Celebrating the Fall Equinox
Blessed Mabon to my fellow Pagans, Witches, and everyone else celebrating the autumnal equinox! This is more than just a day; Mabon is the start of a season. It's the season of warm colors, soothing scents, and—of course—the changing of the world around us. The leaves will change, the plants will begin their retreat into the earth, and little critters are scurrying around gathering food before they bunker down for the winter. It's a peaceful time that is perfect for taking a break from the craziness of life and just reflecting on what you've accomplished, what you've obtained, and how far you've come over the past year. It is a liminal time, for we are on the brink between the light and dark half of the year. Soon the air will become biting, and ice will lie in wait for people who aren't wearing proper shoes or are going too fast, causing them to slip, slide and fall on their butt.
Often the time when we feel that we've entered fall in earnest, this is a celebration of the season: the multicolored meadows, apple orchards, and pumpkin patches. It's a time of beginning to go within as we continue to descend into the darker, more introspective time of year...We can draw on this astronomical balance to bring balance to our emotions, relationships, and life conditions.— Whitehurst, 2018, pp. 67-68
Symbols of the Sabbat
As with any Pagan holiday, there are a few key symbols that signify the energies of the day (or season). For Mabon, we have the scales of justice, a cornucopia overflowing with fall fruits and vegetables, the pumpkin, the apple, and warm colors, to name a few. Below I have compiled a table of correspondences so you may thoroughly deck your house out in Fall Fashion. There are a few significant symbols I wanted to talk a little more about.
The Scales of Justice
The Fall Equinox is an astronomical phenomenon when the days and nights are of equal length. After this time we descend into the dark half of the year. The Scales of Justice represent the balance of light and dark- reminding us to keep balance in our lives. We want to keep balance between work and play, spirituality and intellect, light and dark.
The Cornucopia, or the Horn of Plenty, often depicted overflowing with fruits and vegetables, symbolizing the harvest that we procure to preserve and set aside for winter. Spiritually, it reminds us to be grateful for what we have. Whether we have a slice of bread and a can of Spaghetti-O's or filet mignon, it's important to be grateful. According to The Magic by Rhonda Byrnes, gratitude is ruled by the universal Law of Attraction. Feeling deep, true gratitude will attract more, and taking things for granted will not only prevent you from obtaining more, but will cause you to lose what you have.
The apple is one of the fruits harvested at the end of September. The apple has a number of associations, one of which is the Otherworld. Autumn is a time of introspection, and the apple signifies our connection to Spirit and spirits of the Otherworld. The weather is turning cold, and more of our activities will be inside. There will be more time to sit at your altar to connect with your higher powers, commune with ancestors, and to strengthen your spiritual practice all around. My personal theory is that when the sun begins it's journey away from the earth the Veil begins to thin. We all know that at Samhain the veil is at its thinnest, and it doesn't get that way overnight. Each day that passes after Mabon I can sense the Veil thinning; it's a subtle feeling, but if you step outside in the crisp morning air, open your psychic senses and you'll feel that electrical charge in the air—which, I think, is the Spirits of the Otherworld drawing closer and closer until they can break free on Samhain.
Themes for Spell Work
Decorations for Altar &/or Home
Release/Clearing Away of Negativity
Breaking Bad Habits
Refresh, Repel, Release
We've all heard of Spring cleaning, but honestly I feel that autumn cleaning is much more satisfying. We get our homes refreshed, and prepared for all the company we'll have during the upcoming holidays. it allows us to clear out the negative energies that have built up since our spring cleaning spree, which is very important because of what's to come. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a depression that affects many people during the fall and winter months. This depression can be triggered, and definitely made worse by, negative energies clinging to your home. Start by physically cleaning your home. Organize the bookshelves, sort your kids toys, go through the clothes piled up in the bottom of your closet. That alone can release pent up energies, but we will take it one step further.
Once you have the mundane taken care of, it's time for the magical. Get your besom, or broom used for magical purposes (if you don't have one your normal broom will do) and sweep out the stirred up energy. Ringing bells can accomplish this as well, but there's something satisfying about sweeping the energy right out the door. Now get a bowl and pour some fresh, clean water in it. Sprinkle some salt, rosemary, and a few drops of peppermint oil in it. This mixture will not only cleanse but repel negative energies. Get a cloth or paper towel and wipe down every door and window with this solution. As you apply the solution, visualize the last wisps of negative energy dispelling as a bubble of protection forms within and around your home. You can say a chant, sing a song, or just listen to your favorite podcast or audiobook while you do this- the key is to be cheerful. This happy energy will bolster the magic.
