An equinox is one of two days during the solar year when the sun crosses Earth’s equator, resulting in both day and night (light and dark) being of approximately equal length. This astronomical event occurs once in the spring, the vernal equinox, and once in the fall, the autumnal equinox. The autumnal or fall equinox occurs annually between September 20th – 23rd. This equinox officially marks the first day of autumn in Canada.
Mabon, one of the four Lesser Sabbats, is the Pagan observance of the fall equinox. As the second of the three annual harvest festivals, contemporary Pagans continue to celebrate Earth’s abundance and the resulting annual harvests as well as the balance between day and night. As it’s customary to show gratitude for Earth’s gifts during this sabbat, Mabon is also known as Pagan Thanksgiving.
Mabon is one of the newest contemporary Pagan sabbats. While ancient peoples celebrated the harvest at this time of year, there is no historical record of a specific festival taking place during the autumnal equinox. However, despite a lack of definite historical origins as a festival, the fall equinox is an important part of a cosmological cycle that predates humans. It is when the active lighter half of the year ends and the passive darker half begins. This astronomical balance, combined with the annual harvest, is what contemporary Pagans celebrate during this Mabon.
Mabon can perhaps be described as the amalgamation of the autumnal equinox and ancient fall harvest festivals. Exactly when this merging took place is unclear but the name Mabon was only coined for this sabbat in the 1970s by Aidan Kelly, an influential American witch.
Ancient peoples celebrated the annual harvest while honouring the hard work involved in growing and gathering their crops because abundant crops made all the difference to a community’s ability to survive the winter without starving. This was especially true of those that experienced harsher winters. Some of these festivals may have taken place during late September, depending on when later crops such as fruit and root vegetables would have been ready to harvest. Many of the early traditions from these festivals are encompassed modern Mabon observances.
Moder, Pagans celebrate Mabon as a festival honouring Earth, its abundance, and the harvest. As it’s also Pagan Thanksgiving, this sabbat is an ideal occasion give thanks for blessings received and to share good fortune with family, friends as well as the community’s less fortunate. Also, due to the equinox, Mabon is one of the two most auspicious days for major balancing, centering, and grounding magick.
Annual gratitude journals are often started on Mabon. These journals are for the daily writing the things you are grateful for in your life. Everyone has something to be grateful for, no matter how seemingly insignificant. A gratitude journal is a wonderful way to remain mindful of the good things in our lives.
MABON MAGICKAL CORRESPONDENCES
MAGICKAL & SPIRITUAL INTENTIONS: Abundance; accomplishments; afterlife; balance; centering; cleansing; clearing; death; dispelling; emotional healing; equality; focus; gratitude; grief; grounding; harmony; honour; prosperity; success; transitions; wisdom.
ANIMALS: Blackbird; Canada goose; crow; dog; deer; eagle; fox; hawk; owl; raven; squirrel; wolf.
COLOURS: Blue; brown; burgundy; burnt orange; deep red; gold; olive green; orange; red; yellow.
CRYSTALS & STONES: Amber; carnelian; citrine; hematite; peridot; topaz.
DECORATIONS & SYMBOLS: Acorns and other nuts; autumn-coloured candles; basket or cornucopia filled with seasonal produce including apples & root vegetables; boline; bread; corn dollies; corn stalks; fallen leaves; gourds; grains and grain stems; scarecrow; seeds; sunflowers; water in a chalice or libation bowl.
ESSENTIAL OILS: Allspice; carnation; cinnamon; clove; frankincense; grapeseed [carrier oil]; hazelnut [carrier oil]; myrrh; pine; rosemary; sage (common/garden).
FLOWERS: Aster; carnation; chrysanthemum; coneflowers/echinacea; marigold; sunflower.
FOOD & DRINK: Ale; apple baked goods; apple cider; beer; bread; corn on the cob; dried fruits; grains such as barley, corn, oats, rye & wheat; mead; nuts; pies; rosehip tea; seeds; water; wine.
