This year, in 2020, Mabon falls on Tuesday 22nd September, and I for one cannot wait. I have a definite passion for this time of year; the cooler days and longer nights that are on the horizon completely resonate with my soul and fill me with an overwhelming sense of peace and calm.
What is Mabon?
Mabon is the autumnal equinox and marks the official start of the season of Autumn. As with Ostara, the vernal equinox in March, Mabon is one of two points in the year when the hours of light and dark are equal; the day and night are perfectly balanced at Mabon and allows us time to pause and recognise that same balance within ourselves.
From the summer solstice the in June, the days begin to shorten, and by the time we reach Mabon here in the middle of September, the increased hours of darkness are noticeable and the coolness is starting to creep back into the night air. The Earths natural endless cycle is approaching it’s time of slumber as that which grows has matured and we give our gratitude for the plenty we are provided with.
For our ancestors the Autumnal Equinox was one of four points in the year (the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes and the Summer and Winter Solstices) and four cross points (Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain) representing the cycle of seasons, all of which marked an important point in the cycle of nature and foretold the changing of the weather. To our ancestors these markers in the year were essential as they kept (and keep to this day) the wheel of agriculture, planting and harvest in motion.
In this seasonal and agricultural respect, which was of course the most important part of life for our ancestors, Mabon marks the middle of the harvest; the full moon closest to Mabon is named the Harvest Moon, and crops, fruits and vegetables were all brought into stores to see communities through the cold and dark months ahead.
But Mabon is more than just a marker in the days of the harvest, it is a time for deep reflection and appreciation of the darker side of life and the slow and restful days to come. Look back witches, at your book of shadows, look back, pagans, at the practices, rituals and manifestations of Ostara, and remember the goals you set for yourself, the spells you cast and the intentions you put out into the ether. For Ostara is the opposite of Mabon, the other side of this spoke on our ever turning wheel, and the work we set out on then is perfectly considered at it’s universal opposite.
I’m not saying everything should have been achieved, not at all, as whilst the Ether, the Wyrd, the stardust and sunbeams make up who we are and run through our veins and into our very bones, we are only human. If you have made a plan to achieve a goal, if you have written the first line of a spell, if you have decided you need to take a course of action, if you have started anything at all towards any of your Ostara intentions, Mabon is the time to sit with your progress and remind yourself that what you have done is exactly what you should have done. You have accomplished. Let it simmer within you, write down your progress in a book of shadows, a journal to hibernate it over the dark months. Or maybe these are the months when your progress and intentions will manifest and come to life; if so, write significant words on a spell candle or write whatever feels right to you on a piece of paper to burn, to bring light to your intent and diffuse your progress so far in to the universe and realms around you.
As with all things in nature, animals and plants alike, this is a time of year to wind down your pace and bring peace and rest into your heart and mind.
We see the trees become bare, plants and flowers return to bulb and seed to sleep, and animals build warmer dens and burrow, or migrate to warmer shores.
If, like me, your spirit feels malnourished without plants around you inside of your home and in your garden, this is the time to start bringing evergreens into these areas. My personal affiliations are with Ivy and Succulents, Rosemary and Fir.
Fill your hearth, light your candles and slow down. Take deep breaths, breathe in the ever chillier ait outside of your front door. Take moments to hear the sound of vibrant fallen leaves crunch beneath your feet and enjoy the feeling of warm soft fabrics and the closeness of loved ones and familiars. Immerse yourself in magical, ghostly and heart warming stories. Make sumptuous broths and stews, toast marshmallows by burning fires and drink decadent hot drinks to warm your hands and soul.
One of my favourite things to start doing at Mabon is taking a basket to the woods to collect fallen acorns, pinecones, vines and wood to make autumnal and Yule decorations for my home and for friends. Mother nature has so many wonderful gifts for us if we take the time to look and to give thanks.
Decorate your Alter
One of the first preparations most pagans make to honour any of the eight points on the wheel of the year is to prepare their alter. An alter doesn’t need to be anything expensive or big, it is simply a space of your own that you adorn and decorate with the items you use in your craft, to honour your chosen deities (if any) and with items to recognise, give thanks for and honour the sabbat. Some Pagans have large chests or tables, others have outdoor spaces and some will decorate a window sill or mantle. It may be simply lighting a particular coloured candle.
