The Fall Equinox arrives tomorrow September 23rd 2019, the time in our calendars when day and night are in perfect balance before we make the descent into winter. As we prepare for darkness to overtake daylight, the Sun moves into the zodiac sign of Libra, the scales, a symbol of balance and harmony.
Modern pagans celebrate this time of transition with Mabon, the eighth seasonal festival known as a sabbat in the sacred wheel of the year, the pagan calendar of ritual and reverence for the Earth’s changing seasons. Also recognized as Witch’s Thanksgiving, Mabon honours the second harvest and is joyful for the abundance that will sustain us through the winter months. Just as the tree sheds its leaves, Mabon is also a time to recognize that which has withered on the vine, and what we need to release in order to move forwards with a lighter load.
In Ancient Greece at this time of year, rituals were held to represent the cycle of life and death through the myth of the harvest goddess, Demeter and her daughter, Persephone. Lord of the Underworld, Hades was in love with the beautiful maiden Persephone, and abducted her to live with him deep beneath the depths. Demeter’s despair at the loss of her daughter caused nothing to grow on Earth until Sun god Helios intervened, informing her of what happened and how to find Persephone. An agreement was eventually reached with Hades in which Persephone could return and the crops would resume, yet because she’d eaten a pomegranate seed in the underworld, she must go back there as his wife for the winter months every year.
In modern pagan circles since the 1970s, the Fall Equinox has become associated with the Welsh folk legend, Mabon. Perhaps less fitting than the abduction of Persephone, little is known of Mabon himself except that he was stolen from his mother, the goddess Modron when he was three days old and is known as the oldest of men living on Earth. With both myths, we see themes emerge of sacrifice, and the wisdom that following death there is rebirth.
So how to celebrate Mabon? This year I attended two rituals, in the first we held a release ceremony to let go of negative behaviours by writing them on a piece of paper and burning them. In the second, we brought food to share and made gratitude jars, smudge wands and candles to cleanse the energies of the past and bring light for the winter months ahead.
Try these ideas:
- Is anything holding you back in life? Write it down and let it burn!
- What are you grateful for? Make a list and store them in a jar – keep adding until it’s overflowing with bounty
- Hold a pot luck or organize a food drive to give back to those less fortunate
- Get out and enjoy the abundance of Fall – gather leaves, twigs, chestnuts and pine cones. Even better, make an altar and enjoy their beautiful colours in the comfort of your home.
- Host a crafts evening – create candles and smudge wands and share stories with your nearest and dearest.