After the high energy of the summer season, the Wheel of the Year turns to the Sabbat holiday known as Mabon. The holiday is a time of introspection and giving thanks. It’s the last harvest of the year and the first day of Fall. After it, preparations for winter begin.
Mabon falls on the Autumn Equinox, a time when the day and night hours are equal. In 2022, Mabon falls on Thursday, September 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere and on March 20th in the Southern Hemisphere. This is the second time of the year the hours are balanced. (The first is the Spring Equinox.)
What is Mabon?
Mabon represents the second time of the year where the masculine and feminine energies are in balance, on the edge of the return of darkness.
Mabon is a time for reflection on the year’s growth, going back to the intentions of Imbolc and reviewing the ways they manifested during the year. It is a time for taking stock of what is working and what’s not as the year moves towards the winter period of fallowness and rest.
For some pagans, it’s the time when the Holly King regains the upper hand over the Oak King at the autumn equinox, until the winter solstice (or Yule) where the cycle begins again.
The name of this holiday is a bit controversial because it has a less direct line to pre-Christian festivals and traditions. But there was a Welsh god named Mabon ap Maponos which means “Great Son” in ancient Celtic. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Mabon became associated with the Autumn Equinox by Wiccan author and scholar Aiden Kelly.
As he writes in this post, “Back in 1974, I was putting together a “Pagan-Craft” calendar—the first of its kind, as far as I know—listing the holidays, astrological aspects, and other stuff of interest to Pagans. We have Gaelic names for the four Celtic holidays.
It offended my aesthetic sensibilities that there seemed to be no Pagan names for the summer solstice or the fall equinox equivalent to Yule or Beltane—so I decided to supply them.”
What Are the Colors and Symbols of Mabon?
The colors of Mabon are red, golden yellow, orange, and brown. If you’ve started to decorate for fall, you’re probably naturally incorporated some of these colors as well as some of the symbols of Mabon. But, if you’re looking for specific ideas for your altar or to bring into your home, here are some to choose from.
- Items from nature like acorns, pinecones, corn, wheat stalks, apples, root vegetables, and pomegranates
- Flowers such as fall asters, mums, thistle, oak leaves, sage, and sweet alyssum
- The crystals hematite, green aventurine, amber, fluorite, and sapphire
- Incense in the scents of myrrh and sage
- Red, orange, or brown candles
- Statues or drawings of owls, blackbirds, dogs, or wolves
- Some people like to add a broom near their altar or place a small one on top of it.
5 Ways to Celebrate Mabon
1. Make a Meditative Incense
Mabon encourages going within to take stock. A pleasant meditative incense may help with your journey. Myrrh resin is a popular ingredient that is easily available that is said to aid meditation and other ingredients can be added. There are many recipes to try!
2. Eat an Apple or Pomegranate
Use these symbols of the season to reflect on the abundance of the season and enjoy their sweet flavors! Cutting an apple horizontally reveals a five pointed star, similar to the pentacle.
Pomegranates are a symbol of fertility and abundance in many cultures and also represent Persephone’s return to the underworld for the next six months.
3. Fill a Horn of Plenty
The Cornucopia or Horn of Plenty represents the balance of masculine and feminine energy. If you have grown a garden, put some of the produce on display. Root vegetables and gourds, ears of corn, apples, and pomegranates are good options.
You can also go apple picking or to your local farmer’s market to pick these up!
4. Take a Walk in Nature
Observe the signs of the change of seasons in your area. Look for acorns, pine cones, and other symbols of the earth preparing for rest.
5. Set up a Mabon Altar
Using the colors of the autumn equinox, add fruits and vegetables as well as flowers to your altar. If you have a boline for collecting herbs, place it on your altar as a symbol of the harvest.
6. Make a Broom
Witches have long been associated with brooms and making your own isn’t difficult. As the Witchery in Salem says, “It usually takes 5 or 10 minutes to select your material — unless of course you are a Libra. Then it might take longer.”
You can go to the Witchery to make a broom with their charms and broomcorn. If you’re not near Salem this season, follow the video below for step-by-step directions.
7. Do a Balancing Spell
If things have felt out of balance for you, harness the balanced energies of the autumn equinox to bring yourself back to the middle path.
Some ways to do this include doing a balancing spell using black and white candles, beginning a daily meditation practice, or making an effort to ground yourself by getting into nature consistently and taking some time for quiet contemplation there.
8. Reflect and Journal
Mabon is the perfect time of the year to look back and reflect on the year. It’s also a good time to begin a gratitude journal to help you stay in this practice as you move forward through the seasons.
- How to Celebrate Samhain: The Witch’s New Year - October 11, 2022
- How to Celebrate Mabon: The Autumn Equinox - September 16, 2022
- How to Celebrate Lughnasadh, the Pagan Harvest Festival - July 6, 2021