I revisit my altar just before each holiday in the Wheel of the Year, to center my heart upon the season, remove some things, add some new or cherished items. The altar is a reminder and an affirmation. Remaking this space is how I anchor myself to the present. Think about a shelf or corner of your home which hasn’t been changed in a long time. The energy there just sort of fades, doesn’t it? Change it good!

And so we’re moving soon into September and the coming of the Fall Equinox, or Mabon. Changing an altar is not like changing out the empty toilet paper roll—you can take your time. You can make it last all month if you like! This week’s blog gives you a little history about Mabon and also some altar ideas. It is my most heartfelt wish that you delight in the nuances of our changing year.

All my love, always.

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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.

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.

Above all, make it a delight to gather items and create your altar. Simple is lovely. As is over-the-top elaborate. Let it be who you are.

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