FRUIT & VEGETABLES: Apples; blackberries; carrots; corn; grapes; melons; onions; potatoes; rosehips; squashes.
HERBS & SPICES: Allspice; bay; cinnamon; clove; rosemary; sage.
INCENSE: Allspice; cinnamon; clove; frankincense; myrrh; pine; rosemary.
METALS: Gold; iron.
SMUDGES: Cinnamon; cloves; common/garden sage; frankincense; myrrh; pine; rosemary; sweetgrass.
TREES & SHRUBS: Ash; aspen; cedar; elder; hazel; locust; maple; myrtle; oak.
Despite being one of the most recently introduced sabbats, Mabon is a festival of gratitude to Earth for providing us with so much abundance. There are many ways to incorporate it into your life. You can make your observances as informal or as festive as pleases you. You can celebrate with family and friends or you may feel more introspective, choosing to observe it on your own. There’s no one right way to commemorate any sabbat so it’s best to embrace traditions that you’ll enjoy repeating year after year.
Decorate your altar or other sacred space as well as your home for Mabon with items such acorns and other nuts; gold, brown, deep red and other autumn-coloured candles; a basket or cornucopia filled with seasonal produce such as apples, carrots & other root vegetables; a boline; bread; corn dollies; corn stalks; fallen leaves; gourds; loose grains and grain stems; scarecrow; seeds; sunflowers; water in a chalice or libation bowl – all of which symbolize this sabbat.
Consciously give thanks to Earth for providing us with such an incredibly abundant bounty, from food and water to materials needed to craft homes and clothes. Everything we use in life comes from something Earth has provided us with.
Take a nature walk and collect items that the Earth has provided you for your altar, such as acorns, pinecones, seeds, stones, or even a small fossil rock. You might also find a fallen branch or twig that would make an awesome general-purpose wand.
Start your annual gratitude journal. There are many ways to personalize your daily gratitude journal to suit your personality. As with your Book of Shadows, your daily gratitude journal can be as simple or fancy as you like. You can use a plain notebook or a special store-bought diary. Various colored pens or markers can be designated for different seasons and weather. There’s no right way to do it – it just needs to be meaningful to you.
Bake some bread and baked goods that use apples, such as our Apple Muffins. Share them with friends.
If you have rosebushes that are full of rosehips, this is an auspicious time for you to craft some rosehip water, using our Rosehip Water I spell. If you need a more potent rosehip water, you can brew it using our Rosehip Water II spell. Whichever method you choose, Rosehip Water may be used as a more powerful substitute for plain water in career, good fortune, money, prosperity and success magick.
Continue paying it forward. Share some of your garden’s later produce with a friend in need. You might want to volunteer some time at a homeless shelter or perhaps an elderly or sick friend or relative might need a hand with some errands or chores. Any of these activities help us balance the universe’s scales.
If you have a vegetable garden, you could pick any produce that is ready to harvest. If you don’t have your own garden, you could purchase some from a farmers’s market or go to a farm that allows you to pick produce. Either way, you’d have some lovely fresh fruit and vegetables to prepare a Mabon meal with.
Enjoy a potluck dinner or corn roast with family and friends where all can share in the celebration of the annual harvest. Ask each person to bring something prepared using a seasonal fruit, nut, or vegetable.
Create your own personalized Mabon ritual, something that has meaning to you, which you’ll enjoy repeating every year.
IMPORTANT: COVID-19 has greatly changed our ability safely interact with others who do not live in our households. Mabon celebrations, however, can still be meaningful nonetheless. Many of the suggested activities can easily be carried out alone or with household members. Otherwise, you can include other family and friends via phone call, video call, and group chats.
Photos & Images: images-free.net · CC0 1.0 / lumix2004 · Pixabay · license / Sixteen Miles Out · Unsplash · license / Cornelia Schneider-Frank · Pixabay · license / klimkin · Pixabay · license / mozlase · Pixabay · license / Aline Ponce · Pixabay · license