Fall is coming upon us and even though it is still pretty warm outside, the days are notably shorter and if you are in certain parts of the world, you may even be seeing the leaves change colour a bit. The harvest season for most wild herbs and roots has passed or is ending and the last of our field harvests are drawing near. Mabon, or the autumn equinox is upon us. This year it falls on September 21-22.
On this day, day and night are equal and we celebrate the ending of the harvest and the balance of all things light and dark in the world. Sometimes it’s referred to, playfully, as the Witch’s Thanksgiving because the types of foods served are very familiar to the fare that generally graces the tables of Americans and Canadians during the Thanksgiving holidays.
Similarly, this season is one for bringing people together and sharing the bounty of the earth with friends and family before the long cold months of winter. Of course, most of us probably aren’t farming the land any longer. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a traditional celebration! Here are some fun ways to enjoy the season and work them into your practice.
Related: Mabon: Nature-based crafts for the Witches’ Thanksgiving, by Susan Starr
Foods and drinks
Mabon is a big food holiday. It is associated with the last of the harvest which comprises foods such as potatoes, beans, corn, gourds, and the very last of the fruits which include grapes and apples. If you are a regular reader of Spiral Nature, you may have noticed that “the harvest” is a common theme in the feast days — but food is a common theme for living.
With this selection of food, common meals include those based around squash and pumpkins as well as sweet treats made from the last of the fruits that have been harvested. Alternatively, you can also make your own wine or ale (this is usually permitted if the wine is for personal use only but check your local laws!).
Good, hearty breads seasoned with fall herbs such as sage, rosemary, and thyme make for delicious Mabon meals to share (or simply store for later). Pumpkin and squash soups pair well with the breads and again, are great for making a large pot to share.
Yams, not sweet potatoes, are used as offerings to honour the ancestors by the Yoruba people. These vegetables are harvested during this season and are easy to prepare. They not only make an excellent offering but are also delicious.
For something a bit sweeter, both apple and pears are late harvest fruits and can be used to make delicious meals and desserts. If you pair them with spinach, they make excellent salads but can also simply be baked for tarts and pies — or enjoyed as is!
Related: A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food, reviewed by Susan Starr
Related: Mabon: The harvest of the autumn equinox, by Susan Starr
Gods, goddesses, and others
As with past harvest festivals, gods and goddesses that are part of the celebration focus on those of the natural world, similar to those who were venerated during Lammas. Isis, Thor, Dionysus, etc would be practical choices for this time of year.
In addition to that, deities that signify and uphold balance would also do well to be honoured this time of year. Ma’at, Inanna, or Obatala for the work that they do in keeping the balance of the world and our lives.
Finally, some also like to honour the Dark Mother energy during this time of the year. This is sometimes thought of as the crone aspect of the feminine, however, not always. She is often channelled by worship of Hecate, Kali Ma, or Demeter. Honouring this aspect of the divine is accepting the coming dark months of the year as part of the natural cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
This is also a time to honour the ancestors and the departed. Many people don’t think of this until sometime around Hallowe’en but fall in general is a good time to begin to think of those that came before us. If you have family members who have passed, going to visit their resting places to clean up debris for the summer or place some flowers would be a great idea during this time of the year.
Related: Mabon, reviewed by Mike Gleason
Related: Autum Equinox, reviewed by Mike Gleason
Related: Mabon, reviewed by Anie Savino
The work of Mabon
This time of year the earth is “dying”. Most of the work to prepare for the coming winter has been done but there’s still a bit left to do. As people, we are beginning to turn more towards our inward and restful selves. This is the time to do personal work to support that. During this time, work for protection and security should be your focus.
The veil between our world and that of the spirit world is said to be thinning during this time and even if you don’t believe that, it is still a good time to consider weaving protective magick around yourself and home.
Before the weather changes (and you’re all cooped up inside), do some cleaning to get rid of the negative energy that may be lingering in your home. Take some time to make it more comfortable, a better place to rest so that you are ready for the quiet, introspective months of winter.
This season is about balance, and ensuring that you are balanced is important too. Focus inward and take care of yourself. These fall cleansing rituals are perfect for this time of year. Also taking some time to practice some magickal self-care can help restore and revitalize you.
Related: Four fall cleansing rituals for mind, body, and spirit, by Donyae Coles
Related: Three magical self-care rituals: Uplift, energize, and protect, by Donyae Coles
Mabon, a time of sharing and balance
Mabon isn’t a large feast day for many people, especially in the west as it begins to butt up against much larger celebrations. Still, it is the perfect time of year to reflect and begin the transition into the colder winter months.
Related: Albuquerque: Magical Mountain Mabon, by Anie Savino