successive group has built upon the legacy of its predecessors; their various histories and achievements are closely intertwined, and in some ways the late-coming white Americans from the north and east have had comparatively little impact. Signs of the region's rich heritage are everywhere, from ancient pictographs and cliff dwellings to the design of the state's license plates, taken from a Zia Indian symbol for the sun – the one near-constant fact of life in this arid land.
New Mexico's indigenous peoples – especially the Pueblo Indians, as the name suggests clear descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans – provide a sense of cultural continuity. Despite the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, which forced a temporary Spanish withdrawal into Mexico, the missionary endeavor here was in general less brutal than elsewhere. The proselytizing padres eventually co-opted the natives without destroying their traditional ways of life, as local deities and celebrations were incorporated into Catholic practice. Somewhat bizarrely to outsiders, grand churches still stand at the center of many Pueblo settlements, often adjacent to the underground ceremonial chambers known as kivas, and almost always built in the local adobe style.
The Americans who took over from the Mexicans in 1848 saw New Mexico as a useless wasteland. But for a few mining booms and range wars – such as the Lincoln County War, which brought Billy the Kid to fame – New Mexico was left relatively undisturbed until it finally became a state in 1912. During World War II, it was the base of operations for the top-secret Manhattan Project, which built and detonated the first atomic bomb, and since then it has been home to America's premier weapons research outposts. By and large, people here work close to the land – mining, farming and ranching – with tourism increasingly underpinning the economy.
Northern New Mexico centers on the magnificent landscapes of the Rio Grande Valley, which contains its two finest cities: Santa Fe, the adobe-fronted capital, and the artists' colony and winter resort of Taos, with its nearby pueblo. More than a dozen Pueblo villages can be found in the mountainous area between the two, while to the west lie the evocative ancient ruins at Bandelier and Puyé....
[Added 24 August 2006]: For those seeking info on the calendar of autumn rituals and celebrations at Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, this site will give you the correct dates but, unfortunately, little else (see earlier links on my page for more data).http://www.ladybridget.com/r/sepi001.html
[Added 8/22/02; annotated 8/21/04]:...This is a nice introduction to Mabon from Lady Bridget. She looks at European traditions but touches on the origins of America's Thanksgiving as well:...The reasons the American Thanksgiving is so late in November are twofold: firstly, the Pilgrim's were ignorant of the growing season and had the Indians not gone and brought in the harvest, they all would have died during that first bitter winter; secondly, the United States government changed the date of Thanksgiving to always be the fourth Thursday of the month, so that more shopping days could be added for Christmas shopping, thus improving our economy at that time. (But that's another story for another holiday!)...She also looks at the autumn season's "Wine Moon":...The Harvest Moon was also referred to as the Wine Moon, because the grapes also ripen now in the wine making countries. The first wine dieties were female, and wine is one of the oldest libations known to us; it symbolizes the blood of the Sacrificed God in many religions....
Woman and Windblown Leaves
(Artist and Source Unknown)
This is "The Elders Speak: About Autumn," a page of wonderfully chosen, evocative, cross-cultural quotes about the fall season. The page comes from the "Weather Doctor," Dr. Keith Heidorn, whose entire website on all aspects of weather (from science to philosophy to art) is a richly mulled pleasure where I love to browse. Here is one selection from this page:http://www.egreenway.com/months/monsep.htmThe wind that makes music in November corn is in a hurry. The stalks hum, the loose husks whisk skyward in half-playing swirls, and the wind hurries on.... A tree tries to argue, bare limbs waving, but there is no detaining the wind. [Aldo Leopold]Note: from this page, you can get to his home page and from there to his no-frames site map, or click here for a direct link: http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/general/site_map.htm
[Added 8/21/04]:...This is another page of autumn quotes with excellent selections. This one caught my eye tonight:http://www.egreenway.com/druids/st8p.htm#GeneralBut now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness. The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head ... The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on.[Robert Finch]
[Added 12 August 2011]: This page offers a great many links, poetry, sayings, and art from many sources (including my own opening poem for Autumn). It's not that well organized but is a good place for browsing. Here's a passage from one of my favorite poets, Rainer Maria Rilke:http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/sept.html: [Updated 18 September 2011: Web Archive link is no longer needed since the original link for September 2007 has now been restored with still-working links to all topics mentioned below.]Lord, it is time. The summer was very big. Lay thy shadow on the sundials, and on the meadows let the winds go loose. Command the last fruits that they shall be full; give them another two more southerly days, press them on to fulfillment and drive the last sweetness into the heavenly wine.
