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Autumn equinox and modern sacrifice

Archangel Michael Weighing a Soul
Artist: Lucas Cranach the Elder, image from the National Gallery of Art Collection

Let's say we celebrate the Autumn Equinox for a convenient shorthand. Everyone has an equinox around this time of year, and we’re on the side that gets autumn. While the seasons are expressed differently between Golden Apple East and West, the need to harvest and leaves changing color happen with some degree of consistency in both places.

Autumn in Medieval Europe heralded the harvest - and a time of accounting. Rents got paid. People who lived out in the country moved into the city as a way to survive harsh winters. People preserved and prepared as best they could, and many vegetables were pickled.

The harvest time was meant not just refilling the household resources. Still, over time, it came as a call to ensure all community members had access to food. It’s a healthy tradition that crosses subculture lines and includes all the neighbors. It can come with an element of sacrifice to it. This is why Pagan Pride International requires a food drive for all the communities that host one. In Michigan, food shelves are almost universally struggling to meet community needs. Kalamazoo doesn't have a Pagan Pride organization, but a food shelf branch called Pagans in Need. People can donate to it, and if anyone needs assistance, they need to submit their information and then come by on distribution day for a grocery bag or two loaded with about a month's worth of food.

What's discussed less is that Autumn Equinox is also a time of accounting. Way back when, that meant re-negotiating rent, signing new leases, and providing for grain stores. While college students especially may see September rent negotiations, those of us past college age see the autumn accounting happen as we figure out what expenses lie behind the holidays and what may happen to cash flow as the season and school start then careen into work schedules. In September, we need to plan. Planning means knowing where our money is, where it has to go, and what opportunities may arise as the holidays, school schedules, and meetings resume after a summer of stretched-out relaxation.

So when looking at Autumn Equinox, we look at more than just "Oh, fall is pretty! Let me invoke a pumpkin spice latte!" (We love and invoke them, too; we're just saying there's a lot more.) We're also invoking the Time of Getting Serious, Being ProActive, and Maybe Learning Stuff We Try to Avoid. Sacrifice is part of the holiday - sometimes, that involves giving up a physical thing you don't want to give up. Sometimes, it's giving up time for something serious when you'd rather be having fun!

In Diana's case, her sacrificial energy is learning about finance - REALLY learning it, and she's finding it to be something of an occult tradition in and of itself. Doing so is uncomfortable and emotional. It's driving home why so much money magick fails, but manifestation magick works. She's offsetting that by embracing the simple pleasures where she can, whether food, a good conversation with a stranger, or watching the sunset and the moon rise.

You are all reading this; you're our community members. Some of you are doing great. Others are struggling. We aren't here to tell you that you deserve more help than the other. Maybe you're stuck for ideas of what to cook. Maybe you can't cook. Maybe you don't have the energy to celebrate a darn thing. Maybe you are experiencing food scarcity and food insecurity. Maybe Sabbats make you feel lonely because you haven't found the right spiritual community yet.

And we know that you can't be proactive about everything.

But we can always point you to some resources or maybe even throw you a few.

After all, everyone here has a little of Morticia's conflict in them. (dark hordes)

So while you're thinking through how you want to celebrate - and here, celebrating by waiting for the Great Pumpkin in a pumpkin patch with a cup of cider is just as legitimate as organizing a food drive - allow us to present a few questions to help you see where you want your energy to go.

A few questions for your journals, books of shadows and grimoires
  1. Is it Mabon to you, or is it Autumn Equinox? Is the distinction important? Why?

  2. How much energy do you have? Is there anything coming up that will wear you out before the Sabbat? What can you do to ensure adequate rest?

  3. What's more feasible: carryout, cooking, or just not celebrating? All are legitimate.

  4. Look over your calendars, tasks, and work schedules. What are your "no" items for the month, and what are your "F - yes" items?

  5. What are you judging yourself for? Set that aside, please.

Happy Autumn, Happy Spring, You're Golden.

Suppose you'd like to ask deeper questions. In that case, we invite you to subscribe to our newsletter or join us Under the Golden Apple Tree on Facebook!

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