by Vivienne West
The Autumn Equinox came early this year: the twentieth to twenty-
first of March. the equinoxes are a time of great power, probably
even greater power than the solstices which many magicians seem to
value more highly. They look to the Winter Solstice as a celebrat-
ion of the Dark-faced gods, of cold and night and the powers they
have. They look to the Summer Solstice as a celebration of fire and
light, and worship solar deities and those to do with fire.
But I look to the equinoxes as much as to these other, less ambi-
valent festivals, for perfectly good reasons of my own. Sure,
Winter and Summer solstices both as celebrations and as seasonal
events in the environment, do emphasise particular magico-natural
conditions and qualities. But what people fail to realise is that
either of the equinoxes, in addition to being a celebration of
growth (Spring) and ageing (Autumn), are both a celebration of
perfect balance, perfect equilibrium.
The days and the nights of the equinoxes are of exactly the same
length: Planet Earth has a particular angle and relationship to the
sun that it will not and can not have for another six months, and
in temperate climes the weather is neither unforgivingly hot nor
unforgivingly cold. Life is either winding up for the summer by
putting out tender growth before the weather becomes too warm, or
winding down for the winter by seeding, dropping vulerable leaf-
surfaces, and preparing for a period of dormancy against the cold.
In both cases nature is in the process of doing something, not at
the extreme of having done it.
Today, midway between my working day and my private night, I walked
home at sunset. Even in our age of rock'n'roll and fast food and
anaesthetising televisual soapies, something in modern, civilised
man, recalls our magico-religious past and our awe of the seasons.
On any Friday (which it is) I can expect to see evidence of perhaps
one party, perhaps none, on my street. Tonight, the night of the
equinox and a night of a just-past-full moon with lunar energy
still very high, I counted no less than five parties-in-preparat-
ion, three of them in full swing already, so early in the evening.
All five of them had the sounds of bass guitars and pounding drums
echoing the less electric but equally hypnotic rhythms of the anc-
ient Shamans' drums. And of those parties, two of them had their
lit windows covered with red or vivid orange cellophane, colours
that celebrate the sun on this solar festival!
I was greatly amused, both at their instinctual behaviour that they
could probably have rationalised ("It's so-and-so's birthday",
"We've just moved in, and this was the first convenient weekend"),
and at a little idea of my own. I wonder how they would have react-
ed if I had knocked on the front door, introduced myself politely
as their friendly, neighbourhood witch, and congratulated them on
upholding ancient witchcraft customs!