English: the sacred language of the Witches.

“Solstice” and “equinox” are fine old words with a rolling, Latinate solemnity to them, but to my ear they have a rather clinical sound. Wishing someone a happy Equinox always sounds a little stilted to me. When I'm snugged up in bed with another guy, we're probably not going to talk about “penises.” Chances are, if we're talking, we'll use something a little more intimate instead.

A while back I sat down with my friend Ro (“Granny”) NicBourne to see what we could come up with. We pulled my old grad school Anglo-Saxon dictionary off the shelf and gave it a look-see.

Sure enough. If the Old English word for “solstice” had survived (instead of being elbowed out by Latin competition), it would be sunstead. The literal meaning is the same as the Latin: “Sun stands [still].” (In fact, it's probably what's called a “loan-translation” of the Latin word.) “Stead” came to mean “place” (as in “homestead”) because one's place is where one stands. (Interestingly, in Semitic languages, one's place is where one sits. A matter of climate, I suppose.) Sunstead is, in my opinion, a damn fine word. I use it myself and would recommend it to anyone else: “dick” to solstice's “penis,” so to speak. No reason not to have both in the lexicon; it only expands possibilities.

Same for Old English “equinox.” It also was a loan-translation of the Latin, and would modernize as “even-night.” (If the word had actually survived in current use, it would probably have worn down to something a little tighter and more compact.) Checking the other Germanic languages, we found that the Scandinavian languages have, instead of even-nights, even-days, and this, I think, is even better.

In daily use, I find that my evendays vary in pronunciation. If I want to be sure I'll be understood, I pronounce it as if I were saying the two words separately. But among fellow Hwicce or when I'm speaking rapidly, I find myself tending to slip into “evendee,” just as one says “Sunday” or “Sundee” according to the formality of the situation.

Half light, half darkness. Last night we held our big annual Harvest Supper, Witches' Thanksgiving, out back—the geese flew over, calling, as we sang—and together we begin our collective descent into the Dark.

Happy Evenday, all.