What is the Autumnal Equinox?
In the northern hemisphere, the autumnal equinox takes place between September 21 and 24. Like in spring, the autumnal equinox marks when day and night are of equal length. From this moment on, the days shorten through the fall season towards the winter solstice. The equinox is a time of powerful balance before transition.
What is Mabon?
While harvest festivals have been around as long as harvests, the combination of the equinox with a harvest festival and Mabon, a god in Welsh mythology, is a relatively recent phenomenon. It has become a pagan time of giving thanks, featuring the symbols of the cornucopia and the apple which make for appropriate and plentiful decorations this time of year.
Ways to Celebrate
Take a Nature Walk
There are many spots in the Canton area to take a short walk through nature. Whether you try one of the local parks or nature preserves or even just a walk through your neighborhood, engage your senses to the fullest. Bring an apple or other snack to munch on while you listen to the sounds around you, observe some interesting natural elements, take a deep sniff of the fall air, and rub some dirt between your fingers.
Bring in the Harvest
If you planted seeds back in spring, it’s now time to gather the fruits of that labor. But if you did not, you can still experience the harvest. Explore a local farmer’s market and find some delicious produce to enjoy, cook with, or preserve for the winter ahead.
Practice Simple Apple Magic
Try peeling an apple slowly and carefully enough that the peel does not break right away. See how long you can keep the peel. When it finally breaks and falls to the floor, read the letter it forms. This is the first letter of your true love’s name.
After peeling the apple, cut it in half to reveal a pentagram of seeds that represent the five elements: earth, air, fire, water and spirit. After discovering the pentagram, continue thinly slicing the apple horizontally to make a Mabon Apple Garland. You will need:
- Four or five apples, thinly sliced horizontally
- Wool yarn in a pleasing color and a large needle
- An assortment of leaves
- Tie a knot in your yarn.
- String apple slices, leaves, and any other autumnal elements along the thread.
- Use additional knots to maintain desired spacing.
- Hang and allow the apples to dry.
Pay the Harvest Forward
Explore opportunities to ensure those in need also experience a bountiful harvest. Reach out to local food pantries and offer up your time or donate needed supplies. Meals on Wheels, Open Door Ministry, Gleaners, and Forgotten Harvest are all food-based services in southeast Michigan that take volunteers. They have varying requirements for both volunteers and donations.
Offer Thanks Through a Gratitude Journal
Spend a few minutes every day thinking about something you are thankful for. Whether your gratitude flows to something life-changing or just a simple pleasure, a tiny act of kindness or someone doing you a big favor, a piece of natural beauty or some kind of technology, you can name and consider the things you appreciate in your life. Maybe this manifests as a simple daily meditation, or perhaps you purchase a fresh journal and exciting new pens; you might even rely on a digital app to write your notes. Take just a few minutes a day to rebalance your mindset to be more thankful, and continue this practice throughout the year.
Books of Interest
The Hedgewitch's Little Book of Seasonal Magic by Tudorbeth. Divided by seasons, the chapter on autumn includes a number of jam, jelly and preserves recipes.
The Ultimate Guide to the Witch's Wheel of the Year by Anjou Kiernan. This book includes a chapter on Mabon that features a recipe for mulled apple cider and several other festive projects.
The Zenned Out Guide to Understanding the Wheel of the Year by Cassie Uhl. The chapter on Mabon includes some additional gratitude practices and rituals.
Witch's Wheel of the Year by Jason Mankey. The fifth part of this book focuses on autumn, including both Mabon and Samhain. The section on Mabon covers the history of the celebration and how it came to be.