For a perfect moment there is balance. Every fall, for just a moment in a long year, the day and night are equal. How like the earth we are in our revolutions around a central core seeking balance. We do come back to it, revel in it, and find beauty in the dance.

Observed when the sun crosses the equator, the fall equinox usually occurs on September 21st or 22nd. Also called Mabon, this is the second harvest in the wheel of the year, as it follows August’s firsts harvests.

The name Mabon is believed to have its roots in mythology, referencing Mabon as the son of Modron, a great mother goddess of Celtic myth and folk stories. A tenth-century anonymous poem, the Pa Gur depicts Mabon as a follower of Arthur, a folk hero who predates the Arthurian legends. He and his men were bound by a loyalty balanced with joy and some suggestion of supernatural powers.

How does a history like this come forward into modern times? There is some evidence which marries this celebration’s name with a point in the 1970’s when neopaganism was flourishing among both scholars and practitioners who attached new meaning to ancient names and terms. Other such names for the fall equinox include the beautiful and touching, Feast of the Ingathering, or Harvest Home.

To name a celebration is to honor the moment, to lift it up among all the other days to a place of honor and remembrance. Whichever name you choose for the fall equinox, let it be what resonates with your life and heart.

Quite literally, the fall equinox is the definitive time of the year when you shall reap what you have sown. The harvest of this day manifests by all the hard work you placed upon planting, tending, feeding, watering, caring for actual foodstuffs such as gardens, egg-laying hens, or livestock. Celebrate with a feast; collect seeds for next year; preserve food by canning or freezing. Finish summer projects and pause in gratitude for even the smallest good fortune.

This day of equal measure is also a moment for reflection upon the care and feeding of our human interactions thus far this year. You may wish to include in your celebrations, a way to give thanks to those beloved humans in your life who you have tended by your actions of love and caring these last months. Mabon allows us reflection and preparation for the coming months of waning light. In this way, we see how it is those we have cared for well in times of light who will be with us as we head into darkness.

Consider setting up a space outdoors, if possible, including any items representative of balance and your final harvest. Wherever you set it, an altar is an intimate expression of your experience with this celebration. There are no rules, only suggestions based on those who have come before us:

  • A deep colored cloth of fall’s crimson, amber, bronze, & fiery golds.
  • Items to represent all the elements—earth, air, fire, water. Some soil, a feather, your candle, and a small bowl of water are simple selections.
  • Abundant fruits such as apples, apricots, or pomegranates.
  • Gourds and pumpkins of all shapes and colors.
  • Fall leaves, dried seedpods or grapevines. Bones, feathers, or bark.
  • Stones of tourmaline, amber, topaz, lapis lazuli, & clear quartz.
  • Personal spiritual items such as deities, amulets, talismans, or images.
  • Something to represent both the feminine and masculine.

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