Equinox means “equal night” and this happens because the sun is positioned above the equator and at this time of the year – day and night are about equal in length all over the world. This also happens at the Spring Equinox. The Autumn Equinox is sometimes referred to as the Fall Equinox – Fall means ‘leaf fall’ so together the Fall Equinox means “Leaf Fall Equal Night and Day”. This is the start of the dark half of the Astrological year when the Sun enters the Sign of the Scales (Libra). The famous Egyptian priests built their Great Sphinx to point directly toward the rising Sun on this day every year.
The Autumn Equinox is also called: Fall, Mabon, Michaelmas, Labour Day, Alban Elfed, the Cornucopia, Feast of Avilon, Festival of Dionysus, Night of the Hunter, Second Harvest, Wine Harvest, the Witch’s Thanksgiving. To Celtic Druids – this is the Second Harvest, when the ripe Acorns fall from the wild Irish Oaks and we plant them in fertile soil, it is the time when day and night are equal in length and this happens when the Sun is at 0* of Libra. The “Harvest Moon” was so-called in the past because night harvests were possible by the light on the Full Moon nearest to the Autumn / Fall Equinox. There are many traditions about the cutting of the last sheaf of wheat at the end of the harvest and that a young Maiden cuts this.
There is a distinct relationship between the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas, the feast of the Archangel Michael. This Archangel is the sword or spear wielding dragon slayer and his day is held on the 29th of September each year, this is one week after the Sidereal Equinox actually occurs. The new religion of the Catholic Church absorbed the existing traditions and their symbols. Archangel Michael replaced the Pagan God of Wotan in upper Europe, the temples of Wotan were on hilltops and there are churches on many of these hilltops today. There is a major earth energy line across northern France, southern England and the southwest of Ireland that is known today as the Michael and Mary Line and in Ireland off the coast of Kerry is the island hilltop temple called Skellig Michael or the Rock of Michael. The dragon being pinned by the spear / sword is the Earth Energy currents.
In Ireland, the Autumn Equinox was celebrated long before the arrival of the Celtic tribes. The best known of the ancient Irish equinox temples is Knowth, which is near to Newgrange (Brú na Boinne). Knowth has a 100-foot long passage that accepts the Sun on the morning of the Spring and Autumn Equinox. A second and older stone cairn equinox temple is found at Longhcrew and is given the name Cairn T. Both Knowth and Cairn T allow a sunbeam on the morning of the Spring and Autumn Equinox to enter a passageway to light upon the sacred geometry on a back stone inside the temple. This is precise timing from a period of over 6 thousands years ago and it still works today. Druidschool has also discovered two ancient temples that were used to honour the two Equinoxes – More on this later in this essay.
The Mayans of Central American have also honoured the Equinox. For ten centuries they have held their unique celebration using their ancient knowledge of the Sunbeam. El Castillo is the name of their great pyramid of the Equinox and as the sunsets on its western face light and dark compliment each other creating a very special pattern of a diamond backed snake descending the pyramid. This solar magic has always been known as the “The Return of the Sun Serpent”.
The timing for the celebration of the Autumn Equinox as given in Irelands Druidschool is explained in depth at Celtic Druid’s Calendar In its most basic – there were no clocks, no calendars and the passage of time was measured in Ireland by the penetration of a sunbeam into designed passages in stone cairns to exactly light up a section of a stone with carvings upon it. This happens even today so the ancestral calendar is still accurate. The same solar alignment that determines the correct time for Autumn Equinox is also the exact same alignment for the Spring Equinox. This means if you were to stand outside of Cairn ‘T’ at Sliabh na Callighe or at Knowth and look 88* east of north you would see the sun rise to shine in through the passage on the Spring and Autumn Equinox.
But there is another important Spring and Autumn Equinox alignment over the Lambay Volcano to two hilltops called Summerhill and Knockastia. Summerhill is a small village in County Meath with only the remains of a temple on its highest hilltop. Knockastia is a volcanic outcrop just south of Uisneach – often referred to as the navel of Ireland. Just like Tlachtga in its relationship to Tara – we have a similar magically located temple on Knockastia serving the Royal site of Uisneach.
This is one of Eightfolds of the Solar Year of the Tuatha De Danann and the two Equinoxes share the same alignment to Summerhill and Knockastia, Samhain and Imbolg share the same alignment to Sliabh na Callighe, Beltine and Lughnasa share the same alignment to Cnoc Lugh, the Summer Solstice has its own alignment to the Hill of the Fair Gods and the Winter Solstice has its own alignment to Brú na Boinne or Newgrange. All these alignments for the Eightfold Solar year have the fulcrum or pivotal point of the leaking energies from the volcano being wrapped back into the solar wind. This is earth magnetism and landscape healing at an extraordinary level.
This knowledge was lost or so it seemed but the Gods and Goddesses and the Guardians of the sacred temples await true seekers with whom they share freely.