Equinox is a term at times when day and night are the same. Then the earth's axis is perpendicular to the sun and the equator. It therefore takes twelve hours from sunrise to sunset in the northern hemisphere. The rotational axis of the globe, which gives a heliocentric view of the seasons, was therefore an important marker for our ancestors.
In today's Gregorian calendar, the autumn equinox falls on 22-23. September. In our ancestors' original calendar, the autumn equinox falls in the month of þrýmheimr ("noisy world") - home to the goddess Skade (Damage). The month is also called Tvímánað or Kornskurðarmánaðr (the “two” or “twin” month). The zodiac sign is Mær (Virgin). Present time period is August 23 to September 24. Thus, the autumnal equinox fell roughly at the turn of the month between Tvímánaðr/ Kornskurðarmánaðr and the month Haustmyrkr, Haustmánaðr (autumn month), with the zodiac sign Vekti (weight). Present time period is September 24 to October 22.
The godess Skade
The goddess is therefore associated with the time of the autumn equinox. Skade is, as is known, the very goddess of Scandinavia itself (of Norse Skadinaujo, meaning: Skadi´s islands). She is a mythological “Gygre”. The name's meaning is "harm / damage" and as before mentioned, she is the goddess of rivers, streams, rain, and the moon. Skade is the ski goddess, and her male, masculine equivalence is the ski god Ull. Skade is married to Njord - her counterpart, the god of time and the sea. She is the daughter of the murdered Ettin Thjatzi (Tjatse) which means "noise". He was a mythological water giant (Ettin). Ettins represent and personifie wild forces of nature and origin, and Tjatse represents the wild and violent force of the water, while his daughter Skade represents the moon's impact on tides, the rain's impact on rivers and watercources in more "controlled" forms. In nature thus father and daughter form a whole of the forces - Father: chaos (Ettins). Daughter: order (the gods).
«Trymheim it is named,
where Tjatse lived,
the mighty Ettin;
But now Skade builds
safe brigdes of Gods
on her fathers ancient ruins”
Skade´s mythological marriage with Njord ended in divorce - just as the sea is separated from rivers and streams, like mountains and fjords - land and sea. But, even after the divorce, the moon (Skade) has a not insignificant influence over the sea (Njord). They are divorced, yet bound forever. In nature, the moon controls the ocean with its gravitational forces, floods and tides.
Countless names in Norway originate from Skade, some examples of which are Skåbu, Skadevid, Skadekunda, Skee, Skea, Skodje, Skadaland, Skidar, Skien, Ski and countless others. Many places are named after her masculine counterpart Ull, such as Ullensaker, etc. Throughout Scandinavia, there were thus cult sites for her.
Njord longing for the sea. By W. G. Collingwood 1908.
Autumn equinox was not only cosmologically and symbolically important according to the science of gods, but also important in practical terms - all harvesting ends at this time. The crop is no longer growing. Preparations were made for the rituals held around Hâlogiaptann (Halloween), where the young tribe members collected the mistletoe around the equinox. As previously mentioned, the mistletoe is essential in our mythology, and plays a very central and symbolic role in the times from sun´s fall to winter solstice. As mentioned, the mistletoe is evergreen, and represents the very sun, light and the god Balder - who personify the light and sun in mythology and in our nature. The children who collected the mistletoe were the young who were to be symbolically reborn as their ancestors. The symbolic rebirth in the kin was considered to occur at the time when the child´s teeth were lost around 7-8 years old, following rituals from late autumn to winter solstice (Jól).
Mythologically and symbolically, the autumn equinox meant that winter was resurrected. These are called "winter spirits" (they represent winter). The winter spirits are personified in mythology as the animals and creatures that the gods fight at Ragnarok. As we know from mythology, the winter spirits will both bite the hand of Vidar (bravery, the vengeance, the god of the forest and Odin's son) and again kill Balder (the light, the sun and the heat) - just as winter in nature will resurface and do the same in real life - in our Nordic nature.
In the same way as the traditions around the spring equinox, it was customary to fast from meat from the autumn equinox to the time around October 7, which our ancestors called Vetranótskeið (meaning: “winter night ship”). Vetranótskeið is the symbolic death of Balder (when the light is “buried”), which is personified in the myths of Balder's dreams and death. This happens on the first Sunday (Sunnadagr, Balders day), after the first full moon, after the autumn equinox.
Our ancestors often held games and plays during the pagan festivals, which recounted the relevant myths that personify the particular season. There is every reason to believe that they marked the important event of Balder's death, which the myths tell began as a merry game on the mound of the gods in Åsgard, when there was still harmony and order. No weapons could hurt Balder, and everyone had fun throwing, chopping and shooting all kinds of weapons at him - but Loke, as known as Hod (of Norse Höðr, meaning the blind (hooded one)), ventured to shoot Balder with an arrow of mistletoe. This growth was the only one that had not sworn not to harm Balder, thanks to Loke. Practically this is logical. Mistletoe and Balder personify and are the same.
Hod represents Odin's counterpart, and the blind eye of the spirit. Loke is a duality of its own, and is a constant in mythology as the transformative power that always gives a shift. This myth and this murder personify that winter is now killing summer. The myths further state that the gods try to tame the winter spirits, in an attempt to avoid the inevitable evolution. Vidar steps in as a hostage and has to place his hand in Fenris's mouth. No one can fight against nature and time. Winter is never thamed. Vidar loses his hand, but as Odin's son he avenges - and after Ragnarok (the cycle), light, sun and order arise. Everything is reincarnated.
The death of Balder. By Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1817).
At autumn equinox, the bear gathers moss for the winter layer / cave, and was marked by our ancestors. A practical preparation was to collect leaves for animal winterfeed. This is also found on Primstaven. As the bear begins her preparation for the winter layer / cave, our ancestors did the same - and our high festivals follow - as the bear prepares, digs, enters, gives birth inside, and when it exits the winter layer / cave.
After the forced Christianisation, the Christians renamed the autumn equinox to “Mattismesse”, and dedicated it to the Apostle Matthew. He was an alleged Christian martyr, a Jewish tax collector and missionary. For our pagan ancestors, the day after the autumn equinox was marked as the start of the hunting season. After the equinox, grain no longer grows, and all significant harvesting was done. That's why they went hunting. This particular day the Christians renamed to “Mikkelsmesse”, and dedicated it to the alleged archangel Michael. He was the angelic leader of the monotheistic religion´s "heavenly army." Later in the middle Ages, the Christians dedicated the period from October 4 to St. Francis. He was the Catholic Church's guardian angel for animals and animal protectors, and was deployed during the high season of hunting.