Autumn Equinox has always been one of my favourite seasonal celebrations, marking as it does the start of my favourite season, a time of blustery days and still-warm sun, of golden leaves and crunchy woodland walks.
This year, my local village green held an Equinox Labyrinth, an interactive art installation by Kay Barett, of Kay’s Pathway. The Labyrinth was marked out in birdseed (so it would be eaten by wildlife once used) on the grass, in a Celtic spiral and after dark, was illuminated by dozens of candles in glass jars to mark the path. Visitors took a conker (horse chestnut) from a pile outside the Labyrinth and walked the path to the centre, to lay it down in the middle, forming a “conker cairn”.
The night was calm and clear, and the candles on the Labyrinth emulated the stars overhead, and the whole experience was very peaceful and beautiful. I saw the conker as an offering to Nerthus, the Earth Mother, and I briefly knelt and touched the Earth as I lay it down on the central cairn.
The Labyrinth seemed to bring a lot of people from the village together, from older folks slowly walking the path deep in thought, to young kids running in circles.
Once my wife and I returned home, it was time for an ADF druid ritual for the Equinox. I used the Core Order of Ritual to create a short, stripped-back ritual outline suitable for a home shrine rite. Keeping to the Norse hearth culture, I honoured Nerthus, the Earth Mother and Njord, the god of the sea and shore. Njord was chosen because in traditional British druidry, the Autumn Equinox is known as Alban Elued, the Light of the Shore, and is seen as a liminal time, so celebrating both Earth and Sea, personified as the (possible) siblings Njord and Nerthus, seemed to fit well. Offerings were made of honey ale and seasonal apples.