[Annotation revised 8/16/01]: I first grokked Waverly Fitzgerald's School of the Seasons for my 1999 debut of the Autumn Equinox page. Since then, her jewel of a site has become a favorite of mine and appears on all my seasonal pages. The overall design is unusually tasteful and elegant. Even more important, Fitzgerald has well-researched content on monthly celebrations, feasts, and cross-cultural holy days (with hypertext links to further information on many of these). Her opening page also includes fascinating "Special Features" for each season. Fitzgerald's command of lore is exceptional.
For each current month, she begins with a large number of names from various cross-cultural traditions. Then a calendar follows. If you click on hyperlinks for a particular day, you'll be linked to more detail on another page. The September feasts, for example, include the Nativity of the Virgin on the 8th; Rosh Hashana; England's Day of the Holy Nut; the remembrance of the Virgin's Seven Sorrows; the God Pan; Yom Kippur; Autumn Equinox; the 9-day Eleusinian Mysteries; the Harvest Moon; Sukkoth; the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival; and Michaelmas on the 29th. A new month's calendar appears on the first of each month (sometimes a night or two beforehand).
18 September 2009 update: NOTE from Waverly's website:We are no longer updating the calendars on this website anymore. We will soon convert them so a permanent list will stay up for each month, and there will be a separate list for each year's moving holidays....Go to the link for further information -- her valuable data will still be available, but in a form that she will not have to keep updating on a monthly basis. It's a wise move -- I can't imagine how she's managed to stay on top of monthly changes for so many years and yet managed to have a life at the same time! <smile>
http://www.history.com/topics/halloween[Link updated 9/19/10]
& OTHER THINGS
A pumpkin with a shimmering aura
(Used with the kind permission of the Salem Tarot Page --
check their well-done 3-card tarot reading)
[Added 8/21/04]:...TThis is "The Great Pumpkin" page from the History Channel. An Irish legend of Stingy Jack and the Devil, which accounts for the origin of the Jack O' Lantern, is especially evocative and well done -- don't miss it! There is also some factual information about pumpkins themselves -- for example:http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/pumpkins/...Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron....
[Added 8/21/04]:...From the University of Illinois Extension comes "Pumpkins and More," a home page with links to their following categories:http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/pumpkins/history.htmlHistory | Varieties | Nutrition | Recipes | Education | Pumpkin Farms
Facts | Growing | Selection & Uses | Q&A | Fun | Festivals | Halloween Links
[Added 8/21/04]:...From the above University of Illinois homepage is this direct link to the history and lore of pumpkins. The History Channel webpage (see above) is used as a major source but this site also offers its own data. It opens with these interesting facts:http://www.outlook.umd.edu/article.cfm?id=275:[Updated 17 August 2006; updated again 9/21/07]References to pumpkins date back many centuries. The name pumpkin originated from the Greek word for "large melon" which is "pepon." "Pepon" was nasalized by the French into "pompon." The English changed "pompon" to "Pumpion." Shakespeare referred to the "pumpion" in his Merry Wives of Windsor. American colonists changed "pumpion" into "pumpkin." The "pumpkin" is referred to in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater and Cinderella....
[Added 8/21/04]:...This is a short essay by Cynthia Owens for the University of Maryland on the lore and history of pumpkins. For example:http://42explore.com/pumpkins.htm...Some people might be surprised to learn there are more than 50 varieties of pumpkin. The three main types are true squash, moschata and the true pumpkin....
[Added 8/21/04]:..This is a fabulous page for children with great links to a zillion educational, arts and crafts, and botanical activities involving pumpkins. From the opening statement on the short-lived flowers:http://www.quinion.com/words/articles/cider.htm...These yellow male and female flowers open for one day. More pumpkin blossoms are male than female. Male blossoms have pollen that is transferred to the female flowers by bees. Only pollinated female blossoms develop into pumpkins. Therefore, few of the pumpkin flowers actually produce a pumpkin....
From England's erudite Michael B. Quinion comes "CIDER INSIGHT: The jargon of an ancient craft," on autumn cider-making in southern England. Excerpts [added 18 September 2009]:http://www.quinion.com/words/articles/turkey.htmAt one time, the craft of cidermaking was widespread in the southern part of Britain, but only in the western counties did it form an integral part of the farming year. The apple harvest in late Autumn and the pressing of the juice was one of the fixed points in the farming calendar. The slow fermentation of the cider in wooden casks in barns and cellars made it ready for drinking at the thirsty times of haymaking and harvest the following year....
