Today is Michaelmas. It is one of the English quarter days when rents were paid and legal proceedings were settled. More importantly to me, it is the day to take time to reflect. Michaelmas is the beginnning of the time of year to gather the courage needed for the long, dark days ahead. It's a time to be grateful for the warmth and shelter out homes provide. Michael the Archangel is often portrayed as a strong, handsome man throwing the devil out of paradise.
There are a few traditions associated with this feast. In the past, this was the day to cook a fat goose. Bonfires were lit to help folks celebrate the heat and light which will be receding as winter draws near.
According to an old Irish folk tale, blackberries were supposed to have been harvested and used up by this date, too, since it is told to children that when Satan was kicked out of Heaven, he landed in a bramble patch -- and returns each year to curse and spit on the fruits of the plant he landed on, rendering them inedible thereafter. My little commemoration of the day will be a store-bought strudel which has apples and blackberries in it. I'll also be burning some candles to fend off the darkness. Just by chance, this year the feast falls when the moon is in the dark phase.
Here's a picture of a Michaelmas Daisy, also called the New York aster. They grow wild around here - a very pretty roadside flower. For romantics, this was the original daisy young girls would pluck the petals from, one at a time to find out if indeed "He loves me, he loves me not". Here's a verse to go with the flower:
The Michaelmas daisy, among dead weeds
Blooms for St Michael's valorous deeds