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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Autumnal Equinox - The Onset Of Darkness

The ‘Autumnal Equinox’ or ‘Mabon’ as it was once called, occurs on either, 21st, 22nd or 23rd September, when the sun enters ‘Libra’, according to the Earth’s orbit and the insertion of leap years. The Autumn Equinox marks the time when the sun crosses southwards towards the celestial equator or ‘half way point’, resulting in equal twelve hours of day and twelve hours of night. Like the ‘Spring Equinox’, the sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west, except after today the daylight hours grow steadily shorter until the sun reaches its lowest point in the sky at the ‘Winter Solstice’.

The full moon nearest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon the time of harvesting apples, blackberries, grapes and hops, as the arable crops have now all been gathered and celebrated at Lammas, the first of the harvest festivals. It was also the time when livestock would be slaughtered and preserved (salted and smoked) to provide enough food for the winter.

Weather Lore

According to weather lore, the weather around the Autumn Equinox supposedly indicates the weather outlook for the next three months.

The Colepexy

Autumn is the time that the Colepexy roams the downs and orchards of Dorset.

The Colepexy
This mischievous goblin colt with flaming red eyes, enjoys nothing more than to mislead domesticated horses and travellers, but his favourite prank is luring unsuspecting people to ride him, and once mounted he takes them on a wild ride across the wettest and thorniest country before eventually throwing them into a ditch or stream.

The Colepexy also acts as a type of orchard guardian protecting apple orchards from thieves.

Once at Wareham a man set out one night to rob his neighbour's orchard of fine cider apples. He hid in a large basket and with the aid of a magic spell the basket bounded off down the lane into the orchard. Once the basket had settled he murmured another spell and one by one the apples flew off the branches and began pelting the basket. One apple smacked him in the eye and he leapt out of the basket howling in pain. In that instant the Colepexy was upon him. The goblin colt tossed the apple thief high into the air and as he came tumbling down the Colepexy kicked him in the back of his neck, snapping it in two and thus killing him instantly. Scrumpers beware!

In William Barnes "Poems of Rural Life, in the Dorset Dialect" gives the term 'Colepexy' in his Dialect glossery.
"Colepexy. In Somerset Puehyhwding from pixy or colepixy, a fairy? To beat down the few apples that may be left on the trees after the crop has been taken in ; to take as it were the fairies' horde."
In Dorset they are called
Colepexies Fingers
The English antiquarian John Brand in "The Popular Antiquities of Great Britain" (Vol II, p.513), says:
"In Dorset the Pixy-lore still lingers. The being is called Pexy and Colepexy. The fossil belemnites are named Colepexies-fingers; and the fossil echini, Colepexies-heads. The children, when naughty, are also threatened with the Pexy, who is supposed to haunt woods and coppices."
Also mentioned in the 'Literary Gazette' for 1825. No. 430
"In Hampshire," says Captain Grose, "they give the name of Colt-Pixy to a supposed spirit or fairy, which in the shape of a horse wickers, i. e. neighs, and misleads horses into bogs, etc."

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