One way that I like to connect with the seasons and cycles of the earth is by tuning into The Wheel of the Year. The Autumn Equinox, sometimes called Mabon, is the third of the quarter days, which marks the second of the fall holidays (the mid-point between Lughnasadh and Samhain).
Read on to discover how you can connect more deeply with the earth’s natural cycles in your spiritual practice. This is a relatively new practice for me, but I’m finding the journey into exploring this way of being in flow with the seasons to be an enjoyable one!
The Wheel of the Year can help you tune into natural cycles (similar to the Lunar Phases – but on an annual scale rather than just monthly) and helps you internalize these outward changes in nature as reflections of the growth and evolution you experience in your own life. Living in harmony with the seasons and the ebb and flow of nature helps you to lead a more soulful life and to cultivate a deeper understanding of yourself on a soul level. The Wheel of the Year helps you recognize who you are and your role in the world around you.
So what is the Wheel of the Year?
Separated into 8 main holidays, the Wheel of the Year is a representation of seasonal cycles that focuses on the 4 Solar Holidays of the year (also known as the quarter days). This stems from the Anglo-Saxon cultural observations of the solstices and equinoxes, with the addition of the 4 Gaelic, agrarian, seasonal celebrations (the mid-points between the solar holidays known as the lunar cross-quarter days or fire festivals).
Although some of the holidays observed in the Wheel of the Year are quite old, The Wheel of the Year as a whole is fairly modern (being developed in the late 1950s). Though I don’t personally follow the tradition that created the contemporary Wheel of the Year, I do find it a helpful way to think about the passage of time and what’s happening in the world at each time of year.
I tend to identify more with the Gaelic Cross-Quarter Days, as they stem from my ancestral heritage, than I do with the Anglo-Saxon solstices and equinoxes, but I do find value in these quarter days because they more closely align with the seasons as I observe them where I live in Madison, Wisconsin. For example, though my ancestors in Ireland and Scotland celebrated Lughnasadh as the beginning of autumn, I don’t quite feel the seasonal changes until the time of Mabon, the Fall Equinox, here in the United States. For this reason, these seasonal markers are important for helping me feel connected to what’s happening in nature all year long, while the cross-quarter days hold more spiritual significance for me in other ways.
An Introduction to the Autumnal Equinox:
The Autumn Equinox, sometimes called Mabon, is the third of the quarter days, which marks the second of the fall holidays (the mid-point between Lughnasadh and Samhain). Mabon is traditionally celebrated on the day of the Autumnal Equinox, determined by when the Sun is directly over the earth’s equator (this date may range from September 21st through September 24th each year depending on the Sun’s position).
Modern Mabon celebrations stem from the contemporary Wheel of the Year, where Mabon is associated with the Fall Equinox and is celebrated as a time to celebrate the abundance of the harvest before we move into the depths of winter.
Set up your Mabon Altar with me!
Autumn Equinox Crystals:
- Yellow Apatite
- Honey Calcite
- Orange Calcite
- Lapis Lazuli
- Peach Moonstone
- Rainbow Moonstone
- Snowflake Obsidian
- Preseli Bluestone
- Rose Quartz
- Rutilated Quartz
- Padparadscha Sapphire
- Yellow Sapphire
Golden Tiger’s Eye
- Dravite Tourmaline
The Autumn Equinox Signifies the Time for:
- House Magic
- Mourning & Grief (of people & things that have been lost)
- New Perspectives
- Personal Growth
Why celebrate the Autumnal Equinox?
Mabon welcomes in the Fall, the return of longer nights, and the great harvest of the year. At this time, we harvest the fruits of our labor, and we literally harvest the fruits, vegetables, grains, and other crops from the land. As the days grow darker, we are reminded to plan and prepare for the long winter season ahead. Though we may allow ourselves some time for celebration and gratitude while we are surrounded by abundance, we must also practice moderation and self-discipline to ensure our safety and survival during leaner times.
Mabon is celebrated at the Autumnal Equinox, when light and darkness are equal, which means that from this day forward, the days will continue to grow shorter until the time of the Winter Solstice. For this reason, Mabon is a time of recognition of the darker half of the year, a time to recognize the cycles of death and rebirth, transformation, and equilibrium.
