Autumn Equinox, also known as Mabon, is fast approaching and simmering in the air. Can you feel it? Despite a mini heat-wave here in the UK, the Wheel is undoubtedly turning, my energy is slowly drawing inward, and I’m ready to welcome a new season.
Maybe you’re eating fewer salads and craving earthier meals or packing away your summer dresses and pulling out the cardis and jumpers. Perhaps it’s something more subtle, like reaching for more warming, spicy scented candles or being drawn to more autumnal colors like oranges, yellows, golds, and browns.
Mabon is a time to reflect on all the wonderful things in your life, restore balance, leave behind what no longer serves you, warm your heart with a cozy fire, and feast on all the delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables in abundance.
In this article, I’ll share more about what Mabon symbolizes, how working with the Wheel of the Year can bring more harmony and flow into your world, and some beautiful rituals to celebrate the autumn equinox this year.
The wheel of the year
The Wheel of the Year is a Pagan calendar that celebrates Earth’s natural seasons and cycles. By aligning with nature, we create more balance, harmony, and flow. We know when to speed up and slow down and avoid burnout. We eat more seasonally, which is better for us, the plants, and the planet. Celebrating these special days with a small but meaningful ritual helps us anchor into Earth’s natural rhythm and appreciate the wisdom of the seasons within ourselves and the outer world.
Mabon is one of the Wheel’s eight “sabbats” or festivals. Here is the full calendar:
- Samhain (October 31st to November 1st)
- Yule/Winter Solstice (December 20th-23rd)
- Imbolc (February 1st)
- Ostara/Spring Equinox (March 20th-23rd)
- Beltane (May 1st)
- Litha/Summer Solstice (June 20th-23rd)
- Lammas (August 1st)
- Mabon/Autumn Equinox (September 20th-23rd)
Note: This is what the Wheel of the Year looks like if you live in the northern hemisphere. If you live in the southern hemisphere, everything is reversed. So when the northern hemisphere celebrates summer solstice, the southern hemisphere will celebrate winter solstice.
What is mabon / the autumn equinox?
There are two equinoxes each year: the spring equinox and the autumn equinox. On both days, there is an equal length of day and night, a call for us to find more balance and harmony in our lives.
In the northern hemisphere, Mabon coincides with the move into autumn and Libra season. It is the second of three harvests in the year; the first is Lammas, and the final is Samhain, hence why Mabon is often known as the mid-harvest festival.
You can also think of Mabon as the Pagan version of Thanksgiving. In contrast, Thanksgiving has no connection to the Earth and its seasons (much like Christian holidays, including Christmas and Easter, which are simply hijacked versions of Pagan festivals). Whereas Mabon is deeply connected to the Earth and holds great meaning.
The Greek Goddess Demeter is linked to the autumn equinox harvest because when she lost her daughter Persephone to the Underworld, the Earth went from abundant bloom to barren of life and cold. This happens when we move from the high-energy seasons of spring and summer into the darker, more reflective, hibernating seasons of autumn and winter.
But this descent into darkness we make each year is always softened with the hope and faith of the sun’s return. For now, we are called to appreciate the beauty of this time, make the most of the bounty around us, and prepare to journey inward once more. And that’s the purpose of engaging in rituals around Mabon.
When is mabon 2023?
The autumn equinox takes place this year on September 23rd, but Mabon is sometimes celebrated for a full week.
Symbols of mabon / autumn equinox
Colors: Orange, red, yellow, brown, copper, gold, dark yellow, dark green
Foods: apples, pumpkins, corn, beans, squash, seeds, cider, leafy greens, root vegetables, pomegranate, grapes, wine
Herbs & plants: Sunflowers, thistle, marigolds, rosehips, pinecones, acorns, yarrow, rosemary, sage, mugwort
Crystals: Amber, citrine, aventurine, sapphire, jasper
Deities: Mabon, Demeter, Persephone, Modron, Morgan, Pomona, Vertumnus, Inanna, Freyja, Cernunnos
8 Mabon & autumn equinox ritual ideas to celebrate the second harvest 2023
1. Decorate your altar & home
I love to decorate my altar on the turn of the Wheel because it really helps me tune in to the seasons. Plus, it’s a great way to spruce up your altar and breathe new life into it.
Consider incorporating any Mabon symbols listed above, including colors, herbs, crystals, flowers, candles, and more. Forage what you can outdoors and bring it inside. And don’t stop here – decorate your home as part of your autumn equinox ritual. Add vases of fresh flowers, make a wreath and place it on your door, burn seasonal herbs and incense, or light a fire.
2. Eat seasonal food
We’re lucky to be able to purchase any kind of food we want, any time of year. But the cost of this is that we are completely out of sync with the Earth, which throws us out of sync, too.
To celebrate Mabon, use mid-autumn fruits and vegetables to cook up a delicious meal or even host a feast as part of your ritual.
Think pumpkins, corn on the cob, apples, rice, squash, grapes, and beans. Make some homemade apple cider or mulled wine, bake an apple or pumpkin pie, or create your own pumpkin spiced latte.
Head to your local farmer’s market and see what’s on offer, or go fruit and vegetable picking and see what you come home with. Give thanks for the abundance of food that Earth continually provides us with.
3. Light a fire
Mabon is a reminder that winter is coming, so a wonderful way to celebrate is to make fire a part of your ritual. That could be as small as lighting candles in your house, a log fire, or a bonfire and inviting all your loved ones. Take turns writing down something you’d like to let go of, say it aloud, and then throw it into the fire.
4. Be in nature
Getting into nature is one of the best ways to tune more deeply into the seasons because you can see, hear, and smell what’s happening around you.
Go for a walk in the woods and see what you can forage to add to your altar and home (leaves, flowers, herbs, pinecones, etc.). You could even go fruit or vegetable picking.
5. Take a bath
I love taking a bath anytime, whether to relax, celebrate the full moon, or at the end of my period. But taking a bath as part of your autumn equinox ritual and adding seasonal herbs and flowers to the water is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in nature. Add salts, coconut oil, honey, light candles, and connect with yourself.
Reflect on the year so far, how you can cultivate more balance in your world, and what you’re grateful for.
6. Reflect on your harvest
Mabon is the second harvest, so now is the time to reap everything you sowed around Imbolc, literally and figuratively.
Think about all the projects you’ve worked on this year, how you’ve grown, and your achievements. What hasn’t worked out how you hoped, and what ended up even better than you imagined? What lessons have you learned? Is there any action you need to take? In which areas of your life can you give more, and where do you need to receive more?
Create space to journal on anything and everything you feel called to.
7. Practice gratitude
Don’t forget to weave in some giving thanks to your Mabon ritual. When you go looking for things to be grateful for, you find there’s a lot. Make a list. Savor each one. Recognize how fortunate you are in a world where nothing is promised to anyone, and life can change in a heartbeat.
8. Prepare for winter
The final way to celebrate the autumn equinox is to turn your ritual into preparations for the coming winter.
Pack away your summer clothes and pull out your cardigans, sweaters, and cozy socks. Think about new fall items you want to add to your wardrobe. Clear your house of any unwanted junk or clutter. Give everything a deep clean.
Makeover your home by updating soft furnishings or adding an autumnal wreath to the door. Use seasonal fruits or vegetables to make jams and chutneys that will see you through the winter + gift them to friends. Make a list of everything you’d like to do this winter and start plotting them into your calendar.
How will you celebrate the autumn equinox?
I’d love to hear how you’re celebrating Mabon! Share your rituals with me in the comments below. Happy harvest.