Autumn equinox symbol

Autumn Equinox: Celebrating the Mabon Festival

Autumn Equinox, also known as ‘Mabon’, is the midpoint between the Summer and Winter Solstices. As at Spring Equinox, days and nights are of equal length, but from then on the days get shorter and the nights get longer. The main agricultural harvest has been gathered and all that is left are the late fruits, berries and nuts.

A time of equilibrium

As plants wither, their energy goes into the hidden roots and nourishes the Earth. The leaves of trees turn from green to red, brown and gold – symbolic of the sinking Sun as nature prepares for winter.

This is the time of balance between the outer and inner worlds. From now on, we should turn towards nurturing our own roots, pondering our inner lives and planting for the long-term. Thoughts can be seeded, gradually growing in the unconscious until they can emerge in the spring.

Autumn Equinox in the modern world

In the 19th century, as agriculture became more mechanised and people became less connected with nature, the great harvest supper was moved from Lammas to the Autumn Equinox. This festival is still celebrated by the Christian Church at Harvest Festival.

Encroaching darkness

The coming of the long nights gave the Church an opportunity to establish Michaelmas on 29th September, St Michael protects against the forces of darkness, which the Church tends to consider with trepidation.

Time to study

As this is the time when we turn to reflect on our inner selves, it makes sense that this period is when we start back at school and university. A good time for thinking.

Mabon celebrations

Autumn is the time to collect together the year’s harvest both physically and spiritually. Enjoy what you have experienced and start seeding thoughts for the future.

A supper to share

Have a celebratory autumn meal with your friends, asking everyone to bring a seasonal dish to share. Start your preparations by collecting a basket of apples and make these the main focus of the meal. Apples are a powerful cleanser and to eat them is a purifying and celebratory act.

Purifying fruit

During the meal, take it in turns to talk about your own personal harvests – the seeds of hope you sowed at Spring Equinox and how they have come to fruition. Share your long-term plans for the future.

Plant future seeds

Mabon is the time to plant seeds for the future.

  1. Plant a pot of bulbs – each symbolising a seed of a future idea or project.
  2. Put the pot away in a cool, dark place for the bulbs to grow – just as your plans will be nurtured in your unconscious during winter.
  3. Leave everything alone and enjoy the blooming of your flowers and your ideas in spring.

Harvesting fruits

Appreciate the changes in nature during autumn. Notice how the air is cooling and how the leaves are changing colour. Look for the autumn fruits such as nuts and berries. It is time to make use of the harvest.

  • Pick a basket of blackberries to eat with custard or to make a blackberry preserve for the coming winter.
  • Help yourself to some wild sloes to make sloe gin.
  • Gather leaves and nuts for an artistic display in the home.

Prepare for winter

Use the autumnal period to prepare for winter. This is probably the last chance you will get for a bit of decent weather so take the opportunity and have an autumn version of a physical and spiritual spring clean.

  • Mark the turning point in nature by clearing out your wardrobe and wash, for the final time this year, your light summer clothing and bedding before putting these away for the winter. Then air out your winter woollies.
  • If you have a garden, put it ‘to bed’ by clearing away the dying vegetation and generally tidying up.
  • After your physical spring clean, spiritually cleanse your life by looking at the runes to sum up your present situation. The year behind you that has led to it and what the year ahead may hold.
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