As a part of the Wheel of the Year, the Autumnal Equinox sees the Goddess’s pregnancy advancing. She is still the Mother, but She grows wiser and is the Crone as well. The God becomes the Sorcerer and is poised to leave His physical body. It is not His end, but His beginning. The Goddess mourns Him, but She knows that She carries His child within Her. He will never truly be gone, but will reappear as the Wheel of the Year continues to turn.
The Themes and Practices of Mabon
As this Sabbat is a time of preparation for the resting period that follows Samhain, this is a good time to rid yourself of anything unnecessary and unwanted, a time to lay to rest the quarrels and arguments that have plagued you during the season. Get rid of your guilt, envy, and unwanted feelings, banish those things that are holding you back, keeping you from your true potential. This is the time of year to put your own life back into balance, just as the year is in balance as day and night are equal.
This is the season of balance, healing, and justice. It is common to celebrate these themes with festivals and celebration. It is a time of self-expression, of reclaiming the self before the cold of winter arrives. There are many symbols of the Autumnal Equinox, including:
- Dried leaves
Lughnasadh and the Autumnal Equinox are very similar, both being harvest festivals, but the Equinox is truly a time of plenty. The foods of Lughnasadh are still available, as are many others that have finally come into season. Fish, oysters, game birds, and various meats are traditional. Vegetables such as turnip, zucchini, and cauliflower are also easily available. If you have wild foods in your area, this is the time to collect them.
If you’re looking for a truly traditional feast, serve goose. This goose should be smaller and less fatty than a goose served at Yule. Try serving the goose with cranberries, raspberries, or even rowan for an interesting alternative. Roast your small goose on a rack in your oven with a variety of herbs and spices for flavor.
There are many other foods you might try, including:
- Fish or shellfish cooked in tinfoil with seasonal herbs
- Fresh vegetables just barely cooked so that they are still crisp
- Boiled potatoes
- Fruit Cobbler
- Fruit preserves
Fruit wines are a popular choice for the Autumnal Equinox, but they do take a few weeks to mature. If you’re making your own fruit wine, start it no later than Lughnasadh to enjoy it by late September. For a quicker alternative, mush some fruit and strain. Add the juice to a chilled sweet wine just before serving. For the non-alcoholic crowd, try chilled fruit juice mixed with sparkling water.
If you prefer liqueurs, make a fruit liqueur by adding vodka and fine caster sugar to some chilled fruit juice. Shake this mixture three times a day for eight days and serve chilled. Substitute sparking water for the vodka if your celebration includes children or those who prefer not to drink alcohol. Harvest Mead, both in its alcoholic and non-alcoholic forms, is also an appropriate choice
When thinking about September, we tend to associate it with the beginning of fall. But it’s important to remember that this month is also the end of summer. The weather is still usually warm enough to host a celebration outside, even if you do have to put on a sweater before heading out.
It’s always fun to go out and look for edible plants, nuts, and berries in your area. However, there are always a few poisonous plants hanging around that look like they might be edible. Take a field guide with you and don’t eat anything you’re unsure of. If you’re involving children in this, don’t let them eat anything until you’ve checked it out. If you’re lucky, you have a berry-picking farm nearby that you can visit. This takes most of the risk out of your little hunt.
Conker fighting is a traditional way to pass the time in the fall. Take a horse chestnut and skewer it. Suspend the horse chestnut from a knotted string at least three feet long. Face off with an opponent and try to smash each other’s conkers. The person whose conker breaks first is the loser. This game invites a great deal of hilarity, but you’ll also end up with occasional scraped knuckles from flying conkers. Consider wearing heavy gloves to protect delicate fingers if you’re worried.
Remember that you’re about to say goodbye to the warm days of the lighter half of the year. Hold a spiral dance, having all participants dance counterclockwise, in honor the dark half the year that is about to begin. Keep in mind that dances take practice, so you might want to have your dancers rehearse once or twice before the actual day.
A ritual is always nice, but not strictly necessary. If you do decide on a ritual, keep in mind that you should focus on the themes of the day and not of performing magick for yourself.
Dressing for Mabon
Dressing for the Autumnal Equinox is much like dressing for any other Sabbat. Pick something special in colors that both represent and honor the season. For this Equinox, choose clothing in the rich fall colors of yellow, orange, and brown. You could wear ritual robes in these colors or choose something more meaningful to you. Alternatively, you could dress in the God’s color of bright gold or the Goddess’s color of deep autumn red. You might also choose to use these colors to decorate your ritual space.
The Autumnal Equinox is a time of balance. It is a time to reflect on the abundance that nature provides and offer up thanks for what we have.