Ways to Celebrate the Autumn Equinox:
- Feasts are a common way to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox
- Make an herbal wreath or garland out of your favorite mabon herbs or flowers (display it in your home during your celebration and then dry it to keep for a while longer)
- Make a list of everything you’re grateful for right now and place it on your Mabon altar
- Create a bouquet of autumn flowers and place it on your altar or in your home (gather them only from places where you have permission, take only what you need and leave much more than you take)
- Bake fresh bread and think of gratitude for the harvest while you prepare it
- Go on a walk or hike in nature and take some photos (or even sketch or paint!) to capture the coming of autumn (you can even print these and put them on your altar or create some Mabon-themed Grimoire pages)
- Collect some colorful leaves from your neighborhood (only those that have fallen naturally), and place them on your altar, create some artwork with them, or dry them and iron them between sheets of waxed paper
- Be intentional with your shadow work during this time of balanced light and darkness
- Create a nature altar for fall (add your items dedicated to nature, or collect natural items to add – only collect with permission – please be respectful)
- If you’re of age, consider enjoying a bottle of wine from a local vineyard (or give one as a gift to someone you’re grateful for)
- Attend a fall fair, go apple picking, or visit a pumpkin patch
- Harvest some fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, or flowers from your garden and share them with friends, family, and neighbors – be sure to offer a little something back to the land to show your gratitude for the abundance of your harvest and to ensure a good harvest next year
- Spend some time in the kitchen preserving the harvest (canning, freezing, or dehydrating some of the bounty of the season for the long winter months)
- Do a bit of cleaning & home blessing to prepare for the darker months ahead
- Enjoy the delicious treat of some pumpkin or apple baked goods (homemade is great, but if you’re short on time or energy, support your local bakery by buying something pre-made)
Autumn Equinox and the Lore of Modron & Mabon:
Mabon is a relatively recent name given to the Autumnal Equinox. Mabon, in Welsh mythology and lore, was a child of light who was taken from his mother, Modron, when he was just a baby. Overcome with grief for her kidnapped child, Modron, the great mother goddess of the Earth, allowed the earth and its creatures to succumb to her grief. This explanation of the seasonal change from the light half of the year toward the dark half o the year parallels the Greek myth of Demeter losing her daughter Persephone to the underworld. Mabon is typically the name used for the Autumn Equinox by those who practice Wicca, but it has also been adopted by some modern Pagans as it has become so prevalent, and the name is now used by manynalmost interchangeably when referring to the Autumn Equinox.
Other Autumn Equinox Deities:
- Arawn (Celtic)
- Asherah (Semitic/Canaanite)
- Astarte (Greek)
- Bacchus (Roman)
- Dagda (Celtic)
- Demeter (Greek)
- Dionysus (Greek)
- Dumuzi (Sumerian)
- Epona (Celtic)
- Green Man (Celtic)
- Gwynn ap Nudd (Celtic)
- Hekate (Greek)
- Idunn (Norse)
- Inanna (Sumerian)
- Ishtar (Akkadian/Babylonian)
- Mabon (Celtic)
- Modron (Celtic)
- Ogma (Celtic)
- Persephone (Greek)
- Pomona (Roman)
- Tammuz (Akkadian/Babylonian)
- Acorns & Other Nuts
- Apples & Cider
- Baskets (especially made of Willow or Oak)
Corn Ears & Stalks
- Grains (Barley, Oats, Rye, & Wheat)
- Grapes & Grape Vines
- Harvest Tools (Boline, Sickle, & Scythe)
- Herbal Wreaths & Garlands
- Honey & Mead
- Hops & Ale
- Pumpkins & Pumpkin Seeds
Quert Ogham Symbol
- Squash & Gourds
- Stag or Deer
- Straw or Hay
- Wild Boar
Autumn Equinox Herbs, Flowers, & Plants:
- Aster Flowers
- Black-Eyed Susan Flowers
- Poppy Seed Pods
- Rose Hips
- Garden Sage
Autumn Equinox Colors:
Autumn Equinox is also known as (or is related to):
Feast of the Ingathering
Alban Elfed (the Light of the Water)
- Mean Fomhair
- Winter Finding
Feast of Avalon
- Harvest Moon Festival
- Festival of the Vine
- Aequinoctium Auctumnale
- Equinozio di Autunno
- Eleusinian Mysteries
- Mabon: Rituals, Recipes, & Lore for the Autumn Equinox (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials Series) by Diana Rajchel
- Mabon: Celebrating the Autumn Equinox by Kristin Madden
- Mabon: Harvest Home Ritual by Yamaya Treehawk & Wayfinder Thomasson
- Celebrating the Traditional Pagan Festival of Mabon by Maureen Murrish
- Autumn Equinox: The Enchantment of Mabon by Ellen Dugan
- Autumn Equinox Guide and Planner: Rituals, Recipes, and More for Fall Celebrations by Robin Ginther-Venneri
- Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon – Lore, Rituals, Activities, and Symbols by Ashleen O’Gaea
Disclosure: The links here are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Yay!
*If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll be celebrating the festival of Ostara today instead of Mabon to keep with the seasonal cycles. In the Southern Hemisphere, Mabon is usually celebrated during the time of the Northern Hemisphere’s Vernal (Spring) Equinox.