How much do you have to celebrate Mabon to still call yourself a witch?
Autumn Equinox is here! Is celebrating it mandatory?
Inside: Discover the meaning of Autumn Equinox, why it’s called Mabon, get 11 easy ideas for how to celebrate (and why you’d want to do that!), and some reminders for upcoming events.
Mabon is the neo-pagan name for the Wheel of the Year holiday that falls on the Autumn Equinox (this year it’s on Friday, September 22nd). Mabon refers to the Welsh deity Mabon ap Modron (the divine son of the divine mother), but the Autumn Equinox wasn’t referred to as Mabon until the 1970s, when grand-daddy witch Aidan Kelly gave the – at that point nameless – holiday a title in his publication THE WITCH’S BOOK of DAYS. Though the Celts probably did celebrate the Autumn equinox, at least as a cozy family holiday, it wasn’t a major public event and we don’t know what it was called.
Some witches may feel embarrassed that contemporary paganism is always snuffling around in a romantic pre-modern past looking for rituals. Like they’re afraid normies might give them the side-eye as if they’re LARP-ing or something. Then also, some pagan know-it-alls may push their glasses up their nose and say, “Well actually it wasn’t even called Mabon until the 70s.” Humans loooooovveee to correct each other.
Personally, I like the ancient and the modern lineage of Mabon. It’s in keeping with Pagan theology that our way of being be constantly made new. The beauty of pagan theology is that it isn’t fixed. Like everything that lives, paganism is constantly changing, decaying, gobbling, splitting, growing, morphing and evolving.
Paganism eats the past and grows new limbs. Spiritual traditions that cling to an orthodoxy that never changes are conservative by nature. Nothing that lives stays the same. Trying to keep a culture from changing is to fix it, to kill it, to fling it into a black hole, the void, the only place where stasis exists.
Mabon is Autumn Equinox and, like all pagan holidays, it honors change.
All 8 pagan holidays of the Wheel of the Year are about change — I mean, the name “Wheel of the Year” really gives that secret away. They’re all either solar holidays (on Solstices or Equinoxes: the quarter holidays) or holidays honoring messy in-between times (the cross quarter holidays, like Beltane and Samhain: the liminal fairy times when “the veil between worlds is thin”).
Think of the Solstices as the points at the top and the bottom of the wheel, and the Equinox’s as the points on the side, moments where everything is in equilibrium, neither rising nor falling, a moment to catch our breath before the momentum sets the wheel in spin again.
Reciprocity, Gratitude, and the 2nd Harvest
One of the most important themes of the equinox is reciprocity. Mabon is the 2nd of three harvest festivals, it’s a holiday of thanksgiving (many witches prefer to celebrate Mabon than Thanksgiving “holiday” which has a TRULY HORRIBLE history).
Speaking the name of what we’re grateful for commits us to living in reciprocity with that which gives it to us.
If music makes our lives better, it’s our responsibility, and our pleasure, to make sure the musicians we love have what they need to continue to make their work. If we love eating, it’s a gift and an honor to replenish the soil so that it’s fed and fat and happy.
Giving thanks is not just about expressing gratitude. It’s about recognizing that the abundance we live in and enjoy is only possible if we give back in equal measure to what we receive. Mabon is a reminder living in balance in itself is a celebration.
Libra Season Begins on Autumn Equinox
Libra is the sign of balance, justice, diplomacy, aesthetics, and relationships.
Now is a great time to contemplate the qualities you value most in close relationships.
Reflect on the ways you are embodying those qualities (or not), and how you’d like to cultivate balanced relationships with people who share your values.
Subscribers, don’t forget to check out your monthly Witch Guide, where there are all sorts of prompts and activities to help you live into the loving energy of Libra season.
If you’d like to receive the monthly Witch Guides, join our Moon Circles, reading group & Live Chats, and be in reciprocity for this work, become a subscriber.
P.S. Speaking of gratitude…
I was moved to tears by all of the blessings, support, and encouragement I received from all of you about my PhD revelation. I’m so grateful to all of you for being here, your generosity, your intelligence, your curiosity, and the openness and tenderness with which you approach this work. I feel especially inspired by how the energy flows through this system we’re creating. It feels like the nourishment and joy flows in all directions here — may it continue, may it be fruitful, and may our ecosystem of witches thrive and thrive.
11 Easy Ways to Celebrate the Equinox (Mabon):
Create a gratitude list and consider how you can nourish each item on the list so that all parties continue to live in abundance
Call up some of your beloveds and let them know what they mean to you
Do an act of service for something you care about in the the name of Mabon
Light a candle and say a prayer of thanks, sending your gratitude out through the web of the wyrd
Go around the dinner table and say what you’re grateful for
Pour libations into the earth, touch the stones, whisper your thanks into the wind and sky
Journal about your values and how your actions align with them (or not)
Have a convo over tea with a friend about what you’d like to rebalance in your life
Do something to contribute to the rebalancing of the ecosystem or your community
Make apple cider or enjoy an autumnal dinner, invite someone you want to thank
Do the Community Ritual from this month’s Witch Guide (you can find a link to the monthly witch guide here - just click the link and scroll down)
How are YOU going to celebrate Mabon? Let us know below!
We Celebrate Pagan Holidays Because They:
are a way of re-centering in our disorienting culture
help us re-align with the rhythms of the natural world
remind us to recommit to our values
teach us about our lineage, traditions, and provide opportunities to share our knowledge with future generations
encourage us to prioritize pleasure, joy, and celebration
provide opportunities to stay connected to our practice
create and reifying a sense of camaraderie within our community
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