Being the start of autumn, Mabon brings with it a kaleidoscope of warming colours, comforting foods and cosy clothes. We can start to look forward to dusting off snuggly jumpers, slipping into fur lined boots and lighting fires and candles to tell enchanting tales around.
And amongst this cacophony of colourful change in the earth around us we see alters adorned to reflect this time of transition into autumn. Ivy, rosemary, pine cones, red and green apples, seeds and pomegranates, along with grains and corn all represent the abundance of the harvest. Set some or all of these on your alter to show reverence for the plenty the Earth has provided us with.
Spells / wishes / hopes and intentions can be laid on your alter, written in colours of the season such as oranges, yellows, browns, reads and dark greens. Let your instincts take over and decorate your writings with your own patterns and in colours that speak to you.
Burn a candle in one of these Mabon colours and carve a Sigel or Rune that you are working with into it (if you work with either), or carve a word to represent your hopes and spells for the coming season. Be sure to use a candle that you will continue to burn until it is completely finished if you carve into it; small spell candles are best. I never blow out a candle adorned with a spell, however you can snuff the candle if you need to, just be sure not to blow your intention away.
If you feel a connection with scents and aromatherapy you will enjoy anointing your candle with a dreamy autumnal scent. Either make your own with some of your favourites or chose something that fills you with feelings of warmth and cosiness. At this time of year I enjoy the captivating smells of spiced apple, pumpkin, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, frankincense and lavender.
If you don’t want to anoint your candle its nice to have an oil burner sending out these autumnal feels or to have some incense burning in these comforting undertones. There’s no reason why you can’t mix and match these uses of scent or use all three at once.
Scent can be a real mood setter, can trigger memories and can help to heal our bodies, minds and souls. If you can work the wonderful gifts that nature gives to our sense of smell, you should absolutely work it one way or another into your alters, rituals, spells and every day witchy life.
Healing Crystals & Stones
If you work with healing crystals, Mabon is a good time to add Lapis Lazuli, Topaz, Magnetite and Shamanic Dream Stone to your alter.
Lapis Lazuli is a stone I work with and wear all year round. It is very much associated with balance and embracing the darkness and the light in life; placing this crystal on your alter will bring balancing energies into your alter space, into your meditations and into your life.
Topaz is a stone that vibrates with energies of healing and abundance, both of which are very relevant at Mabon as we are very aware of the abundance of the earth, and, as the harvest begins to come to an end, we can find time to rest and rejuvenate during the coming darkness.
To add Magnetite to your alter also brings balance into your space, but with that balance you will also find a sense of grounding and connection to the earth.
The last stone I would add to my alter is Shamanic Dream Stone which, again, has energies working to balance our bodies and minds. It promotes introspection and during this time of rest guides us in our journeys within, assisting us in Chakra balancing and completion of tasks and manifestations set at Imbolc and Ostara.
I don’t want to say too much about deities as all pagans follow different paths and all honour different (or no) deities for different reasons.
What I will tell you, is that for me, Mabon is the time I feel the connection with my Goddesses deepen. I work with the dark goddesses Inanna, Persephone and Ereshkigal, all of whom have their journeys rooted in not only living and surviving in, but flourishing in the underworld, in the darkness, in rising from deathly situations to be wiser and more divine than they had previously been. Stripped of themselves and violated, both Inanna and Persephone rise to become the ultimate in feminine divinity and to be more whole and balanced than their former selves. They were stolen away into the darkness, yet embraced that darkness, walked through it, descended into it, let it engulf them and became sisters with it; and the darkness did not kill them. Whilst they missed the light, there was healing and rest to be had in their dark days. Their descents into their underworlds gave them time to see into the blackness and understand that without it, there cannot be light. In order to see the day, we must make friends with the night. Without the night, we cannot see the stars or our Luna Goddess high above us. Without descent there is no ascent. I will tell their stories fully in later posts, however for now my pagan sisters and brothers, I wish you a very Happy Mabon 2020 and hope that your rest and journey through our coming darkening days is a filled with magic, plenty and laughter.
As with all of my posts, I have included the work of some amazing artists whose work I very much admire and covet. Below are links to their online spaces.
Stay Wild & Blessed Be.