...Farmers used any wooden casks they could get hold of, though West Indian puncheons that had previously held rum were especially prized because of the flavour they gave the cider....
. . . . Yet another autumn-related essay from Michael B. Quinion is his engaging "TALKING TURKEY: Names for a much-travelled bird." [Note: a much longer entry on Quinion and his word-loving work is on my Samhain page -- see below for link.]2007: 25 August 2007, archived last year's page today and wrote brief intro, but I'm keeping last year's message.
and the soul-feasts of November:
I have created 2 separate pages for these at:
El Dia de Los Muertos
[Day of the Dead]
Other Related Pages from
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2011)
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2010)
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2009)
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2008)
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2007)
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2006)
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2005)
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2004)
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2003)
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2002)
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2001)
To Archived Autumn Greetings & Lore (2000)
To Archived Autumn Equinox/Mabon Greetings(1999)
To August's Lammas page
To Current Summer Solstice / Summer Greetings & Lore
To Eastern & Western Europe: Earth-Based Ways (Wicca)
To the Wheel of the Year
To the Crone Papers
To Indigenous Peoples of the American Southwest
To Common Themes: WEATHER-WORKING: Introduction
(An experimental on-going ritual in cyberspace)
To Common Themes: Sacred Foods
To Latin America: The Lore and History of Maize
To Common Themes: The Green Man page
Please do not link directly to my images for your own web pages -- save the images you like to your own files instead. Otherwise you are stealing from graphics-rich sites like mine. Since that means I have to pay for each download if my own quota is exceeded each month, I may have to shut down these pages. Thank you.
Note: my complete Site Map and e-mail address are on my Home Page.
Text and layout © 1999-2011 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
[For earlier logs, see archived pages.]
A few days later: updated dates & times for 2007; links updates are pending.
21 September 2007: updated broken links & "rescued" Lance's essay, thanks to my industrious links-Elf, Michaela.
2008: Late 10 September 2008: updated opening dates for this page.
19 September 2008: updated broken links, thanks to Michaela, my links-elf.
2009: 15 September revised and finished draft I started last year on "Autumn Enlightment" but never used. Still have to update a few broken links Michaela found in the Old World section.
18 September 2009: removed Hungarian music link -- this webpage is now just too long and the music gets distracting -- it also stutters at times, which is even more distracting, but it's on all my earlier autumn pages in case anyone still wants to hear it. Updated broken links, inconsistent font colors, and Nedstat/Motigo.
2010: 19 September 2010, 2:15am, archived the 2009 page and began updating 2010. Made a few minor changes to the opening essay. Revised and re-arranged all dates for 2010. Michaela says most links are fine but there are 6 (5 from the defunct Geocities) that need updating and a few new ones to add, time permitting.
19 September 2010, 6pm-ish: updated all but one of the defunct Geocities sites plus a non-Geocities link on pumpkins.
Since I might not have time to finish the rest, I put "live" links at bottom of this page for those seeking them.
2011: 12 August 2011, 12:15 am-4:15am EDT: updated dates and times for 2011. Also reorganized categories & added 5 link-changes from 2010 that I never had time for last year. I'll update any currently broken links when Michaela. my Links-Elf, sends corrections next month.
18 September 2011, 5:10am EDT -- most links on this page are fine, except for many long-broken New Mexico/Pueblo links. I've been trying to update them for the past 6 or 7 hours tonight! Even with updated URLs from Michaela, many new links refuse to load on Netscape 4.7 so I have to keep toggling back and forth to Firefox, which often crashes one or the other. VERY tedious, time-consuming and frustrating. How I wish those darn webmasters in New Mexico would recognize how tiresome it is for other webmasters to have to keep updating their broken URLs! :-( They can change their text and art all they wish but their constant tinkering with URLs is maddening. I still have 3 more to sort out but it's nearly dawn and I need some sleep. If I didn't care so much about the indigenous peoples of the SW, I'd honestly delete that whole section. ::sigh::
Still 9/18/11 but now it's 10:45pm EDT & updates on the final 3 broken links are now complete.
9/19/11: added lovely "Indian Maiden Feeding Deer" mural.
2012: updated this page for 2012 & archived last year's page. My Links-Elf found 4 broken links, which have now been fixed.