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!