I just love Llewellyn's Spell of the Day, don't you? I have a few of their Spell-of-the-Day almanacs, and I subscribe to their daily spell website. The spell of the day for September 22, 2018 is by Charlynn Walls, and it is a spell for Balance, which is one of the major themes of Mabon.
So, first, using the handy guide above, set up your altar to draw energy of the Autumn Equinox. Get one black and one white candle and place them on opposite sides of the altar. Get a piece of parchment or paper and put that in the middle. Write down things that you need to balance out in your life (i.e. reading for pleasure is balanced with reading for work is one I listed). Think about how your life will look with these aspects balanced and when the image is clear in your mind light the candles and say:
As day and night are now in balance, so to let my life find balance.
This is another gem from Llewellyn's Spell-a-Day website! This ritual was written by Kate Freuler. Go outside and gather 13 nuts or berries. You can stick them in your pocket, in a basket—whatever suits you. As dusk, pour a glass of apple cider or wine and go outside with your beverage and your nuts. Bring a trowel- you'll be digging. When you find a spot that seems just right, dig a shallow hole. Take one nut or berry into your hand, name something you're grateful for, and put it in the hole. Now repeat for each nut and berry. Bury the nuts and berries, then pour some of your cider or wine over the freshly turned earth. Then, hold your glass up to the west and say "Cheers!" to the encroaching darkness. Sip your drink, relish in your gratitude and watch the sun sink below the horizon.
Mabon is one of the most mysterious of the sabbats because it celebrates the dual nature of life and death. At Mabon, the past and future are united...the natural world, like Mabon, begins to descend into darkness, eventual decay, and death. But we must remember, in the crops that are harvested are next year’s seeds, which will begin the cycle of life/death/life all over again. This life, death, and rebirth cycle is one of Mabon’s most important messages.— Kambos, 2019. p. 271
Amanda's Autumn ArtClick thumbnail to view full-size
Mabon is considered the "Witches' Thanksgiving", so no article would be complete without at least one recipe for you to share with your family! This recipe for Savory Fall Cornbread can be found in The Witch's Cauldron by Laura Tempest Zakroff; it was written by Diana Ewing. It is baked in a cast-iron Dutch oven.
Ingredients for Savory Fall Cornbread
- 1/2 cup oil, grapeseed oil or bacon grease are said to be particularly tasty!
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup onion flakes
- 1/3 cup dried parsley
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
Instructions for Savory Fall Cornbread
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pour oil into the oven. Warm the oil and coat the sides of the cauldron with the oil. Set aside for later use.
- In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.
- Add the egg, milk, and oil to the dry ingredients.
- Mix together with a wooden spoon. Lumps are welcome—you DO NOT want to over mix! The use of an electric mixer is discouraged.
- Pour into the cauldron and pop into the oven
Want to Learn More About Mabon?
These are my favorite books for Mabon resources. They are books I have referenced dozens of times, not only for this article but for my blog and for the column I write for an occult magazine. They are affordable, enlightening, and, in my opinion, a must-have for any witches' home library.
Whenever I want to learn more about a Sabbat, whether for personal or professional purposes, I first look to a Llewllyn's Sabbat Essentials book. They include an assortment of articles that provide a wide range of perspectives, ideas, and opinions on the holiday.
These almanacs are amazing! Each year they have a set of articles for each Sabbat, which cover astrology, spirituality, rituals and spells, and crafts. I personally own three (2018, 2019 and 2020). As a writer for an occult magazine, these have proven to be invaluable resources, because they not only offer insight into each Sabbat, but they contain a wealth of witchy wisdom.
Freuler, K. 2019. Spell: Gratitude Ritual. Retrieved from https://www.llewellyn.com/spell.php?spell_id=7579.
Furie, M. 2017. The Autumn Equinox: A Time for Action. In Llewellyn's 2018 Sabbats Almanac. [Kindle Edition] Retrieved from www.amazon.com.
Kambos, J. 2019. Mabon Ripeness. In Llewellyn's 2020 Sabbats Almanac. [Kindle
Edition]. Retrieved from www.amazon.com.
Mabon. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://circleofthesacredmuse.com/celebrations/mabon/
Walls, C. (2019). Spell of the Day: Finding Balance. Retrieved from https://www.llewellyn.com/spell.php?spell_id=7210
Whitehurst, T. 2018. You are Magical. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
© 2019 Amanda Wilson